Man a Machine  

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Man a Machine (1747) by Julien Offray de La Mettrie (edition shown 1750)
Man a Machine (1747) by Julien Offray de La Mettrie (edition shown 1750)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
man vs. machine

Man a Machine (French L'homme machine) is a work of philosophy by the 18th-century French physician and philosopher Julien Offray de La Mettrie, first published in 1748. In this work, La Mettrie extends Descartes' argument that animals were mere automatons or machines to human beings, denying the existence of the soul as a substance separate from matter.

The book led the materialist charge by rejecting Cartesian dualism of mind and body, and proposed the metaphor of the human being as machine.



After publishing Histoire naturelle de l'âme (1745), so great was the outcry caused in his native France that La Mettrie was forced to quit his position with the French Guards, taking refuge in Leiden, Holland. There he developed his doctrines even more boldly and completely in L'Homme machine a hastily-written treatise based upon consistently materialistic and quasi-atheistic principles. La Mettrie's materialism was in many ways the product of his medical concerns, drawing on the work of 17th-century predecessors such as the Epicurean physician Guillaume Lamy.


Look, they say, at men like Spinoza, Vanini, Desbarreau, and Boindin, apostles who honor deism more than they harm it. The duration of their health was the measure of their unbelief, and one rarely fails, they add, to renounce atheism when the passions, with their instrument, the body, have grown weak."

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Full text[1]


























OC) 14 MAY 1946






Preface v

Frederic the Great's Eulogy on Julien Offray De La Mettrie i

L'Homme Machine ii

Man a Machine 83

The Natural History of the Soul : Extracts 151

Appendix 163

La Mettrie's Relation to His Predecessors and to His

Successors 165

Outline of La Mettrie's Metaphysical Doctrine . . . 175

Notes 176

Works Consulted and Cited in the Notes .... 205

Index 209


THE French text presented in this volume is taken from that of a Leyden edition of 1748, in other words, from that of an edition pubHshed in the year and in the place of issue of the first edition. The title page of this edition is reproduced in the present volume. The original was evidently the work of a Dutch compositor unschooled in the French language, and is full of imperfections, inconsistencies, and grammatical blun- ders. By the direction of the publishers these obviously typo- graphical blunders have been corrected by M. Lucien Arreat of Paris.

The translation is the work of several hands. It is founded on a version made by Miss Gertrude C. Bussey (from the French text in the edition of J. Assezat) and has been revised by Professor M. W. Calkins who is responsible for it in its present form. Mademoiselle M. Carret, of the Wellesley Col- lege department of French, and Professor George Santayana, of Harvard University, have given valued assistance; and this opportunity is taken to acknowledge their kindness in solving the problems of interpretation which have been submitted to them. It should be added that the translation sometimes sub- ordinates the claims of English structure and style in the effort to render La Mettrie's meaning exactly. The paragraphing of the French is usually followed, but the italics and the capitals are not reproduced. The page-headings of the translation re- fer back to the pages of the French text ; and a few words in- serted by the translators are enclosed in brackets.

The philosophical and historical Notes are condensed and adapted from a master's thesis on La Mettrie presented by Miss Bussey to the faculty of Wellesley College.



JULIEN Offray de la Mettrle was born in Saint Malo, on the twenty-fifth of December, 1709, to Julien Offray de la Mettrie and Marie Gaudron, who were living by a trade large enough to provide a good education for their son. They sent him to the college of Coutance to study the humanities ; he went from there to Paris, to the college of Plessis; he studied his rhetoric at Caen, and since he had much genius and imagination, he won all the prizes for eloquence. He was a born orator, and was pas- sionately fond of poetry and belles-lettres, but his father thought that he would earn more as an ec- clesiastic than as a poet, and destined him for the church. He sent him, the following year, to the college of Plessis where he studied logic under M, Cordier, who was more a Jansenist than a logician. It is characteristic of an ardent imagination to seize forcefully the objects presented to it, as it is characteristic of youth to be prejudiced in favor of the first opinions that are inculcated. Any other scholar would have adopted the opinions of his teacher but that was not enough for young La Mettrie; he became a Jansenist, and wrote a work which had great vogue in that party.


In 1725, he studied natural philosophy at the college of Harcourt, and made great progress there. On his return to Brittany, M. Hunault, a doctor of Saint Malo, had advised him to adopt the medical profession. They had persuaded his father, assuring him that a mediocre physician would be better paid for his remedies than a good priest for absolutions. At first young La Mettrie had applied himself to the study of anatomy : for two years he had worked at the dissecting-table. After this, in 1725, he took the degree of doctor at Rheims, and was there re- ceived as a physician.

In 1733, he went to Leyden to study under the fa- mous Boerhaave. The master was worthy of the scholar and the scholar soon made himself worthy of the master. M. La Mettrie devoted all the acute- ness of his mind to the knowledge and to the heal- ing of human infirmities; and he soon became a great physician.

In the year 1734, during his leisure moments, he translated a treatise of the late M. Boerhaave, his Aphrodisiacus, and joined to it a dissertation on venereal maladies, of which he himself was the author. The old physicians in France rose up against a scholar who affronted them by knowing as much as they. One of the most celebrated doc- tors of Paris did him the honor of criticizing his work (a sure proof that it was good). La Mettrie replied; and, to confound his adversary still more, he composed in 1 736 a treatise on vertigo, esteemed by all impartial physicians.

By an unfortunate effect of human imperfection a certain base jealousy has come to be one of the characteristics of men of letters. This feeling incites


those who have reputations, to oppose the progress of budding geniuses. This Wight often fastens on talents without destroying them, but it sometimes injures them. M. La Mettrie, who was advancing in the career of science at a giant's pace, suffered from this jealousy, and his quick temper made him too susceptible to it.

In Saint Malo, he translated the "Aphorisms" of Boerhaave, the "Materia Medica," the "Chemical Proceedings," the "Chemical Theory," and the "In- stitutions," by this same author. About the same time, he published an abstract of Sydenham. The young doctor had learned by premature experience, that if he wished to live in peace, it was better to translate than to compose; but it is characteristic of genius to escape from reflection. Counting on himself alone, if I may speak thus, and filled with the knowledge he had gained from his infinitely skil- ful researches into nature, he wished to communicate to the public the useful discoveries he had made. He published his treatise on smallpox, his "Practical Medicine," and six volumes of commentary on the physiology of Boerhaave. All these works appeared at Paris, although the author had written them at Saint Malo. He joined to the theory of his art an always successful practice, which is no small recom- mendation for a physician.

In 1742, La Mettrie came to Paris, led there by the death of M. Hunault, his old teacher. Morand and Sidobre introduced him to the Duke of Gra- mont, who, a few days after, obtained for him the commission of physician of the guards. He accom- panied the Duke to war, and was with him at the battle of Dettingen, at the siege of Freiburg, and at


the battle of Fontenoy, where he lost his patron, who was killed by a cannon shot.

La Mettrie felt this loss all the more keenly, be- cause it was at the same time the reef on which his fortune was wrecked. This is what happened. During the campaign of Freiburg, La Mettrie had an attack of violent fever. For a philosopher an illness is a school of physiology; he believed that he could clearly see that thought is but a conse- quence of the organization of the machine, and that the disturbance of the springs has considerable in- fluence on that part of us which the metaphysicians call soul. Filled with these ideas during his con- valescence, he boldly bore the torch of experience into the night of metaphysics; he tried to explain by the aid of anatomy the thin texture of under- standing, and he found only mechanism where others had supposed an essence superior to matter. He had his philosophic conjectures printed under the title of "The Natural History of the Soul." The chaplain of the regiment sounded the tocsin against him, and at first sight all the devotees cried out against him.

The common ecclesiastic is like Don Quixote, who found marvelous adventures in commonplace events, or like the famous soldier, so engrossed with his system that he found columns in all the books he read. The majority of priests examine all works of literature as if they were treatises on theology, and filled with this one aim, they discover heresies everywhere. To this fact are due very many false judgments and very many accusations, for the most part unfair, against the authors. A book of physics should be read in the spirit of a


physicist; nature, the truth, is its sole judge, and should absolve or condemn it. A book of astron- omy should be read in the same manner. If a poor physician proves that the blow of a stick smartly rapped on the skull disturbs the mind, or that at a certain degree of heat reason wanders, one must either prove the contrary or keep quiet. If a skilful astronomer proves, in spite of Joshua, that the earth and all the celestial globes revolve around the sun, one must either calculate better than he, or admit that the earth revolves.

But the theologians, who, by their continual ap- prehension, might make the weak believe that their cause is bad, are not troubled by such a small matter. They insisted on finding seeds of heresy in a work dealing with physics. The author underwent a fright- ful persecution, and the priests claimed that a doctor accused of heresy could not cure the French guards.

To the hatred of the devotees was joined that of his rivals for glory. This was rekindled by a work of La Mettrie's entitled "The Politics of Physicians." A man full of cunning, and carried away by ambition, aspired to the place, then vacant, of first physician to the king of France. He thought that he could gain it by heaping ridicule upon those of his contemporaries who might lay claim to this position. He wrote a libel against them, and abu- sing the easy friendship of La Mettrie, he enticed him to lend to it the volubility of his pen, and the richness of his imagination. Nothing more was needed to complete the downfall of a man little known, against whom were all appearances, and whose only protection was his merit.

For having been too sincere as a philosopher and


too obliging as a friend, La Mettrie was compelled to leave his country. The Duke of Duras and the Viscount of Chaila advised him to flee from the hatred of the priests and the revenge of the physi- cians. Therefore, in 1746, he left the hospitals of the army where he had been placed by M. Sechelles, and came to Leyden to philosophize in peace. He there composed his "Penelope," a polemical work against the physicians in which, after the fashion of Democritus, he made fun of the vanity of his profession. The curious result was that the doctors themselves, though their quackery was painted in true colors, could not help laughing when they read it, and that is a sure sign that they had found more wit than malice in it.

M. La Mettrie after losing sight of his hospitals and his patients, gave himself up completely to specu- lative philosophy; he wrote his "Man a Machine" or rather he put on paper some vigorous thoughts about materialism, which he doubtless planned to rewrite. This work, which was bound to displease men who by their position are declared enemies of the progress of human reason, roused all the priests of Leyden against its author. Calvinists, Catholics and Lutherans forgot for the time that consubstan- tiation, free will, mass for the dead, and the infalli- bility of the pope divided them : they all united again to persecute a philosopher who had the additional misfortune of being French, at a time when that monarchy was waging a successful war against their High Powers.

The title of philosopher and the reputation of being unfortunate were enough to procure for La Mettrie a refuge in Prussia with a pension from


the king. He came to Berlin in the month of Feb- ruary in the year 1748; he was there received as a member of the Royal Academy of Science. Medi- cine reclaimed him from metaphysics, and he wrote a treatise on dysentery, another on asthma, the best that had then been written on these cruel diseases. He sketched works on certain philosophical subjects which he had proposed to look into. By a sequence of accidents which befell him these works were stolen, but he demanded their suppression as soon as they appeared.

La Mettrie died in the house of Milord Tirconnel, minister plenipotentiary of France, whose life he had saved. It seems that the disease, knowing with whom it had to deal, was clever enough to attack his brain first, so that it would more surely confound him. He had a burning fever and was violently delirious. The invalid was obliged to depend upon the science of his colleagues, and he did not find there the resources which he had so often found in his own, both for himself and for the public.

He died on the eleventh of November, 1751, at the age of forty-three years. He had married Louise Charlotte Dreano, by whom he left only a daughter, five years and a few months old.

La Mettrie was born with a fund of natural and inexhaustible gaiety ; he had a quick mind, and such a fertile imagination that it made flowers grow in the field of medicine. Nature had made him an orator and a philosopher; but a yet more precious gift which he received from her, was a pure soul and an obliging heart. All those who are not imposed upon by the pious insults of the theologians mourn in La Mettrie a good man and a wise physician.

L' H O M M E


Eft'Ce Jace Raton de VEjfencefupreme^

Que Von nous pe'mt ji lumineux? Eft'Ce la cetEfpritfurvivant a nous meme? 11 nazt avec nos fensy croitt s'affoiblit comme eux. Helas! il perira de meme.


A L £ r D £,


Facsimile of title page of the Leyden 1748 edition


IL ne suffit pas a un sage d'etudier la nature et la verite ; il doit oser la dire en faveur du petit nom- bre de ceiix qui veulent et peuvent penser; car pour les autres, qui sont volontairement esclaves des pre- juges, il ne leur est pas plus possible d'atteindre la verite, qu'aux grenouilles de voler.

Je reduis a deux les systemes des philosophes sur Tame de rhomme. Le premier, et le plus an- cien, est le systeme du materialisme ; le second est celui du spiritualisme.

Les metaphysiciens qui ont insinue que la ma- tiere pourrait bien avoir la faculte de penser, n'ont pas deshonore leur raison. Pourquoi? C'est qu'ils ont cet avantage (car ici e'en est un) de s'etre mal exprimes. En effet, demander si la matiere peut penser, sans la considerer autrement qu'en elle- meme, c'est demander si la matiere peut marquer les heures. On voit d'avance que nous eviterons cet ecueil, oii Mr. Locke a eu le malheur d'echouer.

Les Leibniziens, avec leurs monades, ont eleve une hypothese inintelligible. lis ont plutot spiri- tualise la matiere, que materialise I'ame. Comment peut-on definir un etre dont la nature nous est ab- solument inconnue?

Descartes, et tous les Cartesiens, parmi lesquels il y a longtemps qu'on a compte les Malebranchistes,


ont fait la meme faute. lis ont admis deux sub- stances distinctes dans riiomme, comme s'ils les avaient vues et bien comptees.

Les plus sages ont dit que I'ame ne pouvait se connaitre que par les seules lumieres de la Foi : cependant, en qualite d'etres raisonnables, ils ont cru pouvoir se reserver le droit d'examiner ce que I'Ecri- ture a voulu dire par le mot Esprit, dont elle se sert en parlant de I'ame humaine; et dans leurs re- cherches, s'ils ne sont pas d'accord sur ce point avec les theologiens, ceux-ci le sont-ils davantage en- tr'eux sur tous les autres?

Voici en peu de mots le resultat de toutes leurs reflexions.

S'il y a un Dieu, il est auteur de la Nature, comme de la Revelation; il nous a donne I'une, pour expliquer I'autre ; et la Raison, pour les accor- der ensemble.

Se defier des connaissances qu'on peut puiser dans les corps animes, c'est regarder la Nature et la Revelation comme deux contraires qui se detrui- sent; et par consequent, c'est oser soutenir cette ab- surdite: que Dieu se contredit dans ses divers ou- vrages, et nous trompe.

S'il y a une Revelation, elle ne peut done dementir la Nature. Par la Nature seule, on peut decouvrir le sens des paroles de I'Evangile, dont I'experience seule est la veritable interprete. En effet, les autres commentateurs jusqu'ici n'ont fait qu'embrouiller la verite. Nous allons en juger par I'auteur du Spectacle de la Nature. "II est etonnant, dit-il (au "sujet de Mr. Locke), qu'un homme qui degrade "notre ame jusqu'a la croire une ame de boue, ose "etablir la Raison pour juge et souverain arbitre


"des mysteres de la Foi ; car, ajoute-t-il, quelle idee "etonnante aurait-on du Christianisme, si Ton vou- "lait suivre la Raison?"

Outre que ces reflexions n'eclaircissent rien par rapport a la Foi, elles f orment de si f rivoles ob- jections contre la methode de ceux qui croient pou- voir interpreter les Livres Saints, que j'ai presque honte de perdre le temps a les refuter.

lo. L'excellence de la Raison ne depend pas d'un grand mot vide de sens {I'immaterialite) ; mais de sa force, de son etendue, ou de sa clairvoyance. Ainsi une dme de houe, qui decouvrirait, comme d'un coup d'oeil, les rapports et les suites d'une in- finite d'idees dii^ciles a saisir, serait evidemment preferable a une ame sotte et stupide qui serait faite des elements les plus precieux. Ce n'est pas etre philosophe, que de rougir avec Pline de la misere de notre origine. Ce qui parait vil, est ici la chose la plus precieuse, et pour laquelle la nature semble avoir mis le plus d'art et le plus d'appareil. Mais comme I'homme, quand meme il viendrait d'une source encore plus vile en apparence, n'en serait pas moins le plus parfait de tous les etres, quelle que soit I'origine de son ame, si elle est pure, noble, sublime, c'est une belle ame, qui rend respec- table quiconque en est doue.

La seconde maniere de raisonner de Mr. Pluche me parait vicieuse, meme dans son systeme, qui tient un peu du fanatisme; car si nous avons une idee de la Foi, qui soit contraire aux principes les plus clairs, aux verites les plus incontestables, il faut croire, pour I'honneur de la Revelation et de son Auteur, que cette idee est fausse, et que nous ne


connaissons point encore les sens des paroles de I'Evangile.

De deux choses I'une; ou tout est illusion, tant la Nature meme, que la Revelation ; ou I'experience seule pent rendre raison de la Foi. Mais quel plus grand ridicule que celui de notre auteur? Je m'ima- gine entendre un peripateticien, qui dirait : "II ne f aut "pas croire I'experience de Toricelli: car si nous la "croyions, si nous allions bannir I'horreur du vide, "quelle etonnante philosophie aurions-nous ?"

J'ai fait voir combien le raisonnement de Mr. Pluche est vicieux,* afin de prouver premierement que s'il y a une Revelation, elle n'est point suffi- samment demontree par la seule autorite de I'Eglise et sans aucun examen de la Raison, comme le pre- tendent tons ceux qui la craignent. Secondement, pour mettre a I'abri de toute attaque la methode de ceux qui voudraient suivre la voie que je leur ouvre, d'interpreter les choses surnaturelles, incom- prehensibles en soi, par les lumieres que chacun a regues de la nature.

L'experience et I'observation doivent done seules nous guider ici. Elles se trouvent sans nombre dans les Pastes des medecins, qui ont ete philosophes, et non dans les philosophes, qui n'ont pas ete mede- cins. Ceux-ci ont parcouru, ont eclaire le laby- rinthe de I'homme; ils nous ont seuls devoile ces ressorts caches sous des enveloppes qui derobent a nos yeux tant de merveilles. Eux seuls, contemplant tranquillement notre ame, I'ont mille fois surprise, et dans sa misere, et dans sa grandeur, sans plus la mepriser dans I'un de ces etats, que I'admirer dans I'autre. Encore une fois, voila les seuls physiciens

  • II peche evidemment par une petition de principe.

l'homme machine. 17

qui aient droit de parler ici. Que nous diraient les autres, et surtout les theologiens? N'est-il pas ridicule de les entendre decider sans pudeur, sur un sujet qu'ils n'ont point ete a portee de connaitre, dont ils ont ete au contraire entierement detournes par des etudes obscures, qui les ont conduits a mille prejuges, et pour tout dire en un mot, au fanatisme, qui ajoute encore a leur ignorance dans le mecanisme des corps.

Mais, quoique nous ayons choisi les meilleurs guides, nous trouverons encore beaucoup d'epines et d'obstacles dans cette carriere.

L'homme est une machine si composee, qu'il est impossible de s'en faire d'abord une idee claire, et consequemment de la definir. C'est pourquoi toutes les recherches que les plus grands philosophes ont faites a priori, c'est a dire, en voulant se servir en quelque sorte des ailes de I'esprit, ont ete vaines. Ainsi ce n'est qu'd posteriori, ou en cherchant a demeler I'ame comme au travers les organes du corps, qu'on peut, je ne dis pas decouvrir avec evi- dence la nature meme de l'homme, mais atteindre le plus grand degre de probabilite possible sur ce sujet.

Prenons done le baton de I'experience, et laissons la I'histoire de toutes les vaines opinions des philo- sophes. Etre aveugle, et croire pouvoir se passer de ce baton, c'est le comble de I'aveuglement. Qu'un moderne a bien raison de dire qu'il n'y a que la vanite seule qui ne tire pas des causes secondes le meme parti que des premieres ! On peut et on doit meme admirer tous ces beaux genies dans leurs travaux les plus inutiles, les Descartes, les Male- branche, les Leibnitz, les Wolf, etc. ; mais quel fruit,


je vous prie, a-t-on retire de leurs profondes medi- tations et de tons leurs ouvrages? Commengons done et voyons, non ce qu'on a pense, mais ce qu'il faut penser pour le repos de la vie.

Autant de temperaments, autant d'esprits, de ca- racteres et de moeurs differentes. Galien meme a connu cette verite, que Descartes, et non Hippocrate, comme le dit I'auteur de I'histoire de I'Ame, a pous- see loin, jusqu'a dire que la medecine seule pouvait changer les esprits et les moeurs avec le corps. II est vrai, la melancolie, la bile, le phlegme, le sang etc., suivant la nature, I'abondance et la diverse com- binaison de ces humeurs, de chaque homme font un homme different.

Dans les maladies, tantot I'ame s'eclipse et ne montre aucun signe d'elle-meme; tantot on dirait qu'elle est double, tant la fureur la transporte; tan- tot I'imbecilite se dissipe : et la convalescence d'un sot fait un homme d'esprit. Tantot le plus beau genie devenu stupide, ne se reconnait plus. Adieu toutes ces belles connaissances acquises a si grands frais, et avec tant de peine!

Ici c'est un paralytique, qui demande si sa jambe est dans son lit : la c'est un soldat qui croit avoir le bras qu'on lui a coupe. La memoire de ses an- ciennes sensations, et du lieu ou son ame les rap- portait, fait son illusion et son espece de delire. II suffit de lui parler de cette partie qui lui manque, pour lui en rappeller et faire sentir tons les mouve- ments; ce qui se fait avec je ne sais quel deplaisir d'imagination qu'on ne pent exprimer.

Celui-ci pleure, comme un enfant, aux approches de la mort, que celui-la badine. Que fallait-il a Caius Julius, a Seneque, a Petrone pour changer


l'homme machine. 19

leur intrepidite en puslllanimite ou en poltronnerie ? Une obstruction dans la rate, dans le foie, un em- barras dans la veine porte. Pourquoi? Parceque I'imagination se bouche avec les visceres; et de la naissent tons ces singuliers phenomenes de I'affec- tion hysterique et hypocondriaque.

Que dirais-je de nouveau sur ceux qui s'imaginent etre transformes en lonps-garous, en coqs, en vam- pires, qui croient que les morts les sucent? Pour- quoi m'arreterais-je a ceux qui voient leur nez, ou autres membres, de verre, et a qui il faut conseiller de coucher sur la paille, de peur qu'ils ne se cassent, afin qu'ils en retrouvent I'usage et la veritable chair, lorsque mettant le feu a la paille on leur fait craindre d'etre brCiles : f rayeur qui a quelquefois gueri la paralysie ? Je dois legerement passer sur des choses connues de tout le monde.

Je ne serai pas plus long sur le detail des effets du sommeil. Voyez ce soldat fatigue ! il ronfle dans la tranchee, au bruit de cent pieces de canons ! Son ame n'entend rien, son sommeil est une parfaite apoplexie. Une bombe va I'ecraser ; il sentira peut- etre moins ce coup qu'un insecte qui se trouve sous le pied.

D'un autre cote, cet homme que la jalousie, la haine, I'avarice ou I'ambition devore, ne pent trouver aucun repos. Le lieu le plus tranquille, les boissons les plus fraiches et les plus calmantes, tout est inutile a qui n'a pas delivre son coeur du tour- ment des passions.

L'ame et le corps s'endorment ensemble. A mesure que le mouvement du sang se calme, un doux sentiment de paix et de tranquillite se repand dans toute la machine; l'ame se sent mollement


s'appesantir avec les paupieres et s'affaisser avec les fibres du cerveau : elle devient ainsi peu a peu comme paralytique, avec tous les muscles du corps. Ceux- ci ne peuvent plus porter le poids de la tete; celle la ne peut plus soutenir le fardeau de la pensee; elle est dans le sommeil, comme n'etant point.

La circulation se fait-elle avec trop de vitesse? Tame ne peut dormir. L'ame est-elle trop agitee, le sang ne peut se calmer; il galope dans les veines avec un bruit qu'on entend : telles sont les deux causes reciproques de I'insomnie. Une seule f rayeur dans les songes fait battre le cceur a coups redou- bles, et nous arrache a la necessite, ou a la douceur du repos, comme feraient une vive douleur ou des besoins urgents. Enfin, comme la seule cessation des fonctions de l'ame procure le sommeil, il est, meme pendant la veille (qui n'est alors qu'une demi- veille), des sortes de petits sommeils d'ame tres frequents, des reves a la Suisse, qui prouvent que l'ame n'attend pas toujours le corps pour dormir; car si elle ne dort pas tout-a-fait, combien peu s'en faut-il! puisqu'il lui est impossible d'assigner un seul objet auquel elle ait prete quelque attention, parmi cette foule innombrable d'idees confuses, qui comme autant de nuages remplissent, pour ainsi dire, I'atmosphere de notre cerveau.

L'opium a trop de rapport avec le sommeil qu'il procure, pour ne pas le placer ici. Ce remede eni- vre, ainsi que le vin, le cafe, et chacun a sa ma- niere, et suivant sa dose. II rend I'homme heureux dans un etat qui semblerait devoir etre le tombeau du sentiment, comme il est I'image de la mort. Quelle douce lethargic! L'ame n'en voudrait ja- mais sortir. Elle etait en proie aux plus grandes


douleurs; elle ne sent plus que le seul plaisir de ne plus suffrir et de jouir de la plus charmante tran- quillite. L'opium change jusqu'a la volonte; il force Tame qui voulait veiller et se divertir, d'aller se mettre au lit malgre elle. Je passe sous silence I'histoire des poisons.

C'est en fouettant I'imagination, que le cafe, cet antidote du vin, dissipe nos maux de tete et nos chagrins, sans nous en menager, comme cette li- queur, pour le lendemain.

Contemplons Fame dans ses autres besoins.

Le corps humain est une machine qui monte elle- meme ses ressorts; vivante image du mouvement perpetuel. Les aliments entretiennent ce que la fie- vre excite. Sans eux Tame languit, entre en fureur et meurt abattue. C'est une bougie dont la lumiere se ranime, au moment de s'eteindre. Mais nourris- sez le corps, versez dans ses tuyaux des sues vigou- reux, des liqueurs fortes; alors I'ame genereuse comme elles s'arme d'un fier courage et le soldat que I'eau eut fait fuir, devenu feroce, court gaie- ment a la mort au bruit des tambours. C'est ainsi que I'eau chaude agite un sang que I'eau froide eut calme.

Quelle puissance d'un repas! La joie renait dans un coeur triste; elle passe dans I'ame des convives qui I'expriment par d'aimables chansons, oil les Frangais excellent. Le melancolique seul est accable, et I'homme d'etude n'y est plus propre.

La viande crue rend les animaux feroces; les hommes le deviendraient par la meme nourriture; cela est si vrai, que la nation anglaise, qui ne mange pas la chair si cuite que nous, mais rouge et san- glante, parait participer de cette ferocite plus ou


moins grande, qui vient en partie de tels aliments, et d'atitres causes, que I'education pent seule rendre impuissantes. Cette ferocite produit dans I'ame I'or- gueil, la haine, le mepris des autres nations, I'in- docilite et autres sentiments, qui depravent le carac- tere, comme des aliments grossiers font un esprit lourd, epais, dont la paresse et I'indolence sont les attributs favoris.

Mr. Pope a bien connu tout I'empire de la gour- mandise, lorsqu'il dit: "Le grave Catius parle tou- "jours de vertu, et croit que, qui souffre les vicieux "est vicieux lui-meme. Ces beaux sentiments durent "jusqu'a I'heure du diner; alors il prefere un scele- "rat, qui a une table delicate, a un saint frugal.

"Considerez, dit-il ailleurs, le meme homme en "sante, ou en maladie; possedant une belle charge, "ou I'ayant perdue ; vous le verrez cherir la vie, ou "la detester, fou a la chasse, ivrogne dans une as- "semblee de province, poli au bal, bon ami en ville, "sans foi a la cour."

Nous avons eu en Suisse un bailli, nomme Stei- guer de Wittighof en ; il etait a jeun le plus in- tegre et meme le plus indulgent des juges; mais malheur au miserable qui se trouvait sur la sellette, lorsqu'il avait fait un grand diner! II etait homme a faire pendre I'innocent, comme le coupable.

Nous pensons, et meme nous ne sommes hon- netes gens, que comme nous sommes gais, ou braves ; tout depend de la maniere dont notre machine est montee. On dirait en certains moments que I'ame habite dans I'estomac, et que Van Helmont, en met- tant son siege dans le pylore, ne se serait trompe qu'en prenant la partie pour le tout.

A quels exces la faim cruelle pent nous porter!


Plus de respect pour les entrailles auxquelles on doit ou on a donne la vie; on les dechire a belles dents, on s'en fait d'horribles festins; et dans la fureur dont on est transporte, le plus faible est toujours la proie du plus fort.

La grossesse, cette emule desiree des pales cou- leurs, ne se contente pas d'amener le plus souvent a sa suite les gouts depraves qui accompagnent ces deux etats : elle a quelquef ois fait executer a Tame les plus aff reux complots ; effets d'une manie subite, qui etouffe jusqu'a la loi naturelle. C'est ainsi que le cerveau, cette matrice de I'esprit, se pervertit a sa maniere, avec celle du corps.

Quelle autre fureur d'homme ou de femme, dans ceux que la continence et la sante poursuivent ! C'est peu pour cette fille timide et modeste d'avoir perdu toute honte et toute pudeur; elle ne regarde plus I'inceste, que comme une femme galante regarde I'adultere. Si ses besoins ne trouvent pas de prompts soulagements, ils ne se borneront point aux simples accidents d'une passion uterine, a la manie, etc. ; cette malheureuse mourra d'un mal, dont il y a tant de medecins.

II ne faut que des yeux pour voir I'influence ne- cessaire de I'age sur la raison. L'ame suit les progres du corps, comme ceux de I'education. Dans le beau sexe, l'ame suit encore la delicatesse du temperament : de la cette tendresse, cette affection, ces sentiments vifs, plutot fondes sur la passion que sur la raison, ces prejuges, ces superstitions, dont la forte empreinte pent a peine s'effacer, etc. L'homme, au contraire, dont le cerveau et les nerfs participent de la fermete de tous les solides, a I'esprit, ainsi que les traits du visage, plus nerveux :


Teducation, dont manquent les femmes, ajoute en- core de nouveaux degres de force a son ame. Avec de tels secours de la nature et de I'art, comment ne serait-il pas plus reconnaissant, plus genereux, plus constant en amitie, plus ferme dans I'adversite? etc. Mais, suivant a peu pres la pensee de I'auteur des Lettres sur les Physionomies, qui joint les graces de I'esprit et du corps a presque tous les sentiments du ccEur les plus tendres et les plus delicats ne doit point nous envier une double force, qui ne semble avoir ete donnee a I'homme, Tune, que pour se mieux penetrer des attraits de la beaute, I'autre, que pour mieux servir a ses plaisirs.

II n'est pas plus necessaire d'etre aussi grand physionomiste que cet auteur pour deviner la qua- lite de I'esprit par la figure ou la forme des traits, lorsqu'ils sont marques jusqu'a un certain point, qu'il ne Test d'etre grand medecin pour connaitre un mal accompagne de tous ses symptomes evidents. Examinez les portraits de Locke, de Steele, de Boer- liaave, de Maupertuis, etc. vous ne serez point sur- pris de leur trouver des physionomies fortes, des yeux d'aigle. Parcourez-en une infinite d'autres, vous distinguerez toujours le beau du grand genie, et meme souvent I'honnete homme du fripon. On a remarque, par exemple, qu'un poete celebre re- unit (dans son portrait) I'air d'un filou, avec le feu de Promethee.

L'histoire nous offre un memorable exemple de la puissance de I'air. Le fameux Due de Guise etait si fort convaincu que Henri III. qui I'avait eu tant de fois en son pouvoir, n'oserait jamais I'assassiner, qu'il partit pour Blois. Le chancelier Chyverni ap- prenant son depart, s'ecria: voila un homme perdu!

l'homme machine. 25

Lorsque sa fatale prediction fut justifiee par I'eve- nement, on lui en demanda la raison. II y a vingt ans, dit-il, que je connais le Roi; il est naturellement bon et meme faihle; mais j'ai observe qu'un Hen Vimpatiente et le met en fureur, lorsqu'il fait froid.

Tel peuple a I'esprit lourd et stupide; tel autre I'a vif, leger, penetrant. D'ou cela vient-il, si ce n'est en partie, et de la nourriture qu'il prend, et de la semence de ses peres,* et de ce chaos de divers elements qui nagent dans I'immensite de I'air ? L'es- prit a, comme le corps, ses maladies epidemiques et son scorbut.

Tel est I'empire du climat, qu'un homme qui en change se ressent malgre lui de ce changement. C'est une plante ambulante, qui s'est elle-meme trans- plantee; si le climat n'est plus le meme, il est juste qu'elle degenere, ou s'ameliore.

On prend tout encore de ceux avec qui Ton vit, leurs gestes, leurs accents, etc., comme la paupiere se baisse a la menace du coup dont on est prevenu, ou par la meme raison que le corps du spectateur imite machinalement, et malgre lui, tons les mouvements d'un bon pantomime.

Ce que je viens de dire prouve que la meilleure compagnie pour un homme d'esprit, est la sienne, s'il n'en trouve une semblable. L'esprit se rouille avec ceux qui n'en ont point, faute d'etre exerce: a la paume, on renvoie mal la balle a qui la sert mal. J'aimerais mieux un homme intelligent, qui n'au- rait eu aucune education, que s'il en eiit eu une mauvaise, pourvu qu'il fut encore assez jeune. Un

  • L'histoire des animaux et des hommes prouve Tempire de

la semence des peres sur l'esprit et le corps des enfants.


esprit mal conduit est un acteur que la province a gate.

Les divers etats de Tame sont done tou jours cor- relatifs a ceux du corps. Mais, pour mieux demon- trer toute cette dependance et ses causes, servons- nous ici de I'anatomie comparee; ouvrons les en- trailles de I'homme et des animaux. Le moyen de connaitre la nature humaine, si Ton n'est eclaire par un juste parallele de la structure des uns et des autres!

En general, la forme et la composition du cerveau des quadrupedes est a peu pres la meme que dans I'homme. Meme figure, meme disposition partout; avec cette difference essentielle, que I'homme est de tous les animaux celui qui a le plus de cerveau, et le cerveau le plus tortueux, en raison de la masse de son corps. Ensuite le singe, le castor, I'elephant, le chien, le renard, le chat, etc., voila les animaux qui ressemblent le plus a I'homme; car on remarque aussi chez eux la meme analogie graduee, par rapport au corps calleux, dans lequel Lancisi avait etabli le siege de I'ame, avant feu Mr. de la Peyronnie, qui cependant a illustre cette opinion par une foule d'experiences.

Apres tous les quadrupedes, ce sont les oiseaux qui ont le plus de cerveau. Les poissons ont la tete grosse; mais elle est vide de sens, comme celle de bien des hommes. lis n'ont point de corps cal- leux et fort peu de cerveau, lequel manque aux insectes.

Je ne me repandrai point en un plus long detail des varietes de la nature, ni en conjectures, car les unes et les autres sont infinies, comme on en

l'homme machine. 27

peut jitger en Hsant les seuls traites de Willis, De Cerehro, et De Aninia Brutormn.

Je conclurai seulement ce qui s'en suit claire- ment de ces incontestables observations: lo que plus les animaux sont farouches, moins ils ont de cerveau; 2o que ce viscere semble s'agrandir, en quelque sorte, a proportion de leur docilite; 3° qu'il y a ici une singuliere condition imposee eternelle- ment par la nature, qui est que plus on gagnera du cote de I'esprit, plus on perdra du cote de I'instinct. Lequel I'emporte, de la perte ou du gain?

Ne croyez pas, au reste, que je veuille pretendre par la que le seul volume du cerveau suffise pour faire juger du degre de docilite des animaux; il faut que la qualite reponde encore a la quantite, et que les solides et les fluides soient dans cet equilibre convenable qui fait la sante.

Si I'imbecile ne manque pas de cerveau, comma on le remarque ordinairement, ce viscere pechera par une mauvaise consistance, par trop de mollesse, par exemple, II en est de meme des f ous ; les vices de leur cerveau ne se derobent pas tou jours a nos recherches; mais si les causes de I'imbecilite, de la folic, etc. ne sont pas sensibles, ou aller chercher celles de la variete de tous les esprits? Elles echap- peraient aux yeux des lynx et des argus. Un rien, une petite fibre, quelque chose que la plus subtile anatomie ne peut decouvrir, eut fait deux sots d'Erasme et de Fontenelle, qui le remarque lui meme dans un de ses meilleurs Dialogues.

Outre la mollesse de la moelle du cerveau, dans les enfants, dans les petits chiens et dans les oi- seaux, Willis a remarque que les corps canneles sont effaces et comme decolores dans tous ces animaux,


et que leurs stries sont aussi imparfaitement formees que dans les paralytiques. II ajoute, ce qui est vrai, que I'homme a la protuberance annulaire fort grosse; et ensuite tou jours diminutivement par de- gres, le singe et les autres animaux nommes ci- devant, tandis que le veau, le boeuf, le loup, la brebis, le cochon, etc. qui ont cette partie d'un tres petit volume, ont les nattes et testes fort gros.

On a beau etre discret et reserve sur les conse- quences qu'on pent tirer de ces observations et de tant d'autres sur I'espece d'inconstance des vais- seaux et des nerf s, etc. : tant de varietes ne peuvent etre des jeux gratuits de la nature, Elles prouvent du moins la necessite d'une bonne et abondante or- ganisation, puisque dans tout le regne animal Tame, se raffermissant avec le corps, acquiert de la saga- cite, a mesure qu'il prend des forces.

Arretons-nous a contempler la differente docilite des animaux. Sans doute Fanalogie la mieux en- tendue conduit I'esprit a croire que les causes dont nous avons fait mention produisent toute la diver- site qui se trouve entr'eux et nous, quoiqu'il faille avouer que notre faible entendement, borne aux observations les plus grossieres, ne puisse voir les liens qui regnent entre la cause et les effets. C'est une espece d'harmonie que les philosophes ne con- naitront jamais.

Parmi les animaux, les uns apprennent a parler et a chanter; ils retiennent des airs et prennent tous les tons aussi exactement qu'un musicien. Les au- tres, qui montrent cependant plus d'esprit, tels que le singe, n'en peuvent venir a bout. Pourquoi cela, si ce n'est par un vice des organes de la parole?

Mais ce vice est-il tellement de conformation.


qu'on n'y puisse apporter aucun remede ? en un mot serait-il absolument impossible d'apprendre une langue a cet animal? Je ne le crois pas,

Je prendrais le grand singe preferablement a tout autre, jusqu'a ce que le hasard nous eiit fait decouvrir quelque autre espece plus semblable a la notre, car rien ne repugne qu'il y en ait dans des regions qui nous sont inconnues. Cet animal nous ressemble si fort, que les naturalistes I'ont appele homme sauvage, ou homme des hois. Je le pren- drais aux memes conditions des ecoliers d' Amman; c'est-a-dire, que je voudrais qu'il ne fut ni trop jeune ni trop vieux ; car ceux qu'on nous apporte en Europe sont communement trop ages. Je choisirais celui qui aurait la physionomie la plus spirituelle, et qui tiendrait le mieux dans mille petites operations ce qu'elle m'aurait promis. Enfin, ne me trouvant pas digne d'etre son gouverneur, je le mettrais a I'ecole de I'excellent maitre que je viens de nommer, ou d'un autre aussi habile, s'il en est.

Vous savez par le livre d'Amman, et par tous ceux* qui ont traduit sa methode, tous les prodiges qu'il a su operer sur les sourds de naissance, dans les yeux desquels il a, comme il le fait entendre lui-meme, trouve des oreilles ; et en combien peu de temps enfin il leur a appris a entendre, parler, lire, et ecrire, Je veux que les yeux d'un sourd voient plus clair et soient plus intelligents que s'il ne I'etait pas, par la raison que la perte d'un membre ou d'un sens pent augmenter la force ou la penetration d'un autre : mais le singe voit et entend ; il comprend ce qu'il entend et ce qu'il voit; il congoit si parfaite- ment les signes qu'on lui fait, qu'a tout autre jeu,

♦L'auteur de I'Histoire naturelle de Tame etc.


ou tout autre exercice, je ne doute point qu'il ne I'emportat sur les disciples d' Amman. Pourquoi done I'education des singes serait-elle impossible? Pourquoi ne pourrait-il enfin, a force de soins, imi- ter, a I'exemple des sourds, les mouvemens neces- saires pour prononcer? Je n'ose decider si les or- ganes de la parole du singe ne peuvent, quoiqu'on f asse, rien articuler ; mais cette impossibilite absolue me surprendrait, a cause de la grande analogic du singe et de I'homme, et qu'il n'est point d'animal connu jusqu'a present, dont le dedans et le dehors lui ressemblent d'une maniere si frappante. Mr. Locke, qui certainement n'a jamais ete suspect de credulite, n'a pas fait difficulte de croire I'histoire que le Chevalier Temple fait dans ses Memoires, d'un perroquet qui repondait a propos et avait appris, comme nous, a avoir une espece de conver- sation suivie. Je sais qu'on s'est moque* de ce grand metaphysicien ; mais qui aurait annonce a I'univers qu'il y a des generations qui se font sans oeufs et sans femmes, aurait-il trouve beaucoup de parti- sans? Cependant Mr. Trembley en a decouvert, qui se font sans accouplement, et par la seule sec- tion. Amman n'eut-il pas aussi passe pour un fou, s'il se fut vante, avant que d'en faire I'heureuse ex- perience, d'instruire, et en aussi peu de temps, des ecoliers tels que les siens? Cependant ses succes ont etonne I'univers, et comme I'auteur de I'His- toire des Polypes, il a passe de plein vol a I'immor- talite. Qui doit a son genie les miracles qu'il opere, I'emporte a mon gre sur qui doit les siens au ha- sard. Qui a trouve I'art d'embellir le plus beau des regnes, et de lui donner des perfections qu'il n'a-

  • L'auteur de I'Hist. de lame.

lhomme machine. 31

vait pas, doit etre mis au-dessus d'un faiseur oisif de systemes frivoles, ou d'un auteur laborieux de steriles decouvertes. Celles d' Amman sont bien d'un autre prix; il a tire les hommes de I'instinct auquel ils semblaient condamnes; il leur a donne les idees, de I'esprit, une ame en un mot, qu'ils n'eCissent jamais eue. Quel plus grand pouvoir!

Ne bornons point les ressources de la nature; elles sont infinies, surtout aidees d'un grand art.

La meme mecanique, qui ouvre le canal d'Eu- stachi dans les sourds, ne pourrait-il le deboucher dans les singes? Une heureuse envie d'imiter la prononciation du maitre, ne pourrait-elle mettre en liberte les organes de la parole, dans les animaux qui imitent tant d'autres signes, avec tant d'adresse et d'intelligence ? Non seulement je defie qu'on me cite aucune experience vraiment concluante, qui de- cide mon pro jet impossible et ridicule ; mais la simi- litude de la structure et des operations du singe est telle, que je ne doute presque point, si on exergait parfaitement cet animal, qu'on ne vint enfin a bout de lui apprendre a prononcer, et par consequent a savoir une langue. Alors ce ne serait plus ni un homme sauvage, ni un homme manque: ce serait un homme parfait, un petit homme de ville, avec autant d'etoffe ou de muscles que nous-memes, pour penser et profiter de son education.

Des animaux a I'homme, la transition n'est pas violente; les vrais philosophes en conviendront. Qu'etait I'homme, avant I'invention des mots et la connaissance des langues? Un animal de son espece, qui avec beaucoup moins d'instinct nature! que les autres, dont alors il ne se croyait pas roi, n'etait distingue du singe et des autres animaux


que comme le singe Test lul-meme; je veux dire par une physionomie qui annongait plus de discerne- ment. Reduit a la seule connaissance intuitive des Leibniziens, il ne voyait que des figures et des cou- leurs, sans pouvoir rien distinguer entr'elles; vieux, comme jeune, enfant a tout age, il begayait ses sen- sations et ses besoins, comme un chien affame, ou ennuye de repos, demande a manger ou a se pro- mener.

Les mots, les langues, les lois, les sciences, les beaux-arts sont venus; et par eux enfin le diamant brut de notre esprit a ete poli. On a dresse un homme, comme un animal; on est devenu auteur, comme portefaix. Un geometre a appris a faire les demonstrations et les calculs les plus difficiles, comme un singe a oter ou mettre son petit chapeau, et a monter sur son chien docile. Tout s'est fait par les signes; chaque espece a compris ce qu'elle a pu comprendre: et c'est de cette maniere que les hommes ont acquis la connaissance symholique, ainsi nommee encore par nos philosophes d'Allemagne.

Rien de si simple, comme on voit, que la meca- nique de notre education! Tout se reduit a des sons, ou a des mots, qui de la bouche de I'un passent par I'oreille de I'autre dans le cerveau, qui regoit en meme temps par les yeux la figure des corps, dont ces mots sont les signes arbitraires.

Mais qui a parle le premier? Qui a ete le pre- mier precepteur du genre human? Qui a invente les moyens de mettre a profit la docilite de notre organisation? Je n'en sais rien; le nom de ces heu- reux et premiers genies a ete perdu dans la nuit des temps. Mais I'art est le fils de la nature; elle a du longtemps le preceder.


On doit croire que les hommes les mieux orga- nises, ceux pour qui la nature aura epuise ses bien- faits, auront instruit les autres. lis n'auront pu entendre un bruit nouveau, par exemple, eprouver de nouvelles sensations, etre frappe de tons ces beaux objets divers qui forment le ravissant spectacle de la nature, sans se trouver dans le cas de ce sourd de Chartres dont le grand Fontenelle nous a le premier donne I'histoire, lorsqu'il entendit pour la premiere fois a quarante ans le bruit etonnant des cloches.

De la serait-il absurde de croire que ces premiers mortels essayerent a la maniere de ce sourd, ou a celle des animaux et des muets (autre espece d'animaux), d'exprimer leurs nouveaux sentiments par des mouvements dependants de I'economie de leur imagination, et consequemment ensuite par des sons spontanes propres a chaque animal, expression naturelle de leur surprise, de leur joie, de leurs transports, ou de leurs besoins? Car sans doute ceux que la nature a doues d'un sentiment plus exquis, ont eu aussi plus de facilite pour I'exprimer.

Voila comme je congois que les hommes ont em- ploye leur sentiment, ou leur instinct, pour avoir de I'esprit, et enfin leur esprit, pour avoir des connais- sances. Voila par quels moyens, autant que je puis les saisir, on s'est rempli le cerveau des idees, pour le reception desquelles la nature I'avait forme. On s'est aide I'un par I'autre; et les plus petits com- mencements s'agrandissant peu a peu, toutes les choses de I'univers ont ete aussi facilement dis- tinguees qu'un cercle.

Comme une corde de violon ou une touche de clavecin fremit et rend un son, les cordes du cer-


veau, frappees par les rayons sonores, ont ete ex- citees a rendre ou a redire les mots qui les tou- chaient. Mais comme telle est la construction de ce viscere, que des qu'une fois les yeux bien formes pour I'optique ont regu la peinture des objets, le cerveau ne pent pas ne pas voir leurs images et leurs differences : de meme, lorsque les signes de ces differences ont ete marques, ou graves dans le cer- veau, Fame en a necessairement examine les rap- ports; examen qui lui etait impossible sans la de- couverte des signes, ou I'invention des langues. Dans ces temps, oii I'univers etait presque muet, I'ame etait a I'egard de tons les objets, comme un homme qui, sans avoir aucune idee des propor- tions, regarderait un tableau, ou une piece de sculp- ture: il n'y pourrait rien distinguer; ou comme un petit enfant (car alors I'ame etait dans son en- fance) qui, tenant dans sa main un certain nombre de petits brins de paille ou de bois, les voit en gene- ral d'une vue vague et superficielle, sans pouvoir les compter ni les distinguer. Mais qu'on mette une espece de pavilion, ou d'etendard, a cette piece de bois, par exemple, qu'on appelle mat, qu'on en mette un autre a un autre pareil corps; que le pre- mier venu se nombre par le signe 1 et le second par le signe ou chiffre 2 ; alors cet enfant pourra les compter, et ainsi de suite il apprendra toute I'arith- metique. Des qu'une figure lui paraitra egale a une autre par son signe numeratif, il concl{ira sans peine que ce sont deux corps differents; que 1 et 1 font deux, que 2 et 2 font 4,* etc.

C'est cette similitude reelle, ou apparente, des

  • II y a encore aujourd'hui des peuples, qui, faute d'un plus

grand nombre de signes, ne peuvent compter que jusqu'a 20.

l'homme machine. 35

figures, qui est la base fondamentale de toutes les verites et de toutes nos connaissances, parmi les- quelles il est evident que celles dont les signes sont moins simples et moins sensibles sont plus difficiles a apprendre que les autres, en ce qu'elles demandent plus de genie pour embrasser et combiner cette immense quantite de mots par lesquels les sciences dont je parle expriment les verites de leur ressort: tandis que les sciences qui s'annoncent par des chiffres, ou autres petits signes, s'apprennent fa- cilement; et c'est sans doute cette facilite qui a fait la fortune des calculs algebriques, plus encore que leur evidence.

Tout ce savoir dont le vent enfle le ballon du cer- veau de nos pedants orgueilleux, n'est done qu'un vaste amas de mots et de figures, qui forment dans la tete toutes les traces par lesquelles nous distinguons et nous nous rappellons les objets. Toutes nos idees se reveillent, comme un jardinier qui connait les plantes se souvient de toutes leurs phases a leur aspect. Ces mots et ces figures qui sont designes par eux, sont tellements lies en- semble dans le cerveau, qu'il est assez rare qu'on imagine une chose sans le nom ou le signe qui lui est attache.

Je me sers tou jours du mot imaginer, parceque je crois que tout s'imagine, et que toutes les parties de Fame peuvent etre justement reduites a la seule imagination, qui les forme toutes; et qu'ainsi le jugement, le raisonnement, la memoire ne sont que des parties de I'ame nullement absolues, mais de veritables modifications de cette espece de toile me- dullaire, sur laquelle les objets peints dans I'oeil sont renvoyes, comme d'une lanterne magique.


Mais si tel est ce merveilleux et incomprehensible resultat de I'organisation du cerveau; si tout se congoit par Timagination, si tout s'explique par elle ; pourquoi diviser le principe sensitif qui pense dans rhomme? N'est-ce pas une contradiction mani- feste dans les partisans de la simplicite de I'esprit? Car une chose qu'on divise ne pent plus etre, sans absurdite, regardee comme indivisible. Voila oia conduit Tabus des langues, et I'usage de ces grands mots, spiritualite, immaterialite, etc., places a tout hasard, sans etre entendus, meme par des gens d'esprit.

Rien de plus facile que de prouver un systeme, fonde comme celui-ci sur le sentiment intime et I'ex- perience propre de chaque individu. L'imagination, ou cette partie fantastique du cerveau, dont la nature nous est aussi inconnue que sa maniere d'agir, est- elle naturellement petite, ou f aible ? elle aura a peine la force de comparer I'analogie, ou la ressemblance de ses idees; elle ne pourra voir que ce qui sera vis-a-vis d'elle, ou ce qui I'affectera le plus vive- ment; et encore de quelle maniere! Mais toujours est-il vrai que l'imagination seule apergoit ; que c'est elle qui se represente tous les objets, avec les mots et les figures qui les caracterisent ; et qu'ainsi c'est elle encore une fois qui est I'ame, puisqu'elle en fait tous les roles. Par elle, par son pinceau flat- teur, le froid squelette de la raison prend des chairs vives et vermeilles; par elle les sciences fleurissent, les arts s'embellissent, les bois parlent, les echos soupirent, les rochers pleurent, le marbre respire, tout prend vie parmi les corps inanimes. C'est elle encore qui ajoute a la tendresse d'un coeur amoureux le piquant attrait de la volupte; elle la fait ger-

l'homme machine. 37

mer dans le cabinet du philosophe, et du pedant poudreux; elle forme enfin les savants comme les orateurs et les poetes. Sottement decriee par les uns, vainement distinguee par les autres, qui tons I'ont mal connue, elle ne marche pas seulement a la suite des Graces et des beaux-art, elle ne peint pas seulement la nature, elle pent aussi la mesurer. Elle raisonne, juge, penetre, compare, approfondit. Pourrait-elle si bien sentir les beautees des tableaux qui lui sont traces, sans en decouvrir les rapports? Non; comme elle ne peut se replier sur les plaisirs des sens, sans en goiiter toute la perfection ou la volupte, elle ne peut reflechir sur ce qu'elle a meca- niquement congu, sans etre alors le jugement meme.

Plus on exerce I'imagination, ou le plus maigre genie, plus il prend, pour ainsi dire, d'embonpoint ; plus il s'agrandit, devient nerveux, robuste, vaste et capable de penser. La meilleure organisation a besoin de cet exercice.

L'organisation est le premier merite de I'homme; c'est en vain que tons les auteurs de morale ne mettent point au rang des qualites estimables celles qu'on tient de la nature, mais seulement les talents qui s'acquierent a force de reflexions et d'industrie: car d'ou nous vient, je vous prie, I'habilete, la sci- ence et la vertu, si ce n'est d'une disposition qui nous rend propres a devenir habiles, savants et ver- tueux? Et d'ou nous vient encore cette disposition, si ce n'est de la nature? Nous n'avons de qualites estimables que par elle ; nous lui devons tout ce que nous sommes. Pourquoi done n'estimerais-je pas autant ceux qui ont des qualites naturelles, que ceux qui brillent par des vertus acquises, et comme d'emprunt? Quel que soit le merite, de quelque en-


droit qu'il naisse, il est digne d'estime; il ne s'agit que de savoir le mesurer. L'esprit, la beaute, les richesses, la noblesse, quoiqu'enfants du liasard, ont tons leur prix, comme I'adresse, le savoir, la vertu, etc. Ceiix que la nature a combles de ses dons les plus precieux, doivent plaindre ceux a qui ils ont ete refuses; mais ils peuvent sentir leur supe- riorite sans orgueil, et en connaisseurs. Une belle femme serait aussi ridicule de se trouver laide, qu'un homme d'esprit de se croire un sot. Une modestie outree (defaut rare a la verite) est une sorte d'ingratitude envers la nature. Une honnete fierte, au contraire, est la marque d'une ame belle et grande, que decelent des traits males moules comme par le sentiment.

Si I'organisation est un merite, et le premier me- rite, et la source de tous les autres, I'instruction est le second. Le cerveau le mieux construit, sans elle, le serait en pure perte; comme sans I'usage du monde, I'homme le mieux fait ne serait qu'un pay- san grossier. Mais aussi quel serait le fruit de la plus excellente ecole, sans une matrice parfaitement ouverte a I'entree ou a la conception des idees? II est aussi impossible de donner une seule idee a un homme prive de tous les sens, que de faire un enfant a une femme a laquelle la nature aurait pousse la distraction jusqu'a oublier de faire une vulve, comme je I'ai vu dans une, qui n'avait ni fente, ni vagin, ni matrice, et qui pour cette raison fut demariee apres dix ans de mariage.

Mais si le cerveau est a la fois bien organise et bien instruit, c'est une terre feconde parfaitement ensemencee, qui produit le centuple de ce qu'elle a regu: ou (pour quitter le style figure souvent ne-

l'homme machine. 39

cessaire, pour mieux exprimer ce qu'on sent et donner des graces a la Verite meme), rimagination elevee par I'art a la belle et rare dignite de genie, saisit exactement tons les rapports des idees qu'elle a congues, embrasse avec facilite une foule eton- nante d'objets, pour en tirer enfin une longue chaine de consequences, lesquelles ne sont encore que de nouveaux rapports, enfantes par la comparaison des premiers, auxquels Fame trouve une parfaite ressemblance. Telle est, selon moi, la generation de I'esprit. Je dis trouve, comme j'ai donne ci- devant I'epithete d'apparente a la similitude des objets : non que je pense que nos sens soient tou- jours trompeurs, comme I'a pretendu le Pere Male- branche, ou que nos yeux naturellement un peu ivres ne voient pas les objets tels qu'ils sont en eux memes, quoique les microscopes nous le prouvent tous les jours, mais pour n'avoir aucune dispute avec les Pyrrhoniens, parmi lesquels Bayle s'est distingue.

Je dis de la verite en general ce que Mr. de Fon- tenelle dit de certaines en particulier, qu'il faut la sacrifier aus agrements de la societe. II est de la douceur de mon caractere d'obvier a toute dispute, lorsqu'il ne s'agit pas d'aiguiser la conversation. Les Cartesiens viendraient ici vainement a la charge avec leur idees innees; je ne me donnerais certaine- ment pas le quart de la peine qu'a prise Mr. Locke pour attaquer de telles chimeres. Quelle utilite, en effet, de faire un gros livre, pour prouver une doc- trine qui etait erigee en axiome il y a trois mille ans?

Suivant les principes que nous avons poses, et que nous croyons vrais, celui qui a le plus d'imagina-


tion doit etre regarde comme ayant le plus d'esprit, ou de genie, car tous ces mots sont synonymes ; et encore une fois c'est par un abus honteux qu'on croit dire des choses differentes, lorsqu'on ne dit que differents mots ou differents sons, auxquels on n'a attache aucune idee ou distinction reelle.

La plus belle, la plus grande, ou la plus forte imagination, est done la plus propre aux sciences, comme aux arts. Je ne decide point s'il faut plus d'esprit pour exceller dans I'art des Aristote^, ou des Descartes, que dans celui des Euripides ou des Sophocles; et si la nature s'est mise en plus grands frais pour faire Newton que pour former Corneille (ce dont je doute fort), mais il est certain que c'est la seule imagination diversement appliquee qui a fait leur different triomphe et leur gloire im- mortelle.

Si quelqu'un passe pour avoir peu de jugement, avec beaucoup d'imagination ; cela veut dire que I'imagination trop abandonnee a elle meme, presque tou jours comme occupee a se regarder dans le mi- roir de ses sensations, n'a pas assez contracte I'habi- tude de les examiner elles-memes avec attention ; plus profondement penetree des traces, ou des images, que de leur verite ou de leur ressemblance.

II est vrai que telle est la vivacite des ressorts de I'imagination, que si I'attention, cette c\6 ou mere des sciences, ne s'en mele, il ne lui est gueres permis que de parcourir et d'effleurer les objets,

Voyez cet oiseau sur la branche, il semble tou- jours pret a s'envoler; I'imagination est de meme. Toujours emportee par le tourbillon du sang et des esprits, une onde fait une trace, effacee par celle qui suit ; I'ame court apres, souvent en vain : il faut

l'homme machine. 41

qu'elle s'attende a regretter ce qu'elle n'a pas assez vite saisi et fixe: et c'est ainsi que rimagination, veritable image du temps, se detruit et se renouvelle sans cesse.

Tel est le chaos et la succession continuelle et rapide de nos idees ; elles se chassent, comme un flot pousse I'autre; de sorte que si I'imagination n'em- ploie, pour ainsi dire, une partie de ses muscles pour etre comme en equilibre sur les cordes du cer- veau, pour se soutenir quelque temps sur un objet qui va fuir et s'empecher de tomber sur un autre, qu'il n'est pas encore temps de contempler, jamais elle ne sera digne du beau nom de jugement. Elle exprimera vivement ce qu'elle aura senti de meme; elle formera des orateurs, des musiciens, des pein- tres, des poetes, et jamais un seul philosophe. Aucon- traire si, des I'enfance, on accoutume I'imagination a se brider elle-meme, a ne point se laisser emporter a sa propre impetuosite, qui ne fait que de brillants enthousiastes, a arreter, contenir ses idees, a les retourner dans tons les sens, pour voir toutes les faces d'un objet, alors I'imagination prompte a juger embrassera par le raisonnement la plus grande sphere d'objets, et sa vivacite, toujours de si bon augure dans les enfants, et qu'il ne s'agit que de regler par I'etude et I'exercice, ne sera plus qu'une penetration clairvoyante, sans laquelle on fait peu de progres dans les sciences.

Tels sont les simples fondements sur lesquels a ete bati I'edifice de la logique. La nature les avait jetes pour tout le genre humain; mais les uns en ont profite, les autres en ont abuse.

Malgre toutes ces prerogatives de I'homme sur les animaux, c'est lui faire honneur que de le ran-


ger dans la meme classe. II est vrai que, jusqu'a un certain age, il est plus animal qu'eux, parce qu'il apporte moins d'instinct en naissant.

Quel est I'animal qui mourrait de faim au milieu d'une riviere de lait? L'homme seul. Semblable a ce vieux enfant dont un moderne parle d'apres Arnobe, il ne connait ni les aliments qui lui sont propres, ni I'eau qui pent le noyer, ni le feu qui pent le reduire en poudre. Faites briller pour la premiere f ois la lumiere d'une bougie aux yeux d'un enfant, il y portera machinalement le doigt, comme pour savoir quel est le nouveau phenomene qu'il apergoit; c'est a ses depens qu'il en connaitra le danger, mais il n'y sera pas repris.

Mettez-le encore avec un animal sur le bord d'un precipice! lui seul y tombera; il se noie, ou I'autre se sauve a la nage. A quatorze ou quinze ans, il entrevoit a peine les grands plaisirs qui I'attendent dans la reproduction de son espece ; deja adolescent, il ne sait pas trop comment s'y prendre dans un jeu que la nature apprend si vite aux animaux: il se cache, comme s'il etait honteux d'avoir du plaisir et d'etre fait pour etre heureux, tandis que les animaux se font gloire d'etre cyniqucs. Sans education, ils sont sans prejuges. Mais voyons encore ce chien et cet enfant qui ont tous deux perdu leur maitre dans un grand chemin : Ten f ant pleure, il ne sait a quel saint se vouer ; le chien, mieux servi par son odorat que I'autre par sa raison, I'aura bientot trouve.

La nature nous avait done faits pour etre au dessous des animaux, ou du moins pour faire par la meme mieux eclater les prodiges de I'education, qui seule nous tire du niveau et nous eleve enfin au-dessus d'eux. Mais accordera-t-on la meme dis-

l'homme machine. 43

tinction aux sourds, aux aveugles-nes, aux im- beciles, aux fous, aux hommes sauvages, ou qui ont ete eleves dans les bois avec les betes, a ceux dont I'affection hypocondriaque a perdu Timagina- tion, enfin a toutes ces betes a figure humaine, qui ne montrent que I'instinct le plus grossier? Non, tous ces hommes de corps, et non d'esprit, ne me- ritent pas une classe particuliere.

Nous n'avons pas dessein de nous dissimuler les objections qu'on peut faire en faveur de la distinc- tion primitive de I'homme et des animaux, contre notre sentiment. II y a, dit-on, dans I'homme une loi naturelle, une connaissance du bien et du mal, qui n'a pas ete gravee dans le cceur des animaux.

Mais cette objection, ou plutot cette assertion est-elle fondee sur I'experience, sans laquelle un philosophe peut tout rejeter? En avons-nous quel- qu'une qui nous convainque que I'homme seul a ete eclaire d'un rayon refuse a tous les autres ani- maux? S'il n'y en a point, nous ne pouvons pas plus connaitre par elle ce qui se passe dans eux, et meme dans les hommes, que ne pas sentir ce qui affecte I'interieur de notre etre. Nous savons que nous pensons et que nous avons des remords: un sentiment intime ne nous force que trop d'en con- venir; mais pour juger des remords d'autrui, ce sentiment qui est dans nous est insuffisant : c'est pourquoi il en faut croire les autres hommes sur leur parole, ou sur les signes sensibles et exterieurs que nous avons remarques en nous-memes, lorsque nous eprouvions la meme conscience et les memes tourments.

Mais pour decider si les animaux qui ne parlent point ont regu la loi naturelle, il faut s'en rapporter


consequemment a ces signes dont je viens de parler, suppose qu'ils existent. Les faits semblent le prou- ver. Le chien qui a mordu son maitre qui I'agagait, a paru s'en repentir le moment suivant; on I'a vu triste, f ache, n'osant se montrer, et s'avouer coupable par un air rampant et humilie. L'histoire nous offre un exemple celebre d'un lion qui ne voulut pas dechirer un homme abandonne a sa fureur, parce qu'il le reconnut pour son bienfaiteur. Qu'il serait a souhaiter que I'homme meme montrat tou- jours la meme reconnaissance pour les bienfaits et le meme respect pour I'humanite! On n'aurait plus a craindre les ingrats, ni ces guerres qui sont le fleau du genre humain et les vrais bourreaux de la loi naturelle.

Mais un etre a qui la nature a donne un instinct si precoce, si eclaire, qui juge, combine, raisonne et delibere, autant que s'etend et le lui permet la sphere de son activite; un etre qui s'attache par les bien- faits, qui se detache par les mauvais traitements et va essayer un meilleur maitre; un etre d'une struc- ture semblable a la notre, qui fait les memes ope- rations, qui a les memes passions, les memes dou- leurs, les memes plaisirs, plus ou moins vifs sui- vant I'empire de I'imagination et la delicatesse des nerf s ; un tel etre enfin ne montre-t-il pas clairement qu'il sent ses torts et les notres, qu'il connait le bien et le mal et, en un mot, a conscience de ce qu'il fait? Son ame qui marque comme la notre les memes joies, les memes mortifications, les memes deconcertements, serait-elle sans aucune repugnance a la vue de son semblable dechire, ou apres I'avoir lui-meme impitoyablement mis en pieces ? Cela pose, le don precieux dont il s'agit n'aurait point ete

l'homme machine. 45

refuse aux animaux; car puisqu'ils nous offrent des signes evidents de leur repentir, comme de leur in- telligence, qu'y a-t-il d'absurde a penser que des etres, des machines presque aussi parfaites que nous, soient, comme nous, f aites pour penser et pour sentir la nature?

Qu'on ne m'objecte point que les animaux sont pour la pliipart des etres feroces, qui ne sont pas capables de sentir les maux qu'ils font; car tons les hommes distinguent-ils mieux les vices et les ver- tus ? II est dans notre espece de la f erocite, comme dans la leur. Les hommes qui sont dans la bar- bare habitude d'enfreindre la loi naturelle, n'en sont pas si tourmentes que ceux qui la transgressent pour la premiere fois, et que la force de I'exemple n'a point endurcis. II en est de meme des animaux, comme des hommes. Les uns et les autres peuvent etre plus ou moins feroces par temperament, et ils le deviennent encore plus avec ceux qui le sont. Mais un animal doux, pacifique, qui vit avec d'autres animaux semblables, et d'aliments doux, sera en- nemi du sang et du carnage, il rougira interieure- ment de I'avoir verse ; avec cette difference peut-etre que, comme chez eux tout est immole aux besoins, aux plaisirs et aux commodites de la vie, dont ils jouissent plus que nous, leurs remords ne semblent pas devoir etre si vifs que les notres, parceque nous ne sommes pas dans la meme necessite qu'eux. La coutume emousse et peut-etre etouffe les remords, comme les plaisirs.

Mais je veux pour un moment supposer que je me trompe, et qu'il n'est pas juste que presque tout I'univers ait tort a ce sujet, tandis que j'aurais seul raison; j'accorde que les animaux, meme les plus


excellents, ne connaissent pas la distinction du bien et du mal moral, qu'ils n'ont aucune memoire des attentions qu'on a cues pour eux, du bien qu'on leur a fait, aucun sentiment de leurs propres vertus; que ce lion, par exemple, dont j'ai parle apres tant d'autres, ne se souvienne pas de n'avoir pas voulu ravir la vie a cet homme qui fut livre a sa furie, dans un spectacle plus inhumain que tous les lions, les tigres et les ours; tandis que nos compatriotes se battent, Suisses contre Suisses, freres contre freres, se reconnaissent, s'enchainent, ou se tuent sans remords, parce qu'un prince paie leurs meur- tres : je suppose enfin que la loi naturelle n'ait pas ete donnee aux animaux, quelles en seront les con- sequences? L'homme n'est pas petri d'un limon plus precieux; la nature n'a employe qu'une seule et meme pate, dont elle a seulement varie les levains. Si done I'animal ne se repent pas d'avoir viole le sentiment interieur dont je parle, ou plutot s'il en est absolument prive, il faut necessairement que l'homme soit dans le meme cas : moyennant quoi adieu la loi naturelle et tous ces beaux traites qu'on a publics sur elle! Tout le regne animal en serait generalement depourvfi. Mais reciproquement si l'homme ne pent se dispenser de convenir qu'il distingue toujours, lorsque la sante le laisse jouir de lui-meme, ceux qui ont de la probite, de I'huma- nite, de la vertu, de ceux qui ne sont ni humains, ni vertueux, ni honnetes gens; qu'il est facile de di- stinguer ce qui est vice, ou vertu, par I'unique plaisir ou la propre repugnance qui en sont comme les effets naturels, il s'ensuit que les animaux formes de la meme matiere, a laquelle il n'a peut-etre man- que qu'un degre de fermentation pour egaler les

l'homme machine. 47

hommes en tout, doivent participer aux memes prerogatives de ranimalite, et qu'ainsi il n'est point d'ame, ou de substance sensitive, sans remords. La reflexion suivante va fortifier celles-ci.

On ne peut detruire la loi naturelle. L'em- preinte en est si forte dans tous les animaux, que je ne doute nullement que les plus sauvages et les plus feroces n'aient quelques moments de repentir. Je crois que la fille sauvage de Chalons en Cham- pagne aura porte la peine de son crime, s'il est vrai qu'elle ait mange sa soeur. Je pense la meme chose de tous ceux qui commettent des crimes, meme involontaires, ou de temperament: de Gaston d'Or- leans qui ne pouvait s'empecher de voler; de cer- taine femme qui fut sujette au meme vice dans la grossesse, et dont ses enfants heriterent; de celle qui dans le meme etat, mangea son mari ; de cette autre qui egorgeait les enfants, salait leurs corps, et en mangeait tous les jours comme du petit sale; de cette fille de voleur anthropophage, qui la devint a 12 ans, quoiqu'ayant perdu pere et mere a I'age d'un an elle eiit ete elevee par d'honnetes gens, pour ne rien dire de tant d'autres exemples dont nos observateurs sont remplis, et qui prouvent tous qu'il est mille vices et vertus hereditaires, qui passent des parents aux enfants, comme ceux de la nourrice a ceux qu'elle allaite. Je dis done et j'ac- corde que ces malheureux ne sentent pas pour la plupart sur le champ I'enormite de leur action. La houlimie, par exemple, ou la faim canine, peut etein- dre tout sentiment ; c'est une manie d'estomac qu'on est force de satisfaire. Mais revenues a elles-memes, et comme desenivrees, quels remords pour ces femmes qui se rappellent le meurtre qu'elles ont


commis dans ce qu'elles avaient de plus cher! quelle punition d'un mal involontaire, auquel elles n'ont pu resister, dont elles n'ont eu aucune conscience! Cependant ce n'est point assez apparemment pour les juges. Parmi les femmes dont je parle, I'une fut rouee, et brulee, I'autre enterree vive. Je sens tout ce que demande I'interet de la societe. Mais il serait sans doute a souhaiter qu'il n'y e{it pour juges que d'excellents medecins, Eux seuls pour- raient distinguer le criminel innocent, du coupable. Si la raison est esclave d'un sens deprave, ou en fureur, comment peut-elle le gouverner?

Mais si le crime porte avec soi sa propre punition plus ou moins cruelle; si la plus longue et la plus barbare habitude ne pent tout-a-fait arracher le repentir des coeurs les plus inhumains ; s'ils sont dechires par la memoire meme de leurs actions ; pour quoi effrayer I'imagination des esprits faibles par un enfer, par des spectres, et des precipices de feu, moins reels encore que ceux de Pascal*? Qu'est-il besoin de recourir a des fables, comme un pape de bonne foi I'a dit lui-meme, pour tourmenter les mal- heureux memes qu'on fait perir, parce qu'on ne les trouve pas assez punis par leur propre conscience, qui est leur premier bourreau? Ce n'est pas que je veuille dire que tons les criminels soient injuste-

  • Dans un cercle, ou a table, il lui fallait toujours un rem-

part de chaises, ou quelqu'un dans son voisinage du cote gauche, pour I'empecher de voir des abimes epouvantables dans lesquels il craignait quelquefois de tomber, quelque con- naissance qu'il eut de ces illusions. Quel effrayant effet de I'imagination, ou d'une singuliere circulation dans un lobe du cerveau ! Grand homme d'un cote, il etait a moitie fou de I'autre. La folic et la sagesse avaient chacun leur departe- ment, ou leur lobe, separe par la faux. De quel cote tenait-il si fort a Mrs. de Port-Royal? J'ai lu ce fait dans un extrait du traite du vertige de Mr. de la Mettrie.

l'homme machine. 49

ment punis ; je pretends seulement que ceux dont la volonte est depravee, et la conscience eteinte, le sont assez par leurs remords, quand ils reviennent a eux-memes; remords, j'ose encore le dire, dont la nature aurait dii en ce cas, ce me semble, de- livrer des malheureux entraines par une fatale ne- cessite.

Les criminels, les mechants, les ingrats, ceux enfin que ne sentent pas la nature, tyrans mal- heureux et indignes du jour, ont beau se faire un cruel plaisir de leur barbaric, il est des moments calmes et de reflexion, ou la conscience vengeresse s'eleve, depose contr'eux, et les condamne a etre presque sans cesse dechires de ses propres mains. Qui tourmente les hommes, est tourmente par lui- meme; et les maux qu'il sentira seront la juste me- sure de ceux qu'il aura faits.

D'un autre cote, il y a tant de plaisir a faire du bien, a sentir, a reconnaitre celui qu'on re^oit, tant de contentement a pratiquer la vertu, a etre doux, humain, tendre, charitable, compatissant et gene- reux (ce seul mot renferme toutes les vertus), que je tiens pour assez puni quiconque a le malheur de n'etre pas ne vertueux.

Nous n'avons pas originairement ete faits pour etre savants ; c'est peut-etre par une espece d'abus de nos facultes organiques, que nous le sommes devenus; et cela a la charge de I'Etat, qui nourrit une multi- tude de faineants, que la vanite a decores du nom de philosophes. La nature nous a tous crees uni- quement pour etre heureux; oui, tous, depuis le ver qui rampe, jusqu'a I'aigle qui se perd dans la nue. C'est pourquoi elle a donne a tous les animaux quelque portion de la loi naturelle, portion plus


ou moins exqiiise selon que le comportent les or- ganes bien conditionnes de chaque animal.

A present, comment definirons-nous la loi natu- relle ? C'est un sentiment qui nous apprend ce que nous ne devons pas faire, parce que nous ne voudrions pas qu'on nous le fit. Oserais-je a j outer a cette idee commune, qu'il me semble que ce sentiment n'est qu'une espece de crainte, ou de frayeur, aussi salu- taire a I'espece qu'a I'individu; car peut-etre ne respectons-nous la bourse et la vie des autres, que pour nous conserver nos biens, notre honneur et nous-memes; semblables a ces Ixions du Christia- nisme qui n'aiment Dieu et n'embrassent tant de chimeriques vertus, que parce qu'ils craignent I'en- fer.

Vous voyez que la loi naturelle n'est qu'un senti- ment intime, qui appartient encore a I'imagination, comme tous les autres, parmi lesquels on compte la pensee. Par consequent elle ne suppose evidem- ment ni education, ni revelation, ni legislateur, a moins qu'on ne veuille la confondre avec les lois civiles, a la maniere ridicule des theologiens.

Les armes du fanatisme peuvent detruire ceux qui soutiennent ces verites; mais elles ne detruiront jamais ces verites memes.

Ce n'est pas que je revoque en doute I'existence d'un Etre supreme; il me semble au contraire que le plus grand degre de probability est pour elle : mais comme cette existence ne prouve pas plus la necessite d'un culte, que toute autre, c'est une verite theorique, qui n'est guere d'usage dans la pratique: de sorte que, comme on pent dire, d'apres tant d'ex- periences, que la religion ne suppose pas I'exacte

l'homme machine. 51

probite, les memes raisons autorisent a penser que I'atheisme ne I'exclut pas.

Qui sait d'ailleurs si la raison de I'existence de rhomme ne serait pas dans son existence meme? Peut-etre a-t-il ete jete au hasard sur un point de la surface de la terre, sans qu'on puisse savoir ni comment, ni pourquoi, mais seulement qu'il doit vivre et mourir, semblable a ces champignons, qui paraissent d'un jour a I'autre, ou a ces fleurs qui bordent les fosses et couvrent les murailles.

Ne nous perdons point dans I'infini, nous ne sommes pas faits pour en avoir la moindre idee; ^n

il nous est absolument impossible de remonter a 21

I'origine des choses. II est egal d'ailleurs pour ^

notre repos, que la matiere soit eternelle, ou qu'elle ait ete creee, qu'il y ait un Dieu, ou qu'il n'y en ait pas. Quelle folic de tant se tourmenter pour ce ^

qu'il est impossible de connaitre, et ce qui ne nous -^^ ^

rendrait pas plus heureux, quand nous en viendrions r

a bout,

Mais, dit-on, lisez tous les ouvrages des Fene- ^ ^ ^

Ion, des Nieuventit, des Abadie, des Derham, des Rai, etc. Eh bien ! que m'apprendront-ils ? ou plutot que m'ont-ils appris? Ce ne sont que d'ennuyeuses repetitions d'ecrivains zeles, dont I'un n'ajoute a ^. ?2

I'autre qu'un verbiage, plus propres a fortifier qu'a 5^ ^

saper les fondements de I'atheisme. Le volume des ^ -^


c" n^ -^ xt > •-;

^^ *°-" r«^


preuves qu'on tire du spectacle de la nature, ne

leur donne pas plus de force. La structure seule

d'un doigt, d'une oreille, d'un oeil, une observation rn

de Malpighi, prouve tout, et sans doute beaucoup r"

mieux que Descartes et Malebranche; ou tout le ^

reste ne prouve rien. Les deistes, et les Chretiens

memes devraient done se contenter de faire observer


que, dans tout le regne animal, les memes vues sont executees par une infinite de divers moyens, tous cependant exactement geometriques. Car de quelles plus fortes armes pourrait-on terrasser les athees? II est vrai que si ma raison ne me trompe pas, I'homme et tout I'univers semblent avoir ete des- tines a cette unite de vues. Le soleil, I'air, I'eau, I'organisation, la forme des corps, tout est arrange dans I'oeil, comme dans un miroir qui presente fidele- ment a I'imagination les objets qui y sont peints, suivant les lois qu'exige cette infinie variete de corps qui servent a la vision. Dans I'oreille, nous trouvons partout une diversite frappante, sans que cette diverse fabrique de I'homme, des animaux, des oiseaux, des poissons, produise differents usages. Toutes les oreilles sont si mathematiquement faites, qu'elles tendent egalement au seul et meme but, qui est d'entendre. Le hasard, demande le deiste, serait-il done assez grand geometre, pour varier ainsi a son gre les ouvrages dont on le suppose auteur, sans que tant de diversite piit I'empecher d'atteindre la meme fin ? II objecte encore ces par- ties evidemment contenues dans I'animal pour de futurs usages, le papillon dans la chenille, I'homme dans le ver spermatique, un polype entier dans chacune de ses parties, la valvule du trou ovale, le poumon dans le fcetus, les dents dans leurs alve- oles, les OS dans les fluides, qui s'en detachent et se durcissent d'une maniere incomprehensible. Et comme les partisans de ce systeme, loin de rien negliger pour le faire valoir, ne se lassent jamais d'accumuler preuves sur preuves, ils veulent pro- fiter de tout, et de la faiblesse meme de I'esprit en certain cas. Voyez, disent-ils, les Spinoza, les Va-

l'homme machine. 53

nini, les Desbarreaux. les Boindin, apotres qui font plus d'honneur que de tort au deisme ! La du- ree de la sante de ces derniers a ete la mesure de leur incredulite: et il est rare en effet, ajoutent-ils, qu'on n'abjure pas Tatheisme, des que les passions se sont affaiblies avec le corps qui en est I'instru- ment.

Voila certainement tout ce qu'on pent dire de plus favorable a I'existence d'un Dieu, quoique le der- nier argument soit frivole, en ce que ces conver- sions sont courtes, I'esprit reprenant presque tou- jours ses anciennes opinions et se conduisant en consequence, des qu'il a recouvre ou plutot retrouve ses forces dans celles du corps. En voila du moins beaucoup plus que n'en dit le medecin Diderot dans ses Pensees philosophiques, sublime ouvrage qui ne convaincra pas un athee. Que repondre en effet un homme qui dit? "Nous ne connaissons point la nature: des causes cachees dans son sein pour- raient avoir tout produit. Voyez a votre tour le polype de Trembley! ne contient-il pas en soi les causes qui donnent lieu a sa regeneration? quelle absurdite y aurait-il done a penser qu'il est des 'causes physiques pour lesquelles tout a ete fait, et 'auxquelles toute la chaine de ce vaste univers est

  • si necessairement liee et assujettie, que rien de ce

'qui arrive ne pouvait pas ne pas arriver ; des causes 'dont I'ignorance absolument invincible nous a fait 'recourir a un Dieu, qui n'est pas meme un etre de Waison, suivant certains? Ainsi, detruire le ha- 'sard, ce n'est pas prouver I'existence d'un Etre su- 'preme, puisqu'il pent y avoir autre chose qui ne 'serait ni hasard, ni Dieu, je veux dire la Nature, 'dont I'etude par consequent ne pent faire que des


"incredules, comme le prouve la faqon de penser de "tons ses plus heureux scrutateurs."

Le poids de I'lmivers n'ebranle done pas un veri- table athee, loin de I'ecraser; et tons ces indices mille et mille fois rebattus d'un Createur, indices qu'on met fort au-dessus de la fagon de penser dans nos semblables, ne sont evidents, quelque loin qu'on pousse cet argument, que pour les Antipyrrhoniens, ou pour ceux qui ont assez de confiance dans leur raison pour croire pouvoir juger sur certaines ap- parences, auxquelles, comme vous voyez, les athees peuvent en opposer d'autres peut-etre aussi fortes et absolument contraires. Car si nous ecoutons en- core les naturalistes, ils nous diront que les memes causes qui dans les mains d'un chimiste et par le hasard de divers melanges ont fait le premier mi- roir, dans celles de la nature ont fait I'eau pure, qui en sert a la simple bergere: que le mouvement qui conserve le monde, a pu le creer; que chaque corps a pris la place que sa nature lui a assignee; que I'air a dii entourer la terre, par la meme raison que le fer et les autres metaux sont I'ouvrage de ses entrailles; que le soleil est une production aussi naturelle, que celle de I'electricite ; qu'il n'a pas plus ete fait pour echauffer la terre et tous ses habitants, qu'il brule quelquefois, que la pluie pour faire pous- ser les grains, qu'elle gate souvent; que le miroir et I'eau n'ont pas plus ete faits pour qu'on put s'y re- garder, que tous les corps polis qui ont la meme propriete: que I'ceil est a la verite une espece de trumeau dans lequel I'ame pent contempler I'image des objets, tels qu'ils lui sont representes par ces corps : mais qu'il n'est pas demontre que cet organe ait ete reellement fait expres pour cette contem-

l'homme machine. 55

plation, ni expres place dans I'orbite; qu'enfin il se pourrait bien faire que Lucrece, le medecin Lamy et tous les Epicuriens anciens et modernes eussent raison, lorsqu'ils avancent que I'oeil ne voit que par ce qu'il se trouve organise, et place comme il Test, que posees une fois les memes regies de mouvement que suit la nature dans la generation et le developpe- ment des corps, il n'etait pas possible que ce mer- veilleux organe fiit organise et place autrement.

Tel est le pour et le contre, et I'abrege des grandes raisons qui partageront eternellement les philo- sophes. Je ne prends aucun parti.

"Non nostrum inter vos tantas componere lites."

C'est ce que je disais a un Frangais de mes amis, aussi franc Pyrrhonien que moi, homme de beau- coup de merite, et digne d'un meilleur sort. II me fit a ce sujet une reponse fort singuliere. II est vrai, me dit-il, que le pour et le contre ne doit point inquieter Tame d'un philosophe, qui voit que rien n'est demontre avec assez de clarte pour forcer son consentement, et meme que les idees indicatives qui s'offrent d'un cote, sont ausitot detruites par celles qui se montrent de I'autre. Cependant, re- prit-il, I'univers ne sera jamais heureux, a moins qu'il ne soit athee. Voici quelles etaient les raisons de cet abominable homme. Si I'atheisme, disait- il, etait generalement repandu, toutes les branches de la religion seraient alors detruites et coupees par la racine. Plus de guerres theologiques ; plus de soldats de religion; soldats terribles! la nature infectee d'un poison sacre, reprendrait ses droits et sa purete. Sourds a toute autre voix, les mortels tranquilles ne suivraient que les conseils spontanes


de leur propre indlvidu, les seuls qu'on ne meprise point impunement et qui peuvent seuls nous conduire au bonheur par les agreables sentiers de la vertu.

Telle est la loi naturelle; quiconque en est rigide observateur, est honnete homme, et merite la con- fiance de tout le genre humain. Quiconque ne la suit pas scrupuleusement, a beau aff ecter les specieux dehors d'une autre religion, est un fourbe, ou un hypocrite dont je me defie.

Apres cela, qu'un vain peuple pense differem- ment; qu'il ose affirmer qu'il y va de la probite meme, a ne pas croire la Revelation; qu'il faut en un mot un autre religion que celle de la nature, quelle qu'elle soit! quelle misere! quelle pitie! et la bonne opinion que chacun nous donne de celle qu'il a embrassee ! Nous ne briguons point ici le suffrage du vulgaire. Qui dresse dans son coeur des autels a la superstition, est ne pour adorer des idoles, et non pour sentir la vertu.

Mais puisque toutes les facultes de I'ame de- pendent tellement de la propre organisation du cer- veau et de tout le corps, qu'elles ne sont visiblement que cette organisation meme: voila une machine bien eclairee! car enfin quand I'homme seul aurait regu en partage la loi naturelle, en serait-il moins une machine ? Des roues, quelques ressorts de plus que dans les animaux les plus parfaits, le cerveau proportionnellement plus proche du coeur, et rece- vant aussi plus de sang, la meme raison donnee; que sais-je enfin? des causes inconnues produiraient toujours cette conscience delicate, si facile a blesser, ces remords qui ne sont pas plus etrangers a la ma- tiere que la pensee, et en un mot toute la difference qu'on suppose ici. L'organisation suffirait-elle done

l'homme machine. 57

a tout? oui, encore une fois. Puisque la pensee se developpe visiblement avec les organes, pourquoi la matiere dont ils sont faits ne serait-elle pas aussi susceptible de remords, quand une fois elle a acquis avec le temps la faculte de sentir?

L'ame n'est done qu'un vain terme dont on n'a point d'idee, et dont un bon esprit ne doit se servir que pour nommer la partie qui pense en nous. Pose le moindre principe de mouvement, les corps animes auront tout ce qu'il leur faut pour se mouvoir, sentir, penser, se repentir, et se conduire en un mot dans le physique, et dans le moral qui en depend.

Nous ne supposons rien ; ceux qui croiraient que toutes les difficultes ne seraient pas encore levees, vont trouver des experiences, qui acheveront de les satisfaire.

1. Toutes les chairs des animaux palpitent apres la mort, d'autant plus longtemps que I'animal est plus f roid et transpire moins : les tortues, les lezards, les serpents, etc. en font foi.

2. Les muscles separes du corps, se retirent, lors- qu'on les pique.

3. Les entrailles conservent longtemps leur mouve- ment peristaltique, ou vermiculaire.

4. Une simple injection d'eau chaude ranime le coeur et les muscles, suivant Cowper.

5. Le cceur de la grenouille, surtout expose au soleil, encore mieux sur une table ou une assiette chaude, se remue pendant une heure et plus, apres avoir ete arrache du corps. Le mouvement semble- t-il perdu sans ressource? il n'y a qu'a piquer le ccEur, et ce muscle creux bat encore. Harvey a fait la meme observation sur les crapauds.

6. Bacon de Verulam, dans son Traite Sylvor-


Sylvarum, parle d'un homme convaincu de trahi- son, qu'on ouvrit vivant, et dont le cceur jete dans I'eau chaude sauta a plusieurs reprises, tou jours moins haut, a la distance perpendiculaire de 2 pieds.

7. Prenez un petit poulet encore dans I'ceuf ; ar- rachez lui le coeur; vous observerez les memes phe- nomenes, avec a pen pres les memes circonstances. La seule chaleur de I'haleine ranime un animal pret a perir dans la machine pneumatique.

Les memes experiences que nous devons a Boyle et a Stenon, se font dans les pigeons, dans les chiens, dans les lapins, dont les morceaux de cceur se remuent, comme les cceurs entiers. On voit le meme mouvement dans les pattes de taupe arrachees.

8. La chenille, les vers, Faraignee, la mouche, I'anguille off rent les memes choses a considerer; et le mouvement des parties coupees augmente dans I'eau chaude, a cause du feu qu'elle contient.

9. Un soldat ivre emporta d'un coup de sabre la tete d'un coq d'Inde. Cet animal resta debout, ensuite il marcha, courut; venant a rencontrer une muraille, il se tourna, battit des ailes, en continuant de courir, et tomba enfin. Etendu par terre, tons les muscles de ce coq se remuaient encore. Voila ce que j'ai vu, et il est facile de voir a peu pres ces phenomenes dans les petits chats, ou chiens, dont on a coupe la tete.

10. Les polypes font plus que de se mouvoir, apres la section ; ils se reproduisent dans huit jours en autant d'animaux qu'il y a de parties coupees. J'en suis fache pour le systeme des naturalistes sur la generation, ou plutot j'en suis bien aise; car que cette decouverte nous apprend bien a ne jamais rien

l'homme machine. 59

conclure de general, meme de toutes les experiences connues, et les plus decisives!

Voila beaucoup plus de fails qu'il n'en faut, pour prouver d'une maniere incontestable que chaque pe- tite fibre, ou partie des corps organises, se meut par un principe qui lui est propre, et dont Taction ne depend point des nerfs, comme les mouvements vo- lontaires, puisque les mouvements en question s'ex- ercent sans que les parties qui les manifestent aient aucun commerce avec la circulation. Or, si cette force se fait remarquer jusques dans des morceaux de fibres, le coeur, qui est un compose de fibres sin- gulierement entrelacees, doit avoir la meme pro- priete. L'histoire de Bacon n'etait pas necessaire pour me le persuader. II m'etait facile d'en juger, et par la parfaite analogic de la structure du coeur de I'homme et des animaux; et par la masse meme du premier, dans laquelle ce mouvement ne se cache aux yeux, que parce qu'il y est etouffe; et enfin parce que tout est f roid et affaisse dans les cadavres. Si les dissections se faisaient sur des criminels sup- plicies, dont les corps sont encore chauds, on ver- rait dans leur cceur les memes mouvements qu'on observe dans les muscles du visage des gens de- capites.

Tel est ce principe moteur des corps entiers, ou des parties coupees en morceaux, qu'il produit des mouvements non deregles, comme on I'a cru, mais tres reguliers, et cela, tant dans les animaux chauds et parfaits, que dans ceux qui sont froids et impar- faits. II ne reste done aucune ressource a nos ad- versaires, si ce n'est que de nier mille et mille faits que chacun pent facilement verifier.

Si on me demande a present quel est le siege de


cette force innee dans nos corps, je reponds qu'elle reside tres clairement dans ce que les anciens ont appelle parenchyme; c'est a dire dans la substance propre des parties, abstraction faite des veines, des arteres, des nerfs, en un mot de 1 'organisation de tout le corps; et que par consequent chaque partie contient en soi des ressorts plus ou moins vifs, selon le besoin qu'elles en avaient.

Entrons dans quelque detail de ces ressorts de la machine humaine. Tous les mouvements vitaux, ani- maux, naturels et automatiques se font par leur action. N'est-ce pas machinalement que le corps se retire, frappe de terreur a I'aspect d'un precipice inattendu ? que les paupieres se baissent a la menace d'un coup, comme on I'a dit ? que la pupille s'etrecit au grand jour pour conserver la retine, et s'elargit pour voir les objets dans I'obscurite? n'est-ce pas machinalement que les pores de la peau se ferment en hiver, pour que le froid ne penetre pas I'inte- rieur des vaisseaux? que I'estomac se souleve, irrite par le poison, par une certaine quantite d'opium, par tous les emetiques, etc. ? que le coeur, les arteres, les muscles se contractent pendant le sommeil, comme pendant la veille? que le poumon fait I'of- fice d'un souflet continuellement exerce ? n'est-ce pas machinalement qu'agissent tous les sphincters de la vessie, du rectum, etc.? que le cceur a une con- traction plus forte que tout autre muscle? que les muscles erecteurs font dresser la verge dans I'homme, comme dans les animaux qui s'en battent le ventre, et meme dans I'enfant, capable d'erection, pour peu que cette partie soit irritee ? Ce qui prouve, pour le dire en passant, qu'il est un ressort singulier dans ce membre, encore peu connu, et qui produit


des effets qu'on n'a point encore bien expllques, mal- gre toutes les lumieres de I'anatomie.

Je ne m'etendrai pas davantage sur tous ces petits ressorts subalternes connus de tout le monde. Mais il en est un autre plus subtil, et plus merveilleux qui les anime tous; il est la source de tous nos sentiments, de tous nos plaisirs, de toutes nos pas- sions, de toutes nos pensees; car le cerveau a ses muscles pour penser, comme les jambes pour mar- cher. Je veux parler de ce principe incitant, et impetueux, qu'Hippocrate appelle evopuwv (I'ame). Ce principe existe, et il a son siege dans le cerveau a I'origine des nerfs, par lesquels il exerce son em- pire sur tout le reste du corps. Par la s'explique tout ce qui peut s'expliquer, jusqu'aux effets sur- prenants des maladies de I'imagination.

Mais, pour ne pas languir dans une richesse et une fecondite mal entendue, il faut se borner a un petit nombre de questions et de reflexions.

Pourquoi la vue ou la simple idee d'une belle femme nous cause-t-elle des mouvements et des desirs singuliers? Ce qui se passe alors dans certains or- ganes, vient-il de la nature meme de ces organes? Point du tout; mais du commerce et de I'espece de sympathie de ces muscles avec I'imagination, II n'y a ici qu'un premier ressort excite par le bene placi- tum des anciens, ou par I'image de la beaute, qui en excite un autre, lequel etait fort assoupi, quand I'imagination I'a eveille : et comment cela, si ce n'est par le desordre et le tumulte du sang et des esprits, qui galopent avec une promptitude extraordinaire, et vont gonfler les corps caverneux?

Puisqu'il est des communications evidentes entre


la mere et I'enfant*, et qu'il est dur de nier des faits rapportes par Tulpius et par d'autres ecrivains aussi dignes de foi (il n'y en a point qui le soient plus), nous croirons que c'est par la meme voie que le foetus ressent I'impetuosite de I'imagination mater- nelle, comme une cire molle regoit toutes sortes d'impressions ; et que les memes traces, ou envies de la mere, peuvent s'imprimer sur le foetus, sans que cela puisse se comprendre, quoiqu'en disent Blondel et tous ses adherents. Ainsi nous f aisons reparation d'honneur au P. Malebranche, beaucoup trop raille de sa credulite par les auteurs qui n'ont point ob- serve d'assez pres la nature et ont voulu I'assujettir a leur idees.

Voyez le portrait de ce fameux Pope, au moins le Voltaire des Anglais. Les efforts, les nerfs de son genie sont peints sur sa physionomie; elle est toute en convulsion; ses yeux sortent de I'orbite, ses sourcils s'elevent avec les muscles du front. Pourquoi? C'est que I'origine des nerfs est en tra- vail et que tout le corps doit se ressentir d'une espece d'accouchement aussi laborieux. S'il n'y avait une corde interne qui tirat ainsi celles du dehors, d'ou viendraient tous ces phenomenes? Admettre une dmej pour les expliquer, c'est etre reduit a Vopera- tion du St. Esprit.

En effet, si ce qui pense en mon cerveau n'est pas une partie de ce viscere, et consequemment de tout le corps, pourquoi, lorsque tranquille dans mon lit je forme le plan d'un ouvrage, ou que je poursuis un raisonnement abstrait, pourquoi mon sang s'echauffe-t-il ? pourquoi la fievre de mon esprit

  • Au moins par les vaisseaux. Est-il sur qu'il n'y en a point

par les nerfs ?

l'homme machine. 63

passe-t-elle dans mes veines? Demandez-le aux hommes d'imagination, aux grandes poetes, a ceux qu'un sentiment bien rendu ravit, qu'un gout exquis, que les charmes de la nature, de la verite ou de la vertu transportent ! Par leur enthousiasme, par ce qu'ils vous diront avoir eprouve, vous jugerez de la cause par les effets : par cette harmonie que Borelli, qu'un seul anatomiste a mieux connue que tous les Leibniziens, vous connaitrez I'unite materielle de rhomme. Car enfin si la tension des nerfs qui fait la douleur, cause la fievre, par laquelle Fesprit est trouble et n'a plus de volonte ; et que reciproquement I'esprit trop exerce trouble le corps, et allume ce feu de consomption qui a enleve Bayle dans un age si peu avance; si telle titillation me fait vouloir, me force de desirer ardemment ce dont je ne me sou- ciais nullement le moment d'auparavant ; si a leur tour certaines traces du cerveau excitent le meme prurit et les memes desirs, pourquoi faire double ce qui n'est evidemment qu'un ? C'est en vain qu'on se recrie sur I'empire de la volonte. Pour un ordre qu'elle donne, elle subit cent fois le joug. Et quelle merveille que le corps obeisse dan I'etat sain, puis- qu'un torrent de sang et d'esprits vient I'y forcer, la volonte ayant pour ministres une legion invisible de fluides plus vifs que I'eclair, et toujours prets a la servir! Mais comme c'est par les nerfs que son pouvoir s'exerce, c'est aussi par eux qu'il est arrete. La meilleure volonte d'un amant epuise, les plus violents desirs lui rendront-ils sa vigueur perdue? Helas ! non ; et elle en sera la premiere punie, parce- que, posees certaines circonstances, il n'est pas dans sa puissance de ne pas vouloir du plaisir. Ce que j'ai dit de la paralysie, etc. revient ici.


La jaunisse vous surprend ! ne savez vous pas que la couleur des corps depend de celle des verres au travers desquels on les regarde! Ignorez-vous que telle est la teinte des humeurs, telle est celle des objets, au moins par rapport a nous, vains jouets de mille illusions ? Mais otez cette teinte de I'humeur aqueuse de I'oeil; faites couler la bile par son tamis naturel : alors I'ame ayant d'autres yeux, ne verra plus jaune. N'est ce pas encore ainsi qu'en abattant la cataracte, ou en injectant le canal d'Eustachi, on rend la vue aux aveugles, et I'ouie aux sourds? Combien de gens qui n'etaient peut-etre que d'ha- biles charlatans dans des siecles ignorants, ont passe pour faire de grands miracles! La belle ame et la puissante volonte, qui ne peut agir qu'autant que les dispositions du corps le lui permettent, et dont les goiits changent avec I'age et la fievre! Faut-il done s'etonner si les philosophes ont tou jours eu en vue la sante du corps pour conserver celle de Tame, si Pythagore a aussi soigneusement ordonne la diete, que Platon a defendu le vin? Le regime qui convient au corps, est tou jours celui par lequel les medecins senses pretendent qu'on doit preluder, lorsqu'il s'agit de former I'esprit, de I'elever a la connaissance de la verite et de la vertu; vains sons dans le desordre des maladies et le tumulte des sens! Sans les preceptes de I'hygiene, Epictete, Socrate, Platon, etc. prechent en vain : toute morale est infructueuse, pour qui n'a pas la sobriete en partage: c'est la source de toutes les vertus comme I'intemperance est celle de tous les vices.

En faut-il davantage (et pourquoi irais-je me perdre dans I'histoire des passions, qui toutes s'ex- pliquent par Vevopfxwv d'Hippocrate) pour prouver

l'homme machine. 65

que rhomme n'est qu'un animal, ou un assemblage de ressorts, qui tous se montent les uns par les autres, sans qu'on puisse dire par quel point du cercle hu- main la nature a commence ? Si ces ressorts different entr'eux, ce n'est done que par leur siege et par quelques degres de force, et jamais par leur nature; et par consequent I'ame n'est qu'un principe de mouvement, ou une partie materielle sensible du cerveau, qu'on pent, sans craindre I'erreur, regarder comme un ressort principal de toute la machine, qui a une influence visible sur tous les autres, et meme parait avoir ete fait le premier ; en sorte que tous les autres n'en seraient qu'une emanation, comme on le verra par quelques observations que je rapporterai et qui ont ete faites sur divers embryons.

Cette oscillation naturelle, ou propre a notre ma- chine, et dont est douee chaque fibre, et, pour ainsi dire, chaque element fibreux, semblable a celle d'une pendule, ne pent tou jours s'exercer. II faut la re- nouveler, a mesure qu'elle se perd; lui donner des forces, quand elle languit; I'affaiblir, lorsqu'elle est opprimee par un exces de force et de vigueur. C'est en cela seul que la vraie medecine consiste.

Le corps n'est qu'une horloge, dont le nouveau chyle est I'horloger. Le premier soin de la nature, quand il entre dans le sang, c'est d'y exciter une sorte de fievre, que les chimistes, qui ne revent que fourneaux, ont dii prendre pour une fermentation. Cette fievre procure une plus grande filtration d'esprits, qui machinalement vont animer les mus- cles et le coeur, comme s'ils y etaient envoyes par ordre de la volonte.

Ce sont done les causes ou les forces de la vie qui entretiennent ainsi durant 100 ans le mouve-


ment perpetual des solides et des fluides, aussi neces- saire aux uns qu'aux autres. Mais qui peut dire si les solides contribuent a ce jeu, plus que les fluides, et vice versa? Tout ce qu'on sait, c'est que Taction des premiers serait bientot aneantie, sans le secours des seconds. Ce sont les liqueurs qui par leur choc eveillent et conservent I'elasticite des vais- seaux, de laquelle depend leur propre circulation. De la vient qu'apres la mort le ressort naturel de chaque substance est plus ou moins fort encore sui- vant les restes de la vie, auxquels il survit, pour ex- pirer le dernier. Tant il est vrai que cette force des parties animales peut bien se conserver et s'aug- menter par celle de la circulation, mais qu'elle n'en depend point, puisqu'elle se passe meme de I'inte- grite de chaque membre, ou viscere, comme on I'a vu.

Je n'ignore pas que cette opinion n'a pas ete goiitee de tous les savants, et que Stahl surtout I'a fort dedaignee. Ce grand chimiste a voulu nous persuader que Tame etait la seule cause de tous nos mouvements. Mais c'est parler en fanatique, et non en philosophe.

Pour detruire I'hypothese Stahlienne, il ne faut pas faire tant d'efforts que je vois qu'on en a faits avant moi. II n'y a qu'a jeter les yeux sur un joueur de violon. Quelle souplesse! Quelle agilite dans les doigts! Les mouvements sont si prompts, qu'il ne parait presque pas y avoir de succession. Or, je prie, ou plutot je defie les Stahliens de me dire, eux qui connaissent si bien tout ce que peut notre ame, comment il serait possible qu'elle exe- cutat si vite tant de mouvements, des mouvements qui se passent si loin d'elle, et en tant d'endroits

l'homme machine. 57

divers. C'est supposer un joueur de flute qui pour- rait faire de brillantes cadences sur une infinite de trous qu'il ne connaitrait pas, et auxquels il ne pourrait seulement pas appliquer le doigt.

Mais disons avec Mr. Hecquet qu'il n'est pas per- mis a tout le monde d'aller a Corinthe. Et pourquoi Stahl n'aurait-il pas ete encore plus favorise de la nature en qualite d'homme, qu'en qualite de chi- miste et de praticien? II fallait (heureux mortel!) qu'il eut regu une autre ame que le reste des hommes; une ame souveraine, qui non contente d'avoir quelque empire sur les muscles volonfaires, tenait sans peine les renes de tous les mouvements du corps, pouvait les suspendre, les calmer, ou les exciter a son gre. Avec une maitresse aussi despo- tique, dans les mains de laquelle etaient en quelque sorte les battements du coeur et les lois de la circu- lation, point de fievre sans doute; point de douleur; point de langueur; ni honteuse impuissance, ni fa- cheux priapisme. L'ame veut, et les ressorts jouent, se dressent, ou se debandent. Comment ceux de la machine de Stahl se sont-ils sitot detraques? Qui a chez soi un si grand medecin, devrait etre im- mortel.

Stahl, au reste, n'est pas le seul qui ait re j ete le principe d'oscillation des corps organises. De plus grands esprits ne Font pas employe, lorsqu'ils ont voulu expliquer Taction du coeur, I'erection du penis, etc. II n'y a qu'a lire les Institutions de mede- cine de Boerhaave, pour voir quels laborieux et seduisants systemes, f aute d'admettre une force aussi frappante dans tous les corps, ce grand homme a ete oblige d'enfanter a la sueur de son puissant genie.


Willis et Perrault, esprits d'une plus f aible trempe, mais observateurs assidus de la nature, que le fa- meux professeur de Leyde n'a connue que par autrui et n'a eue, pour ainsi dire, que de la seconde main, paraissent avoir mieux aime supposer une ame ge- neralement repandue par tout le corps, que le prin- cipe dont nous parlous. Mais dans cette hypothese qui fut celle de Virgile et de tous les Epicuriens, hypothese que I'histoire du polype semblerait fa- voriser a la premiere vue, les mouvements qui sur- vivent au sujet dans lequel ils sont inherents viennent d'un reste d'ame, que conservent encore les parties qui se contractent, sans etre desormais irritees par le sang et les esprits. D'ou Ton voit que ces ecri- vains dont les ouvrages solides eclipsent aisement toutes les fables philosophiques, ne se sont trompes que sur le modele de ceux qui ont donne a la ma- tiere la faculte de penser, je veux dire, pour s'etre mal exprimes, en termes obscurs, et qui ne signifient rien. En effet, qu'est ce que ce reste d'ame, si ce n'est la force motrice des Leibniziens, mal rendue par une telle expression, et que cependant Perrault surtout a veritablement entrevue. Voy. son Traite de la Mecanique des Animaux.

A present qu'il est clairement demontre contra les Cartesiens, les Stahliens, les Malebranchistes, et les theologiens peu dignes d'etre ici places, que la matiere se meut par elle-meme, non seulement lors- qu'elle est organisee, comme dans un cceur entier, par exemple, mais lors meme que cette organisation est detruite, la curiosite de I'homme voudrait savoir comment un corps, par cela meme qu'il est origi- nairement doue d'un souffle de vie, se trouve en consequence orne de la faculte de sentir, et enfin par

l'homme machine. 69

celle-ci de la pensee. Et pour en venir a bout, 6 bon Dieu, quels efforts n'ont pas faits certains phi- losophes! et quel galimatias j'ai eu la patience de lire a ce sujet!

Tout ce que I'experience nous apprend, c'est que tant que le mouvement subsiste, si petit qu'il soit dans une ou plusieurs fibres, il n'y a qu'a les piquer, pour reveiller, animer ce mouvement presque eteint, comme on I'a vu dans cette foule d'experiences dont j'ai voulu accabler les systemes. II est done constant que le mouvement et le sentiment s'excitent tour a tour, et dans les corps entiers, et dans les memes corps dont la structure est detruite; pour ne rien dire de certaines plantes qui semblent nous offrir les memes phenomenes de la reunion du sentiment et du mouvement.

Mais de plus, combien d'excellents philosophes ont demontre que la pensee n'est qu'une faculte de sen- tir, et que I'ame raisonnable n'est que I'ame sensi- tive appliquee a contempler les idees, et a raisonner ! Ce qui serait prouve par cela seul que lorsque le sen- timent est eteint, la pensee Test aussi, comme dans I'apoplexie, la lethargic, la catalepsie, etc. Car ceux qui ont avance que I'ame n'avait pas moins pense dans les maladies soporeuses, quoiqu'elle ne se souvint pas des idees qu'elle avait cues, ont sou- tenu une chose ridicule.

Pour ce qui est de ce developpement, c'est une folic de perdre le temps a en rechercher le mecanisme. La nature du mouvement nous est aussi inconnue que celle de la matiere. Le moyen de decouvrir com- ment il s'y produit, a moins que de ressusciter avec I'auteur de I'Histoire de I'Ame I'ancienne et inin- telligible doctrine des formes substantiellesl Je suis


done aussi console d'ignorer comment la matiere, d'inerte et simple, devient active et composee d'or- ganes, que de ne pouvoir regarder le soleil sans verre rouge: et je suis d'aussi bonne composition sur les autres merveilles incomprehensibles de la nature, sur la production du sentiment et de la pensee dans un etre qui ne paraissait autrefois a nos yeux bornes qu'un peu de boue.

Qu'on m'accorde seulement que la matiere or- ganisee est douee d'un principe moteur, qui seul la differencie de celle qui ne Test pas (eh! peut-on rien refuser a I'observation la plus incontestable?) et que tout depend dans les animaux de la diversite de cette organisation, comme je I'ai assez prouve; e'en est assez pour deviner I'enigme des substances et celle de I'homme. On voit qu'il n'y en a qu'une dans I'univers et que I'homme est la plus parfaite. II est au singe, aux animaux les plus spirituels, ee que le pendule planetaire de Huygens est a une montre de Julien le Roi. S'il a fallu plus d'instru- ments, plus de rouages, plus de ressorts pour mar- quer les mouvements des planetes, que pour marquer les heures, ou les repeter; s'il a fallu plus d'art a Vaucanson pour faire son Fluteur, que pour son Canard, il eut du en employer encore davantage pour faire un Parleur ; machine qui ne pent plus etre regardee comme impossible, surtout entre les mains d'un nouveau Promethee. II etait done de meme necessaire que la nature employat plus d'art et d'appareil pour faire et entretenir une machine, qui pendant un siecle entier piit marquer tous les batte- ments du coeur et de I'esprit ; car si on n'en voit pas au pouls les heures, e'est du moins le barometre de la chaleur et de la vivaeite, par laquelle on peut

l'homme machine. 71

juger de la nature de Tame. Je ne me trompe point, le corps humain est une horloge, mais im- mense, et construite avec tant d'artifice et d'habilete, que si la roue qui sert a marquer les secondes vient a s'arreter, celle des minutes tourne et va tou jours son train, comme la roue des quarts continue de se mouvoir ; et ainsi des autres, quand les premieres, rouillees, ou derangees par quelque cause que ce soit, ont interrompu leur marche. Car n'est-ce pas ainsi que I'obstruction de quelques vaisseaux ne suffit pas pour detruire, ou suspendre le fort des mouvements, qui est dans le coeur, comme dans la piece ouvriere de la machine; puisqu'au contraire les fluides dont le volume est diminue, ayant moins de chemin a faire, le parcourent d'autant plus vite, emportes comme par un nouveau courant, que la force du coeur s'augmente en raison de la resistance qu'il trouve a I'extremite des vaisseaux? Lorsque le nerf optique seul comprime ne laisse plus passer I'image des objets, n'est-ce pas ainsi que la priva- tion de la vue n'empeche pas plus I'usage de I'ouie, que la privation de ce sens, lorsque les fonctions de la portion molle sont interdites, ne suppose celle de I'autre ? N'est-ce pas ainsi encore que I'un entend, sans pouvoir dire qu'il entend (si ce n'est apres I'attaque du mal) et que I'autre qui n'entend rien, mais dont les nerfs linguaux sont libres dans le cerveau, dit machinalement tous les reves qui lui passent par la tete ? Phenomenes qui ne surprennent point les medecins eclaires. lis savent a quoi s'en tenir sur la nature de I'homme; et pour le dire en passant: de deux medecins, le meilleur, celui qui merite le plus de confiance, c'est toujours, a mon avis, celui qui est le plus verse dans la physique,


ou la mecanique du corps humain, et qui laissant Tame et toutes les inquietudes que cette chimere donne aux sots et aux ignorans, n'est occupe seri- eusement que du pur naturalisme.

Laissons done le pretendu Mr. Charp se moquer des philosophes qui ont regarde les animaux, comma des machines. Que je pense differemment! Je crois que Descartes serait un homme respectable a tous egards, si, ne dans un siecle qu'il n'eut pas dti eclairer, il eiit connu le prix de I'experience et de I'obser- vation, et le danger de s'en ecarter. Mais il n'est pas moins juste que je fasse ici une authentique re- paration a ce grand homme, pour tous ces petits philosophes mauvais plaisants, et mauvais singes de Locke, qui, au lieu de rire impudemment au nez de Descartes, feraient mieux de sentir que sans lui le champ de la philosophic, comme celui du bon esprit sans Newton, serait pent etre encore en friche.

II est vrai que ce celebre philosophe s'est beau- coup trompe, et personne n'en disconvient. Mais enfin il a connu la nature animale; il a le premier parfaitement demontre que les animaux etaient de pures machines. Or, apres une decouverte de cette importance et qui suppose autant de sagacite, le moyen, sans ingratitude, de ne pas faire grace a toutes ses erreurs!

Elles sont a mes yeux toutes reparees par ce grand aveu. Car enfin, quoiqu'il chante sur la distinction des deux substances, il est visible que ce n'est qu'un tour d'adresse, une ruse de style, pour faire avaler aux theologiens un poison cache a I'ombre d'une analogic qui frappe tout le monde, et qu'eux seuls ne voient pas. Car c'est elle, c'est cette forte analogic qui force tous les savants et les vrais juges

l'homme machine. 73

d'avouer que ces etres fiers et vains, plus distingues par leur orgueil que par le nom d'hommes, quelque envie qu'ils aient de s'elever, ne sont au fond que des animaux et des machines perpendiculairement rampantes. Elles ont toutes ce merveilleux instinct, dont I'education fait de I'esprit, et qui a toujours son siege dans le cerveau, et a son defaut, comme lorsqu'il manque ou est ossifie, dans la moelle allon- gee, et jamais dans le cervelet; car je I'ai vu con- siderablement blesse, d'autres* Font trouve squir- reux, sans que I'ame cessat de faire ses fonctions.

Etre machine, sentir, penser, savoir distinguer le bien du mal, comme le bleu du jaune, en un mot etre ne avec de I'intelligence et un instinct sur de morale, et n'etre qu'un animal, sont done des choses qui ne sont pas plus contradictoires qu'etre un singe ou un perroquet et savoir se donner du plaisir. Car, puisque I'occasion se presente de le dire, qui eut jamais devine a priori qu'une goutte de la liqueur qui se lance dans I'accouplement fit ressentir des plaisirs divins, et qu'il en naitrait une petite creature, qui pourrait un jour, posees cer- taines lois, jouir des memes delices? Je crois la pensee si peu incompatible avec la matiere organisee, qu'elle semble en etre une propriete, telle que I'elec- tricite, la faculte motrice, I'impenetrabilite, I'eten- due, etc.

Voulez vous de nouvelles observations? En voici qui sont sans replique et qui prouvent toutes que I'homme ressemble parfaitement aux animaux dans son origine, comme dans tout ce que nous avons deja cru essentiel de comparer.

J'en appelle a la bonne foi de nos observateurs.

  • HalIer dans les Transact. Philosoph.


Qu'ils nous disent s'il n'est pas vrai que rhomme dans son principe n'est qu'un ver, qui devient homme, comme la chenille papillon. Les plus graves* auteurs nous ont appris comment il faut s'y prendre pour voir cet animalcule. Tous les curieux I'ont vu, comme Hartsoeker, dans la se- mence de I'homme, et non dans celle de la femme; il n'y a que les sots qui s'en soient fait scrupule. Comme chaque goutte de sperme contient une infinite de ces petits vers lorsqu'ils sont lances a I'ovaire, il n'y a que le plus adroit, ou le plus vigoureux qui ait la force de s'insinuer et de s'implanter dans I'ceuf que fournit la femme, et qui lui donne sa premiere nourriture. Cet ceuf, quelquefois surpris dans les trompes de Fallope, est porte par ces canaux a la matrice, ou il prend racine, comme un grain de ble dans la terre. Mais quoiqu'il y devienne monstru- eux par sa croissance de 9 mois, il ne differe point des oeufs des autres femelles, si ce n'est que sa peau (V amnios) ne se durcit jamais, et se dilate prodi- gieusement, comme on en pent juger en comparant les foetus trouves en situation et pres d'eclore (ce que j'ai eu le plaisir d'observer dans une femme morte un moment avant I'accouchement), avec d'autres petits embryons tres proclies de leur ori- gine : car alors c'est toujours I'oeuf dans sa coque, et I'animal dans I'oeuf, qui, gene dans ses mouve- ments, cherche machinalement a voir lejour; etpour y reussir, il commence par rompre avec la tete cette membrane, d'oii il sort, comme le poulet, I'oiseau, etc., de la leur. J'ajouterai une observation que je ne trouve nulle part; c'est que V amnios n'en est pas plus mince, pour s'etre prodigieusement etendu;

  • Boerhaave, Inst. Med. et tant d'autres.

l'homme machine. 75

semblable en cela a la matrice dont la substance meme se gonfle de sues infiltres, independamment de la repletion et du deploiement de tous ses coudes vasculeux.

Voyons I'homme dans et hors de sa coque; exa- minons avec un microscope les plus jeunes em- bryons, de 4, de 6, de 8 ou de 15 jours; apres ce temps les yeux suffisent. Que voit-on ? la tete seule ; un petit oeuf rond avec deux points noirs qui marquent les yeux. Avant ce temps, tout etant plus informe, on n'apergoit qu'une pulpe medullaire, qui est le cerveau, dans lequel se forme d'abord I'origine des nerfs, ou le principe du sentiment, et le coeur qui a deja par lui-meme dans cette pulpe la faculte de battre : c'est le punchun saliens de Malpighi, qui doit peut-etre deja une partie de sa vivacite a I'in- fluence des nerfs. Ensuite peu-a-peu on voit la tete allonger le col, qui en se dilatant forme d'abord le thorax, oil le coeur a deja descendu, pour s'y fixer; apres quoi vient le bas ventre qu'une cloison (le diaphragme) separe. Ces dilatations donnent I'une, les bras, les mains, les doigts, les ongles, et les poils; I'autre les cuisses, les jambes, les pieds, etc., avec la seule difference de situation qu'on leur con- nait, qui fait I'appui et le balancier du corps. C'est une vegetation frappante. Ici, ce sont des cheveux qui couvrent le sommet de nos tetes ; la, ce sont des feuilles et des fleurs. Partout brille le meme luxe de la nature; et enfin I'esprit recteur des plantes est place ou nous avons notre ame, cette autre quintessence de I'homme.

Telle est I'uniformite de la nature qu'on com- mence a sentir, et I'analogie du regne animal et vegetal, de I'homme a la plante. Peut-etre meme


y a-t-il des plantes animal, c'est-a-dire qui en vege- tant, ou se battent comme les polypes, ou font d'au- tres fonctions propres aux animaux?

Voila a peu pres tout ce qu'on sait de la genera- tion. Que les parties qui s'attirent, qui sont faites pour s'unir ensemble et pour occuper telle ou telle place, se reunissent toutes suivant leur nature; et qu'ainsi se forment les yeux, le coeur, I'estomac et enfin tout le corps, comme de grands hommes I'ont ecrit, cela est possible. Mais, comme I'experience nous abandonne au milieu des ces subtilites, je ne supposerai rien, regardant tout ce qui ne frappe pas mes sens comme un mystere impenetrable. II est si rare que les deux semences se rencontrent dans le congres, que je serais tente de croire que la semence de la femme est inutile a la generation.

Mais comment en expliquer les phenomenes, sans ce commode rapport de parties, qui rend si bien rai- son des ressemblances des enfants, tantot au pere, et tantot a la mere ? D'un autre cote, I'embarras d'une explication doit-elle contrebalancer un fait? II me parait que c'est le male qui fait tout, dans une femme qui dort, comme dans la plus lubrique. L'arrangement des parties serait done fait de toute eternite dans le germe, ou dans le ver meme de I'homme. Mais tout ceci est fort au-dessus de la portee des plus excellents observateurs. Comme ils n'y peuvent rien saisir, ils ne peuvent pas plus juger de la mecanique de la formation et du developpe- ment des corps, qu'une taupe du chemin qu'un cerf pent parcourir.

Nous sommes de vraies taupes dans le champ de la nature; nous n'y faisons gueres que le trajet de cet animal; et c'est notre orgueil qui donne des


bornes a ce qui n'en a point. Nous sommes dans le cas d'une montre qui dirait : (un fabuliste en ferait un personnage de consequence dans un ou- vrage frivole) "Ouoi! c'est ce sot ouvrier qui m'a "faite, moi qui divise le temps! moi qui marque si "exactement le cours du soleil; moi qui repete a

  • 'haute voix les heures que j'indique! non, cela ne

"se peut pas." Nous dedaignons de meme, ingrats que nous sommes, cette mere commune de tous les regnes, comme parlent les chimistes. Nous ima- ginons ou plutot supposons une cause superieure a celle a qui nous devons tout, et qui a veritable- ment tout fait d'une maniere inconcevable. Non, la matiere n'a rien de vil, qu'aux yeux grossiers qui la meconnaissent dans ses plus brillants ouvrages; et la nature n'est point une ouvriere bornee. Elle produit des millions d'hommes avec plus de facilite et de plaisir, qu'un horloger n'a de peine a faire la montre la plus composee. Sa puissance eclate egale- ment et dans la production du plus vil insecte, et dans celle de I'homme le plus superbe; le regne animal ne lui coute pas plus que le vegetal, ni le plus beau genie qu'un epi de ble. Jugeons done par ce que nous voyons, de ce qui se derobe a la curiosite de nos yeux et de nos recherches, et n'ima- ginons rien au dela. Suivons le singe, le castor, I'elephant, etc., dans leurs operations. S'il est evi- dent qu'elles ne peuvent se faire sans intelligence, pourquoi la refuser a ces animaux? et si vous leur accordez une ame, fanatiques, vous etes perdus; vous aurez beau dire que vous ne decidez point sur sa nature, tandis que vous lui otez I'immortalite ; qui ne voit que c'est une assertion gratuite? qui ne voit qu'elle doit etre ou mortelle, ou immortelle,


comme la notre, dont elle doit subir le meme sort quel qu'il soit! et qu'ainsi c'est tomber dans Scilla pour vouloir eviter Carihdef

Brisez la chaine de vos prejuges; armez-vous du flambeau de I'experience et vous ferez a la nature I'honneur qu'elle merite, au lieu de rien conclure a son desavantage, de I'ignorance oh. elle vous a laisse. Ouvrez les yeux seulement, et laissez-la ce que vous ne pouvez comprendre ; et vous verrez que ce laboureur dont I'esprit et les lumieres ne s'etendent pas plus loin que les bords de son sillon, ne differe point essentiellement du plus grand genie, comme I'eiit prouve la dissection des cerveaux de Descartes et de Newton : vous serez persuade que I'imbecile ou le stupide sont des betes a figure humaine, comme le singe plein d'esprit est un petit homme sous une autre forme ; et qu'enfin tout dependant absolument de la diversite de I'organisa- tion, un animal bien construit, a qui on a appris I'astronomie, pent predire une eclipse, comme la guerison ou la mort, lorsqu'il a porte quelque temps du genie et de bons yeux a I'ecole d'Hippocrate et au lit des malades. C'est par cette file d'observa- tions et de verites qu'on parvient a Her a la matiere I'admirable propriete de penser, sans qu'on en puisse voir les liens, parce que le sujet de cet attribut nous est essentiellement inconnu.

Ne disons point que toute machine, ou tout ani- mal, perit tout-a-fait, ou prend une autre forme, apres la mort; car nous n'en savons absolument rien. Mais assurer qu'une machine immortelle est une chimere, ou un etre de raison, c'est faire un raisonnement aussi absurde que celui que feraient des chenilles, qui, voyant les depouilles de leurs sem-

l'homme machine. 79

blables, deploreraient amerement le sort de leur espece qui leur semblerait s'aneantir. L'ame de ces insectes (car chaque animal a la sienne) est trop bornee pour comprendre les metamorphoses de la nature. Jamais un seul des plus ruses d'entr- eux n'eut imagine qu'il dijt devenir papillon. II en est de meme de nous. Que savons-nous plus de notre destinee, que de notre origine? Soumettons- nous done a une ignorance invincible de laquelle notre bonheur depend.

Qui pensera ainsi, sera sage, juste, tranquille sur son sort, et par consequent heureux. II attendra la mort, sans la craindre, ni la desirer ; et cherissant la vie, comprenant a peine comment le digout vient corrompre un coeur dans ce lieu plein de delices; plein de respect pour la nature, plein de recon- naissance, d'attachement et de tendresse, a propor- tion du sentiment et des bienfaits qu'il en a regus, heureux enfin de la sentir, et d'etre au charmant spectacle de I'univers, il ne le detruira certaine- ment jamais dans soi, ni dans les autres. Que dis- je! plein d'humanite, il en aimera le caractere jus- ques dans ses ennemis. Jugez comme il traitera les autres ! II plaindra les vicieux, sans les hair ; ce ne seront a ses yeux que des hommes contrefaits. Mais en faisant grace aux defauts de la conforma- tion de I'esprit et du corps, il n'en admirera pas moins leurs beautes et leurs vertus. Ceux que la nature aura favorises lui paraitront meriter plus d'egards que ceux qu'elle aura traltes en maratre. C'est ainsi qu'on a vu que les dons naturels, la source de tout ce qui s'acquiert, trouvent dans la bouche et le coeur du materialiste des hommages que tout autre leur refuse injustement. Enfin le


materialiste convaincu, quoi que murmure sa propre vanite, qu'il n'est qu'une machine, ou un animal, ne maltraitera point ses semblables; trop instruit sur la nature de ces actions, dont I'inhumanite est tou jours proportionnee au degre d'analogie prouvee ci devant; et ne voulant pas en un mot, suivant la loi naturelle donnee a tons les animaux, faire a autrui ce qu'il ne voudrait pas qu'il lui fit.

Concluons done hardiment que I'homme est une machine; et qu'il n'y a dans tout I'univers qu'une seule substance diversement modifiee. Ce n'est point ici une hypothese elevee a force de demandes et de suppositions: ce n'est point I'ouvrage du prejuge, ni meme de ma raison seule; j'eusse dedaigne un guide que je crois si peu sfir, si mes sens portant, pour ainsi dire, le flambeau, ne m'eussent engage a la suivre, en I'eclairant. L'experience m'a done parle pour la raison; c'est ainsi que je les ai jointes ensemble.

Mais on a d{i voir que je ne me suis permis le raisonnement le plus rigoureux et le plus immediate- ment tire, qu'a la suite d'une multitude d'observa- tions physiques qu'aucun savant ne contestera; et c'est encore eux seuls que je reconnais pour juges des consequences que j'en tire; recusant ici tout homme a prejuges, et qui n'est ni anatomiste, ni au fait de la seule philosophic qui soit ici de mise, celle du corps liumain. Que pourraient contre un chene aussi ferme et solide ces faibles roseaux de la theologie, de la metaphysique et des ecoles; armes pueriles, semblables aux fleurets de nos salles, qui peuvent bien donner le plaisir de I'es- crime, mais jamais entamer son adversaire. Faut- il dire que je parle de ces idees creuses et triviales, de

l'homme machine. 81

ces raisonnements rebattus et pitoyables, qu'on fera sur la pretendue incompatibilite de deux substances qui se touchent et se remuent sans cesse I'une et I'autre, tant qu'il restera I'ombre du prejuge ou de la superstition sur la terre? Voila mon sys- teme, ou plutot la verite, si je ne me trompe fort. Elle est courte et simple. Dispute a present qui voudra !



IT is not enough for a wise man to study nature and truth; he should dare state truth for the benefit of the few who are wilHng and able to think. As for the rest, who are voluntarily slaves of preju- dice, they can no more attain truth, than frogs can fly.

I reduce to two the systems of philosophy which deal with man's soul. The first and older system is materialism; the second is spiritualism.

The metaphysicians who have hinted that matter may well be endowed with the faculty of thought^ have perhaps not reasoned ill. For there is in this case a certain advantage in their inadequate way of expressing their meaning. In truth, to ask whether matter can think, without considering it otherwise than in itself, is like asking whether mat- ter can tell time. It may be foreseen that we shall avoid this reef upon which Locke had the bad luck to make shipwreck.

The Leibnizians with their monads have set up an unintelligible hypothesis. They have rather spir- itualized matter than materialized the soul. How can we define a being whose nature is absolutely unknown to us?^

Descartes and all the Cartesians, among whom the followers of Malebranche have long been num-


bered, have made the same mistake. They have taken for granted two distinct substances in man, as if they had seen them, and positively counted them.

The wisest men have declared that the soul can not know itself save by the light of faith. However, as reasonable beings they have thought that they could reserve for themselves the right of examining what the Bible means by the word "spirit," which it uses in speaking of the human soul. And if in their investigation, they do not agree with the theo- logians on this point, are the theologians more in agreement among themselves on all other points ?

Here is the result in a few words, of all their reflections. If there is a God, He is the Author of nature as well as of revelation. He has given us the one to explain the other, and reason to make them agree.

To distrust the knowledge that can be drawn from the study of animated bodies, is to regard nature and revelation as two contraries which de- stroy each the other, and consequently to dare up- hold the absurd doctrine, that God contradicts Him- self in His various works and deceives us.

If there is a revelation, it can not then contradict nature. By nature only can we understand the meaning of the words of the Gospel, of which ex- perience is the only true interpreter. In fact, the commentators before our time have only obscured the truth. We can judge of this by the author of the "Spectacle of Nature."^ "It is astonishing," he says concerning Locke, "that a man who de- grades our soul far enough to consider it a soul of clay should dare set up reason as judge and sov-

14-15] MAN A MACHINE. 87

ereign arbiter of the mysteries of faith, for," he adds, "what an astonishing idea of Christianity one would have, if one were to follow reason."

Not only do these reflections fail to elucidate faith, but they also constitute such frivolous ob- jections to the method of those who undertake to interpret the Scripture, that I am almost ashamed to waste time in refuting them.

The excellence of reason does not depend on a big word devoid of meaning (immateriality), but on the force, extent, and perspicuity of reason it- self. Thus a "soul of clay" which should discover, at one glance, as it were, the relations and the con- sequences of an infinite number of ideas hard to understand, would evidently be preferable to a fool- ish and stupid soul, though that were composed of the most precious elements. A man is not a philos- opher because, with Pliny, he blushes over the wretchedness of our origin. What seems vile is here the most precious of things, and seems to be the object of nature's highest art and most elaborate care. But as man, even though he should come from an apparently still more lowly source, would yet be the most perfect of all beings, so whatever the origin of his soul, if it is pure, noble, and lofty, it is a beautiful soul which dignifies the man en- dowed with it.

Pluche's second way of reasoning seems vicious to me, even in his system, which smacks a little of fanaticism; for [on his view] if we have an idea of faith as being contrary to the clearest principles, to the most incontestable truths, we must yet con- clude, out of respect for revelation and its author,


that this conception is false, and that we do not yet understand the meaning of the words of the Gospel, Of the two alternatives, only one is possible: either everything is illusion, nature as well as reve- lation, or experience alone can explain faith. But n: what can be more ridiculous than the position of

«j our author! Can one imagine hearing a Peripatetic

j2 say, "We ought not to accept the experiments of

21 Torricelli,^ for if we should accept them, if we

y should rid ourselves of the horror of the void, what

-j:^ an astonishing philosophy we should have!"

5 I have shown how vicious the reasoning of Pluche

-'- is* in order to prove, in the first place, that if there

■i is a revelation, it is not sufficiently demonstrated

< by the mere authority of the Church, and without

■^-- any appeal to reason, as all those who fear reason

claim: and in the second place, to protect against all assault the method of those who would wish to j~j follow the path that I open to them, of interpreting

X supernatural things, incomprehensible in themselves,

u- in the light of those ideas with which nature has

^ endowed us. Experience and observation should

^ therefore be our only guides here. Both are to be

Q found throughout the records of the physicians who

~ were philosophers, and not in the works of the phi-

cj losophers who were not physicians. The former

^ have traveled through and illuminated the labyrinth

of man ; they alone have laid bare to us those springs [of life] hidden under the external integument which conceals so many wonders from our eyes. They alone, tranquilly contemplating our soul, have surprised it, a thousand times, both in its wretched- ness and in its glory, and they have no more despised

  • He evidently errs by begging the question.

1^-17] MAN A MACHINE. 89

it in the first estate, than they have admired it in the second. Thus, to repeat, only the physicians have a right to speak on this subject.^ What could the others, especially the theologians, have to say? Is it not ridiculous to hear them shamelessly coming to conclusions about a subject concerning which they have had no means of knowing anything, and from which on the contrary they have been completely turned aside by obscure studies that have led them to a thousand prejudiced opinions, — in a word, to fanaticism, which adds yet more to their ignorance of the mechanism of the body?

But even though we have chosen the best guides, we shall still find many thorns and stumbling blocks in the way.

Man is so complicated a machine^ that it is im- possible to get a clear idea of the machine before- hand, and hence impossible to define it. For this reason, all the investigations have been vain, which the greatest philosophers have made a priori, that is to say, in so far as they use, as it were, the wings of the spirit. Thus it is only a posteriori or by try- ing to disentangle the soul from the organs of the body, so to speak, that one can reach the highest probability concerning man's own nature, even though one can not discover with certainty what his nature is.

Let us then take in our hands the staff of ex- perience,^ paying no heed to the accounts of all the idle theories of philosophers. To be blind and to think that one can do without this staff is the worst kind of blindness. How truly a contemporary writer says that only vanity fails to gather from secondary causes the same lessons as from primary


causes! One can and one even ought to admire all these fine geniuses in their most useless works, such men as Descartes, Malebranche, Leibniz, Wolff and the rest, but what profit, I ask, has any one gained from their profound meditations, and from all their works? Let us start out then to discover not what has been thought, but what must be thought for the sake of repose in life.

There are as many different minds, different char- acters, and different customs, as there are different temperaments. Even Galen^ knew this truth which Descartes carried so far as to claim that medicine alone can change minds and morals, along with bodies. (By the writer of "L'histoire de I'ame,"^ this teaching is incorrectly attributed to Hippoc- rates.^^) It is true that melancholy, bile, phlegm, blood etc. — according to the nature, the abundance, and the different combination of these humors — make each man different from another. ^^

In disease the soul is sometimes hidden, showing no sign of life; sometimes it is so inflamed by fury that it seems to be doubled; sometimes, imbecility vanishes and the convalescence of an idiot produces a wise man. Sometimes, again, the greatest genius be- comes imbecile and loses the sense of self. Adieu then to all that fine knowledge, acquired at so high a price, and with so much trouble ! Here is a paralytic who asks if his leg is in bed with him; there is a soldier who thinks that he still has the arm which has been cut off. The memory of his old sensations, and of the place to which they were referred by his soul, is the cause of his illusion, and of this kind of de- lirium. The mere mention of the member which he has lost is enough to recall it to his mind, and

17-19] MAN A MACHINE. 91

to make him feel all its motions ; and this causes him an indefinable and inexpressible kind of imaginary suffering. This man cries like a child at death's approach, while this other jests. What was needed to change the bravery of Caius Julius, Seneca, or Petronius into cowardice or faintheartedness? Merely an obstruction in the spleen, in the liver, an impediment in the portal vein ? Why ? Because the imagination is obstructed along with the viscera, and this gives rise to all the singular phenomena of hysteria and hypochondria.

What can I add to the stories already told of those who imagine themselves transformed into wolf-men, cocks or vampires, or of those who think that the dead feed upon them? Why should I stop to speak of the man who imagines that his nose or some other member is of glass? The way to help this man regain his faculties and his own flesh-and- blood nose is to advise him to sleep on hay, lest he break the fragile organ, and then to set fire to the hay that he may be afraid of being burned — a fear which has sometimes cured paralysis. But I must touch lightly on facts which everybody knows.

Neither shall I dwell long on the details of the effects of sleep. Here a tired soldier snores in a trench, in the middle of the thunder of hundreds of cannon. His soul hears nothing; his sleep is as deep as apoplexy. A bomb is on the point of crush- ing him. He will feel this less perhaps than he feels an insect which is under his foot.

On the other hand, this man who is devoured by jealousy, hatred, avarice, or ambition, can never find any rest. The most peaceful spot, the freshest and most calming drinks are alike useless to one


who has not freed his heart from the torment of passion.

The soul and the body fall asleep together. As the motion of the blood is calmed, a sweet feeling of peace and quiet spreads through the whole mech- anism. The soul feels itself little by little growing heavy as the eyelids droop, and loses its tenseness, as the fibres of the brain relax ; thus little by little it be- comes as if paralyzed and with it all the muscles of the body. These can no longer sustain the weight of the head, and the soul can no longer bear the burden of thought; it is in sleep as if it were not.

Is the circulation too quick? the soul can not sleep. Is the soul too much excited? the blood can not be quieted : it gallops through the veins with an audible murmur. Such are the two opposite causes of insomnia. A single fright in the midst of our dreams makes the heart beat at double speed and snatches us from needed and delicious repose, as a real grief or an urgent need would do. Lastly as the mere cessation of the functions of the soul produces sleep, there are, even when we are awake (or at least when we are half awake), kinds of very frequent short naps of the mind, vergers' dreams, which show that the soul does not always wait for the body to sleep. For if the soul is not fast asleep, it surely is not far from sleep, since it can not point out a single object to which it has attended, among the uncounted number of confused ideas which, so to speak, fill the atmosphere of our brains like clouds.

Opium is too closely related to the sleep it pro- duces, to be left out of consideration here. This drug intoxicates, like wine, coffee, etc., each in


its own measure and according to the dose.^^ It makes a man happy in a state which would seem- ingly be the tomb of feeling, as it is the image of death. How sweet is this lethargy ! The soul would long never to emerge from it. For the soul has been a prey to the most intense sorrow, but now feels only the joy of suffering past, and of sweetest peace. Opium even alters the will, forcing the soul which wished to wake and to enjoy life, to sleep in spite of itself. I shall omit any reference to the effect of poisons.

Coffee, the well-known antidote for wine, by scourging the imagination, cures our headaches and scatters our cares without laying up for us, as wine does, other headaches for the morrow. But let us contemplate the soul in its other needs.

The human body is a machine which winds its own springs. It is the living image of perpetual movement. Nourishment keeps up the movements which fever excites. Without food, the soul pines away, goes mad, and dies exhausted. The soul is a taper whose light flares up the moment before it goes out. But nourish the body, pour into its veins life-giving juices and strong liquors, and then the soul grows strong like them, as if arming itself with a proud courage, and the soldier whom water would have made flee, grows bold and runs joy- ously to death to the sound of drums. Thus a hot drink sets into stormy movement the blood which a cold drink would have calmed.

What power there is in a meal! Joy revives in a sad heart, and infects the souls of comrades, who express their delight in the friendly songs in which the Frenchman excels. The melancholy man alone


is dejected, and the studious man is equally out of place [in such company].

Raw meat makes animals" fierce, and it would have the same effect on man. This is so true that the English who eat meat red and bloody, and not as well done as ours, seem to share more or less in the savagery due to this kind of food, and to other causes which can be rendered ineffective by educa- tion only. This savagery creates in the soul, pride, hatred, scorn of other nations, indocility and other sentiments which degrade the character, just as heavy food makes a dull and heavy mind whose usual traits are laziness and indolence.

Pope understood well the full power of greedi- ness when he said :^^

"Catius is ever moral, ever grave, Thinks who endures a knave is next a knave, Save just at dinner — then prefers no doubt, A rogue with ven'son to a saint without."

Elsewhere he says :

"See the same man in vigor, in the gout Alone, in company, in place or out, Early at business and at hazard late, Mad at a fox chase, wise at a debate, Drunk at a borough, civil at a ball, Friendly at Hackney, faithless at White Hall."

In Switzerland we had a bailiff by the name of M. Steigner de Wittighofen. When he fasted he was a most upright and even a most indulgent judge, but woe to the unfortunate man whom he found on the culprit's bench after he had had a large dinner! He was capable of sending the in- nocent like the guilty to the gallows.

We think we are, and in fact we are, good men,

21-24] MAN A MACHINE. 95

only as we are gay or brave; everything depends on the way our machine is running. One is some- times incHned to say that the soul is situated in the stomach, and that Van Helmont/* who said that the seat of the soul was in the pylorus, made only the mistake of taking the part for the whole.

To what excesses cruel hunger can bring us ! We no longer regard even our own parents and chil- dren. We tear them to pieces eagerly and make horrible banquets of them; and in the fury with which we are carried away, the weakest is always the prey of the strongest

One needs only eyes to see the necessary influence of old age on reason. The soul follows the prog- ress of the body, as it does the progress of educa- tion. In the weaker sex, the soul accords also with delicacy of temperament, and from this delicacy fol- low tenderness, affection, quick feelings due more to passion than to reason, prejudices, and super- stitions, whose strong impress can hardly be effaced. Man, on the other hand, whose brain and nerves partake of the firmness of all solids, has not only stronger features but also a more vigorous mind. Education, which women lack, strengthens his mind still more. Thus with such help of nature and art, why should not a man be more grateful, more gen- erous, more constant in friendship, stronger in ad- versity? But, to follow almost exactly the thought of the author of the "Lettres sur la Physiogno- mic,"^^ the sex which unites the charms of the mind and of the body with almost all the tenderest and most delicate feelings of the heart, should not envy us the two capacities which seem to have been given to man, the one merely to enable him better


to fathom the allurements of beauty, and the other merely to enable him to minister better to its pleas- ures.

It is no more necessary to be just as great a physiognomist as this author, in order to guess the quality of the mind from the countenance or the shape of the features, provided these are sufficiently marked, than it is necessary to be a great doctor to recognize a disease accompanied by all its marked symptoms. Look at the portraits of Locke, of Steele, of Boerhaave,^^ of Maupertuis,^^ and the rest, and you will not be surprised to find strong faces and eagle eyes. Look over a multitude of others, and you can always distinguish the man of talent from the man of genius, and often even an honest man from a scoundrel. For example, it has been noticed that a celebrated poet combines (in his portrait) the look of a pickpocket with the fire of Prometheus.

History provides us with a noteworthy example of the power of temperature. The famous Duke of Guise was so strongly convinced that Henry the Third, in whose power he had so often been, would never dare assassinate him, that he went to Blois. When the Chancelor Chiverny learned of the duke's departure, he cried, "He is lost." After this fatal prediction had been fulfilled by the event, Chiverny was asked why he made it. *T have known the king for twenty years," said he; "he is naturally kind and even weakly indulgent, but I have noticed that when it is cold, it takes nothing at all to pro- voke him and send him into a passion."

One nation is of heavy and stupid wit, and an- other quick, light and penetrating. Whence comes this difference, if not in part from the difference

24-26] MAN A MACHINE. 97

in foods, and difference in inheritance,* and in part from the mixture of the diverse elements which float around in the immensity of the void? The mind, Hke the body, has its contagious diseases and its scurvy.

Such is the influence of cHmate, that a man who goes from one cHmate to another, feels the change, in spite of himself. He is a walking plant which has transplanted itself; if the climate is not the same, it will surely either degenerate or improve.

Furthermore, we catch everything from those with whom we come in contact ; their gestures, their accent, etc. ; just as the eyelid is instinctively lowered when a blow is foreseen, or as (for the same reason) the body of the spectator mechanically imitates, in spite of himself, all the motions of a good mimic. ^^

From what I have just said, it follows that a brilliant man is his own best company, unless he can find other company of the same sort. In the society of the unintelligent, the mind grows rusty for lack of exercise, as at tennis a ball that is served badly is badly returned. I should prefer an intelligent man without an education, if he were still young enough, to a man badly educated. A badly trained mind is like an actor whom the prov- inces have spoiled.

Thus, the diverse states of the soul are always correlative with those of the body.^^ But the better to show this dependence, in its completeness and its causes, let us here make use of comparative anatomy; let us lay bare the organs of man and

  • The history of animals and of men proves how the mind

and the body of children are dominated by their inheritance from their fathers.


of animals. How can human nature be known, if we may not derive any light from an exact com- parison of the structure of man and of animals?

In general, the form and the structure of the brains of quadrupeds are almost the same as those of the brain of man; the same shape, the same ar- rangement everywhere, with this essential differ- ence, that of all the animals man is the one whose brain is largest, and, in proportion to its mass, more convoluted than the brain of any other animal ; then come the monkey, the beaver, the elephant, the dog, the fox, the cat. These animals are most like man, for among them, too, one notes the same progressive analogy in relation to the corpus callo- sum in which Lancisi — anticipating the late M. de la Peyronie^*^ — established the seat of the soul. The latter, however, illustrated the theory by innumer- able experiments. Next after all the quadrupeds, birds have the largest brains. Fish have large heads, but these are void of sense, like the heads of many men. Fish have no corpus callosinn, and very little brain, while insects entirely lack brain.

I shall not launch out into any more detail about the varieties of nature, nor into conjectures con- cerning them, for there is an infinite number of both, as any one can see by reading no further than the treatises of Willis "De Cerebro" and "De Anima Brutorum."^-^

I shall draw the conclusions which follow clearly from these incontestable observations: 1st, that the fiercer animals are, the less brain they have; 2d, that this organ seems to increase in size in propor- tion to the gentleness of the animal ; 3d, that na- ture seems here eternally to impose a singular con-

26-28] MAN A MACHINE. 99

dition, that the more one gains in intelhgence the more one loses in instinct. Does this bring gain or loss ?

Do not think, however, that I wish to infer by that, that the size alone of the brain, is enoiigh to indicate the degree of tameness in animals : the quality must correspond to the quantity, and the solids and liquids must be in that due equilibrium which constitutes health.

If, as is ordinarily observed, the imbecile does not lack brain, his brain will be deficient in its con- sistency — for instance, in being too soft. The same thing is true of the insane, and the defects of their brains do not always escape our investigation. But if the causes of imbecility, insanity, etc., are not ob- vious, where shall we look for the causes of the di- versity of all minds ? They would escape the eyes of a lynx and of an argus. A mere nothing, a tiny fibre, something that could never be found by the most delicate anatomy, would have made of Erasmus and Fontenelle^^ two idiots, and Fontenelle himself speaks of this very fact in one of his best dialogues.

Willis has noticed in addition to the softness of the brain-substance in children, puppies, and birds, that the corpora striata are obliterated and dis- colored in all these animals, and that the striations are as imperfectly formed as in paralytics

However cautious and reserved one may be about the consequences that can be deduced from these ob- servations, and from many others concerning the kind of variation in the organs, nerves, etc., [one must admit that] so many different varieties can not be the gratuitous play of nature. They prove at least the necessity for a good and vigorous phys-

100 MAN A MACHINE. [Text

ical organization, since throughout the animal king- dom the soul gains force with the body and ac- quires keenness, as the body gains strength.

Let us pause to contemplate the varying capacity of animals to learn. Doubtless the analogy best framed leads the mind to think that the causes we have mentioned produce all the difference that is found between animals and men, although we must confess that our weak understanding, limited to the coarsest observations, can not see the bonds that exist between cause and effects. This is a kind of harmony that philosophers will never know.

Among animals, some learn to speak and sing; they remember tunes, and strike the notes as ex- actly as a musician. Others, for instance the ape, show more intelligence, and yet can not learn music. What is the reason for this, except some defect in the organs of speech? But is this defect so essen- tial to the structure that it could never be remedied ? In a word, would it be absolutely impossible to teach the ape a language ?^^ I do not think so.

I should choose a large ape in preference to any other, until by some good fortune another kind should be discovered, more like us, for nothing prevents there being such an one in regions un- known to us. The ape resembles us so strongly that naturalists have called it "wild man" or "man of the woods." I should take it in the condition of the pupils of Amman, ^'^ that is to say, I should not want it to be too young or too old ; for apes that are brought to Europe are usually too old. I would choose the one with the most intelligent face, and the one which, in a thousand little ways, best lived up to its look of intelligence. Finally

28-30] MAN A MACHINE. 101

not considering myself worthy to be his master, I should put him in the school of that excellent teacher whom I have just named, or with another teacher equally skilful, if there is one.

You know by Amman's work, and by all those* who have interpreted his method, all the wonders he has been able to accomplish for those born deaf. In their eyes he discovered ears, as he himself ex- plains, and in how short a time ! In short he taught them to hear, speak, read, and write. I grant that a deaf person's eyes see more clearly and are keener than if he were not deaf, for the loss of one member or sense can increase the strength or acuteness of another, but apes see and hear, they understand what they hear and see, and grasp so perfectly the signs that are made to them, that I doubt not that they would surpass the pupils of Amman in any other game or exercise. Why then should the edu- cation of monkeys be impossible? Why might not the monkey, by dint of great pains, at last imitate after the manner of deaf mutes, the motions neces- sary for pronunciation? I do not dare decide whether the monkey's organs of speech, however trained, would be incapable of articulation. But, because of the great analogy between ape and man^^ and because there is no known animal whose exter- nal and internal organs so strikingly resemble man's, it would surprise me if speech were absolutely im- possible to the ape. Locke, who was certainly never suspected of credulity, found no difficulty in believing the story told by Sir William Temple^^ in his memoirs, about a parrot which could an- swer rationally, and which had learned to carry

  • The author of "The Natural History of the Soul."

102 MAN A MACHINE. [Text

on a kind of connected conversation, as we do. I know that people have ridiculed* this great meta- physician; but suppose some one should have an- nounced that reproduction sometimes takes place without eggs or a female, would he have found many partisans? Yet M. Trembley^'^ has found cases where reproduction takes place without copu- lation and by fission. Would not Amman too have passed for mad if he had boasted that he could instruct scholars like his in so short a time, before he had happily accomplished the feat? His suc- cesses have, however, astonished the world; and he, like the author of "The History of Polyps," has risen to immortality at one bound. Whoever owes the miracles that he works to his own genius sur- passes, in my opinion, the man who owes his to chance. He who has discovered the art of adorning the most beautiful of the kingdoms [of nature], and of giving it perfections that it did not have, should be rated above an idle creator of frivolous systems, or a painstaking author of sterile discoveries. Amman's discoveries are certainly of a much greater value; he has freed men from the instinct to which they seemed to be condemned, and has given them ideas, intelligence, or in a word, a soul which they would never have had. What greater power than this!

Let us not limit the resources of nature; they are infinite, especially when reinforced by great art.

Could not the device which opens the Eustachian canal of the deaf, open that of apes? Might not a happy desire to imitate the master's pronunciation, liberate the organs of speech in animals that imitate so many other signs with such skill and intelligence ?

  • The author of "The History of the Soul."

30-32] MAN A MACHINE. 103

Not only do I defy any one to name any really conclusive experiment which proves my view im- possible and absurd; but such is the likeness of the structure and functions of the ape to ours that I have very little doubt that if this animal were prop- erly trained he might at last be taught to pronounce, and consequently to know, a language. Then he would no longer be a wild man, nor a defective man, but he would be a perfect man, a little gentle- man, with as much matter or muscle as we have, for thinking and profiting by his education.

The transition from animals to man is not vio- lent, as true philosophers will admit. What was man before the invention of words and the knowl- edge of language ?^^ An animal of his own species with much less instinct than the others. In those days, he did not consider himself king over the other animals, nor was he distinguished from the ape, and from the rest, except as the ape itself differs from the other animals, i. e., by a more intelligent face. Reduced to the bare intuitive knowledge of the Leibnizians he saw only shapes and colors, without being able to distinguish between them: the same, old as young, child at all ages, he lisped out his sensations and his needs, as a dog that is hungry or tired of sleeping, asks for something to eat, or for a walk.

Words, languages, laws, sciences, and the fine arts have come, and by them finally the rough dia- mond of our mind has been polished. Man has been trained in the same way as animals. He has become an author, as they became beasts of burden. A geometrician has learned to perform the most difficult demonstrations and calculations, as a mon-

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key has learned to take his Httle hat off and on, and to mount his tame dog. All has been accom- plished through signs, every species has learned what it could understand, and in this way men have ac- quired symbolic knowledge, still so called by our German philosophers.

Nothing, as any one can see, is so simple as the mechanism of our education. Everything may be reduced to sounds or words that pass from the mouth of one through the ears of another into his brain. At the same moment, he perceives through his eyes the shape of the bodies of which these words are the arbitrary signs.

But who was the first to speak? Who was the first teacher of the human race? Who invented the means of utilizing the plasticity of our organism? I can not answer: the names of these first splendid geniuses have been lost in the night of time. But art is the child of nature, so nature must have long preceded it.

We must think that the men who were the most highly organized, those on whom nature had lav- ished her richest gifts, taught the others. They could not have heard a new sound for instance, nor experienced new sensations, nor been struck by all the varied and beautiful objects that compose the ravishing spectacle of nature without finding them- selves in the state of mind of the deaf man of Chartres, whose experience was first related by the great Fontenelle,^^ when, at forty years, he heard for the first time, the astonishing sound of bells.

Would it be absurd to conclude from this that the first mortals tried after the manner of this deaf man, or like animals and like mutes (another kind

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of animals), to express their new feelings by mo- tions depending on the nature of their imagination, and therefore afterwards by spontaneous sounds, distinctive of each animal, as the natural expression of their surprise, their joy, their ecstasies and their needs? For doubtless those whom nature endowed with finer feeling had also greater facility in ex- pression.

That is the way in which, I think, men have used their feeling and their instinct to gain intelligence and then have employed their intelligence to gain knowledge. Those are the ways, so far as I can understand them, in which men have filled the brain with the ideas, for the reception of which nature made it. Nature and man have helped each other; and the smallest beginnings have, little by little, increased, until everything in the universe could be as easily described as a circle.

As a violin string or a harpsichord key vi- brates and gives forth sound, so the cerebral fibres, struck by waves of sound, are stimulated to render or repeat the words that strike them. And as the structure of the brain is such that when eyes well formed for seeing, have once perceived the image of objects, the brain can not help seeing their images and their differences, so when the signs of these differences have been traced or im- printed in the brain, the soul necessarily examines their relations — an examination that would have been impossible without the discovery of signs or the invention of language. At the time when the universe was almost dumb, the soul's attitude toward all objects was that of a man without any idea of proportion toward a picture or a piece of sculp-

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ture, in which he could distinguish nothing; or the soul was like a little child (for the soul was then in its infancy ) who, holding in his hand small bits of straw or wood, sees them in a vague and super- ficial way without being able to count or distinguish them. But let some one attach a kind of banner, or standard, to this bit of wood (which perhaps is called a mast), and another banner to another similar object ; let the first be known by the symbol 1, and the second by the symbol or number 2, then the child will be able to count the objects, and in this way he will learn all of arithmetic. As soon as one figure seems equal to another in its numerical sign, he will decide without difficulty that they are two different bodies, that 1 + 1 make 2, and 2 -|- 2 make 4,* etc.

This real or apparent likeness of figures is the fundamental basis of all truths and of all we know. Among these sciences, evidently those whose signs are less simple and less sensible are harder to understand than the others, because more talent is required to comprehend and combine the immense number of words by which such sciences express the truths in their province. On the other hand, the sciences that are expressed by numbers or by other small signs, are easily learned; and without doubt' this facility rather than its demonstrability is what has made the fortune of algebra.

All this knowledge, with which vanity fills the balloon-like brains of our proud pedants, is there- fore but a huge mass of words and figures, which form in the brain all the marks by which we dis-

  • There are peoples, even to-day, who, through lack of a

greater number of signs, can count only to 20.

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tinguish and recall objects. All our ideas are awak- ened after the fashion in which the gardener who knows plants recalls all stages of their growth at sight of them. These words and the objects desig- nated by them are so connected in the brain that it is comparatively rare to imagine a thing without the name or sign that is attached to it.

I always use the word "imagine," because I think that everything is the work of imagination, and that all the faculties of the soul can be correctly reduced to pure imagination in which they all con- sist.^^ Thus judgment, reason, and memory are not absolute parts of the soul, but merely modi- fications of this kind of medullary screen upon which images of the objects painted in the eye are projected as by a magic lantern.

But if such is the marvelous and incomprehen- sible result of the structure of the brain, if every- thing is perceived and explained by imagination, why should we divide the sensitive principle which thinks in man? Is not this a clear inconsistency in the partisans of the simplicity of the mind? For a thing that is divided can no longer without absurdity be regarded as indivisible. See to what one is brought by the abuse of language and by those fine words (spirituality, immateriality, etc.) used haphazard and not understood even by the most brilliant. ^^

Nothing is easier than to prove a system based, as this one is, on the intimate feeling and personal experience of each individual. If the imagination, or, let us say, that fantastic part of the brain whose nature is as unknown to us as its way of acting, be naturally small or weak, it will hardly be able to

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compare the analogy or the resemblance of its ideas, it will be able to see only what is face to face with it, or what affects it very strongly; and how will it see all this! Yet it is always imagination which apperceives, and imagination which represents to itself all objects along with their names and sym- bols; and thus, once again, imagination is the soul, since it plays all the roles of the soul. By the im- agination, by its flattering brush, the cold skeleton of reason takes on living and ruddy flesh, by the imagination the sciences flourish, the arts are adorned, the wood speaks, the echoes sigh, the rocks weep, marble breathes, and all inanimate ob- jects gain life. It is imagination again which adds the piquant charm of voluptuousness to the tender- ness of an amorous heart; which makes tenderness bud in the study of the philosopher and of the dusty pedant, which, in a word, creates scholars as well as orators and poets. Foolishly decried by some, vainly praised by others, and misunderstood by all ; it follows not only in the train of the graces and of the fine arts, it not only describes, but can also measure nature. It reasons, judges, analyzes, compares, and investigates. Could it feel so keenly the beauties of the pictures drawn for it, unless it discovered their relations? No, just as it can not turn its thoughts on the pleasures of the senses, without enjoying their perfection or their volup- tuousness, it can not reflect on what it has mechan- ically conceived, without thus being judgment it- self.

The more the imagination or the poorest talent is exercised, the more it gains in embonpoint, so to speak, and the larger it grows. It becomes sensi-

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tive, robust, broad, and capable of thinking. The best of organisms has need of this exercise.

Man's preeminent advantage is his organism.^^ In vain all writers of books on morals fail to re- gard as praiseworthy those qualities that come by nature, esteeming only the talents gained by dint of reflection and industry. For whence come, I ask, skill, learning, and virtue, if not from a dis- position that makes us fit to become skilful, wise and virtuous? And whence again, comes this dis- position, if not from nature? Only through nature do we have any good qualities; to her we owe all that we are. Why then should I not esteem men with good natural qualities as much as men who shine by acquired and as it were borrowed virtues? Whatever the virtue may be, from whatever source it may come, it is worthy of esteem ; the only ques- tion is, how to estimate it. Mind, beauty, wealth, nobility, although the children of chance, all have their own value, as skill, learning and virtue have theirs. Those upon whom nature has heaped her most costly gifts should pity those to whom these gifts have been refused; but, in their character of experts, they may feel their superiority without pride. A beautiful woman would be as foolish to think herself ugly, as an intelligent man to think himself a fool. An exaggerated modesty (a rare fault, to be sure) is a kind of ingratitude towards nature. An honest pride, on the contrary, is the mark of a strong and beautiful soul, revealed by manly features moulded by feeling.

If one's organism is an advantage, and the pre- eminent advantage, and the source of all others, education is the second. The best made brain would

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be a total loss without it, just as the best con- stituted man would be but a common peasant, with- out knowledge of the ways of the world. But, on the other hand, what would be the use of the most excellent school, without a matrix perfectly open to the entrance and conception of ideas? It is .... impossible to impart a single idea to a man deprived of all his senses

But if the brain is at the same time well organized and well educated, it is a fertile soil, well sown, that brings forth a hundredfold what it has re- ceived: or (to leave the figures of speech often needed to express what one means, and to add grace to truth itself) the imagination, raised by art to the rare and beautiful dignity of genius, apprehends exactly all the relations of the ideas it has con- ceived, and takes in easily an astounding number of objects, in order to deduce from them a long chain of consequences, which are again but new relations, produced by a comparison with the first, to which the soul finds a perfect resemblance. Such is, I think, the generation of intelligence.^^ I say "finds" as I before gave the epithet "apparent" to the likeness of objects, not because I think that our senses are always deceivers, as Father Malebranche has claimed, or that our eyes, naturally a little un- steady, fail to see objects as they are in themselves, (though microscopes prove this to us everyday) but in order to avoid any dispute with the Pyrrhon- ians,^"* among whom Bayle^^ is well known.

I say of truth in general what M. de Fontenelle says of certain truths in particular, that we must sacrifice it in order to remain on good terms with society. And it accords with the gentleness of my


character, to avoid all disputes unless to whet conver- sation. The Cartesians would here in vain make an onset upon me with their innate ideas. I certainly would not give myself a quarter of the trouble that M. Locke took, to attack such chimeras. In truth, what is the use of writing a ponderous volume to prove a doctrine which became an axiom three thou- sand years ago?

According to the principles which we have laid down, and which we consider true ; he who has the most imagination should be regarded as having the most intelligence or genius, for all these words are synonymous; and again, only by a shameful abuse [of terms] do we think that we are saying different things, when we are merely using different words, different sounds, to which no idea or real distinction is attached.

The finest, greatest, or strongest imagination is then the one most suited to the sciences as well as to the arts. I do not pretend to say whether more intellect is necessary to excel in the art of Aris- totle or of Descartes than to excel in that of Eu- ripides or of Sophocles, and whether nature has taken more trouble to make Newton than to make Corneille, though I doubt this. But it is certain that imagination alone, differently applied, has pro- duced their diverse triumphs and their immortal glory.

If one is known as having little judgment and much imagination, this means that the imagination has been left too much alone, has, as it were, oc- cupied most of the time in looking at itself in the mirror of its sensations, has not sufficiently formed the habit of examining the sensations them-

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selves attentively. [It means that the imagination] has been more impressed by images than by their truth or their likeness.

Truly, so quick are the responses of the imagina- tion that if attention, that key or mother of the sciences, does not do its part, imagination can do little more than run over and skim its objects.

See that bird on the bough : it seems always ready to fly away. Imagination is like the bird, always carried onward by the turmoil of the blood and the animal spirits. One wave leaves a mark, effaced by the one that follows; the soul pursues it, often in vain : it must expect to regret the loss of that which it has not quickly enough seized and fixed. Thus, imagination, the true image of time, is being cease- lessly destroyed and renewed.

Such is the chaos and the continuous quick suc- cession of our ideas : they drive each other away even as one wave yields to another. Therefore, if imagination does not, as it were, use one set of its muscles to maintain a kind of equilibrium with the fibres of the brain, to keep its attention for a while upon an object that is on the point of disappearing, and to prevent itself from contemplating prema- turely another object — [unless the im.agination does all this], it will never be worthy of the fine name of judgment. It will express vividly what it has perceived in the same fashion : it will create orators, musicians, painters, poets, but never a single philos- opher. On the contrary, if the imagination be trained from childhood to bridle itself and to keep from being carried away by its own impetuosity — an impetuosity which creates only brilliant enthu- siasts — and to check, to restrain, its ideas, to exam-

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ine them in all their aspects in order to see all sides of an object, then the imagination, ready in judg- ment, will comprehend the greatest possible sphere of objects, through reasoning; and its vivacity (al- ways so good a sign in children, and only needing to be regulated by study and training) will be only a far-seeing insight without which little progress can be made in the sciences.

Such are the simple foundations upon which the edifice of logic has been reared. Nature has built these foundations for the whole human race, but some have used them, while others have abused them.

In spite of all these advantages of man over ani- mals, it is doing him honor to place him in the same class. For, truly, up to a certain age, he is more of an animal than they, since at birth he has less instinct. What animal would die of hunger in the midst of a river of milk? Man alone. Like that child of olden time to whom a modern writer, refers, following Arnobius,^^ he knows neither the foods suitable for him, nor the water that can drown him, nor the fire that can reduce him to ashes. Light a wax candle for the first time under a child's eyes, and he will mechanically put his fingers in the flame as if to find out what is the new thing that he sees. It is at his own cost that he will learn of the danger, but he will not be caught again. Or, put the child with an animal on a preci- pice, the child alone falls off; he drowns where the animal would save itself by swimming. At four- teen or fifteen years the child knows hardly anything of the great pleasures in store for him, in the re- production of his species; when he is a youth, he

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does not know exactly how to behave in a game which nature teaches animals so quickly. He hides himself as if he were ashamed of taking pleasure, and of having been made to be happy, while animals frankly glory in being cynics. Without education, they are without prejudices. For one more ex- ample, let us observe a dog and a child who have lost their master on a highway: the child cries and does not know to what saint to pray, while the dog, better helped by his sense of smell than the child by his reason, soon finds his master.

Thus nature made us to be lower than animals or at least to exhibit all the more, because of that native inferiority, the wonderful efficacy of edu- cation which alone raises us from the level of the animals and lifts us above them. But shall we grant this same distinction to the deaf and to the blind, to imbeciles, madmen, or savages, or to those who have been brought up in the woods with animals; to those who have lost their imagination through melancholia, or in short to all those animals in human form who give evidence of only the rudest instinct? No, all these, men of body but not of mind, do not deserve to be classed by themselves.

We do not intend to hide from ourselves the arguments that can be brought forward against our belief and in favor of a primitive distinction between men and animals. Some say that there is in man a natural law, a knowledge of good and evil, which has never been imprinted on the heart of animals.

But is this objection, or rather this assertion, based on observation? Any assertion unfounded on ob- servation may be rejected by a philosopher. Have we ever had a single experience which convinces

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US that man alone has been enHghtened by a ray denied all other animals ? If there is no such expe- rience, we can no more know what goes on in ani- mals' minds or even in the minds of other men, than we can help feeling what affects the inner part of our own being. We know that we think, and feel remorse — an intimate feeling forces us to rec- ognize this only too well; but this feeling in us is insufficient to enable us to judge the remorse of others. That is why we have to take others at their word, or judge them by the sensible and exter- nal signs we have noticed in ourselves when we experienced the same accusations of conscience and the same torments.

In order to decide whether animals which do not talk have received the natural law, we must, there- fore, have recourse to those signs to which I have just referred, if any such exist. The facts seem to prove it. A dog that bit the master who was teas- ing it, seemed to repent a minute afterwards; it looked sad, ashamed, afraid to show itself, and seemed to confess its guilt by a crouching and downcast air. History offers us a famous example of a lion which would not devour a man abandoned to its fury, because it recognized him as its bene- factor. How much might it be wished that man himself always showed the same gratitude for kind- nesses, and the same respect for humanity! Then we should no longer fear either ungrateful wretches, or wars which are the plague of the human race and the real executioners of the natural law.

But a being to which nature has given such a precocious and enlightened instinct, which judges, combines, reasons, and deliberates as far as the

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sphere of its activity extends and permits, a being wliich feels attachment because of benefits received, and which leaving a master who treats it badly goes to seek a better one, a being with a structure like ours, which performs the same acts, has the same passions, the same griefs, the same pleasures, more or less intense according to the sway of the imagina- tion and the delicacy of the nervous organization — does not such a being show clearly that it knows its faults and ours, understands good and evil, and in a word, has consciousness of what it does? Would its soul, which feels the same joys, the same mortifica- tion and the same discomfiture which we feel, remain utterly unmoved by disgust when it saw a fellow- creature torn to bits, or when it had itself pitilessly dismembered this fellow - creature ? If this be granted, it follows that the precious gift now in question would not have been denied to animals : for since they show us sure signs of repentance, as well as of intelligence, what is there absurd in think- ing that beings, almost as perfect machines as our- selves, are, like us, made to understand and to feel nature ?

Let no one object that animals, for the most part, are savage beasts, incapable of realizing the evil that they do; for do all men discriminate better between vice and virtue? There is ferocity in our species as well as in theirs. Men who are in the barbarous habit of breaking the natural law are not tormented as much by it, as those who trans- gress it for the first time, and who have not been hardened by the force of habit. The same thing is true of animals as of men — both may be more or less ferocious in temperament, and both become

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more so by living with others like themselves. But a gentle and peaceful animal which lives among other animals of the same disposition and of gentle nurture, will be an enemy of blood and carnage; it will blush internally at having shed blood. There is perhaps this difference, that since among animals everything is sacrificed to their needs, to their pleas- ures, to the necessities of life, which they enjoy more than we, their remorse apparently should not be as keen as ours, because we are not in the same state of necessity as they. Custom perhaps dulls and perhaps stifles remorse as well as pleasures.

But I will suppose for a moment that I am utterly mistaken in concluding that almost all the world holds a wrong opinion on this subject, while I alone am right. I will grant that animals, even the best of them, do not know the difference between moral good and evil, that they have no recollection of the trouble taken for them, of the kindness done them, no realization of their own virtues. [I will suppose], for instance, that this lion, to which I, like so many others, have referred, does not remember at all that it refused to kill the man, abandoned to its fury, in a combat more inhuman than one could find among lions, tigers and bears, put together. For our com- patriots fight, Swiss against Swiss, brother against brother, recognize each other, and yet capture and kill each other without remorse, because a prince pays for the murder. I suppose in short that the natural law has not been given animals. What will be the consequences of this supposition? Man is not moulded from a costlier clay; nature has used but one dough, and has merely varied the leaven. Therefore if animals do not repent for having vie-

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lated this inmost feeling which I am discussing, or rather if they absolutely lack it, man must neces- sarily be in the same condition. Farewell then to the natural law and all the fine treatises published about it! The whole animal kingdom in general would be deprived of it. But, conversely, if man can not dispense with the belief that when health permits him to be himself, he always distinguishes the up- right, humane, and virtuous, from those who are not humane, virtuous, nor honorable : that it is easy to tell vice from virtue, by the unique pleasure and the peculiar repugnance that seem to be their natural effects, it follows that animals, composed of the same matter, lacking perhaps only one degree of fermentation to make it exactly like man's, must share the same prerogatives of animal nature, and that thus there exists no soul or sensitive substance without remorse.^ The following consideration will reinforce these observations.

It is impossible to destroy the natural law. The impress of it on all animals is so strong, that I have no doubt that the wildest and most savage have some moments of repentance. I believe that that cruel maid of Chalons in Champagne must have sorrowed for her crime, if she really ate her sister. I think that the same thing is true of all those who commit crimes, even involuntary or temperamental crimes : true of Gaston of Orleans who could not help stealing; of a certain woman who was subject to the same crime when pregnant, and whose chil- dren inherited it; of the woman who, in the same condition, ate her husband; of that other woman who killed her children, salted their bodies, and ate a piece of them every day, as a little relish; of that

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daughter of a thief and cannibal who at twelve years followed in his steps, although she had been orphaned when she was a year old, and had been brought up by honest people; to say nothing of many other examples of which the records of our observers are full, all of them proving that there are a thousand hereditary vices and virtues which are transmitted from parents to children as those of the foster mother pass to the children she nurses. Now, I believe and admit that these wretches do not for the most part feel at the time the enormity of their actions. Bulimia, or canine hunger, for ex- ample, can stifle all feeling; it is a mania of the stomach that one is compelled to satisfy, but what remorse must be in store for those women, when they come to themselves and grow sober, and re- member the crimes they have committed against those they held most dear! What a punishment for an involuntary crime which they could not resist, of which they had no consciousness whatever! How- ever, this is apparently not enough for the judges. For of these women, of whom I tell, one was cruelly beaten and burned, and another was buried alive. I realize all that is demanded by the interest of so- ciety. But doubtless it is much to be wished that excellent physicians might be the only judges. They alone could tell the innocent criminal from the guilty. If reason is the slave of a depraved or mad desire, how can it control the desire?

But if crime carries with it its own more or less cruel punishment, if the most continued and most barbarous habit can not entirely blot out repent- ance in the cruelest hearts, if criminals are lacerated by the very memory of their deeds, why should we

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frighten the imagination of weak minds, by a hell, by specters, and by precipices of fire even less real than those of Pascal ?* Why must we have recourse to fables, as an honest pope once said himself, to torment even the unhappy wretches who are exe- cuted, because we do not think that they are suffi- ciently punished by their own conscience, their first executioner? I do not mean to say that all crim- inals are unjustly punished; I only maintain that those whose will is depraved, and whose conscience is extinguished, are punished enough by their re- morse when they come to themselves, a remorse, I venture to assert, from which nature should in this case have delivered unhappy souls dragged on by a fatal necessity.

Criminals, scoundrels, ingrates, those in short without natural feelings, unhappy tyrants who are unworthy of life, in vain take a cruel pleasure in their barbarity, for there are calm moments of re- flection in which the avenging conscience arises, testifies against them, and condemns them to be almost ceaselessly torn to pieces at their own hands. Whoever torments men is tormented by himself; and the sufferings that he will experience will be the just measure of those that he has inflicted. I On the other hand, there is so much pleasure in

  • In a company, or at table, he always required a rampart

of chairs or else some one close to him at the left, to prevent his seeing horrible abysses into which (in spite of his under- standing these illusions) he sometimes feared that he might fall. What a frightful result of imagination, or of the pecu- liar circulation in a lobe of the brain ! Great man on one side of his nature, on the other he was half-mad. Madness and wisdom, each had its compartment, or its lobe, the two separated by a fissure. Which was the side by which he was so strongly attached to Messieurs of Port Royal? (I have read this in an extract from the treatise on vertigo by M. de la Mettrie.)

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doing good, in recognizing and appreciating what one receives, so much satisfaction in practising vir- tue, in being gentle, humane, kind, charitable, com- passionate and generous ( for this one word includes all the virtues), that I consider as sufficiently pun- ished any one who is unfortunate enough not to have been born virtuous.

We were not originally made to be learned; we have become so perhaps by a sort of abuse of our organic faculties, and at the expense of the State which nourishes a host of sluggards whom vanity has adorned with the name of philosophers. Nature has created us all solely to be happy^^ — yes, all of us from the crawling worm to the eagle lost in the cloulds. For this cause she has given all animals some share of natural law, a share greater or less according to the needs of each animal's organs when in normal condition.

Now how shall we define natural law? It is a feeling that teaches us what we should not do, be- cause we would not wish it to be done to us. Should I dare add to this common idea, that this feeling seems to me but a kind of fear or dread, as salutary to the race as to the individual; for may it not be true that we respect the purse and life of others only to save our own possessions, our honor, and ourselves; like those Ixions of Christianity^^ who love God and embrace so many fantastic virtues, merely because they are afraid of hell!

You see that natural law is but an intimate feel- ing that, like all other feelings (thought included), belongs also to imagination. Evidently, therefore, natural law does not presuppose education, revela- tion, nor legislator, — provided one does not propose

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to confuse natural law with civil laws, in the ridic- ulous fashion of the theologians.

The arms of fanaticism may destroy those who support these truths, but they will never destroy the truths themselves.

I do not mean to call in question the existence of a supreme being; on the contrary it seems to me that the greatest degree of probability is in favor of this belief. But since the existence of this being goes no further than that of any other toward proving the need of worship, it is a theoretic truth with very little practical value. Therefore, since we may say, after such long experience, that religion does not imply exact honesty, we are authorized by the same reasons to think that atheism does not exclude it.

Furthermore, who can be sure that the reason for man's existence is not simply the fact that he exists ?^^ Perhaps he was thrown by chance on some spot on the earth's surface, nobody knows how nor why, but simply that he must live and die, like the mushrooms which appear from day to day, or like those flowers which border the ditches and cover the walls.

Let us not lose ourselves in the infinite, for we are not made to have the least idea thereof, and are abso- lutely unable to get back to the origin of things. Besides it does not matter for our peace of mind, whether matter be eternal or have been created, whether there be or be not a God. How foolish to torment ourselves so much about things which we can not know, and which would not make us any happier even were we to gain knowledge about them!

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But, some will say, read all such works as those of Fenelon,^^ of Nieuwentyt,^^ Qf Abadie,*^ of Derham,*^ of Rais,^^ and the rest. Well ! what will they teach me or rather what have they taught me? They are only tiresome repetitions of zealous writers, one of whom adds to the other only verb- iage, more likely to strengthen than to undermine the foundations of atheism. The number of the evidences drawn from the spectacle of nature does not give these evidences any more force. Either the mere structure of a finger, of an ear, of an eye, a single observation of Malpighi^® proves all, and doubtless much better than Descartes and Male- branche proved it, or all the other evidences prove nothing. Deists,*'^ and even Christians, should there- fore be content to point out that throughout the animal kingdom the same aims are pursued and accomplished by an infinite number of different mechanisms, all of them however exactly geomet- rical. For what stronger weapons could there be with which to overthrow atheists? It is true that if my reason does not deceive me, man and the whole universe seem to have been designed for this unity of aim. The sun, air, water, the organism, the shape of bodies, — everything is brought to a focus in the eye as in a mirror that faithfully presents to the imagination all the objects reflected in it, in accordance with the laws required by the infinite variety of bodies which take part in vision. In ears we find everywhere a striking variety, and yet the difference of structure in men, animals, birds, and fishes, does not produce different uses. All ears are so mathematically made, that they tend equally to one and the same end, namely, hearing. But would

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Chance, the deist asks, be a great enough geometri- cian to vary thus, at pleasure, the works of which she is supposed to be the author, without being hin- dered by so great a diversity from gaining the same end? Again, the deist will bring forward as a difficulty those parts of the animal that are clearly contained in it for future use, the butterfly in the caterpillar, man in the sperm, a whole polyp in each of its parts, the valvule in the oval orifice, the lungs in the foetus, the teeth in their sockets, the bones in the fluid from which they detach themselves and (in an incomprehensible manner) harden. And since the partisans of this theory, far from neglect- ing anything that would strengthen it, never tire of piling up proof upon proof, they are willing to avail themselves of everything, even of the weakness of the mind in certain cases. Look, they say, at men like Spinoza, Vanini,^^ Desbar- reau,^^ and Boindin,^*^ apostles who honor deism more than they harm it. The duration of their health was the measure of their unbelief, and one rarely fails, they add, to renounce atheism when the passions, with their instrument, the body, have grown weak.

That is certainly the most that can be said in favor of the existence of God : although the last argu- ment is frivolous in that these conversions are short, and the mind almost always regains its former opin- ions and acts accordingly, as soon as it has regained or rather rediscovered its strength in that of the body. That is, at least, much more than was said by the physician Diderot,^-^ in his "Pensees Philo- sophiques," a sublime work that will not convince a single atheist. What reply can, in truth, be

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made to a man who says, "We do not know nature ; causes hidden in her breast might have produced everything. In your turn, observe the polyp of Trem- bley :^^ does it not contain in itself the causes which bring about regeneration? Why then would it be absurd to think that there are physical causes by reason of which everything has been made, and to which the whole chain of this vast universe is so necessarily bound and held that nothing which happens, could have failed to happen, ^^ — causes, of which we are so invincibly ignorant that we have had recourse to a God, who, as some aver, is not so much as a logical entity? Thus to de- stroy chance is not to prove the existence of a supreme being, since there may be some other thing which is neither chance nor God — I mean, nature. It follows that the study of nature can make only unbelievers ; and the way of thinking of all its more successful investigators proves this."

The weight of the universe therefore far from crushing a real atheist does not even shake him. All these evidences of a creator, repeated thousands and thousands of times, evidences that are placed far above the comprehension of men like us, are self-evident (however far one push the argument) only to the anti-Pyrrhonians,^'* or to those who have enough confidence in their reason to believe themselves capable of judging on the basis of cer- tain phenomena, against which, as you see, the athe- ists can urge others perhaps equally strong and ab- solutely opposed. For if we listen to the naturalists again, they will tell us that the very causes which, in a chemist's hands, by a chance combination, made the first mirror, in the hands of nature made the

126 MAN A MACHINE. t^ext

pure water, the mirror of the simple shepherdess; that the motion which keeps the world going could have created it, that each body has taken the place assigned to it by its own nature, that the air must have surrounded the earth, and that iron and the other metals are produced by internal motions of the earth, for one and the same reason ; that the sun is as much a natural product as electricity, that it was not made to warm the earth and its inhabitants, whom it sometimes burns, any more than the rain was made to make the seeds grow, which it often spoils ; that the mirror and the water were no more made for people to see themselves in, than were all other polished bodies with this same property; that the eye is in truth a kind of glass in which the soul can contemplate the image of objects as they are presented to it by these bodies, but that it is not proved that this organ was really made expressly for this contemplation, nor purposely placed in its socket, and in short that it may well be that Lucre- tius,^^ the physician Lamy,'""^ and all Epicureans both ancient and modern were right when they suggested that the eye sees only because it is formed and placed as it is,^^ and that, given once for all, the same rules of motion followed by nature in the generation and development of bodies, this mar- velous organ could not have been formed and placed differently.

Such is the pro and the con, and the summary of those fine arguments that will eternally divide the philosophers. I do not take either side.

"Non nostrum inter vos tantas componere Htes.""^ This is what I said to one of my friends, a French-


man, as frank a Pyrronian as I, a man of much merit, and worthy of a better fate. He gave me a very singular answer in regard to the matter. "It is true," he told me, "that the pro and con should not disturb at all the soul of a philosopher, who sees that nothing is proved with clearness enough to force his consent, and that the arguments offered on one side are neutralized by those of the other. However," he continued, "the universe will never be_happy, unless it is atheistic. "^^ Here are this wretch's reasons. If atheism, said he, were gen- erally accepted, all the forms of religion would then be destroyed and cut off at the roots. No more theological wars, no more soldiers of religion — such terrible soldiers! Nature infected with a sacred poison, would regain its rights and its purity. Deaf to all other voices, tranquil mortals would follow only the spontaneous dictates of their own being the only commands which can never be despised with impunity and which alone can lead us to hap- piness through the pleasant paths of virtue.

Such is natural law: whoever rigidly observes it is a good man and deserves the confidence of all the human race. Whoever fails to follow it scrupulously affects, in vain, the specious exterior of another religion; he is a scamp or a hypocrite whom I distrust.

After this, let a vain people think otherwise, let them dare affirm that even probity is at stake in not believing in revelation, in a word that another religion than that of nature is necessary, whatever it may be. Such an assertion is wretched and piti- able; and so is the good opinion which each one gives us of the religion he has embraced! We do

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not seek here the votes of the crowd. Whoever raises in his heart altars to superstition, is born to worship idols and not to thrill to virtue.

But since all the faculties of the soul depend to such a degree on the proper organization of the brain and of the whole body, that apparently they are but this organization itself, the soul is clearly an enlightened machine. For finally, even if man alone had received a share of natural law, would he be any less a machine for that? A few more wheels, a few more springs than in the most perfect animals, the brain proportionally nearer the heart and for this very reason receiving more blood — any one of a number of unknown causes might al- ways produce this delicate conscience so easily wounded, this remorse which is no more foreign to matter than to thought, and in a word all the differ- ences that are supposed to exist here. Could the organism then suffice for everything? Once more, yes ; since thought visibly develops with our organs, why should not the matter of which they are com- posed be susceptible of remorse also, when once it has acquired, with time, the faculty of feeling?

The soul is therefore but an empty word, of which no one has any idea, and which an enlightened man should use only to signify the part in us that thinks. ^^ Given the least principle of motion, animated bodies will have all that is necessary for moving, feeling, thinking, repenting, or in a word for conducting themselves in the physical realm, and in the moral realm which depends upon it.

Yet we take nothing for granted ; those who per- haps think that all the difficulties have not yet been

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removed shall now read of experiments that will completely satisfy them.

1. The flesh of all animals palpitates after death. This palpitation continues longer, the more cold blooded the animal is and the less it perspires. Tor- toises, lizards, serpents, etc. are evidence of this.

2. Muscles separated from the body contract when they are stimulated.

3. The intestines keep up their peristaltic or vermi- £^5 cular motion for a long time. ^

4. According to Cowper,^^ a simple injection of q hot water reanimates the heart and the muscles. a

5. A frog's heart moves for an hour or more ;^ after it has been removed from the body, especially r^ when exposed to the sun or better still when placed "^ on a hot table or chair. If this movement seems 1: totally lost, one has only to stimulate the heart, and r-' that hollow muscle beats again. Harvey^^made this r- ;:r : same observation on toads. £^ ^

6. Bacon of Verulam^^ in his treatise "Sylva >' m 5 Sylvarum" cites the case of a man convicted of '^ >■ i treason, who was opened alive, and whose heart q r thrown into hot water leaped several times, each -r| ^ time less high, to the perpendicular height of two cr - feet. g -

7. Take a tiny chicken still in the egg, cut out ci the heart and you will observe the same phenomena zsi as before, under almost the same conditions. The warmth of the breath alone reanimates an animal about to perish in the air pump.

The same experiments, which we owe to Boyle^* and to Stenon,^^ are made on pigeons, dogs, and rabbits. Pieces of their hearts beat as their whole


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hearts would. The same movements can be seen in paws that have been cut off from moles.

8. The caterpillar, the worm, the spider, the fly, the eel — all exhibit the same phenomena ; and in hot water, because of the fire it contains, the move- ment of the detached parts increases.

9. A drunken soldier cut off with one stroke of his sabre an Indian rooster's head. The animal re- mained standing, then walked, and ran: happening to run against a wall, it turned around, beat its wings still running, and finally fell down. As it lay on the ground, all the muscles of this rooster kept on moving. That is what I saw myself, and almost the same phenomena can easily be observed in kittens or puppies with their heads cut off.

10. Polyps do more than move after they have been cut in pieces. In a week they regenerate to form as many animals as there are pieces. I am sorry that these facts speak against the naturalists' sys- tem of generation; or rather I am very glad of it, for let this discovery teach us never to reach a general conclusion even on the ground of all known (and most decisive) experiments.

Here we have many more facts than are needed to prove, in an incontestable way, that each tiny fibre or part of an organized body moves by a principle which belongs to it. Its activity, unlike voluntary motions, does not depend in any way on the nerves, since the movements in question occur in parts of the body which have no connection with the cir- culation. But if this force is manifested even in sections of fibres the heart, which is a composite of peculiarly connected fibres, must possess the same property. I did not need Bacon's story to persuade

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me of this. It was easy for me to come to this con- clusion, both from the perfect analogy of the struc- ture of the human heart with that of animals, and also from the very bulk of the human heart, in which this movement escapes our eyes only because it is smothered, and finally because in corpses all the organs are cold and lifeless. If executed criminals were dissected while their bodies are still warm, we should probably see in their hearts the same move- ments that are observed in the face-muscles of those that have been beheaded.

The motive principle of the whole body, and even of its parts cut in pieces, is such that it produces not irregular movements, as some have thought, but very regular ones, in warm blooded and perfect animals as well as in cold and imperfect ones. No resource therefore remains open to our adversaries but to deny thousands and thousands of facts which every man can easily verify.

If now any one ask me where is this innate force in our bodies, I answer that it very clearly resides in what the ancients called the parenchyma, that is to say, in the very substance of the organs not in- cluding the veins, the arteries, the nerves, in a word, that it resides in the organization of the whole body, and that consequently each organ con- tains within itself forces more or less active accord- ing to the need of them.

Let us now go into some detail concerning these springs of the human machine. All the vital, ani- mal, natural, and automatic motions are carried on by their action. Is it not in a purely mechanical way that the body shrinks back when it is struck with terror at the sight of an unforeseen precipice,

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that the eyehds are lowered at the menace of a blow, as some have remarked, and that the pupil contracts in broad daylight to save the retina, and dilates to see objects in darkness? Is it not by mechanical means that the pores of the skin close in winter so that the cold can not penetrate to the interior of the blood vessels, and that the stomach vomits when it is irritated by poison, by a certain quantity of opium and by all emetics, etc. ? that the heart, the arteries and the muscles contract in sleep as well as in waking hours, that the lungs serve as bellows continually in exercise, .... that the heart contracts more strongly than any other muscle ?^^ . . .

I shall not go into any more detail concerning all these little subordinate forces, well known to all. But there is another more subtle and marvelous force, which animates them all; it is the source of all our feelings, of all our pleasures, of all our passions, and of all our thoughts : for the brain has its muscles for thinking, as the legs have muscles for walking. ^'^ I wish to speak of this impetuous principle that Hippocrates calls ivopfiwv (soul). This principle exists and has its seat in the brain at the origin of the nerves, by which it exercises its con- trol over all the rest of the body. By this fact is explained all that can be explained, even to the sur- prising effects of maladies of the imagination

Look at the portrait of the famous Pope who is, to say the least, the Voltaire of the English. The effort, the energy of his genius are imprinted upon his countenance. It is convulsed. His eyes pro- trude from their sockets, the eyebrows are raised with the muscles of the forehead. Why? Because the brain is in travail and all the body must share

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in such a laborious deliverance. If there were not an internal cord which pulled the external ones, whence would come all these phenomena ? To admit a soul as explanation of them, is to be reduced to [explaining phenomena by] the operations of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, if what thinks in my brain is not a part of this organ and therefore of the whole body, why does my blood boil, and the fever of my mind pass into my veins, when lying quietly in bed, I am form- ing the plan of some work or carrying on an ab- stract calculation? Put this question to men of im- agination, to great poets, to men who are enraptured by the felicitous expression of sentiment, and trans- ported by an exquisite fancy or by the charms of nature, of truth, or of virtue! By their enthusiasm, by what they will tell you they have experienced, you will judge the cause by its effects ; by that har- mony which Borelli,^^ a mere anatomist, understood better than all the Leibnizians, you will comprehend the material unity of man. In short, if the nerve- tension which causes pain occasions also the fever by which the distracted mind loses its will-power, and if, conversely, the mind too much excited, dis- turbs the body (and kindles that inner fire which killed Bayle while he was still so young) ; if an agitation rouses my desire and my ardent wish for what, a moment ago, I cared nothing about, and if in their turn certain brain impressions excite the same longing and the same desires, then why should we regard as double what is manifestly one being? In vain you fall back on the power of the will, since for one order that the will gives, it bows a hundred times to the yoke.^^ And what wonder that in

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health the body obeys, since a torrent of blood and of animal spirits^^ forces its obedience, and since the will has as ministers an invisible legion of fluids swifter than lightning and ever ready to do its bidding! But as the power of the will is exer- cised by means of the nerves, it is likewise limited

by them

Does the result of jaundice surprise you? Do you not know that the color of bodies depends on the color of the glasses through which we look at them,'^^ and that whatever is the color of the humors, such is the color of objects, at least for us, vain playthings of a thousand illusions? But remove this color from the aqueous humor of the eye, let the bile flow through its natural filter, then the soul having new eyes, will no longer see yellow. Again, is it not thus, by removing cataract, or by injecting the Eustachian canal, that sight is restored to the blind, or hearing to the deaf? How many people, who were perhaps only clever charlatans, passed for mir- acle workers in the dark ages! Beautiful the soul, and powerful the will which can not act save by permission of the bodily conditions, and whose tastes change with age and fever ! Should we, then, be astonished that philosophers have always had in mind the health of the body, to preserve the health of the soul, that Pythagoras^^ gave rules for the diet as carefully as Plato forbade wine?'^^ The regime suited to the body is always the one with which sane physicians think they must begin, when it is a question of forming the mind, and of instruct- ing it in the knowledge of truth and virtue ; but these are vain words in the disorder of illness, and in the tumult of the senses. Without the precepts of hy-

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giene, Epictetus, Socrates, Plato, and the rest preach in vain: all ethics is fruitless for one who lacks his share of temperance; it is the source of all virtues, as intemperance is the source of all vices.

Is more needed, (for why lose myself in dis- cussion of the passions which are all explained by the term, Ivopixwv, of Hippocrates) to prove that man is but an animal, or a collection of springs which wind each other up, without our being able to tell at what point in this human circle, nature has begun? If these springs differ among themselves, these differ- ences consist only in their position and in their de- grees of strength, and never in their nature ; where- fore the soul is but a principle of motion or a material and sensible part of the brain, which can be regarded, without fear of error, as the main- spring of the whole machine, having a visible in- fluence on all the parts. The soul seems even to have been made for the brain, so that all the other paits of the system are but a kind of emanation from the brain. This will appear from certain ob- servations, made on different embryos, which I shall now enumerate.

This oscillation, which is natural or suited to our machine, and with which each fibre and even each fibrous element, so to speak, seems to be endowed, like that of a pendulum, can not keep up forever. It must be renewed, as it loses strength,invigorated when it is tired, and weakened when it is disturbed by excess of strength and vigor. In this alone, true medicine consists.

The body is but a watch, whose watchmaker is the new chyle. Nature's first care, when the chyle

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enters the blood, is to excite in it a kind of fever'^^ which the chemists, who dream only of retorts, must have taken for fermentation. This fever produces a greater filtration of spirits, which mechanically animate the muscles and the heart, as if they had been sent there by order of the will.

These then are the causes or the forces of life which thus sustain for a hundred years that per- petual movement of the solids and the liquids which is as necessary to the first as to the second. But who can say whether the solids contribute more than the fluids to this movement or vice versa ? All that we know is that the action of the former would soon cease without the help of the latter, that is, without the help of the fluids which by their onset rouse and maintain the elasticity of the blood ves- sels on which their own circulation depends. From this it follows that after death the natural resilience of each substance is still more or less strong ac- cording to the remnants of life which it outlives, being the last to perish. So true is it that this force of the animal parts can be preserved and strengthened by that of the circulation, but that it does not depend on the strength of the circulation, since, as we have seen, it can dispense with even the integrity of each member or organ.

I am aware that this opinion has not been rel- ished by all scholars, and that Stahl especially had much scorn for it. This great chemist has wished to persuade us that the soul is the sole cause of all our movements. But this is to speak as a fanatic and not as a philosopher.

To destroy the hypothesis of Stahl, '^^ we need not make as great an effort as I find that others have

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done before me. We need only glance at a violinist. What flexibility, what lightness in his fingers ! The movements are so quick, that it seems almost as if there were no succession. But I pray, or rather I challenge, the followers of Stahl who understand so perfectly all that our soul can do, to tell me how it could possibly execute so many motions so quickly, motions, moreover, which take place so far from the soul, and in so many different places. That is to suppose that a flute player could play brilliant ca- dences on an infinite number of holes that he could not know, and on which he could not even put his finger !

But let us say with M. Hecquet'^^ that all men may not go to Corinth. ^^ Why should not Stahl have been even more favored by nature as a man than as a chemist and a practitioner ? Happy mortal, he must have received a soul different from that of the rest of mankind, — a sovereign soul, which, not content with having some control over the vol- untary muscles, easily held the reins of all the move- ments of the body, and could suspend them, calm them, or excite them, at its pleasure! With so despotic a mistress, in whose hands were, in a sense, the beating of the heart, and the laws of circulation, there could certainly be no fever, no pain, no weari- ness, . . . . ! The soul wills, and the springs play, contract or relax. But how did the springs of Stahl's machine get out of order so soon? He who has in himself so great a doctor, should be im- mortal.

Moreover, Stahl is not the only one who has re- jected the principle of the vibration of organic bodies. Greater minds have not used the principle

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when they wished to explain the action of the heart, .... etc. One need only read the "Institutions of Medicine" by Boerhaave'^^ to see what laborious and enticing systems this great man was obliged to in- vent, by the labor of his mighty genius, through failure to admit that there is so wonderful a force in all bodies.

Willis^ and Perrault,^^ minds of a more feeble stamp, but careful observers of nature (whereas nature was known to the famous Ley den professor only through others and second hand, so to speak) seem to have preferred to suppose a soul generally extended over the whole body, instead of the prin- ciple which we are describing. But according to this hypothesis (which was the hypothesis of Vergil and of all Epicureans, an hypothesis which the history of the polyp might seem at first sight to favor) the movements which go on after the death of the subject in which they inhere are due to a remnant of soul still maintained by the parts that contract, though, from the moment of death, these are not excited by the blood and the spirits. Whence it may be seen that these writers, whose solid works easily eclipse all philosophic fables, are deceived only in the manner of those who have endowed matter with the faculty of thinking, I mean to say, by hav- ing expressed themselves badly in obscure and mean- ingless terms. In truth, what is this remnant of a soul, if it is not the "moving force" of the Leib- nizians (badly rendered by such an expression), which however Perrault in particular has really foreseen. See his "Treatise on the Mechanism of Animals."

Now that it is clearly proved against the Carte-

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sians, the followers of Stahl, the Malebranchists, and the theologians who little deserve to be men- tioned here, that matter is self-moved,^^ not only when organized, as in a whole heart, for example, but even when this organization has been destroyed, human curiosity would like to discover how a body, by the fact that it is originally endowed with the breath of life, finds itself adorned in consequence with the faculty of feeling, and thus with that of thought. And, heavens, what efforts have not been made by certain philosophers to manage to prove this ! and what nonsense on this subject I have had the patience to read!

All that experience teaches us is that while move- ment persists, however slight it may be, in one or more fibres, we need only stimulate them to re- excite and animate this movement almost extin- guished. This has been shown in the host of ex- periments with which I have undertaken to crush the systems. It is therefore certain that motion and feeling excite each other in turn, both in a whole body and in the same body when its struc- ture is destroyed, to say nothing of certain plants which seem to exhibit the same phenomena of the union of feeling and motion.

But furthermore, how many excellent philos- ophers have shown that thought is but a faculty of feeling, and that the reasonable soul is but the feeling soul engaged in contemplating its ideas and in reasoning! This would be proved by the fact alone that when feeling is stifled, thought also is checked, for instance in apoplexy, in lethargy, in catalepsis, etc. For it is ridiculous to suggest that, during these stupors, the soul keeps on thinking,

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even though it does not remember the ideas that it has had.

As to the development of feeHng and motion, it is absurd to waste time seeking for its mechan- ism. The nature of motion is as unknown to us as that of matter. ^^ How can we discover how it is produced unless, like the author of "The His- tory of the Soul," we resuscitate the old and un- intelligible doctrine of substantial forms? I am then quite as content not to know how inert and simple matter becomes active and highly organized, as not to be able to look at the sun without red glasses; and I am as little disquieted concerning the other incomprehensible wonders of nature, the production of feeling and of thought in a being which earlier appeared to our limited eyes as a mere clod of clay.

Grant only that organized matter is endowed with a principle of motion, which alone differentiates it from the inorganic (and can one deny this in the face of the most incontestable observation?) and that among animals, as I have sufficiently proved, everything depends upon the diversity of this or- ganization : these admissions suffice for guessing the riddle of substances and of man. It [thus] appears that there is but one [type of organization] in the universe, and that man is the most perfect [example]. He is to the ape, and to the most intelli- gent animals, as the planetary pendulum of Huy- ghens^^ is to a watch of Julien Leroy.^^ More instruments, more wheels and more springs were necessary to mark the movements of the planets than to mark or strike the hours ; and Vaucanson,®^ who needed more skill for making his flute player

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than for making his duck, would have needed still more to make a talking man, a mechanism no longer to be regarded as impossible, especially in the hands of another Prometheus. In like fashion, it was necessary that nature should use more elaborate art in making and sustaining a machine which for a whole century could mark all motions of the heart and of the mind; for though one does not tell time by the pulse, it is at least the barometer of the warmth and the vivacity by which one may estimate the nature of the soul. I am right! The human body is a watch, a large watch constructed with such skill and ingenuity, that if the wheel which marks the seconds happens to stop, the minute wheel turns and keeps on going its round, and in the same way the quarter-hour wheel, and all the others go on running when the first wheels have stopped because rusty or, for any reason, out of order. Is it not for a similar reason that the stoppage of a few blood vessels is not enough to destroy or suspend the strength of the movement which is in the heart as in the mainspring of the machine; since, on the contrary, the fluids whose volume is diminished, having a shorter road to travel, cover the ground more quickly, borne on as by a fresh current which the energy of the heart increases in proportion to the resistance it encoun- ters at the ends of the blood-vessels? And is not this the reason why the loss of sight (caused by the com- pression of the optic nerve and by its ceasing to con- vey the images of objects) no more hinders hearing, than the loss of hearing (caused by obstruction of the functions of the auditory nerve) implies the loss of sight ? In the same way, finally, does not one man

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hear (except immediately after his attack) with- out being able to say that he hears, while another who hears nothing, but whose lingual nerves are un- injured in the brain, mechanically tells of all the dreams which pass through his mind? These phe- nomena do not surprise enlightened physicians at all. They know what to think about man's nature, and (more accurately to express myself in passing) of two physicians, the better one and the one who deserves more confidence is always, in my opinion, the one who is more versed in the physique or mech- anism of the human body, and who, leaving aside the soul and all the anxieties which this chimera gives to fools and to ignorant men, is seriously oc- cupied only in pure naturalism.

Therefore let the pretended M. Charp deride phi- losophers who have regarded animals as machines. How different is my view ! I believe that Descartes would be a man in every way worthy of respect, if, born in a century that he had not been obliged to enlighten, he had known the value of experiment and observation, and the danger of cutting loose from them. But it is none the less just for me to make an authentic reparation to this great man for all the insignificant philosophers — poor jesters, and poor imitators of Locke — who instead of laugh- ing impudently at Descartes, might better realize that without him the field of philosophy, like the field of science without Newton, might perhaps be still uncultivated.

This celebrated philosopher, it is true, was much deceived, and no one denies that. But at any rate he understood animal nature, he was the first to prove completely that animals are pure machines.^®

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And after a discovery of this importance demand- ing so much sagacity, how can we without ingrati- tude fail to pardon all his errors !

In my eyes, they are all atoned for by that great confession. For after all, although he extols the distinctness of the two substances, this is plainly but a trick of skill, a ruse of style, to make theologians swallow a poison, hidden in the shade of an analogy which strikes everybody else and which they alone fail to notice. For it is this, this strong analogy, which forces all scholars and wise judges to confess that these proud and vain beings, more distinguished by their pride than by the name of men however much they may wish to exalt themselves, are at bottom only animals and machines which, though upright, go on all fours. They all have this mar- velous instinct, which is developed by education into mind, and which always has its seat in the brain, (or for want of that when it is lacking or hardened, in the medulla oblongata) and never in the cerebellum; for I have often seen the cere- bellum injured, and other observers* have found it hardened, when the soul has not ceased to fulfil its functions.

To be a machine, to feel, to think, to know how to distinguish good from bad, as well as blue from yellow, in a word, to be born with an intelligence and a sure moral instinct, and to be but an ani- mal, are therefore characters which are no more contradictory, than to be an ape or a parrot and

to be able to give oneself pleasure I believe

that thought is so little incompatible with organized matter, that it seems to be one of its properties on

  • Haller in the Transact. Philosoph.

144 MAN A MACHINE. [Text

a par with electricity, the facuUy of motion, im- penetrabihty, extension, etc.

Do you ask for further observations? Here are some which are incontestable and which all prove that man resembles animals perfectly, in his origin as well as in all the points in which we have thought it essential to make the comparison ....

Let us observe man both in and out of his shell, let us examine young embryos of four, six, eight or fifteen days with a microscope ; after that time our eyes are sufficient. What do we see? The head alone; a little round egg with two black points which mark the eyes. Before that, everything is formless, and one sees only a medullary pulp, which is the brain, in which are formed first the roots of the nerves, that is, the principle of feeling, and the heart, which already within this substance has the power of beating of Itself; it is the punctum saliens of Malpighi, which perhaps already owes a part of its excitability to the influence of the nerves. Then little by little, one sees the head lengthen from the neck, which, in dilating, forms first the thorax in- side which the heart has already sunk, there to be- come stationary; below that is the abdomen which is divided by a partition (the diaphragm). One of these enlargements of the body forms the arms, the hands, the fingers, the nails, and the hair; the other forms the thighs, the legs, the feet, etc., which dijfifer only in their observed situation, and which constitute the support and the balancing pole of the body. The whole process is a strange sort of growth, like that of plants. On the tops of our heads is hair in place of which the plants have leaves and flowers; everywhere is shown the same

7Z-77\ MAN A MACHINE. 145

luxury of nature, and finally the directing principle of plants is placed where we have our soul, that other quintessence of man.

Such is the uniformity of nature, which we are beginning to realize ; and the analogy of the animal with the vegetable kingdom, of man with plant. Per- haps there even are animal plants, which in vege- tating, either fight as polyps do, or perform other functions characteristic of animals

We are veritable moles in the field of nature ; we achieve little more than the mole's journey and it is our pride which prescribes limits to the limitless. We are in the position of a watch that should say (a writer of fables would make the watch a hero in a silly tale) : "I was never made by that fool of a workman, I who divide time, who mark so exactly the course of the sun, who repeat aloud the hours which I mark! No! that is impossible!" In the same way, we disdain, ungrateful wretches that we are, this common mother of all kingdoms, as the chemists say. We imagine, or rather we infer, a cause superior to that to which we owe all, and which truly has wrought all things in an inconceivable fashion. No; matter contains nothing base, except to the vulgar eyes which do not recognize her in her most splendid works ; and nature is no stupid work- man. She creates millions of men, with a facility and a pleasure more intense than the effort of a watchmaker in making the most complicated watch. Her power shines forth equally in creating the low- liest insect and in creating the most highly developed man ; the animal kingdom costs her no more than the vegetable, and the most splendid genius no more than a blade of wheat. Let us then judge by what we

146 MAN A MACHINE. [Text

see of that which is hidden from the curiosity of our eyes and of our investigations, and let us not imagine anything beyond. Let us observe the ape, the beaver, the elephant, etc., in their opera- tions. If it is clear that these activities can not be performed without intelligence, why refuse in- telligence to these animals? And if you grant them a soul, you are lost, you fanatics ! You will in vain say that you assert nothing about the nature of the animal soul and that you deny its immortality. Who does not see that this is a gratuitous assertion ; who does not see that the soul of an animal must be either mortal or immortal, whichever ours [is], and that it must therefore undergo the same fate as ours, whatever that may be, and that thus [in ad- mitting that animals have souls], you fall into Scylla in the effort to avoid Charybdis ?

Break the chain of your prejudices, arm your- selves with the torch of experience, and you will render to nature the honor she deserves, instead of inferring anything to her disadvantage, from the ignorance in which she has left you. Only open wide your eyes, only disregard what you can not understand, and you will see that the ploughman whose intelligence and ideas extend no further than the bounds of his furrow, does not differ essentially from the greatest genius, — a truth which the dis- section of Descartes's and of Newton's brains would have proved; you will be persuaded that the imbe- cile and the fool are animals with human faces, as the intelligent ape is a little man in another shape; in short, you will learn that since everything depends absolutely on difference of organization, a well con- structed animal which has studied astronomy, can


predict an eclipse, as it can predict recovery or death when it has used its genius and its clearness of vision, for a time, in the school of Hippocrates and at the bedside of the sick. By this line of observa- tions and truths, we come to connect the admirable power of thought with matter, without being able to see the links, because the subject of this attribute is essentially unknown to us.

Let us not say that every machine or every animal perishes altogether or assumes another form after death, for we know absolutely nothing about the subject. On the other hand, to assert that an im- mortal machine is a chimera or a logical fiction, is to reason as absurdly as caterpillars would reason if, seeing the cast-off skins of their fellow-cater- pillars, they should bitterly deplore the fate of their species, which to them would seem to come to noth- ing. The soul of these insects (for each animal has his own) is too limited to comprehend the meta- morphoses of nature. Never one of the most skil- ful among them could have imagined that it was destined to become a butterfly. It is the same with us. What more do we know of our destiny than of our origin ? Let us then submit to an invincible ig- norance on which our happiness depends.

He who so thinks will be wise, just, tranquil about his fate, and therefore happy. He will await death without either fear or desire, and will cherish life (hardly understanding how disgust can corrupt a heart in this place of many delights) ; he will be filled with reverence, gratitude, affection, and ten- derness for nature, in proportion to his feeling of the benefits he has received from nature; he will be happy, in short, in feeling nature, and in being

148 MAN A MACHINE. [Text

present at the enchanting spectacle of the universe, and he will surely never destroy nature either in himself or in others. More than that! Full of humanity, this man will love human character even in his enemies. Judge how he will treat others. He will pity the wicked without hating them; in his eyes, they will be but mis-made men. But in pardoning the faults of the structure of mind and body, he will none the less admire the beauties and the virtues of both. Those whom nature shall have favored will seem to him to deserve more respect than those whom she has treated in stepmotherly fashion. Thus, as we have seen, natural gifts, the source of all acquirements, gain from the lips and heart of the materialist, the homage which every other thinker unjustly refuses them. In short, the materialist, convinced, in spite of the protests of his vanity, that he is but a machine or an animal, will not maltreat his kind, for he will know too well the nature of those actions, whose humanity is al- ways in proportion to the degree of the analogy proved above [between human beings and animals] ; and following the natural law given to all animals, he will not wish to do to others what he would not wish them to do to him.

Let us then conclude boldly that man is a machine, and that in the whole universe there is but a single substance differently modified. This is no hypoth- esis set forth by dint of a number of postulates and assumptions; it is not the work of prejudice, nor even of my reason alone; I should have disdained a guide which I think to be so untrustworthy, had not my senses, bearing a torch, so to speak, induced me to follow reason by lighting the way themselves.

79-8l] MAN A MACHINE. 149

Experience has thus spoken to me in behalf of rea- son; and in this way I have combined the two.

But it must have been noticed that I have not allowed myself even the most vigorous and imme- diately deduced reasoning, except as a result of a multitude of observations which no scholar will con- test; and furthermore, I recognize only scholars as judges of the conclusions which I draw from the observations; and I hereby challenge every preju- diced man who is neither anatomist, nor acquainted with the only philosophy which can here be con- sidered, that of the human body. Against so strong and solid an oak, what could the weak reeds of the- ology, of metaphysics, and of the schools, avail, — childish arms, like our parlor foils, that may well afford the pleasure of fencing, but can never wound an adversary. Need I say that I refer to the empty and trivial notions, to the pitiable and trite arguments that will be urged (as long as the shadow of prejudice or of superstition remains on earth) for the supposed incompatibility of two substances which meet and move each other unceasingly ? Such is my system, or rather the truth, unless I am much deceived. It is short and simple. Dispute it now who will.





ALL philosophers who have examined attentively -^^ the nature of matter, considered in itself, in- dependently of all the forms which constitute bodies, have discovered in this substance, diverse proper- ties proceeding from an absolutely unknown es- sence. Such are, (1) the capacity of taking on different forms, which are produced in matter it- self, by which matter can acquire moving force and the faculty of feeling; (2) actual extension, which these philosophers have rightly recognized as an attribute, but not as the essence, of matter.

However, there have been some, among others Descartes, who have insisted on reducing the es- sence of matter to simple extension, and on limiting all the properties of matter to those of extension; but this opinion has been rejected by all other mod- ern philosophers, .... so that the power of acquiring moving force, and the faculty of feeling as well as that of extension, have been from all time con- sidered as essential properties^ of matter.

All the diverse properties that are observed in this unknown principle demonstrate a being in which these same properties exist, a being which must therefore exist through itself. But we can not conceive, or rather it seems impossible, that a being


which exists through itself should be able neither to create nor to annihilate itself. It is evident that only the forms to which its essential properties make it susceptible can be destroyed and reproduced in turn. Thus, does experience force us to confess that nothing can come from nothing.

All philosophers who have not known the light of faith, have thought that this substantial principle of bodies has existed and will exist forever, and that the elements of matter have an indestructible solidity which forbids the fear that the world is going to fall to pieces. The majority of Christian philosophers also recognize that the substantial prin- ciple of bodies exists necessarily through itself, and that the power of beginning or ending does not accord with its nature. One finds that this view is upheld by an author of the last century who taught theology in Paris.


Although we have no idea of the essence of mat- ter, we can not refuse to admit the existence of the properties which our senses discover in it.

I open my eyes, and I see around me only matter, or the extended. Extension is then a property which always belongs to all matter, which can belong to matter alone, and which therefore is inseparable from the substance of matter.

This property presupposes three dimensions in the substance of bodies, length, width, and depth. Truly, if we consult our knowledge, which is gained entirely from the senses, we cannot conceive of matter, or the substance of bodies, without having


the idea of a being which is at the same time long, broad, and deep; because the idea of these three dimensions is necessarily bound up with our idea of every magnitude or quantity.

Those philosophers who have meditated most con- cerning matter do not understand by the extension of this substance, a solid extension composed of dis- tinct parts, capable of resistance. Nothing is united, nothing is divided in this extension ; for there must be a force which separates to divide, and another force to unite the divided parts. But in the opinion of these physical philosophers matter has no actually active force, because every force can come only from movement, or from some impulse or tendency toward movement, and they recognize in matter, stripped of all form by abstraction, only a potential moving force.

This theory is hard to conceive, but given its principles, it is rigorously true in its consequences. It is one of those algebraic truths which is more readily believed than conceived by the mind.

The extension of matter is then but a metaphys- ical extension, which according to the idea of these very philosophers, presents nothing to affect our senses. They rightly think that only solid exten- sion can make an impression on our senses. It thus seems to us that extension is an attribute which constitutes part of the metaphysical form, but we are far from thinking that extension constitutes its essence.

However, before Descartes, some of the ancients made the essence of matter consist in solid exten- sion. But this opinion, of which all the Cartesians liave made much, has at all times been victoriously


combated by clear reasons, which we will set forth later, for order demands that we first examine to what the properties of extension can be reduced.


The ancients, persuaded that there is no body without a moving force, regarded the substance of bodies as composed of two primitive attributes. It was held that, through one of these attributes, this substance has the capacity for moving and, through the other, the capacity for being moved. ^^ As a mat- ter of fact, it is impossible not to conceive these two attributes in every moving body, namely, the thing which moves, and the same thing which is moved.

It has just been said that formerly the name, matter, was given to the substance of bodies, in so far as it is susceptible of being moved. When capable of moving this same matter was known by the name of "active principle" . . . But these two attributes seem to depend so essentially on each other that Cicero, in order better to state this essential and primitive union of matter with its moving principle, says that each is found in the other. This expresses very well the idea of the ancients.

From this it is clear that modern writers have given us but an inexact idea of matter in attempt- ing (through a confusion ill understood) to give this name to the substance of bodies. For, once more, matter, or the passive principle of the sub- stance of bodies, constitutes only one part of this substance. Thus it is not surprising that these mod-


em thinkers have not discovered in matter mov- ing force and the faculty of feehng.

It should now be evident at the first glance, it seems to me, that if there is an active principle it must have, in the unknown essence of matter, an- other source than extension. This proves that sim- ple extension fails to give an adequate idea of the complete essence or metaphysical form of the sub- stance of bodies, and that this failure is due solely to the fact that extension excludes the idea of any activity in matter. Therefore, if we demonstrate this moving principle, if we show that matter, far from being as indifferent as it is supposed to be, to movement and to rest, ought to be regarded as an active, as well as a passive substance, what resource can be left to those who have made its essence con- sist in extension?

The two principles of which we have just spoken, extension and moving force, are then but poten- tialities of the substance of bodies ; for in the same way in which this substance is susceptible of move- ment, without actually being moved, it also has al- ways, even when it is not moxing itself, the faculty of spontaneous motion.

The ancients have rightly noticed that this moving force acts in the substance of bodies only when the substance is manifested in certain forms ; they have also observed that the different motions which it produces are all subject to these different forms or regulated by them. That is why the forms, through which the substance of bodies can not only move, but also move in different ways, were called material forms.

Once these early masters had cast their eyes on


all the phenomena of nature, they discovered in the substance of bodies, the power of self -movement. In fact, this substance either moves itself, or when it is in motion, the motion is communicated to it by another substance. But can anything be seen in this substance, save the substance itself in action ; and if sometimes it seems to receive a motion that it has not, does it receive that motion from any cause other than this same kind of substance, whose parts act the one upon the other?

If, then, one infers another agent, I ask what agent, and I demand proofs of its existence. But since no one has the least idea of such an agent, it is not even a logical entity. Therefore it is clear that the ancients must have easily recognized an intrinsic force of motion within the substance of bodies, since in fact it is impossible to prove or conceive any other substance acting upon it.

Descartes, a genius made to blaze new paths and to go astray in them, supposed with some other philosophers that God is the only efficient cause of motion, and that every instant He communicates motion to all bodies. But this opinion is but an hypothesis which he tried to adjust to the light of faith; and in so doing he was no longer attempting to speak as a philosopher or to philosophers. Above all he was not addressing those who can be con- vinced only by the force of evidence.

The Christian Scholastics of the last centuries have felt the full force of this reflection; for this reason they have wisely limited themselves to purely philosophic knowledge concerning the motion of matter, although they might have shown that God Himself said that He had "imprinted an active prin-


ciple in the elements of matter (Gen. i; Is. Ixvi)." One might here make up a long list of author- ities, and take from the most celebrated professors the substance of the doctrine of all the rest; but it is clear enough, without a medley of citations, that matter contains this moving force which animates it, and which is the immediate cause of all the laws of motion.


We have spoken of two essential attributes of matter, upon which depend the greater number of its properties, namely extension and moving force. We have now but to prove a third attribute: I mean the faculty of feeling which the philosophers of all centuries have found in this same substance. I say all philosophers, although I am not ignorant of all the efforts which the Cartesians have made, in vain, to rob matter of this faculty. But in order to avoid insurmountable difficulties, they have flung themselves into a labyrinth from which they have thought to escape by this absurd system "that ani- mals are pure machines."^^

An opinion so absurd has never gained admittance among philosophers, except as the play of wit or as a philosophical pastime. For this reason we shall not stop to refute it. Experience gives us no less proof of the faculty of feeling in animals than of feeling in men

There comes up another difficulty which more nearly concerns our vanity: namely, the impossi- bility of our conceiving this property as a depend- ence or attribute of matter. Let it not be forgotten


that this substance reveals to us only ineffable char- acters. Do we understand better how extension is derived from its essence, how it can be moved by a primitive force whose action is exerted without contact, and a thousand other miracles so hidden from the gaze of the most penetrating eyes, that (to paraphrase the idea of an illustrious modern writer) they reveal orily the curtain which conceals them?

But might not one suppose as some have sup- posed, that the feeling which is observed in ani- mated bodies, might belong to a being distinct from the matter of these bodies, to a substance of a different nature united to them? Does the light of reason allow us in good faith to admit such con- jectures? We know in bodies only matter, and we observe the faculty of feeling only in bodies : on what foundation then can we erect an ideal being, disowned by all our knowledge?

However, we must admit, with the same frank- ness, that we are ignorant whether matter has in itself the faculty of feeling, or only the power of acquiring it by those modifications or forms to which matter is susceptible; for it is true that this faculty of feeling appears only in organic bodies.

This is then another new faculty which might exist only potentially in matter, like all the others which have been mentioned; and this was the hypothesis of the ancients, whose philosophy, full of insight and penetration, deserves to be raised above the ruins of the philosophy of the moderns. It is in vain that the latter disdain the sources too remote from them. Ancient philosophy will always hold its own among those who are worthy to judge


it, because it forms (at least in relation to the subject of which I am treating) a system that is solid and well articulated like the body, whereas all these scattered members of modern philosophy form no system.





I. The Historical Relation of La Mettrie to Rene Descartes (1596-1650).

The most direct source of La Mettrie's work, if the physiological aspect of his system is set aside, is found in the philosophy of Descartes. In fact it sometimes seems as if La Mettrie's materialism grew out of his insistence on the contradictory char- acter of the dualistic system of Descartes. He criti- cises Descartes's statement that the body and soul are absolutely independent, and takes great pains to show the dependence of the soul on the body. Yet though La Mettrie's system may be opposed to that of Descartes^ from one point of view, from another point of view it seems to be a direct consequence of it. La Mettrie himself recognizes this relationship and feels that his doctrine that man is a machine, is a natural inference from Descartes's teaching that animals are mere machines.^ Moreover La Mettrie carries on Descartes's conception of the body as a machine, and many of his detailed dis- cussions of the machinery of the body seem to have been drawn from Descartes.

  • "L'histoire naturelle de I'ame," chapters XI, VIII.

'"Man a Machine," p. 142. Cf. La Mettrie's commentary on Descartes's teaching in "Abrege des systemes philosophiques,*' (Euvres, Tome 2.


It should be noted that La Mettrie did justice to Descartes, and reahzed how much all philosophers owed to him. He insisted moreover that Descartes's errors were due to his failure to follow his own method.^ Yet La Mettrie's method was different from that of Descartes, for La Mettrie was an empiricist^ without rationalistic leaning. As re- gards doctrine : La Mettrie differed from Des- cartes in his opinion of matter. Since he disbelieved in any spiritual reality, he gave matter the attri- butes of motion and thought, while Descartes insisted that the one attribute of matter is extension.^ It was a natural consequence of La Mettrie's disbelief in spiritual substance that he could throw doubt on the existence of God.^ On the other hand the be- lief in God was one of the foundations of Des- cartes's system. La Mettrie tried to show that Descartes's belief in a soul and in God was merely designed to hide his true thought from the priests, and to save himself from persecution.^

Ha. The Likeness of La Mettrie to the English Ma- terialists, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and John Toland (1670-1721).

The influence of Descartes upon La Mettrie can- not be questioned but it is more difficult to estimate the influence upon him of materialistic philosophers.

' "Abrege des systemes, Descartes," p. 6, CEuvres Philoso- phiques, Tome 2.

  • "Man a Machine," page 89. Cf. "L'histoire naturelle de

Tame" (or "Traite de I'ame"), CEuvres, 1746, p. 229.

'Descartes, "Principles," Part II, Prop. 4.

'"Man a Machine," pp. 122-126.

^ Ibid., p. 142.


Hobbes published "The Leviathan" in 1651 and "De Corpore" in 1655. Thus he wrote about a century before La Mettrie, and since the eighteenth century was one in which the influence of England upon France was very great, it is easy to suppose that La Mettrie had read Hobbes. If so, he must have gained many ideas from him. The extent of this influence is, however, unknown, for La Mettrie rarely if ever quotes from Hobbes, or attributes any of his doctrines to Hobbes.

In the first place, both Hobbes and La Mettrie are thoroughgoing materialists. They both believe that body is the only reality, and that anything spiritual is unimaginable.^ Furthermore their con- ceptions of matter are very similar. According to La Mettrie, matter contains the faculty of sensation and the power of motion as well as the quality of extension.^ This same conception of matter is held by Hobbes, for he specifically attributes extension and motion to matter, and then reduces sensation to a kind of internal motion. ^*^ Thus sensation also may be an attribute of matter. Moreover Hobbes and La Mettrie are in agreement on many smaller points, and La Mettrie elaborates much that is sug- gested in Hobbes. They both believe that the pas- sions are dependent on bodily conditions. ^^ They agree in the belief that all the differences in men are due to differences in the constitution and organi-

' Hobbes, "Leviathan," Part III, Chap.34; Part T, Chap. XII, Open Court Edition, p. 169.

  • "L'histoire naturelle de Tame," Chapters III, V, and VI.

" "Leviathan, Part I, Chap. I. Cf. "Concerning Body," Part IV, Chap. XXV, 2.

" "Man a Machine," pp. 90-91.


zation of their bodies. ^^ They both discuss the nature and importance of language. ^^

Hobbes differes from La Mettrie in holding that we can be sure that God exists as the cause of this world. ^* However even though he thinks that it is possible to know that God exists, he does not be- lieve that we can know his nature.

La Mettrie's system may be regarded as the ap- plication of a system like that of Hobbes to the special problem of the relation of soul and body in man ; for if there is nothing in the universe but mat- ter and motion, it inevitably follows that man is merely a very complicated machine.

There is great similarity also between the doc- trine of La Mettrie and that of Toland. It is inter- esting to note the points of resemblance and of difference. Toland's "Letters to Serena," which contain much of his philosophical teaching, were published in 1704. There is a possibility therefore that La Mettrie read them and gained some sugges- tions from them.

The point most emphasized in Toland's teach- ings^ is that motion is an attribute of matter. He argues for this belief on the ground that matter must be essentially active in order to undergo change, s^ and that the conception of the inertness of matter is based on the conception of absolute rest, and that this absolute rest is nowhere to be

""Leviathan," Part T, Chap. VI, Molesworth Ed., p. 40. Cf. "Man a Machine," p. 90..

^'Ibid., Part I, Chap. IV. Cf. "Man a Machine," p. 103.

^*Ibid., Part I, Chap. XII.

" "Letters to Serena," V, p. 168.

"Ibid., p. 196.


found. ^'^ Since motion is essential to matter, there is no need, Toland believes, to account for the be- ginning of motion. Those who have regarded mat- ter as inert have had to find some efficient cause for motion, and to do this, they have held that all nature is animated. But this pretended animation is utterly- useless, since matter is itself endowed with motion. ^^ The likeness to La Mettrie is evident. La Mettrie likewise opposes the doctrine of the animation of matter, and the belief in any external cause of mo- tion. ^^ Yet he feels the need of postulating some beginning of motion,^^ and although he uses the conception so freely, he does not agree with Toland that the nature of motion is known. He believes that it is impossible to know the nature of motion,^^ while Toland believes that the nature of motion is self-evident.^^

Another point of contrast between Toland and La Mettrie is in their doctrines of God. Toland believes that God, "a pure spirit or immaterial be- ing," is necessary for his system,^^ while La Mettrie questions God's existence and insists that immate- riality and spirituality are fine words that no one understands.

It must be admitted, in truth, that La Mettrie and Toland have different interests and different points of view. Toland is concerned to discover the essen- tial nature of matter, while La Mettrie's problem

" Ibid., p. 203.

^^ Ibid., p. 199.

^* "L'histoire naturelle de Tame," Chap. V, p. 94.

^ "Man a Machine," p. 139.

^ "Man a Machine, p. 140.

"^ "Letters to Serena," V, p. 227.

""/W^.^V, p. 234.


is to find the specific relation of body and mind. On this relation, he builds his whole system.

h. The Relation of La Mettrie to an English Sensor tionalist: John Locke (1632-1704).

Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understand- ing" was published in 1690, and La Mettrie, like most cultured Frenchmen of the Enlightenment, was influenced by his teaching. The main agreement between Locke and La Mettrie is in their doctrine that all ideas are derived from sensation. Both vigorously oppose the belief in innate ideas,^^ teach- ing that even our most complex and our most ab- stract ideas are gained through sensation. But La Mettrie does not follow Locke in analyzing these ideas and in concluding that many sensible qualities of objects — such as colors, sounds, etc. — have no existence outside the mind.^^ He rejects Locke's doctrine of spiritual substances, ^^ and opposes Locke's theistic teaching, laying stress, on the other hand, upon Locke's admission of the possibility that "thinking being may also be material. "^'^

nia. The Likeness, probable but unacknowledged, to La Mettrie, of the French Sensationalists, Etienne Bonnot de Condillac (1715-1780) and Claude Adrien Helvetius (1715-1771).

Condillac's "Traite des sensations" was published about ten years after La Mettrie's "L'histoire na-

'^John Locke, "Essay Concerning Human Understanding," Book I, Book II, Chap. I.

^ Locke, "Essay," Book II, Chap. 8.

"^Ibid., Book II, Chap. 23.

'"Ibid., Book IV, Chap. lo. For La Mettrie's summary of Locke, cf. his "Abrege des systemes," CEuvres, Tome 2.


turelle de Tame," and therefore it is probable that Condillac had read this work, and gained some ideas from it. Yet Condillac never mentions La Mettrie's name nor cites his doctrines. This omission may be accounted for by the fact that the works of La Mettrie had been so condemned that later philos- ophers wished to conceal the similarity of their doctrines to his. Whether the sensationalists were influenced by his teachings or not, there is such a profound likeness in their teachings, that La Mettrie may well be regarded as one of the first French sensationalists as well as one of the leading French materialists of the time.

Condillac and La Mettrie agree that experience is the source of all knowledge. As Lange sug- gests,^^ La Mettrie's development of reason from the imagination may have suggested to Condillac the way to develop all the faculties from the soul. La Mettrie asserts that reason is but the sensitive soul contemplating its ideas, and that imagination plays all the roles of the soul, while Condillac elab- orates the same idea, and shows in great detail how all the faculties of the soul are but modifications of sensation.^^

Both La Mettrie and Condillac believe that there is no gulf between man and the lower animals ; but this leads to a point of disagreement between the two philosophers, for Condillac absolutely denies that animals can be mere machines, ^^ and we must suppose that he would the more ardently oppose the teaching that man is merely a complicated machine !

    • F. A. Lange, "History of Materialism," Vol. II, Chap. II.

^ "Traite des sensations," Part I.

^""Traite des animaux," Chap. I, p. 454.


Condillac finally, unlike La Mettrie, believes in the existence of God. A final point of contrast also concerns the theology of the two writers. La Met- trie insists that we can not be sure that there is any purpose in the world, while Condillac affirms that .: we can discern intelligence and design throughout

j the universe. ^^

x: Like La Mettrie and Condillac, Helvetius teaches

'J that all the faculties of the mind can be reduced to

^ sensation.^^ Unlike La Mettrie, he specifically dis-

-^ tinguishes the mind from the soul, and describes

•^ the mind as a later developed product of the soul

-^ or faculty of sensation.^^ This idea may have been

r: suggested by La Mettrie's statement that reason

.-.. ,^ is a modification of sensation. Helvetius, however,

dj ca unlike La Mettrie, does not clearly decide that sen-

£ Zi sation is but a result of bodily conditions, and he

.^ admits that sensation may be a modification of a

T spiritual substance,^* Moreover, he claims that cli-

mate and food have no effect on the mind, and that ^ the superiority of the understanding is not depen-

dent on the strength of the body and its organs. ^^ La Mettrie and Helvetius resemble each other in ethical doctrine. Both make pleasure and pain cj the ruling motives of man's conduct. They claim

'■^ that all the emotions are merely modifications of

corporeal pleasure and pain, and that therefore the only principle of action in man is the desire for pleasure and the fear of pain.^^ ""Traite des animaux," Chap. VI, p. 577 ff. ""Treatise on Man," Sect. II, Chap. I, p. 96. ""Ibid., Sect. II, Chap. II, p. 108. ""Essays on the Mind," Essay II, Chap. I. p. 35. ""'Treatise on Man," Chap. XII, p. 161. Ibid., Chap. IX, p. 146; Chap. VII, p. 129.



b. The Likeness to La Mettrie of the French Mate- rialist, Baron Paul Heinrich Dietrich von Hol- bach (1723-1789).

As Condillac and Helvetius emphasize the sensa- tionahsm taught by La Mettrie, so Holbach's book is a reiteration and elaboration of the materiahsm set forth in La Mettrie's works. The teaching of Holbach is so Hke that of La Mettrie, that the simi- larity can hardly be a coincidence.

La Mettrie regards experience as the only teacher. Holbach dwells on this same idea, and insists that experience is our only source of knowledge in all matters.^^ Holbach likewise teaches that man is a purely material being. He disbelieves in any spir- itual reality whatsoever, and makes matter the only substance in the world. He lays stress, also, on one thought which is a natural consequence of La Met- trie's teaching. La Mettrie has limited the action of the will and has insisted that the will is dependent on bodily conditions. Holbach goes further and declares repeatedly that all freedom is a delusion, and that man is controlled in every action by rigid necessity.^® This teaching seems to be the natural outcome of the belief that man is a machine.

Holbach's atheistic theology is more extreme than his predecessor's, for La Mettrie admits that God may exist, while Holbach vigorously opposes the possibility. Moreover Holbach holds the opinion, barely suggested by La Mettrie, that an atheistic doctrine would ameliorate the condition of man-

""Systeme de la nature," Vol. I, Chap. I, p. 6.

^ "Systeme de la nature," Vol. I, Chap. VI, p. 94.


kind.^^ He insists that the idea of God has hin- dered the progress of reason and interfered with natural law. Holbach is indeed the only one of the philosophers here discussed, who frankly adopts a fatalistic and atheistic doctrine of the universe. In these respects, his teaching is the culmination of French materialism.

"^Ihid., Vol. II, Chap. XVI, p. 451, and Chap. XXVI, p. 48$. Cf. "Man a Machine," pp. 125-126.



I. Insistence on the Empirical Standpoint. .i6f.; 88f.; 72, 142

11. Arguments in Favor of Materialism:

a. The "Soul" is Afifected,

1. By Disease i8f. ; pof.

2. By Sleep ipf. ; Qlf.

3. By Drugs 20 ; 92

4. By Food 2if. ; 93ff.

5. By Age and Sex 23f. ; 95!.

6. By Temperature and Climate 24f. ; 96ff.

b. There is No Sharp Distinction Between Men

and Animals (Machines)

28f., looff. ; 4ifif., ii3ff. ; 75f., I42f.

c. Bodily Movements are Due to the "Motive

Power" of the Body 5iff., I29ff.

III. Conception of Matter.

a. Matter is Extended iS4f.

b. Matter Has the Power of Motion 70, 140; I56fif.

c. Matter Has the Faculty of Feeling I59ff.

IV. Conception of Man: o. Man is a Machine

17, 89; 21, 93; 56, 128; 69, I40f.; 73, 143; 80, 148

b. All Man's Faculties Reduce to Sense and Im-

agination 35ff-. io7ff.

c. Man is Like Animals in Being Capable of

Education 38, no

d. Man is Ignorant of His Destiny 79, 147

V. Theological Doctrine:

a. The Existence of God is Unproved and Prac-

tically Unimportant 50, 122

b. The Argument from Design is Ineffective

Against the Hypothesis of Mechanical Cau- sality 5ifif., I24ff.

c. Atheism Makes for Happiness 55, I26f.

  • The references are to pages of this book.



This translation is made from the third volume, pp. 159 ff. of "CEuvres de Frederic II., Roi de Prusse, PubHees du vivant de I'Auteur, Berhn, 1789.

La Mettrie was received at the court of Frederick the Great, when he had been driven from Holland on account of the heretical teaching of "L'Homme Machine," The "Eloge" was read by Darget, the secretary of the king, at a public meeting of the Academy of Berlin, to which, at the initiative of Frede- rick, La Mettrie had been admitted.

The careful reader will not fail to note that Frederick's arithmetic is at fault, and that La Mettrie died at the age of forty-one, not forty-three, years.

At a few points, perhaps, the Eloge demands elucidation. Coutances, like Caen, is a Norman town. St, Malo lies, just over the border, in Brittany, La Mettrie's military service was with the French in the Silesian wars against Maria Theresa, The battle of Dettingen was fought in Bavaria and was won by the Austrians through the aid given by George II of England to Maria Theresa. The battle of Fontenoy in the Netherlands was the only victory of the French in this war.

Other accounts of the life of La Mettrie are:

J. Assezat, Introduction to "L'Homme Machine," Paris, 1865.

F. A. Lange, "History of Materialism."

Ph. Damiron, "Histoire de la philosophic du dix-huitierae siecle," Paris, 1858.

N. Quepat, "La philosophic materialiste au XVIII* siecle. Essai sur La Mettrie, sa vie, et ses ceuvres," Paris, 1873.

1 Page-references are to the editions cited on pp. 205-207, except ref- erences to "Man a Machine" which are to this translation. The trans- lated or original title of a French book is cited according as the editor has made use of translation or of French text.


1. "Matter may well be endowed with the faculty of thought." Although La Mettrie attempts to "avoid this reef," by refraining from the use of these words, yet he asserts throughout his work that sensations, consciousness, and the soul itself are modifications of matter and motion.

The possibility of matter being endowed with the faculty of thought, is denied by Elie Luzac, the publisher of "L'homme machine," in his work "L'homme plus que machine." In this work he tries to disprove the conclusions of "L'homme ma- chine." He says : "We have therefore proved by the idea of the inert state of matter, by that of motion, by that of rela- tions, by that of activity, by that of extension, that matter can not be possessed of the faculty of thinking". .. ."To be brief, I say, that if, by a material substance, we understand that matter which falls under the cognizance of our senses, and which is endowed with the qualities we have mentioned, the soul can not be material: so that it must be immaterial, and, for the same reason, God could not have given the faculty of thinking to matter, since He can not perform contradic- tions.'"

2. "How can we define a being whose nature is absolutely unknown to us?" La Mettrie uses this as an argument against the belief in a soul, and yet he later admits that the "nature of motion is as unknown to us as the nature of matter." It is difficult then to see why there is more reason to doubt the existence of spirit, than to doubt the existence of matter. Locke makes this point very well. "It is for want of reflec- tion that we are apt to think that our senses show us nothing but material things. Every act of sensation, when duly con-

\ "Man More than a Machine," pp. lo, 12. For statement of the editions to which these Notes make reference, see pp. 205-207.


sidered, gives us an equal view of both parts of nature, the

corporeal and spiritual."^ "If this notion of immaterial spirit

may have, perhaps, some difficulties in it not easy to be ex- plained, we have therefore no more reason to deny or doubt the existence of such spirits, than we have to deny or doubt the existence of body because the notion of body is cumbered with some difficulties, very hard and perhaps impossible to be explained or understood by us."*

3. "Author of the 'Spectacle de la nature.' " Noel Antoine Pluche (1688-1761) was a Jansenist author. He was Director of the College of Laon, but was deprived of his position on account of his refusal to adhere to the bull "Unigenitus." Rollin then recommended him to Gasville, intendant of Nor- mandy, who entrusted him with his son's education. He finally settled in Paris. His principal works are : "Spectacle de la nature," (Paris, 1739) ; "Mecanique des langues et I'art de les enseigner," (Paris, 1751) ; "Harmonic des Psaumes et de I'Evangile," (Paris, 1764) ; "Concorde de la geographic des differents ages," (Paris, 1765).*

La Mettrie describes Pluche in the "Essais sur I'esprit et les beaux esprits" thus : "Without wit, without taste, he is Rollin's pedant. A superficial man, he had need of the work of M. Reaumur, of whom he is only a stale and tiresome imi- tator in the flat little sayings scattered in his dialogues. It was with the works of Rollin as with the 'Spectacle de la Na- ture,' one made the fortune of the other : Gagon praised Person, Person praised Gaqon, and the public praised them both."^

This quotation from La Mettrie occurs in Assezat's edition of La Mettrie's "L'homme machine," which was published as the second volume of the series "Singularites physiologiques" (1865). Assezat was a French publisher and writer. He was at one time Secretary of the Anthropological Society, and collaborated with other writers in the publication of "La Re- vue Nationale," "La Revue de Paris," and "La Pensee nou- velle." His notes to "L'Homme Machine" show great knowl-

  • Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding," Book II. Chap.


'Ibid., §31.

  • Condensed and translated from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 26.

" Translated from a note of Assezat in "L'homme machine,"


edge concerning physiological subjects. He intended to pub- lish a complete edition of Diderot's works, but overwork on this undermined his health, so that he was unable to complete it."

4. TorricelH was a physicist and mathematician who lived from 1608 to 1647. He was a disciple of Galileo, and acted as his amenuensis for three months before Galileo's death. He was then nominated as grand-ducal mathematician and pro- fessor of mathematics in the Florentine Academy. In 1643, he made his most famous discovery. He found that the height to which a liquid will rise in a closed tube, depends on the specific gravity of the liquid, and concludes from this that the column of liquid is sustained by atmospheric pressure. This discovery did away with the obscure idea of a fuga vacui, and laid bare the principle on which mercurial barometers are constructed. For a long time the mercurial thermometer was called the "Torricellian tube," and the vacuum which the barometer includes is still known as a "Torricellian vacuum.'"

5. "Only the physicians have a right to speak on this subject." Luzac says : '"Tis true that if the materiality of the soul was proved, the knowledge of her would be an object of natural philosophy, and we might with some appearance of reason reject all arguments to the contrary which are not drawn from that science. But if the soul is not material, the investigation of its nature does not belong to natural philosophy, but to those who search into the nature of its faculties, and are called metaphysicians."*

6. "Man is. ..a machine.'" This is the first clear statement of this theory, which as the title of the work indicates, is the central doctrine of this work. Descartes had strongly denied the possibility of conceiving man as a machine. "We may easily conceive a machine to be so constructed that it emits vocables, and even that it emits some correspondent to the action upon it of external objects which cause a change in its organs,. .. .but not that it should emit them variously so

8 Condensed and translated from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 4.

Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, gth ed., Vol. XXIII. All references are to this edition.

  • "Man More than a Machine," p. 5.


as appositely to reply to what is said in its presence, as men of the lowest grade of intellect can do."*

7. "Let us then take in our hands the staff of experience." La Mettrie repeatedly emphasizes the belief that knowledge must come from experience. Moreover he confines this ex- perience to sense experience, and concludes "L'histoire natu- relle de I'ame" with these words : "No senses, no ideas. The fewer senses there are : the fewer ideas. No sensations ex- perienced, no ideas. These principles are the necessary con- sequence of all the observations and experiences that constitute the unassailable foundation of this work."

This doctrine is opposed to the teaching of Descartes, who insists that "neither our imagination nor our senses can give us assurance of anji:hing unless our understanding inter- vene "" Moreover Descartes believes that the senses are fal- lacious, and that the ideal method for philosophy is a method corresponding to that of mathematics." Condillac and Holbach agree with La Mettrie's opinion. Thus, Condillac teaches that man is nothing more than what he has become by the use of his senses." And Holbach says : "As soon as we take leave of experience, we fall into the chasm where our imagination leads us astray.""

8. "Galen (Galenus) Claudius, 130 to circa 210 A. D. An eminent Greek physician and philosopher. Born at Pergamus, Mysia, he studied both the Platonic and Peripatetic systems of philosophy. Satyrus instructed him in anatomy. He trav- eled extensively while young to perfect his education. About 165 A. D. he moved to Rome, and became very celebrated as a surgeon and practising physician, attending the family of Marcus Aurelius. He returned to Pergamus, but probably visited Rome three or four times afterwards. He wrote in philosophy, logic, and medicine. Many, probably most, of his works are lost. He was the one medical authority for thir-

^ "Discourse on Method," Part. V.

^° "Discourse on Method," Part IV.

" "Meditations," II.

" Traits des sensations," Part IV, Chap. IX, § 5.

" "Systeme de la nature," Vol. I, Chap. I.


teen centuries, and his services to logic and to philosophy were also great.""

9. The author of "L'histoire de I'ame" is La Mettrie him- self.

10. Hippocrates is often termed the "father of medicine." He was born in Cos in 460 B. C. He studied medicine under his father, Heraclides, and Herodicus of Selymbria; and philos- ophy under Gorgias and Democritus. He was the first to separate medicine from religion and from philosophy. He in- sisted that diseases must be treated by the physician, as if they were governed by purely natural laws. The Greeks had such respect for dead bodies that Hippocrates could not have dissected a human body, and consequently his knowledge of its structure was limited, but he seems to have been an acute and skilful observer of conditions in the living body. He wrote several works on medicine, and in one of them showed the first principles on which the public health must be based. The details of his life are hidden by tradition, but it is certain that he was regarded with great respect and veneration by the Greeks.*'

11. "The different combinations of these humors " Com- pare this with Descartes's statement that the difference in men comes from the difference in the construction and posi- tion of the brain, which causes a difference in the action of the animal spirits."

12. "This drug intoxicates, like wine, coffee, etc., each in its own measure, and according to the dose." Descartes also speaks of the effect of wine. "The vapors of wine, entering the blood quickly, go from the heart to the brain, where they are converted into spirits, which being stronger and more abundant than usual are capable of moving the body in several strange fashions.""

" Quoted from Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology,

^ Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. XI.

" "Les passions de rame," Part I, Art. XV, and Art. XXXIX.

"Ibid.. Part I, Art. XV.


13. The quotation from Pope is from the "Moral Essays," published 1731 to 1735, Epistle I, i, 69.

14. Jan Baptista Van Helmont (1578-1644) was a Flemish physician and chemist. He is noted for having demonstrated the necessity of the balance in chemistry, and for having been among the first to use the v^^ord "gas." His works were pub- lished as "Ortus Medicinae," 1648.^*

15. The author of "Lettres sur la physiognomic" was Jacques Pernety or Pernetti. He was born at Chazelle-sur-Lyon, was for some years canon at Lyons, and died there in 1777.^*

16. Boerhaave. See Note 78.

17. Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698-1759) was a French mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. He sup- ported the Newtonian theory against the Cartesians. In 1740 he became president of the Academy of Berlin. He was the head of the expedition which was sent by Louis XV to meas- ure a degree of longitude in Lapland. Voltaire satirized Mau- pertuis in the "Diatribe du Docteur Akakia.'""

18. Luzac sums up the preceding facts by saying: "Here are a great many facts, but what is it they prove? only that the faculties of the soul arise, grow, and acquire strength in pro- portion as the body does ; so that these same faculties are weakened in the same proportion as the body is. .. .But from all these circumstances it does not follow that the faculty of thinking is an attribute of matter, and that all depends on the manner in which our machine is made, that the faculties of the soul arise from a principle of animal life, from an innate heat or force, from an irritability of the finest parts of the body, from a subtil ethereal matter diffused through it, or in a word, from all these things taken together."^

19. "The diverse states of the soul are therefore always cor-

^® Condensed from the Century Dictionary, Vol. IX.

  • ® Translated and condensed from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 26.
    • Condensed from the Century Dictionary, Vol. IX.

^ "Man More than a Machine," p. 23.


relative with those of the body." This view is in diametrical opposition to the teaching of Descartes, who says : "The soul is of a nature wholly independent of the body."*" Yet Des- cartes also states that there is an intimate connection between the two. "The Reasonable Soul. .. .could by no means be

educed from the power of matter it must be expressly

created; and it is not sufficient that it be lodged in the human body, exactly like a pilot in a ship, unless perhaps to move its members, but. .. .it is necessary for it to be joined and united more closely to the body, in order to have sensations and appe- tites similar to ours, and thus constitute a real man.'"^

Holbach later emphasizes this close connection between body and soul, which is so insisted upon by La Mettrie. "If freed from our prejudices we wish to see our soul, or the moving principle which acts in us, we shall remain convinced that it is part of our body, that it can not be distinguished from the body except by an abstraction, that it is but the body itself considered relatively to some of the functions or faculties to which its nature and particular organization make it suscep- tible. We shall see that this soul is forced to undergo the same changes as the body, that it grows and develops with the body. .. .Finally we can not help recognizing that at some periods it shows evident signs of weakness, sickness, and death."*"

20. "Peyronie (Frangois Gigot de la), a French surgeon, born in Montpellier, the fifteenth of January, 1678, died the twenty-fifth of April, 1747. He was surgeon of the hospital of Saint-Eloi de Montpellier and instructor of anatomy to the Faculty; then, in 1704, served in the army. In 1717 he became reversioner of the position of first surgeon to Louis XV; in 1731, steward of the Queen's palace; in 1735, a doctor of the King; in 1736, first surgeon of the King, and chief of the surgeons of the kingdom. The greatest merit of La Peyronie is for having founded the Academy of Surgery in Paris, and for having gained special protection for surgery and surgeons in France. He wrote little."**

    • "Discourse on Method," V, last paragraph.

=^ "Systeme de la nature," Vol. I, Chap. VII.

    • Translated from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 26.


21. "Willis, Thomas (1621-1675), English physician, was born at Great Bedwin, Wiltshire, on 27th January, 1621. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford; and when that city was garrisoned for the king he bore arms for the Royalists. He took the degree of bachelor of medicine in 1646, and after the surrender of the garrison applied himself to the practice of his profession. In 1660, shortly after the Restoration, he became Sedleian professor of natural philosophy in place of Dr. Joshua Cross, who was ejected, and the same year he took the degree

of doctor of physic He was one of the first members of

the Royal Society, and was elected an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1664. In 1666,.... he removed to Westminster, on the invitation of Dr. Sheldon, Archbishop

of Canterbury He died at St. Martin's on nth November,

1675, and was buried in Westminster Abbey."**

22. Fontenelle, Bernard le Bovier de. Born at Rouen, France, February 11, 1657; died at Paris, January 9, 1757. A French advocate, philosopher, poet, and miscellaneous writer. He was the nephew (through his mother) of Corneille, and was 'one of the last of the Precieux, or rather the inventor of a new combination of literature and gallantry which at first exposed him to not a little satire' (Saintsbury). He wrote 'Poesies pastorales' (1688), 'Dialogues des morts' (1683), 'Entretiens sur la pluralite des mondes' (1686), 'Histoire des oracles' (1687), 'Eloges des academiciens' (delivered 1690- 1740)."*'

23. "In a word, would it he absolutely impossible to teach the ape a language? I do not think, so." Compare with this Haeckel's statement of the relation between man's speech and that of apes. "It is of especial interest that the speech of apes seems on physiological comparison to be a stage in the formation of articulate human speech. Among living apes there is an Indian species which is musical; the hylohates syn- dactylus sings a full octave in perfectly pure harmonious half- tones. No impartial philologist can hesitate any longer to admit that our elaborate rational language has been slowly and gradually developed out of the imperfect speech of our Pliocene simian ancestors."*'

^ Quoted from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. XXIV.

^ Quoted from the Century Dictionary, Vol. IX.

^ E. Haeckel, "The Riddle of the Universe," Chap. III.


24. Johann Conrad Amman was born at Schaflfhausen, in Switzerland, in 1669. After his graduation at Basle, he prac- tised medicine at Amsterdam. He devoted most of his atten- tion to the instruction of deaf mutes. He taught them by at- tracting their attention to the motion of his lips, tongue, and larynx, while he was speaking, and by persuading them to imitate these motions. In this way, they finally learned to articulate syllables and words, and to talk. In his works "Surdus Loquens," and "Dissertatio de Loquela," he explained the mechanism of speech, and made public his method of in- struction. From all accounts it seems that his success with the deaf mutes was remarkable. He died about 1730.'^

25. " the great analogy between ape and man "

Compare Haeckel: "Thus comparative anatomy proves to the satisfaction of every unprejudiced and critical student the sig- nificant fact that the body of man and that of the anthropoid ape are not only peculiarly similar, but they are practically one and the same in every important respect."*

26. Sir William Temple was born in London in 1628. He attended the Puritan College of Emmanuel, Cambridge, but left without taking his degree. After an extensive tour on the continent, he settled in Ireland in 1655. His political career began with the accession of Charles II in 1660. He is par- ticularly noted for concluding "The Triple Alliance" between England, the United Netherlands, and Sweden, and for his part in bringing about the marriage of William and Mary, which completed the alliance of England and the Netherlands. Temple was not as successful in political work at home as abroad, for he was too honest to care to be concerned in the intrigues in English affairs, at that time. He retired from politics and died at Moor Park in 1699.

Temple wrote several works on political subjects. His "Memoirs" were begun in 1682; the first part was destroyed before it was published, the second part was published without his consent, and the third part was published by Swift after Temple's death. His fame rests more on his diplomatic work than on his writings.""

^ Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Briiannica, Vol. I.

^ "The Riddle of the Universe," Chap. II,

    • Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. XXIII.


27. "Trembley (Abraham) a Swiss naturalist, born in Ge- neva, the third of September, 1700, died in Geneva, the twelfth of May, 1784. He was educated in his native city, and in the Hague, where he became tutor of the son of an English resi- dent, and later the tutor of the young duke of Richmond, with whom he traveled in Germany and Italy. In 1760, he obtained the position of librarian at Geneva, and gained a seat in the council of the 'Two Hundred.' His admirable works on the fresh-water snake procured for him his election as member of the Royal Society of London, and as correspondent of the Academy of Sciences in Paris. From 1775 to 1782 he pub- lished several works on natural religion, and articles on natural history in the 'Philosophical Transactions,' 1742-57. His most important work is 'Memoires pour servir a I'histoire d'un genre de polype d'eau douce' (Leyden, 1744; Paris, 2 volumes).""

28. "What was man before the invention of zvords and the knowledge of language f An animal." Compare this with the statement of Hobbes : "The most noble and profitable inven- tion of all others was that of Speech, consisting of names or

appellations, and their connexion, without which there had

been amongst men neither commonwealth, nor society, nor contract, nor peace, no more than amongst lions, bears, and wolves.'""

29. Fontenelle. See note 22.

30. "All the faculties of the soul can be correctly reduced to pure imagination." Compare with this La Mettrie's state- ment in "L'histoire naturelle de I'ame" : "The more one studies all the intellectual faculties, the more convinced one remains, that they are all included in the faculty of sensation, upon which they all depend so essentially that without it the soul could never perform any of its functions.'"* This resembles Condillac's doctrine of sensation: "Judgment, reflexion, de- sires, passions, etc., are nothing but sensation itself which is

'^Translated from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 31

""Leviathan," Part I, Chap. IV.

•• "L'histoire naturelle de Tame," Chap. XIV. p. 199.


transformed in diverse ways.'"* Helvetius also says : "AH the operations of the mind are reducible to sensation.'"®

31. "See to what one is brought by the abuse of language, and by the use of those fine words {spirituality, immateriality, etc.)." Compare Hobbes, "Though men may put together words of contradictory signification, as spirit djid incorporeal; yet they can never have the imagination of anything answering to them.'"'

32. "Man's preeminent advantage is his organism." Luzac says: "This no more proves that organization is the chief merit of man, than that the form of a musical instrument con- stitutes the chief merit of the musician. In proportion to the goodness of the instrument, the musician charms by his art, and the case is the same with the soul. In proportion to the soundness of the body, the soul is in better condition to exert her faculties.""

33. "Such is, I think, the generation of intelligence." Luzac argues against this statement thus : "But if thought and all the faculties of the soul depended only on the organization as some pretend, how could the imagination draw a long chain of consequences from the objects it has embraced?"^

34. Pyrrhonism is "the doctrine of Pyrrho of Elis which has been transmitted chiefly by his disciple Timon. More generally, radical Scepticism in general.'"*

35. Pierre Bayle was born at Carlat in 1647. Although the child of Protestant parents, he was converted by the Jesuits. After his reconversion to Protestantism, he was driven out of France, and took refuge first in Geneva, and then in Holland. In 1675 he became professor of philosophy at the Protestant College of Sedan, and in 1681 professor of philosophy and

'* "Traite des sensations," p. 50. Cf. ibid., Chap. XII (2).

3' "Treatise on Man," Sect. II, Chap. I, p. 4. Cf. "Essays on Mind," Essay I, Chap. I, p. 7.

8« "Leviathan," Part I, Chap. XII.

" "Man More than a Machine," p. 25.

  • ^Ihid., p. 26.

»» Quoted from Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy, Vol. II.


history at Rotterdam. In 1693 he was forced to resign from his position on account of his religious views.

Bayle was one of the leading French sceptics of the time. He was a Cartesian, but questioned both the certainty of one's own existence, and the knowledge derived from it. He declared that religion is contrary to the human reason, but that this fact does not necessarily destroy faith. He distin- guished religion not only from science, but also from morality, and vigorously opposed those who considered a certain religion necessary for morality. He did not openly attack Christianity, yet all that he wrote awakened doubt, and his work exerted an extensive influence for scepticism.

His principal work is the "Dictionnaire historique at cri- tique," published 1695- 1697, and containing a vast amount of knowledge, expressed in a piquant and popular style. This fact made the book widely read both by scholars and by super- ficial readers.

36. Arnobius the Elder was born at Sicca Venerea in Nu- midia, in the latter part of the third century A. D. He was at first an opponent of Christianity, but was afterwards converted, and wrote "Adversus Gentes" as an apology for Christianity. In this work, he tries to answer the complaints made against Christians on the ground that the disasters of the time were due to their impiety; vindicates the divinity of Christ; and discusses the nature of the human soul. He concludes that the soul is not immortal, for he believes that the belief in the immortality of the soul would have a deteriorating influence on morality. For translation of his work compare Vol, XIX of the "Ante-Nicene Christian Library.""

27. "There exists no soul or sensitive substance without re- morse." Condillac had said : "There is something in animals besides motion. They are not pure machines : they feel."" La Mettrie also attributed remorse to animals, but believed that they are none the less machines. Luzac said in comment: "What renders these systems completely ridiculous, is, that the persons who pronounce men machines, give them prop- erties which belie their assertion. If beings are but machines, why do they grant a natural law, an internal sense, a kind

    • Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Britannka, Vol. II.
  • ^ "Traits des animaux," Chap. I, p. 454.


of dread? These are ideas which can not be excited by ob- jects which operate on our senses.""

38. "Nature has created us solely to be happy." This is a statement of the doctrine, which La Mettrie developes in his principal ethical work "Discours sur le Bonheur." He teaches that happiness rests upon bodily pleasure and pain. In "L'his- toire naturelle de rame," La Mettrie states that all the pas- sions can be developed from two fundamental passions, of which they are but modifications, love and hatred, or desire and aversion.** Like La Mettrie, Helvetius makes corporeal pleasure and pain the ruling motives for man's conduct. Thus he writes: "Pleasure and pain are and always will be the only principles of action in man."**. .. ."Remorse is nothing more than a foresight of bodily pain to which some crime has ex- posed us."*" He definitely makes happiness the end of human action. "The end of man is self-preservation and the attain- ment of a happy existence Man, to find happiness, should

save up his pleasures, and refuse all those which might change into pains. .. .The passions always have happiness as an object: they are legitimate and natural, and can not be called good or bad except on account of their influence on human beings. To lead men to virtue, we must show them the advantages of virtuous actions."*' Holbach, finally, goes further than La Mettrie or Helvetius, and makes purely mechanical impulses the motives of man's action. "The passions are ways of being or modifications of the internal organs, attracted or repulsed by objects, and are consequently subject in their own way to the physical laws of attraction and repulsion."*

39. "Ixions of Christianity." Ixion, for his treachery, stricken with madness, was cast into Erebus, where he was continually scourged while bound to a fiery wheel, and forced to cry: "Benefactors should be honored."

40. "Who can be sure that the reason for man's existence

^ "Man More than a Machine," p. 65.

    • "L'histoire naturelle de Tame," Chap. X, § XII.
    • "Treatise on Man," Chap. X.

^Ibid., Chap. VII.

  • ' "Le vrai sens du systeme de la nature," Chap. IX.

"Ibid., Vol. I, Chap. VIII, p. 140.


is not simply the fact that he exists}" Luzac opposes this by saying: "If the reason of man's existence was in man him- self, this existence would be a necessary consequence of his own nature; so that his own nature would contain the cause or reason of his existence. Now since his own nature would imply the cause of his existence, it would also imply his existence itself, so that man could no more be considered as non-existent than a circle can be considered without radii or a picture without features or proportions. .. .If the existence of man was in man himself, he would then be an invariable being."**

41. "Fenelon (Frangois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fenelon) , born at Chateau de Fenelon, Dordogne, France, August 6, 1651, died at Cambrai, France, January 7, 1715. A celebrated French prelate, orator, and author. He became preceptor of the sons of the dauphin in 1689, and was appointed archbishop of Cambrai in 1695. His works include 'Les aventures de Telemaque' (1699), 'Dialogues des morts' (1712),, Traite de I'education des filles' (1688), 'Explication des maximes des saints' (1697), etc. His collected works were edited by Le- clere (38 vols., 1827- 1830 ).'""•

42. "Nieuwentyt (Bernard), a Dutch mathematician, born in Westgraafdak the tenth of August 1654, diet at Purmerend the thirtieth of May, 1718. An unrelenting Cartesian, he combated the infinitesimal calculus, and wrote a polemic against Leibnitz, concerning this subject. He wrote a theo- logical dissertation translated into French under the title "L'existence de Dieu demontree par les merveilles de la nature' (Paris, 1725)."°"

43. "Abadie, James (Jacques), born at Nay, Basse- Pyre- nees, probably in 1654; died at London, September 25, 1725. A noted French Protestant theologian. He went to Berlin about 1680 as minister of the French church there, and thence to England and Ireland ; was for a time minister of the French church in the Savoy; and settled in Ireland as dean of Killaloe in 1699. His chief work is the 'Traite de la verite de la reli-

    • "Man More than a Machine," pp. 71 and 72.
  • • Quoted from the Century Dictionary, Vol. IX.

^ Translated from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 24.


gion chretienne' (1684), with its continuation Traite de la divinite de notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ' (1689)."^^

44. "Derham (WiUiam), EngHsh theologian and scholar, born in Stoughton, near Worcester, in 1657, died at Upminster iri 1735. Pastor of Upminster in the county of Essex, he could peacefully devote himself to his taste for mechanics and natural history. Besides making studies of watch-making, and of fish, birds, and insects, published in part in the Transactions of the Royal Society, he wrote several works on religious philosophy. The most important, which was popular for a long time and was translated into French (1726), has as title 'Physico-Theology, or the Demonstration of the Existence and the Attributes of God, by the Works of His Creation' (1713). He wrote as complement, in 1714, his 'Astro-Theology, or the Demonstration of the Existence and Attributes of God by the Observation of the Heavens.' ""

45. Rais, or Cardinal de Retz (1614-1679), was a French politician and author. From his childhood he was intended for the church. He took an active part in the movement against Cardinal Mazarin, and later became cardinal, but lost his popularity, and was imprisoned at Vincennes. After es- caping from there he returned to France and settled in Lor- raine, where he wrote his 'Memoires,' which tell of the court life of his time.^

46. Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694) was a renowned Italian anatomist and physiologist. He held the position of lecturer on medicine at Bologna in 1656, a few months later became professor at Pisa, was made professor at Bologna in 1660, went from there to Messina, though he later returned to Bo- logna. In 169 1 he became physician to Pope Innocent XII. Malpighi is often known as the founder of microscopic anat- omy. He was the first to see the marvelous spectacle of the circulation of the blood on the surface of a frog's lung. He discovered the vesicular structure of the human lung, the structure of the secreting glands, and the mucous character

^^ Quoted from the Century Dictionary, Vol. IX. ^'Translated from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 14 ^ Condensed from the Century Dictionary, Vol. X.


of the lower stratum of the epidermis. He was the first to undertake the finer anatomy of the brain, and he accurately described the distribution of grey matter, and of the fibre tracts in the cord. His works are: "De pulmonibus (Bologna, 1661), "Epistolae anatomicae narc. Malpighi et Car. Fracas- sati" (Amsterdam, 1662), "De Viscerum Structura" (London, 1669), "Anatome Plantarum" (London, 1672), "De Structura Glandularum conglobatarum" (London, 1689)."

47. Deism is a system of thought which arose in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Its most important represen- tatives in England were Toland, Collins, Chubb, Shaftsbury, and Tindal. They insisted on freedom of thought and speech, and claimed that reason is superior to any authority. They denied the necessity of any supernatural revelation, and were consequently vigorously opposed by the church. Partly be- cause of this opposition by the church, many of them argued against Christianity, and tried to show that an observance of moral laws is the only religion necessary for man. They taught that happiness is man's chief end, and that, since man is a social being, his happiness can best be gained by mutual helpfulness. Although they declared that nature is the work of a perfect being, they had a mechanical conception of the relation of God to the world, and did not, like later theists, find evidence of God's presence in all the works of nature.^°

48. "Vanini, Lucilio, self-styled Julius Csesar. Born at Tau- risano, kingdom of Naples, about 1585 ; burned at the stake at Toulouse, France, February 19, 1619. An Italian free thinker, condemned to death as an atheist and magician. He studied at Rome and Padua, became a priest, traveled in Germany and the Netherlands, and began teaching at Lyons, but was obliged to flee to England, where he was arrested. After his release he returned to Lyons, and about 1617 settled at Tou- louse. Here he was arrested for his opinions, condemned, and on the same day executed. His chief works are : 'Amphi- theatrum aeternae Providentiae' (1615), 'De admirandis na- turae reginae deaeque mortalium arcanis' (1616).""

" Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. XV.

^Cf. A. W. Benn, "History of English Rationalism," Vol. I, Chap.

" Quoted from the Century Dictionary, Vol. X.


49. Desbarreaux (Jacques Vallee). A French writer, born at Paris in 1602, who died at Chalon-sur-Saone the ninth of May, 1673. He wrote a celebrated sonnet on penitence, but was rather an unbchever and sceptic than a penitent. Guy Patin, hearing of his death, said: "He infected poor young people by his licence. His conversation was very dangerous and destructive to the public.""

50. Boindin (Nicolas), French scholar and author, born the twenty-ninth of May 1676 at Paris, where he died the thirtieth of November 1751, He was in the army for a while, but re- tired on account of ill health. He then gave himself up to literature, and wrote several plays. In 1706 he was elected Royal censor and associate of the Academy of Inscriptions. His liberty, or, as it was then called, license of mind, shut the doors of the French Academy to him, and would have caused his expulsion from the Academy of Inscriptions if he had not been so old. He died without retracting his opinions.'^

51. Denis Diderot (1713-1784) was one of the leaders of the intellectual movement of the eighteenth century. He was at first influenced by Shaftsbury, and was enthusiastic in his support of natural religion. In his "Pensees philosophiques" (1746) he tries to show that the discoveries of natural science are the strongest proofs for the existence of God. The won- ders of animal life are enough to destroy atheism for ever. Yet, while he opposes atheism, he also opposes vigorously the intolerance and bigotry of the church. He claims that many of the attributes ascribed to God are contrary to the very idea of a just and loving God.

Later, Diderot was influenced by La Mettrie and by Hol- bach, and became an advocate of materialism which he set forth in "Le reve d'Alembert" and in the passages contributed to the "Systeme de la nature." Diderot was the editor of the "Encyclopedie."""

52. Trembley. See note 27.

"Translated and condensed from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 14.

^ Translated and condensed from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 7.

^ Condensed from F. A. Lange, "History of Materialism," Vol. II, Chap. I, and from W. Windelband, "History of Philosophy," Part V, Chap. I.


53. "Nothing which happens, could have failed to happen!* An enunciation of the doctrine so insisted upon by Holbach. "The whole universe. .. .shows us only an immense and un- interrupted chain of cause and effect."™. .. ."Necessity which regulates all the movements of the physical world, controls also those of the moral world.""

54. "All these evidences of a creator, repeated thousands. ..of times. . .are self-evident only to the anti-Pyrrhonians." La Met- trie holds an opinion contrary not only to that of Descartes and Locke, but also to that of Toland, Hobbes, and Condillac. Descartes, for instance, says : "Thus I very clearly see that the certitude and truth of all science depends on the knowledge alone of the true God."'* Hobbes asserts: "For he that from any effect he seeth come to pass should reason to the next and immediate cause thereof, and from thence to the cause of that cause,. .. .shall at last come to this, that there must be, as even the heathen philosophers confessed, one first mover, that is a first and an eternal cause of all things, which is that which men mean by the name of God."*^ Toland's words are: "All the jumbling of atoms, all the Chances you can suppose for it, could not bring the Parts of the Universe into their present Order, nor continue them in the same, nor cause the

Organization of a Flower or a Fly The Infinity of Matter

... .excludes. .. .an extended corporeal God, but not a pure Spirit or immaterial Being."** Condillac writes : "A first cause, independent, unique, infinite, eternal, omnipotent, immutable, intelligent, free, and whose providence extends over all things : that is the most perfect notion of God that we can form in this life."*^ Locke declares : "From what has been said it is plain to me we have a more certain knowledge of the existence of a God than of anything our senses have not immediately discovered to us. Nay I presume I may say, that we more certainly know that there is a God, than that there is anything else without us."°^

    • "Systeme de la nature," Vol. I, Chap. I, p. 12.

«^Ibid., Vol. II, Chap. XI,. Cf. Vol. I, Chap. VII.

" "Meditations," III and V.

83 "Leviathan," Part I, Chap. XII.

""Letters to Serena," V, p. 235.

®^"Traite des animaux," Chap. VI, p. 585.

^ "Essay Concerning Human Understanding," Book IV, Chap. X.


55. "Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus). Born at Rome, probably about 96 B. C, died October 15, 55 B. C. A celebrated Roman philosophical poet. He was the author of 'De rerum natura,' a didactic and philosophical poem in six books, treat- ing of physics, of psychology, and (briefly) of ethics from the Epicurean point of view. He committed suicide probably in a fit of insanity. According to a popular but doubtless erroneous tradition, his madness was due to a love-philter administered to him by his wife.""

56. "Lamy (Bernard) was born in Mans in the year 1640. He studied first in the college of this city. He later went to Paris, and at Saumar studied philosophy under Charles de la Fontenelle, and theology under Andre Martin and Jean Le- porc. He was at length called to teach philosophy in the city of Angers. He wrote a great many books on theological sub- jects. His philosophical works are: 'L'art de parler' (1675), 'Traite de mechanique, de I'equilibre, des solides et des li- queurs' (1679), 'Traite de la grandeur en general' (1680), 'Entretiens sur les sciences' (1684), 'Elements de geometric,' (1685)."°'

57. "The eye sees only because it is formed and placed as it is." La Mettrie doubts whether there is any purpose in the world. Condillac, on the other hand, teaches that purpose and intelligence are shown forth in the universe. "Can we see the order of the parts of the universe, the subordination among them, and notice how so many different things compose such a permanent whole, and remain convinced that the cause of the universe is a principle without any knowledge of its effects, which without purpose, without intelligence, relates each being to particular ends, subordinated to a general end?"^

58. "Non nostrum inter vos tantas componere lites." Vergil, Eclogue HI, line 108.

59. "The universe will never be happy unless it is atheistic." Although La Mettrie calls this a "strange opinion" it is clear

  • ^ Quoted from the Century Dictionary, Vol. IX.
    • Translated and condensed from the Dictionnatre des Sciences philo-

sophiques. Vol. Ill, Paris, 1847.

8»"Traite des animaux," Chap. VI.


that he secretly sympathizes with it. Holbach affirms this doc- trine very emphatically. "Experience teaches us that sacred opin- ions were the real source of the evils of human beings. Ig- norance of natural causes created gods for them. Imposture made these gods terrible. This idea hindered the progress of reason."'" "An atheist. .. .is a man who destroys chimeras harmful to the human race, in order to lead men back to nature, to experience, and to reason, which has no need of recourse to ideal powers, to explain the operations of nature.""

60. "The soul is therefore hut an empty word" Contrast this with Descartes's statement: "And certainly the idea I

have of the human mind is incomparably more distinct

than the idea of any corporeal object."" Compare this doc- trine, also, with Holbach's assertion: "Those who have dis- tinguished the soul from the body seem to have only distin- guished their brains from themselves. Truly the brain is the common center, where all the nerves spread in all parts of the human body, terminate and join together. .. .The more experience we have, the more we are convinced that the v/ord 'spirit' has no meaning even to those who have invented it, and can be of no use either in the physical or in the moral world.'"^

61. William Cowper (1666-1709) was an English anatomist. He was drawn into a controversy with Bidloo, the Dutch physician, by publishing under his own name Bidloo's work on the anatomy of human bodies. His principal works are: "Myotamia reformata" (London, 1694) and "Glandularum de- scriptio" (1702)."

62. William Harvey (1578-1657), an English physician and physiologist, is renowned for his discovery of the circulation of the blood. He was educated at Canterbury and Cambridge, and took his doctor's degree at Cambridge in 1602. During

™ Systeme de la nature," Vol. II, Chap. XVI, p. 451.

" Ihid., Chap. XXVI, p. 485. Cf. Luzac's criticism in "Man More than a Machine," p. 94.

" "Meditations," IV.

^8 "Systeme de la nature," Vol. I, Chap. VII, pp. 121-122.

'* Condensed and translated from La Grande Encyclopedic, Vol. 13.


his life he held the position of Lumleian lecturer at the Col- lege of Physicians, and of physician extraordinary to James I. His principal works are: "Exercitatio de motu cordis et sanguinis" (1628), and "Exercitationes de generatione anima- lium" (1651);^

63. Francis Bacon (1551-1626) was one of the first to re- volt against scholasticism and to introduce a new method into science and philosophy. He claimed that to know reality, and consequently to gain new power over reality, man must stop studying conceptions, and study matter itself. Yet he did not himself know how to gain a more accurate knowledge of nature, so that he could not put into practice the method which he himself advocated. His works are full of scholastic conceptions, though many of the implications of his system are materialistic. Lange claims,'* indeed, that if Bacon had been more consistent and daring, he would have reached strictly materialistic conclusions. The account of the motion of the heart of the dead convict is found in "Sylva Sylvarum."" This book, published in 1627, a year after Bacon's death, con- tains the account of Bacon's experiments, and of his theories in matters of physiology, physics, chemistry, medicine, and psychology.

64. Robert Boyle, one of the greatest natural philosophers of his age, studied at Eton for three years, and then became the private pupil of the rector of Stalbridge. He traveled through France, Switzerland, and Italy, and while at Florence, studied the work of Galileo. He decided to devote his life to scientific work, and in 1645 became a member of a society of scientific men, which later grew into the Royal Society of London. His principal work was the improvement of the air- pump, and by that the discovery of the laws governing the pressure and volume of gases.

Boyle was also deeply interested in theology. He gave lib- erally for the work of spreading Christianity in India and America, and by his will endowed the "Boyle Lectures" to

^5 Condensed from the Century Dictionary, Vol. IX.

" F. A. Lange, "History of Materialism," Vol. I, Sec. II, Chap. III.

" "Sylva Sylvarum sive Historia Naturalis Latio Transcripta a J. Gruteo. Lug. Batavos, 1648. C£. Bk. IV, Experiment 400.


demonstrate the Christian religion against atheists, theists, pagans, Jews, and Mohammedans.'*

65. Nicolas Stenon was born at Copenhagen, 163 1, and died at Schwerin in 1687. He studied at Leyden and Paris, and then settled in Florence, where he became the physician of the grand duke. In 1672 he became professor of anatomy at Florence, but three years later he gave up this posiiton and entered the church. In 1677 he was made Bishop of Heliopolis and went to Hanover, then to Munster, and finally to Schwerin. His principal work is the "Discours sur Tanatomie du cer- veau" (Paris, 1669).™

66. La Mettrie's account of involuntary movements is much like that of Descartes. Descartes says: "If any one quickly passes his hand before our eyes as if to strike us, we shut our eyes, because the machinery of our body is so composed that the movement of this hand towards our eyes excites an- other movement in the brain, which controls the animal spirits in the muscles that close the eyelids."^"

dy. "The brain has its muscles for thinking, as the legs have muscles for walking." Neither Condillac nor Helvetius go so far. Helvetius explicitly states that it is an open question whether sensation is due to a material or to a spiritual sub- stance.'^

68. Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608- 1679) was the head of the so-called iatro-mathematical sect. He tried to apply mathe- matics to medicine in the same way in which it had been applied to the physical sciences. He was wise enough to restrict the application of his system to the motion of the muscles, but his followers tried to extend its application and were led into many absurd conjectures. Borelli was at first professor of mathematics at Pisa, and later professor of medi- cine at Florence. He was connected with the revolt of Mes- sina and was obliged to leave Florence. He retired to Rome,

^ Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. IV.

^' Translated and condensed from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol, 30.

    • "Les passions de I'ame," Part I, Art. 13.

"* "Essays on the Mind," Essay I, Chap. I, pp. 4ff.


where he was under the protection of Christina, Queen of Sweden, and remained there until his death in 1679.°

69. "For one order that the will gives, it hows a hundred times to the yoke." Descartes, on the other hand, teaches that the soul has direct control over its voluntary actions and thoughts, and indirect control over its passions.^ La Mettrie goes further than to limit the extent of the will, and questions whether it is ever free: "The sensations which afifect us de- cide the soul either to will or not to will, to love or to hate these sensations according to the pleasure or the pain which they cause in us. This state of the soul thus determined by its sensations is called the will."" Holbach insists on this point and contends that all freedom is a delusion: "[Man's] birth depends on causes entirely outside of his power; it is without his permission that he enters this system where he has a place; and without his consent that, from the moment of his birth to the day of his death, he is continually modified by causes that influence his machine in spite of his will, modify his being, and alter his conduct. Is not the least reflexion enough to prove that the solids and fluids of which the body is composed, and that the hidden mechanism that he considers independent of external causes, are perpetually under the in- fluence of these causes, and could not act without them? Does he not see that his temperament does not depend on himself, - that his passions are the necessary consequences of his tem- perament, that his will and his actions are determined by these same passions, and by ideas that he has not given to himself? ....In a word, everything should convince man that during every moment of his life, he is but a passive instrument in the hands of necessity."^

70. The theory of animal spirits, held by Galen and elab- orated by Descartes, is that the nerves are hollow tubes con- taining a volatile liquid, the animal spirits. The animal spirits were supposed to circulate from the periphery to the brain

    • Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. IV.
  • ^ "Les passions de I'ame," Part I, Art. 41.

•* "L'histoire naturelle de I'ame," Chap. XII, p. 164. Cf. Chap. XII, p. 167.

  • "Systeme de la nature," Vol. I, Chap. VI, pp. Sgff.


and back again, and to perform by their action all the func- tions of the nerves.

71. Berkeley uses the fact that the color of objects varies, as one argument for his idealistic conclusion.^

72. It is hard to tell w^hat Pythagoras himself taught, but it is certain that he taught the kinship of animals and men, and upon this kinship his rule for the abstinence from flesh was probably based. Among the v^ritings of the later Pythagoreans we find strange rules for diet which are plainly genuine taboos. For example they are commanded "to abstain from beans, not to break bread, not to eat from a whole loaf, not to eat the heart, etc."*^

yZ- Plato forbade the use of wine in his ideal republic.^

74. "Nature's first care, when the chyle enters the blood, is to excite m it a kind of fever." Thus, warmth is the first necessity for the body. Compare with this, Dcscartes's state- ment: "There is a continual warmth in our heart,. .. .this fire is the bodily principle of all the movements of our members."®* This is one of the many instances in which La Mettrie's ac- count of the mechanism of the body is similar to that of Descartes.

75. "Stahl (George Ernst), born at Ansbach, Bavaria, Oc- tober 21, 1660; died at Berlin, May 14, 1734. A noted German chemist, physician of the King of Prussia from 1716. His works include: 'Theoria medica vera' (1707), 'Experimenta et observationes chemicae' (1731), etc."*"

76. Philip Hecquet (1661-1737) was a celebrated French physician. He studied at Rheims, and in 1688 became the physician of the nuns of Port Royal des Champs. He re- turned to Paris in 1693 and took his doctor's degree in 1697.

  • ' "Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous," I, Open Court edition;

pp. 27, 28, 29. Cf. "Principles of Human Knowledge," par. 10, 15. " Quoted from J. Burnet, "Early Greek Philosophy," Chap. II. ®* Republic, III, 403.

•* 'Les passions de I'ame," Part I, Art. VIII. •* Quoted from the Century Dictionary, Vol. X.


He was twice dean of the faculty of Paris. In 1727 he be- came the physician of the religious Carmelites of the suburb of Saint Jacques, and remained their physician for thirty- two years.*^

"JT. The quotation: "All men may not go to Corinth/' is translated from Horace, Ep. i, 19, 36. "Non cuivis homini contigit adire Corinthum."

78. Hermann Boerhaave was born at Voorhout near Leyden, on December 31, 1668. His father, who belonged to the cler- ical profession, destined his son for the same calling and so gave him a liberal education. At the University of Leyden, he studied under Gronovius, Ryckius and Frigland. At the death of his father, Boerhaave was left without any provision and supported himself by teaching mathematics. Vandenberg, the burgomaster of Leyden, advised him to study medicine, and he decided to devote himself to this profession. In 1693 he received his degree and began to practice medicine. In 1701 he was made "Lecturer on the Institutes of Medicine" at the University of Leyden. Thirteen years later he was ap- pointed Rector of the University, and the same year became Professor of Practical Medicine there. He introduced into the university the system of clinical instruction. Boerhaave's merit was widely recognized, and his fame attracted many medical students from all Europe to the University of Leyden. Among these was La Mettrie whose whole philosophy was profoundly influenced by the teaching of Boerhaave. In 1728 Boerhaave was elected into the Royal Academy of Sciences of Paris, and two years later he was made a member of the Royal Society of London. In 173 1 his health compelled him to resign the Rectorship at Leyden. At this time he delivered an ora- tion, "De Honore, Medici Servitute." He died after a long illness on April 23, 1738. The city of Leyden erected a monu- ment to him in the Church of St. Peter, and inscribed on it: "Salutifero Boerhaavii genio Sacrum."

Boerhaave was a careful and brilliant student, an inspiring teacher, and a skilful practitioner. There are remarkable ac- counts of his skill in discovering symptoms, and in diagnosing diseases. His chief works are: "Institutiones Medicae" (Ley-

•* Translated and condensed from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 19.


den, 1708) ; "Aphorismi de cognoscendis et curandis Morbis" (Leyden, 1709), "Libellus de Materia Medica et Remediorum Formulis" (Leyden, 1719), "Institutiones et Experimentae Chemicae" (Paris, 1724).*^

79. Willis. (See Note 21.)

80. Claude Perrault (1613-1688) was a French physician and architect. He received his degree of doctor of medicine at Paris and practised medicine there. In 1673 he became a mem- ber of the Royal Academy of Sciences. Although he never abandoned his work in mathematics, in the natural sciences, and in medicine, he is more noted as an architect than as a phy- sician or scientist. He was the architect of one of the colon- nades of the Louvre, and of the Observatory.**

81. "Matter is self-moved." In "L'histoire naturelle de Tame" La Mettrie claims that motion is one of the essential properties of matter. See "L'histoire naturelle de I'ame," Chap. V.

82. "The nature of motion is as unknown to us as that of matter." Unlike La Mettrie, Toland holds that it is possible to know the nature of matter, and declares that motion and matter can not be defined, because their nature is self-evi- dent.** Holbach, resembling La Mettrie, teaches that it is futile to seek to know the ultimate nature of matter, or the cause for its existence. "Thus if any one shall ask whence matter came, we shall say that it has always existed. If any one ask, whence came movement in matter, we shall answer that for this same reason matter must have moved from eter- nity, since motion is a necessary consequence of its existence, its essence, and of its primitive properties, such as extent,

weight, impenetrability, shape, etc The existence of matter

is a fact; the existence of motion is another fact."*^

83. Huyghens (Christian) was born at The Hague, 1629, and died there in 1695. He was a Dutch physicist, mathematician,

8* Condensed from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. III.

•^ Translated and condensed from La Grande Encyclopbdie, Vol. 26.

    • "Letters to Serena," V.

•5 "Systeme de la nature," Vol. II, Chap. II, p. 32.


and astronomer. He is celebrated for the invention of the pendulum clock which could measure the movements of the planets, for the improvement of the telescope, and for the development of the wave-theory of light. His principal work is "Horologium Oscillatorium" (1673)."*

84. Julien Leroy (1686-1759) was a celebrated French watch- maker. He excelled in the construction of pendulums and of large clocks. Some have attributed the construction of the first horizontal clock to him, but this is doubtful. Among many other inventions and improvements of clocks, he in- vented the compensating pendulum which bears his name.*^

85. Jacques de Vaucanson (1709-1782) was a French mech- anist. From his childhood he was always interested in mech- anical contrivances. In 1738 he presented to the French Academy his remarkable flute player. Soon after, he made a duck which could swim, eat, and digest, and an asp which could hiss and dart on Cleopatra's breast. He later held the position of inspector of the manufacture of silk. In 1748 he was admitted to the Academy of Sciences. His machines were left to the Queen, but she gave them to the Academy, and in the disturbances which followed the pieces were scattered and lost. Vaucanson published : "Mecanisme d'un fliiteur auto- mate" (Paris, 1738). «'

86. "[Descartes] understood animal nature; he was the first to prove completely that animals are pure machines." Contrast this with La Mettrie's former reference in "L'histoire na- turelle de Tame" to "this absurd system 'that animals are pure machines.' Such a laughable opinion," he adds, "has never gained admittance among philosophers. .. .Experience does not prove the faculty of feeling iany less in animals than in men."^ It is evident that La Mettrie's opposition to this 'absurd system' was based upon his insistence on the similarity of men and animals. In "L'homme machine" he argues from the same premiss, that animals are machines, that men are like animals, and that therefore men also are machines.

^ Condensed from the Century Dictionary, Vol. IX. ^ Translated and condensed from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 22.

  • ^ Translated and condensed from La Grande Encyclopedie, Vol. 31.

w "L'histoire naturelle de I'ame," Chap. VI.


87. Matter, according to La Mettrie, is endowed with ex- tensity, the power of movement ,and the faculty of sensation. As La Mettrie says, this conception was not held by Des- cartes, who thought that the essential attribute of matter is exension. "The nature of body consists not in weight, hard- ness, color, and the like but in extension alone — in its being a substance extended in length, breadth and height."^"" Hobbes's conception of matter is very similar to that of La Mettrie. He specifically attributes motion to matter : "Motion and magni- tude are the most common accidents of all bodies.""* He does not name sensation as an attribute of matter, but he reduces sensation to motion. "Sense is some internal motion in the sentient.""* Since motion is one of the attributes of matter, and since matter is the only reality in the universe, sensation must be attributed to matter.

88. La Mettrie always insists that matter has the power of moving itself, and resents any attempt to show that the motion is due to an outside agent. In this opinion he is in agreement with Toland. Toland says that those who have regarded matter as inert have had to find some efficient cause for mo- tion ; and to do this, they have held that all nature is animated. This pretended animation, however, is utterly useless, since matter is itself endowed with motion.

89. "This absurd system. .. .that animals are pure machines." (See Note 86.)

100 "Principles of Metaphysics," Part II, Prop. 4. wi "De Corpore," Part III, Chap. XV. i<»/b»i., Part IV, Chap. XXV, (2).


(An asterisk indicates the edition to which reference is made.) JULIEN OfFRAY DE LA MeTTRIE.

1745 "L'histoire naturelle de I'ame." The Hague. (This work appears as "Traite de I'ame" in La Mettrie's collected works.) 1748 "L'homme machine." Leyden.

"L'homme machine par La Mettrie, avec une introduc- tion et des notes." J. Assezat. Paris, 1865. 1751 "QEuvres philosophiques." London (Berlin). 1764 *"CEuvres philosophiques de Monsieur de la Mettrie," Amsterdam. Besides "L'homme machine" and "Traite de I'ame," the "CEuvres philosophiques" contain the following (dates of first publication added in paren- theses) : "Abrege des systemes." "L'homme plante" (1748). "Les animaux plus que machines" (1750). "L'Anti-Seneque" (1748). "L'art de jouir" (1751). "Systeme d'Epicure."

Elie Luzac.

1748 "L'homme plus que machine." London (Leyden).

  • "Man More than a Machine," translated from the French

of Elie Luzac, and printed with the translation of "Man a Machine" for G. Smith, 1750.

R^NE Descartes.

1637 "Essais philosophiques," including "Discours de la me-


  • "The Discourse on Method," translated by John Veitch.

Open Court Publishing Co., 1903. 1641 "Meditationes de prima philosophia."


1644 "Principia philosophiae."

  • "The Meditations and Selections from the Principles of

Philosophy," translated by John Veitch. Open Court Publishing Co., 1905. 1650 "Les passions de I'ame."

  • "CEuvres de Descartes," Vol. IV. Edited by Victor Cou-

sin, Paris, 1824.

John Toland.

1704 ^"Letters to Serena." London. Printed for Bernard Lintot.

Thomas Hobbes.

1650 "Human Nature or the Fundamental Elements of Poli-

cie." London.

1651 "Leviathan; Or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Com-

monwealth, Ecclesiastical & Civil." London. 1655 "Elementorum Philosophiae Sectio Prima: De Corpore." London.

  • English Works edited by Sir William Molesworth, 1839-

45. Volume IIL Leviathan. Volume IV. Human Nature.

John Locke.

1690 "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. London.

  • Edition of Books II and IV (with omissions) preceded

by the English version of Le Clerc's "Eloge historique

de feu Mr. Locke," ed. M. W. Calkins. Open Court

Publishing Co., 1905.

Etienne Bonnot de Condillac.

1754 "Traite des sensations." Paris and London.

1755 "Traite des animaux." Paris and London.

  • "CEuvres completes," 23 vols. Edited by Guillaume Ar-

noux and Mousnier. Paris, 1798. Vol. III. "Traite des sensations. Traite des animaux."

Baron P. H. D. von Holbach.

1770 "Systeme de la nature," par M. Mirabaud [really Von


  • Nouvelle edition avec des notes et des corrections par

Diderot. Paris, 1821.


C. A. Helvetius.

1758 "De I'esprit." Paris.

  • "De I'esprit, or Essays on the mind and its several facul-

ties," translated from the French by Wiliam Mulford. London, 1810.

1772 "De I'homme, de ses facultes, et de son education." 2 vols. London.

  • "A Treatise on Man ; His Intellectual Faculties and His

Education," translated from the French, with notes, by W. Hooper, M. D., 1810.

Frederick the Great.

  • "CEuvres de Frederic H., Roi de Prusse, publiees du

vivant de I'auteur." Berlin, 1789: "Eloge de Julien Offray de la Mettrie," Vol. HI, pp. 159 ff.

Francis Bacon.

  • "Sylva Sylvarum, sive Historia Naturalis," transcripta

a J. Grutero Lug. Batavor. 1648.

F. A. Lange.

  • "History of Materialism," translated by Ernest Chester

Thomas, Boston, 1877.


  • "History of Philosophy," translated by J. H. Tufts, New

York, 1898.

A. W. Benn.

  • "History of English Rationalism in the Nineteenth Cen-

tury." London, 1906.

"La Grande Encyclopedic . Inventaire Raisonne des Sciences, des Lettres, et des Arts, par une Societe de Savants et de Gens de Lettres." Paris, 1885-1903.

"The Encyclopaedia Britannica. A Dictionary of Arts, Sci- ences, and General Literature." Ninth Edition.

"The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia." New York.

"Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology," edited by J. M. Baldwin. London and New York, 1901.


(Italicised numerals refer to pages of the French text.)

Abadie, James (Jacques), 51, 123,

190. "Abrege des systemes philoso-

phiques," by La Mettrie, 165,

166, 170, 205. Academy of Berlin, 176, 182. Academy of Inscriptions, 193. Academy of Sciences at Paris,

186, 203. Academy of Surgery at Paris, 183. "Adversus Gentes," by Arnobius,

188. America, 197. Amman, Johann Conrad, ^p, 30,

100, loi, 102, 185. "Amphitheatrum aeternae Provi-

dentiae," by Vanini, 192. Amsterdam, 185. "Anatome Plantarum," by Mal-

pighi, 192. Angers, 195. Ansbach, 200. "Ante-Nicene Christian Library,"

188. Anthropological Society, 178. Anti-Pyrrhonians, 54, 125, 194. "Aphorismi de cognoscendis et cu-

randis Morbis," by Boerhaave, 5,


"Aphrodisiacus," by Boerhaave, 4.

Aristotle, 40, in.

Arnobius the Elder, 42, 113, 188.

Arnoux, Guillaume, 206.

"L'art de jouir," by La Mettrie,

205. "L'art de parler," by Lamy, 195. Assezat, J., 176, 178, 205.

"Astro-Theology," by Derham, 191.

Bacon, Francis, 57, 59, 129, 130,

197, 207. Baldwin, J. M., 181, 187, 207. Basle, 185. Bavaria, 176, 200. Bayle, Pierre, 39, 63, no, 133,

187-188. Benn, A. W., 192, 207. Berkeley, George, 200. Berlin, 9, 190, 200. Bidloo, Nikolaus, 196. Blois, 24, 96. Blondel, Francois, 62. Boerhaave, Hermann, 4, s. ^4t 67,

74, 96, 138, 182, 201-202. Boindin, Nicolas, 53, 124, 193. Bologna, 191. Borelli, Giovanni Alfonso, 63, 133,

198. Boyle, Robert, 58, 129, 197. Brittany, 4, 176. Burnet, J., 200.

Caen, 3, 176.

Calkins, M. W., iv, 206:

Calvinists, 8.

Cambrai, 190.

Cambridge, 185, 196.

Canterbury, 184, 196.

Carlat, 187.

Carmelites, 201.

Cartesians, 13, 39, 68, 85, in, 138-

139. IS5. 159. 182, 188, 190. Catholics, 8.



Catius, Z3y 94.

"Century Dictionary," 182, 184,

190, 191, 192, 19s, 197, 200,

203, 207. Chaila, Viscount of, 8. Chalons, Maid of, ^7, 118. Chalon-sur-Saone, 193. Champagne, 118. Charles II of England, 185. Charp, 72, 142. Chartres, j^, 104. Charybdis, 75, 146. Chateau de Fenelon, 190. Chazelle-sur-Lyon, 182. "Chemical Proceedings," by Boer-

haave, 5. "Chemical Theory," by Boerhaave,

5- Chiverny, Chancelor, 24, 96. Christ Church, Oxford, 184. Christianity, 1$, 50, 87, 121, 197. Christians, 51, 123. Christina, Queen of Sweden, 199. Chubb, Thomas, 192. Cicero, Marcus Tullius, 156. Cleopatra, 203. College of Physicians, 197. Collins, Anthony, 192. "Concorde de la geographie des

differents ages," by Pluche, 178. Condillac, Etienne Bonnot de, 170-

173, 180, 186, 188, 194, 195, 198,

206. Copenhagen, 198. Cordier, 3. Corinth, 67, 137. Corneille, Pierre, 40, iii, 184. Cos, 181.

Cousin, Victor, 206. Coutances, 3, 176. Cowper, William, 57, 129, 196.

Damiron, Ph., 176.

Darget, 176.

"De admirandis naturae reginae et

mortalium arcanis," by Vanini,

192. "De Anima Brutorum," by Willis,

27, 98. "De Cerebro," by Willis, 27, 98.

"De Corpora," by Hobbes, 167,

204, 206. "De I'esprit," by Helvetius, 207;

see "Essays on the Mind." "De I'homme, de ses facultes, et de

son education," by Helvetius,

207; see "A Treatise on Man." "De pulmonibus," by Malpighi,

192. "De rerum natura," by Lucretius,


"De Structura Glandularum con- globatarum," by Malpighi, 192.

"De Viscerum Structura," by Mal- pighi, 192.

Deism, 192.

Deists, 51, 123, 124.

Democritus, 8, 181.

Derham, William, 51, 123, 191.

Desbarreaux, Jacques Vallee, 53, 124, 193.

Descartes, Rene, 13, 17, 18, 40, 51, 72, 78, 85, 90, III, 123, 142, 146, 153, 15s, 165-166, 179, 180, 181, 183, 194, 196, 198, 199, 200, 203, 204, 205.

Dettingen, 5, 176.

"Dialogues between Hylas and Phir lonous," by Berkeley, 200.

"Dialogues des morts," by Fene- lon, 190.

"Dialogues des morts," by Fonte- nelle, 27, 184.

"Diatribe du Docteur Akakia," by Voltaire, 182.

"Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology," ed. by Baldwin, 181, 187, 207.

"Dictionnaire des Sciences philo- sophiques," 195.

"Dictionnaire historique et cri- tique," by Bayle, 188.

Diderot, Denis, 53, 124, 179, 193, 206.

"Discours sur I'anatomie du cer- veau," by Stenon, 198.

"Discours sur le Bonheur," by La Mettrie, 189.

"Discourse on Method," by Des- cartes, 180, 183, 205.



"Dissertatio de Loquela," by Am- man, 185. Don Quixote, 6. Dordogne, 190. Dreano, Louise Charlotte, 9. Duras, Duke of, 8.

"Early Greek Philosophy," by Bur- net, 200.

"Eclogues," by Vergil, 195.

"Elementorum Philosophiae, Sec- tio Prima," by Hobbes, 206. See "De Corpore."

"Elements de geometric," by Lamy, 195-

Elis, Pyrrho of, 187.

"Eloge historique de feu Mr. Locke," by Le Clerc, 206.

"Eloges des academiciens," by Fon- tenelle, 184.

"Encyclopaedia Britannica," 179, 181, 184, 185, 188, 192, 198, 199, 202, 207.

"Encyclopedic," ed. by Diderot, 193-

England, 167, 185, 190, 192.

"Enlightenment, the," 170.

"Entretiens sur la pluralite des mondes," by Fontenelle, 184.

"Entretiens sur les sciences," by Lamy, 195.

Epictetus, 64, 135.

Epicureans, 5i, 68, 126, 138.

"Epistolae anatomicae narc. Mal- pighi et Car. Fracassati," 192.

"Epodes," by Horace, 201.

Erasmus, 27, 99.

Erebus, 189.

"Essais philosophiques," by Des- cartes, 205.

"Essais sur I'esprit, et les beaux esprits," by La Mettrie, 178.

"Essay Concerning Human Under- standing," by Locke, 170, 178, 194, 206.

"Essays on the Mind," by Helve- tius, 172, 187, 198, 207.

Essex, 191.

Eton, 197.

"Eulogy" on La Mettrie, by Fred- erick the Great, 1-9, 176, 207.

Euripides, 40, iii.

Europe, 29, 100, 201.

"Exercitatio de motu cordis et san- guinis," by Harvey, 197.

"Exercitationes de generatione animalium," by Harvey, 197.

"L'existence de Dieu demontree par les merveilles de la nature," by Nieuwentyt, 190.

"Experimenta et observationes che- micae," by Stahl, 200.

"Explication des maximes des saints," by Fenelon, 190.

Fallope (Fallopius or Fallopio)

Gabriello, 74. Fenelon, Frangois de Salignac de

la Mothe, 51, 123, 190. Florence, 197, 198. Florentine Academy, 179. r'ontenelle, Bernard de, 27, 33, 39,

99, 104, no, 184, 186. Fontenelle, Charles de la, 195. Fontenoy, Battle of, 6, 176. France, 7, 9, 167, 183, 184, 187,

igo, 191, 192, 197. Frederic II, the Great, 3, 176, 207. Freiburg, 5.

F'rench Academy, the, 193, 203. Frigland, 201.

Galen, Claudius, 18, 90, 180, 199. Galileo Galilei, 179, 197. Gaston of Orleans, 47, 118. Gasvillc, 178. Gaudron, Marie, 3. Geneva, 186, 187. George II of England, 176. Germany, 32, 186, 192. "Glandularum descriptio," by Cow-

per, ig6. Gorgias, 181. Gramont, Duke of, 5. Great Bedwin, 184. Gronovius, Johann Friedrich, 201. Grutero, J., 207. Guise, Duke of, 24, 96.

Hackney, 94.

Haeckel, Ernst, 184, 185.

"Hague, The," 186, 203.



Haller, Albrecht von, 73, 143. Hanover, 198. Harcourt, College of, 4. "Harmonic des Psaumes et de

I'Evangile," by Pluche, 178. Hartsoeker, Nicolas, 74. Harvey, William, 57, 129, 196. Hecquet, Philip, 67, 137, 200. Heliopolis, Bishop of, 198. Helvetius, Claude Adrien, 170-172,

173. 187, 189, 198, 207. Henry III, 24, 96. Heraclides, 181. Herodicus of Selymbria, 181. Hippocrates, 18, 61, 64, 78, 90, 132

135, 147. 181. "Histoire de la philosophic du dix'

huitieme siecle," by Damiron

176. "Histoire des oracles," by Fon

tenelle, 184. "I'Histoire des Polypes," by Trem

bley, 30; see "Memoires pour

servire a I'histoire d'un genre de

polype d'eau douce." "I'Histoire naturelle de Tame," by

La Mettrie, 18, 29, 30, 69, 90,

166, 167, 169, 170, 180, 181, 186,

189, 199, 202, 203, 204, 205. "History of English Rationalism,"

by Benn, 192, 207. "History of Materialism," by

Lange, 171, 176, 193, 197, 207. "History of Philosophy" by Win-

delband, 193, 207. Hobbes, Thomas, 166-168, 186, 187,

194, 204, 206. Holbach, P. H. D. von, 173-174,

180, 183, 189, 193, 194, 196, 199,

202, 206. Holland, 176, 187. "L'homme machine," by La Met- trie, ii-8i, 176, 178, 203, 205;

see "Man a Machine. "L'homme plante," by La Met- trie, 205. "L'homme plus que machine," by

Luzac, 177, 205; see "Man more

than a machine." Hooper, W., 207. Horace, 201.

"Horologium Oscillatorium," by

Huyghens, 203. "Human Nature," by Hobbes, 206. Hunault, 4, 5. Huyghens, Christian, 70, 140, 202.

India, 58, 197.

Innocent XII, Pope, 191.

"Institutiones et Experimentae Chemicae," by Boerhaave, 202.

"Institutiones Medicae," by Boer- haave, 5, 67, 74, 138, 201.

Ireland, 185, 190,

Italy, 186, 197.

Ixion, 189.

Ixions of Christianity, 50, 121, 189.

James I, 197. Jansenist, 3, 178. Jesuits, 187. Jews, 198. Joshua, 7. Julius, Caius, 18, 91.

Killaloe, 190.

"La Grande Encyclopedic," 178, 179, 182, 183, 186, 190, 191, 193, 196, 198, 201, 202, 203, 207.

La Mettrie, Julien Offray de, the elder, 3.

La Mettrie, Julien Offray de, the writer, 3-9, 48, 120, 151, 165-174, 176, 177, 180, 181, 183, 186, 188, 189, 193, 194, 19s, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205.

"La Pensee Nouvelle," 178.

"La philosophic materialiste au XVIII« siecle," by N. Quepat, 176.

"La Revue de Paris," 178.

"La Revue Nationale," 178.

Lamy, Bernard, 55, 126, 195.

Lancisi, Giovanni-Maria, 26, 98.

Lange, F. A., 171, 176, 193, 197, 207.

Laon, College of, 178.

Lapland, 182.

Le Clerc, Jean, 206.

Leclere, 190.

Leibnitz, 17, 90, 190.



Leibnizians, 13, 32, 63, 68, 85, 103,

133. 138. Leporc, Jean, 195. "Le reve d'Alembert," by Diderot,

193- Leroy, JuHen, 70, 140, 203. "Les animaux plus que machines,"

by La Mettrie, 205. "Les aventures de Telemaque," by

Fenelon, 190. "Les passions de I'ame," by Des- cartes, 181, 198, 199, 200, 3o6. "Letters to Serena," by Toland,

168, 169, 194, 202, 206. "Lettres sur la physiognomic," by

Pernety, 24, 95, 182. "Leviathan, The, by Hobbes, 1 67,

168, 186, 187, 194, 206. Leyden, 4, 8, u, 68, 138, 198, 201. Leyden, University of, 201. "Libellus de Materia Medica et

Remediorum Formulis," by Boer-

haave, 202. Lintot, Bernard, 206. Locke, John, 13, 14, 24, 30, 59, 72,

85, 86, 96, 10 1, III, 142, 170,

177, 178, 194, 2o6. London, 186, 190. Lorraine, 191. Louis XV, 182, 183. Louvre, 202. Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus),

55, 126, 195. Lutherans, 8. Luzac, Elie, 11, 177, 179, 182, 187,

188, 190, 196, 205. Lyons, 182, 192.

Mans, 19s.

Marcus Aurelius, 180.

Maria Theresa, 176.

Martin, Andre, 195.

Mary II, of England, 185.

Materialists, 166, 167, 173.

"Materia Medica," by Boerhaave, 5.

Maupertuis, Pierre Louis Moreau

de, 24, 96, 182. Mazarin, Cardinal, 191. "Mecanique des langues et I'art de

les enseigner," by Pluche, 178. "Mecanisme d'un fluteur auto- mate," by Vaucanson, 203. "Meditationes de prima philoso-

phia," by Descartes, 180, 194,

196, 20s, 206. "Memoires," by Rais, 191. "Memoires pour servir a I'histoire

d'un genre de polype d'eau

douce," by Trembley, 186. "Memoirs," by Temple, 30, loi,

18s. Messina, 191, 198. Mirabaud (really von Holbach),

206. Mohammedans, 198. Molesworth, Sir William, 206. Montpellier, 183. "Moral Essays," by Pope, 182. Morand, Sauveur-Francois, 5. Mousnier, 206. Mulford, William, 207. Munster, 198. "Myotamia reformata," by Cowper,

196. Mysia, i8o.

Malebranche, Nicolas, 17, 39, 51, 62,

85, 90, no, 123. Malebranchists, 13, 68, 139. Malpighi, Marcello, 51, 75, 123, 144,

191. "Man a Machine," by La Mettrie,

8, 83, 85, 165, 166, 167, 168,

169, 174, 177, 205; ^ee "L'homme

Machine." "Man More than a Machine," by

Luzac, 177, 179, 182, 187, 189,

190, 196, 205; see "L'homme

plus que machine."

Nay, Basse-Pyrenees, 190. Netherlands, The, 176, 185, 192. Newton, Sir Isaac, 40, 72, 78, ni,

142, 146. Nieuwentyt, Bernard, 51, 123, 190. Normandy, 178. Numidia, 188.

Observatory (Paris), 202. "CEuvres completes," de CondillaCi

206. "CEuvres de Descartes, 206. "CEuvres de Frederic II," 207.



"CEuvres philosophiques de la Met-

trie," 205. Orleans, Gaston of, 47, 118. "Ortus medicinae," by van Hel-

mont, 182. Oxford, Christ Church, 184.

Padua, 192.

Paris, 4. 5, 154, 178, 183, 184, 186, 193. i95i 198, 200, 201,202,203.

Pascal, Blaise, 48, 120.

Patin, Guy, 193.

"Penelope," by La Mettrie, 8.

"Pensees philosophiques," by Dide- rot, 53, 124, 193.

Pergamus, 180.

Peripatetic, 16, 88, 180.

Pernety, Jacques, 182.

Perrault, Claude, 68, 138, 202.

Petronius, 18, 91.

Peyronie, Frangois Gigot de la, 26, 98, 183.

"Philosophical Transactions," 7J, 143, 186, 191.

"Physico-Theology," by Derham, 191.

Pisa, 191, 198.

Plato, 64, 134, 135, 200.

Plessis, 3.

Pliny, 15, 87.

Pluche, Noel Antoine, 15, 16, 87, 88, 178.

"Poesies pastorales," by Fonte- nelle, 184.

Pope, Alexander, 23, 62, 94, 132, 182.

Port Royal, 48, 120, 200.

"Practical Medicine," by La Met- trie, 5.

Precieux, The, 184.

"Principia philosophiae" by Des- cartes, 166, 204, 206.

"Principles of Human Knowledge," by Berkeley, 200.

Prometheus, 24, 70, 96, 141.

Protestant College of Sedan, 187.

Prussia, 8, 200.

Puritan College of Emmanuel, Cambridge, i8s-

Purmerend, 190.

Pyrrho of Elis, 187.

Pyrrhonian, jp, 55, no, 127. Pyrrhonism, 187. Pythagoras, 64, 134, 200. Pythagoreans, 200.

Quepat, N., 176.

Rais, or Cardinal de Retz, 51, 123, 191.

Reaumur, Rene Antoine Ferchault de, 178.

"Republic," by Plato, 200.

Restoration, the, 184.

Retz, Cardinal de; see Rais.

Rheims, 4, 200.

Richmond, Duke of, 186.

Rollin, Charles, 178.

Rome, 180, 192, 195, 198.

Rotterdam, 188.

Rouen, 184.

Royal Academy of Science of Ber- lin, 9.

Royal Academy of Sciences of Paris, 201, 202.

Royal College of Physicians, 184.

Royal Society of London, 184, 186, 197, 201.

Royalists, 184.

Ryckius, Theodore, 201.

Saint Eloi de Montpellier, Hos- pital of, 183.

Saint Jacques, 201.

Saint Malo, 4, 5.

Saint Martin's, 184.

Saintsbury, George Edward Bate- man, 184.

Saumar, 195.

Satyrus, 180.

Savoy, 190.

Schaffhausen, 185.

Scholastics, Christian, 158.

Schwerin, 198.

Seylla, 7S, 146.

Sechelles, 8.

Sedan, Protestant College of, 187.

Selymbria, Herodicus of, 181.

Seneca, 18, 91.

Sensationalists, 170.

Shaftsbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3d Earl of, 192, 193.



Sheldon, Gilbert, Archbishop of

Canterbury, 184. Sicca, Venerea, 188. Sedobre, 5.

"Singularites physiologiques," 178. Smith, G., 205. Socrates, 64, 135. Sophocles, 40, III. "Spectacle de la nature," 14, 86,

178. Spinoza, Baruch, 52, 124. Stahl, George Ernst, 66, 67, 68,

136, 137. 139, 200. Stalbridge, 197. Steele, Sir Richard, 24, 96. Steigner de VVittighofen, 22, 94. Stenon, Nicolas, 58, 129, 198. Stoughton, 191. "Surdus Loquens," by Amman,

185. Sweden, 185. Swift, Jonathan, 185. Switzerland, 20, 94, 185, 197. Sydenham, Thomas, 5. "Sylva Sylvarum," by Bacon, 58,

129, 197, 207. "Systeme d'Epicure," by La Met-

trie, 205. "Systeme de la nature," by Hol-

bach, 173, 180, 183, 189, 193,

194, 196, 199, 202, 206.

Taurisano, 192.

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"The Politics of Physicians," by La Mettrie, 7.

"The Riddle of the Universe," by Haeckel, 184, 185.

Thomas, E. C., 207.

Timon, 187.

Tindal, Matthew, 192.

Tirconnel, Milord, 9.

Toland, John, 166, 168-170, 192,

194, 202, 204, 206. Torricelli, Evangelista, 16, 88, 179. Toulouse, 192. "Traite de la divinite de notre

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172, 187, 189, 207; see "De

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Upminster, 191. Lniversity of Leyden, 201.

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Van Helmont, Jan Baptista, 22, 95,

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Westgraafdak, 190.

Westminster Abbey, 184. Wiltshire, 184.

White Hall. 94. Windelband, W., 193, 207.

William of Orange, 185. Wittighofen, Steigner de, 22, 94.

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184, 202. Worcester, 191.

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