RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 'Old & useless notes about the moral sense & some metaphysical points'. (1838-1840) CUL-DAR91.4-55 Transcribed and edited by Paul H. Barrett. (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by Paul H. Barrett; corrections and additions by John van Wyhe 10.2009. RN1

NOTE: Barrett's 1974 transcription, with minor corrections, is reproduced here alongside facsimile images of the original manuscripts.

Barrett, P. H. 1974. Early writings of Charles Darwin. In Gruber, H. E., Darwin on man, pp. 382-413. F1582

Barrett noted: "The transcriptions in this chapter are a collection of miscellaneous notes packaged originally in a single parcel and labeled by Darwin, "Old and useless Notes about the moral sense & some metaphysical points written about the year 1837 & earlier." Actually most of the notes, as indicated by their dates or their watermarks, were written during the years 1837–40. Among those which have no dates or watermarks are a few which Dr. Sydney Smith and Mr. Peter Gautrey of Cambridge University have dated from their knowledge of paper types, etc. The undated manuscripts seem also to have been written during this same period, as judged by their similarity in content to the others, and to the M and N notebooks."

The dated entries range from 6 September 1838 to March 1840.


[OUN] "Old and Useless Notes about the moral sense & some metaphysical points"

Editorial symbols used in the transcription:
Text in small red font is a hyperlink or notes added by the editors.
/ a few words inserted by Darwin /
[added in transcription by Barrett]
[Darwin's own brackets]CD
( (marginal or interlinear passage) )
e = part of MS excised

Reproduced with the permission of Wilma M. Barrett, the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.


[scroll up to view introductory material]

[Old & useless notes about the moral sense & some metaphysical points written about the year 1837 & Earlier.]CD

5 1

in Athenaeum

"Smart2 Beginning of a New School Metaphysics,"— give my doctrines about origin of language— & effect of reason. reason could not have existed without it— quotes Ld Mondobbo3 language commenced in whole sentences.4— signs— ?were signs originally musical!!! ??—

At least it appears all speculations of the origin of language.— must presume it originates slowly— if their speculations are utterly valueless— then argument fails— if they have, then language was progressive.—

1. 1838 watermark.

2. Smart, B. H., Beginnings of a New School of Metaphysics: Three Essays in One Volume: Outline of Sematology.—MDCCCXXXI. Sequel to Sematology.—MDCCCXXXVII. An Appendix, Now First Published. Richardson, London, 1839, pp. 3–5: "As to the question, whether speech was or was not, in the first instance, revealed to man, we shall not meddle with it: we do not propose to inquire how the first man came to speak, but whether language is not a necessary effect of reason, as well as its necessary instrument, growing out of those powers originally bestowed on man, and essential to their further development."

3. Monboddo, James Burnett (1714–1799), Scottish judge, philosopher, and author of Of the Origin and Progress of Language, 6 vols., Kincaid and Creech, Edinburgh, 1773–1792.

4. Smart, op. cit., n. 2, pp. 26–27: '"It maybe asked," says Lord Monboddo, "what words were first invented. My answer is, that if by words are meant what are commonly called parts of speech, no words at all were first invented; but the first articulate sounds that were formed denoted whole sentences; and those sentences expressed some appetite, desire, or inclination, relating either to the individual, or to the common business which I suppose must have been carrying on by a herd of savages before language was invented. And in this way, I believe language continued, perhaps for many ages, before names were invented.'"


We cannot doubt that language is an altering element, we see words invented— we see their origin in names of People.— sound of words— argument of original formation— declension &c often show traces of origin—

6 5

Mayo6 Philosophy of living p. 264.

"Architecture is a fine amplification of two ideas in nature: a developement of the thoughts expressed in Fingals cave, & in the arched & leafy forest"

Very good!

5. 1838 watermark.

6. Mayo, The Philosophy of Living, 2nd ed., Parker, London, 1838 p. 264: "Nature is beyond art. For Nature is divine art. Yet human art may select and combine her elements, and reproduce some of her conceptions. Architecture is a fine amplification of two ideas in nature: a developement of the thoughts expressed in Fingal's cave, and in the arched and leafy forest. To learn its powerful influence on the imagination, let any one visit York Cathedral, for an interior;—or, which is not less deeply moving, view in bright moonlight, at some silent hour, the magnificent elevation of St. Paul's."

7 7

I grant that the thrill, which runs through every fibre, when one beholds the last rays of σ α or grand chorus are utterly inexplicable— I cannot admit think reason sufficient to give up my theory— Viewing from eminence the wide expanse, of country, netted with hedges & crowded with towns & thoroughfares, I grant that man from the effects of hereditary knowledge, has produced

7. Watermark, c. 1838. In the passage σ and α represent wavy lines drawn by Darwin.


almost greater changes in the polity of nature than any other animal.

8 8

Aimé Martin9 de l'Education des Mères Vol 1, p. 198.— "Moralité, raison, beau ideal, infini conscience; voilà l'homme separe de la matière et du temps! voila les facultes, q'il possede seul sur la terre. J'ai trouvé son âme" &c—

Confesses these faculties of soul, treating of infinite not definable.— His little chapter on each faculty of Soul.— (1) Conscience moral sentiments imperative sense of duty— which makes struggle in man.— two souls in one body10— (2) Beau ideal, refers chiefly to moral, beau desires conscience & love.11— [With regard to ordinary Beau ideal. Mem. Negro, beau,— Jeffrey denies all Beau.— How does Hen determine which most beautiful cock, which best singer—

Remember— avarice a compounded passion gained in life time]CD 3. The Infinite.— lives by hopes, looks

8. Date not traced.

9. Aimé-Martin, Louis, De l'éducation des mères de famille; ou, de la civilisation du genre humain par les femmes, 2 vols., Meline, Brusselles, 1837, p. 198.

10. Aimé-Martin, Louis, The Education of Mothers: or the Civilization of Mankind by Women, transl. from the French by Edwin Lee. Revised from the Fourth French Edition, Whittaker & Co., London, 1842: "There exists, then, two wills in man: there is only one will in animals. Man therefore is alone free upon the earth. He alone can struggle with and conquer himself. He alone escapes from the fatalities of organization."

11. Ibid.: "The type of the beautiful is immutable—eternal; it exists; for we have the consciousness and the love of it: consciousness, to incline us to seek it; love, to render us worthy of contemplating it."


to eternity. (4) Reason, some transcendental kind— (5) Conscience, not clear— Then these last heads of separation between soul of man & intellect of beasts, not clear.— ? does not Mackintosh make great difference between moral sense & conscience?— we admire what is right by one & are ordered to do it by other.—

I suspect conscience an hereditary compound passion, like avarice. —

Is there not something analogous to imperiousness of Conscience: in Maternal instinct domineering over love of Master & sport &c &c— The Bitch does not so act, because maternal instinct gives most pleasure but because most imperious.— 12

12. Ibid.: " … the moral sense is not dependent upon our intelligence, and … it imperatively indicated to us what we must do in order to deserve happiness."


It would indeed be wonderful, if mind of animal was not closely allied to that of men: when the five senses were the same13— In its action— emotions— p. 176 & 177 good passage in French on what dog dreams, awakes— does when Master takes Hat14 de l'education des Meres par L Aimé Martin

14. Ibid. "Here is my dog, asleep in the chimney-corner; his sleep is disturbed, he is dreaming of pursuing his prey, he attacks his enemy, he sees him, he hears him; he has sensations, passions, ideas. When I rouse him up, his visions disappear, and he becomes calm; when I take up my hat he darts out, jumps about, looks me in the face, and studies my actions; he crouches at my feet, runs to the door, is joyful or sorrowful according to the will which I express. … Here is an animal who thinks, wills, remembers, and combines his ideas. There are moments in which I am tempted to believe him to possess a soul, for, in fact, I find in his intelligence the phenomena which exist in my own. …."

9 15

1. Sensation is the ordering contraction (that is the only evidence when consciousness is absent) in fibres united with nervous filaments.— plants? yes by distinct mechanism

2. Sensation of higher order where the sensation is conveyed over whole body (which it may be in first case as when the excised heart is pricked) and certain actions (only evidence where not consciousness) are produced in consequence having some relation to the primary sensation— man moving leg when asleep (or habitual actions)— perhaps polypi— (so that lower animals are sleeping higher animals & not plants as supposed by Buffon)16 Consciousness is sensation No. 2. with memory added to it, man in sleep not conscious, nor child— Evidence of consciousness, movements /?/ anterior to any direct sensation, in order to avoid it— beetles feigning death upon seeing object,— are Planariae conscious.—

Consciousness bears same relation to time & memory

15. 1837 watermark.

16. Natural History, General and Particular, by the Count de Buffon, transl. by William Smellie, 3rd ed., 9 vols., Stahan and Cadell, London, 1791, vol. 2, p. 7: "If the sensation of an oyster, for example, differ in degree only from that of a dog, why do we not ascribe the same sensation to vegetables, though in a degree still inferior? This distinction, therefore, between the animal and vegetable, is neither sufficiently general nor decided."

P. 8: "[Thus] there is no absolute and essential distinction between the animal and vegetable kingdoms; but … nature proceeds by imperceptible degrees from the most perfect to the most imperfect animal, and from that to the vegetable: Hence the fresh water polypus may be regarded as the last of animals, and the first of plants."

10 17

Reynolds X discourse very curious as showing "the perfection of this science of abstract form" is the source of part of the highest enjoyment in mutilated statues18

17. 1837 watermark.

18. Reynolds, Joshua, The Literary Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, to which is Prefixed a Memoir of the Author by H. W. Beechy, 2 vols., Cadell, London, 1835, Vol. 2, pp. 8–9: "… what artist ever looked at the Torso without feeling a warmth of enthusiasm, as from the highest efforts of poetry? From whence does this proceed? What is there in this fragment that produces this effect, but the perfection of this science of abstract form?

"A mind elevated to the contemplation of excellence, perceives in this defaced and shattered fragment, disjecta membra poetae, the traces of superlative genius, the reliques of a work on which succeeding ages can only gaze with inadequate admiration."

11 19

Reynolds XIII Discourse (p. 115)

a very good passage about actions & decisions being the result of sagacity, or intuition, when individual cannot give reason, though he feels he is right— it is because each decision is made up of many partial results, & the impressions are then are all remembered, when the memory or reasons are forgotten. Our happiness &c, our well-being depend upon the "habitual reason,"— This power of the mind, faintly approaches to instinct20

19. Late 1838.

20. Reynolds, 1835, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 62: "… our conduct in life, as well as in the Arts, is, or ought to be, generally governed by this habitual reason: it is our happiness that we are enabled to draw on such funds. If we were obliged to enter into a theoretical deliberation on every occasion, before we act, life would be at a stand, and Art would be impracticable."

11b 21

p. 142 "Upon the whole it seems"— "that the object of /all/ art is the realizing and embodying, what never existed but in the imagination."— 22

Macculloch Vol. I. p. 115. Attributes of Deity— on Belief— you belief things you can give no proof for. & one often replies "what you say is perfectly true, but you do not convince me."— 23

Belief allied to instinct—

21. Late 1838.

22. Reynolds, 1835, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 78: "Upon the whole, it seems to me, that the object and intention of all the Arts is to supply the natural imperfection of things, and often to gratify the mind by realising and embodying what never existed but in the imagination."

23. Macculloch, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 115.


In Elliotson's24 Physiology much about sleep— Nerves.— Volition &c


How strange it, that Nature should have so little to do with art (p. 128) R. compares a view taken by camera obscura &c &c

— Poussin— How are my ideas of a general notion of everything applicable to the high idea /p. 131/ in Tragic acting— My idea would make the mind have mysterious & sublime ideas independent of the senses & experience

24. Elliotson, John, Human Physiology … With which is incorporated, much of the elementary part of Institiones physiologicae of J. F. Blumenbach … 5th ed., Longman, etc., London, 1840 [1835–40] [section on sleep, chapter 27, pp. 598–698].


p. 134 a painter must not an actors or a scene in a garden.— yet both beautiful!25

p. 136 Says Architecture does not come under imitative art.26 (my view says yes. old mass of rock) or poetry my theory says yes imitating song— two primary sources, sight & hearing—

25. Reynolds, 1835, op. Cit., Vol. 2, p. 73: "… no Art can be grafted with success on another art …

"If a Painter should endeavor to copy the theatrical pomp and parade of dress, and attitude, instead of that simplicity, which is not a greater beauty in life than it is in Painting, we should condemn such Pictures, as painted in the meanest style."

"So, also, Gardening, as far as Gardening is an Art … is a deviation from nature …"

26. Ibid., p. 74: "Architecture … applies itself, like Music (and, I believe, we may add Poetry), directly to the imagination, without the intervention of any kind of imitation."

12 27

Staunton Embassy Vol II p. 405

Speculates on origin of sacrifices /common to many races/ thinks action toward /a king/ man changed into is carried on toward deity— & as king might like cruel pleasure, so sacrifices cruel.—

Something wrong here.— Origin is certainly curious.—

Chinese, S. American, Polynesians, Jews, Africans, all sacrifice. How completely men must have personified the deity.—

27. October, 1838.

13 28

H. Tooke29 has shown one chief object of language is promptness /of consequence/ newer languages become corrupt & whole classes of words /are abbreviations/ he thus derives from nouns & verbs— so that most EVERY language shows traces of anterior state??

28. The watermark on this scrap of paper is, "[What]man—33."

29. Tooke, John Horne, Epea Pteroenta, or the Diversions of Purley. Revised and corrected with additional notes, by Richard Taylor, Tegg, London, 1860, p. 14: "The first aim of Language was to communicate our thoughts; the second to do it with dispatch. pp. 23–24: "In English, and in all Languages, there are only two sorts of words which are necessary for the communication of our thoughts… 1. Noun, and 2. Verb."

14 30

Edinburgh Review Vol 18 (1st article)31 on Taste /EXCELLENT/ Deficient in not explaining the possibility of handsome /ugly healthy/ young women, with good expression— statues not painted— music very good article— why flower beautiful ? can't children

30. Date not traced.

31. Alison, Archibald, "Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste," 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1811, 830 pp. [Review], The Edinburgh Review, or Critical Journal: for May 1811… . Aug. 1811. Vol. 18:1–46, 1811, p. 10: "The most beautiful object in nature, perhaps, is the countenance of a young and beautiful woman … what we admire is not a combination of forms and colours … but a collection of signs and tokens of those feelings and affections, which are universally recognized as the proper objects of love and sympathy."

P. 17: "The forms and colours that are peculiar to [children], are not necessarily or absolutely beautiful in themselves; for in a grown person, the same forms and colours would be either ludicrous or disgusting."

P. 18: "Take, again, for example, the instance of female beauty,—and think what different and inconsistent standards would be fixed for it in the different regions of the world;—in Africa, in Asia, and in Europe;—in Tartary and in Greece;—in Lap-land, Patagonia and Circassia. If there was anything absolutely or intrinsically beautiful, in any of the forms thus distinguished, it is inconceivable that men should differ so outrageously in their conceptions of it: If beauty were a real and independent quality, it seems impossible that it should be distinctly and clearly felt by one set of persons, where another set, altogether as sensitive, could see nothing but its opposite …"

Pp. 18–19: "The style of dress and architecture in every nation, if not adopted from mere want of skill, or penury of materials, always appears beautiful to the natives, and somewhat monstrous and absurd to foreigners … the fact is still more striking, perhaps, in the case of Music … "

15 32

S. Jenyns33 Inquiry into the Origin of Evil

Review by Johnson in the Literary Magazine, 1756— Ceased in 1758. Read the Review or the Article.

32. Date not traced.

33. Jenyns, Soame, A Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil. Dodsley, London, 1757.

16 34

A Planaria must be looked at as animal, with consciousness, it choosing food— crawling from light.— Yet we can split Planaria into three animals, & this consciousness becomes multiplied with the organic structure. it looks as if consciousness as effects of sufficient perfection of organization & if consciousness, individuality.— 35

34. 1837 Watermark.

35. In the margin beside this passage Darwin drew a vertical pencil mark, and two large question marks.

17 36

Quotes D. Stewarts System of Emotions.— T Mayo.37 Pathology of the Human Mind Poor. on insanity.— Prevailing idea. owing to loss of will— chiefly excited by passive emotions.— Cannot quite perceive drift of Book.— Sympathy & affections chiefly fail.— Notices struggles between when insanity is coming on

(Thinks clearest38 analogy between dreams & insanity.)39

37. Mayo, Thomas, Elements of the Pathology of the Human Mind, Murray, London, 1838.

38. This word is difficult to decipher.

39. Mayo, Thomas, Elements of the Pathology of the Human Mind, Murray, London, 1838: "… much of my reasoning … flows similarly to that by which the operations of sleep and dreaming are explained by Mr. Dugald Stewart. These states have, in truth, always appeared to me to possess a striking affinity to that of the insane,—with this important difference, that there is a constant readiness in the mind to be roused out of sleeping or dreaming state, but no such readiness to emerge out of insanity, when once incurred. And again, that in sleep every voluntary action is suspended; whereas in madness, the will acts with considerable force, though in a more limited extent, than in the sane state."

18 40

D Stewart41 on the Sublime

The literal meaning of Sublimity is height, & with the idea of ascension we associate something extraordinary & of great power.—

2. From these & other reasons we apply to God the notion of living in lofty regions

3. Infinity, eternity, darkness, power, begin associated with God, these phenomena we (feel & ?) call sublime.—

4. From the association of power &c &c with height, we often apply the term sublime, where there is no real sublimity


5. The emotions of terror & wonder so often concomitant with sublime, adds not a little to the effect: as when we look at the vast ocean from any height.—

6. That the superiority & "inward glorying, which height by its accompanying & associated sensations so often gives, when excited by other means, as moral excellences, brings to our recollection the original cause of these feelings & thus we apply to them the metaphysical term sublime

40. Date not traced.

41. Stewart, Dugald, The Works of Dugald Stewart, 7 vols., Hilliard and Brown, Cambridge, 1829, Vol. 4, "Essay Second, On the Sublime," pp. 265–317. Darwin outlines here the main principles discussed by Stewart in this Essay.


7. So that in this Essay. D. Stewart does not attempt /by one common principle/ to explain the various causes of those sensations, which we call metaphorically sublime, but that it is through a complicated series of associations that we apply to such emotions this same term.—


Hence it appears, that when certain causes, as great height, eternity, &c. &c. produce an inward pride & glorying, (often however accompanied with terror & wonderment) which this emotion from the associations before mentioned, we call sublime.—

It appears to me, that we may often trace the source of this "inward glorying" to the greatness of the object itself or to the ideas excited & associated with it, as the idea of Deity with vastness of Eternity, which superiority we transfer to ourselves in the same manner as we are acted on by sympathy.

20 42

D. Stewart on taste

The object of this essay is to show how taste is gained how it originates, & by what means it becomes an almost instantaneous perception,43— Taste has been supposed by some to consist of "an exquisite susceptibility from receiving pleasures from beauties of nature & art"44 But as we often see people who are susceptible of pleasures from these causes who are not men of taste & the reverse of this, taste

42. Date not traced.

43. Stewart, op. cit., Vol. 4, "Essay Third. On Taste," p. 318, includes taste as one of the "intellectual processes, which, by often passing through the mind, come at length to be carried on with a rapidity that eludes all our efforts to remark it; giving to many of our judgments, which are really the result of thought and reflection, the appearance of instantaneous and intuitive perceptions. The most remarkable instance [of these] … are commonly called the acquired perceptions of sight …"

P. 325, "The fact seems to be … 'the mind, when once it has felt the pleasure, has little inclination to retrace the steps by which it arrived at it.' It is owing to this, that Taste has been so generally ranked among our original, faculties; and that so little attention has hitherto been given to the process by which it is formed."

44. Ibid., p. 327: "[Taste] is said to consist in "a power of receiving pleasure from the beauties of nature and of art.'"


evidently does not consist of this, but rather in the power of discriminating & respect good from bad.

And it is manifestly from this fact & the instantaneousness of the result, that the term taste is metaphorically applied to this mental power.45 Although taste must necessarily be acquired by a long series of experiments & observations, & yet, like in vision, it becomes

45. Ibid., p. 332: "'The feeling', [Voltaire] observes, 'by which we distinguish beauties and defects in the arts, is prompt in its discernment, and anticipates reflection, like the sensations of the tongue and palate. Both kinds of Taste, too, enjoy, with a voluptuous satisfaction, what is good; and reject what is bad, with an emotion of disgust. Accordingly,' he adds, 'this metaphorical application of the word taste, is common to all known languages.'"


so instantaneous, that we cannot ever perceive the various operations which the mind undergoes in gaining the result.

22 46

Lessing's Laocoon 2d Lect— The object of art, sculpture & painting, is beauty— which he thinks is a better definition than Winklemen's, who says it is simplicity with grandeur of character.— Hence Lessing shows expression of pain cannot be respected.47 But what is beauty?— it is an ideal standard, by which real objects are judged: & how obtained— implanted in our bosoms— how comes it there?

46. Date not traced, OUN 22–24.

47. Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, Laocoön. Nathan the Wise. Minna von Barnhelm, William A. Steel, Ed., London, J. M. Dent, 1836: "The general distinguishing excellence of the Greek masterpieces in painting and sculpture Herr Winkelmann places in a noble simplicity… . in arrangement and in expression." And: "And if we now refer this to the Laocoön, the motive for which I am looking becomes evident. The master was striving after the highest beauty, under the given circumstances of bodily pain. This, in its full deforming violence, it was not possible to unite with that… . the aspect of pain excites discomfort without the beauty of the suffering subject changing this discomfort into the sweet feeling of compassion."


Laocoon p. 75

"The beauties developed in a work of art are not approved by the eye itself, but by the imagination through the medium of the eye;" he will allow the secondary pleasure of harmonious colours &c &c surely to be added.48

48. Ibid.


Lessings Laocoon

p. 125— says new subjects are not fit for painter or sculpture, but rather subjects which we know,49 it is therefore the embodying of a floating idea,— as statue of beauty, is of the "beau ideal," my instinctive impression

49. Ibid.: "[The artist] remains within the narrow range of a few designs, become familiar both to him and to everybody, and directs his inventive faculty merely to changes in the already known and to new combinations of old subjects. That, too, is actually the idea which the manuals of painting connect with the word Invention

"In fact the poet has a great advantage who treats a well-known story and familiar characters."


September 6th 1838

Every action whatever is the effect of a motive.—

[must be so, analyse(a) ones feelings when wagging one's finger— one feels it in passion, love— jealousy, as effect of bodily organisms— one knows it, when one wishes to do some action (as jump off a bridge to save another) & yet dare not, one could do it, but other motives prevent the action50 see Abercrombie conclusive remarks p. 205 & 206.]CD

Motives are units in the universe.

[Effect of hereditary constitution,— education under the influence of others— varied capability of receiving impressions— accidental (so called like change) circumstances.51

As man hearing Bible for first time, & great effect being produced.— the wax was soft,— the condition of mind which leads to motion being inclined that way]CD

one sees this law in man in somnabulism or insanity. free will (as generally used) is not then present, but he acts from motives, nearly as usual

50. In his copy of Abercrombie, op. cit., pp. 199–203, Darwin wrote in the margins, "A man may wish to jump from a bridge to save another, but absolutely will not let him.— makes the muscles fail, & the heart sink—

Yes, but what determines his consideration— his own previous conduct— & what has determined that? & so on— Hereditary character & education— & chance (aspect of his will) circumstances.

Change of character possible from change of organization

What has given these desires & conduct

Then why does not act of insanity give shame??

According to all this, ones disgust at villain ought to be is nothing more than disgust at some one under foul disease, & pity accompanies both. Pity ought to banish disgust. P→P For wickedness is no more a man's fault than bodily disease!! (Animals do persecute the sick as if were their fault). If this doctrine were believed— pretty world we should be in!— But it could not be believed excepting by intellectual people— if I believed it— it would make not one difference in my life, for I feel more virtue more happiness—

Believers would /will/ only marry good women & pay detail attention to education & so put their children in way of being happy. It is yet right to punish criminals for public good. All this delusion of free will would necessarily follow from man feeling power of action.

View no more unreasonable than that there should be sick & therefore unhappy men.

What humility this view teaches.

A man reading hearing bible by chance becomes good. This is effect of accident with his state of desire (neither by themselves sufficient) effect of birth & other accidents: may be congratulated, but deserves no credit.

When opposed desires are absolutely equal which is possibility, may free-will then decide— but it must be decided by habit or wish & these all originate as before."

51. Ibid. At the bottom of page 206 and 207, in his copy of Abercrombie, Darwin wrote, "A man may put himself in the way of above accidents. but desire to do so arises as before, & knowledge that the effect will be good, arise as before. education & mental disposition—

One feels how many actions, not determined by will, passion— when the motive power feeble & complicated & opposed we say free will (or chance)"


† A man may put himself in the way of contingencies.— but his desire to do arises from motives.— & his knowledge that it is good for him effect of education & mental capabilities.—

(a) one well feels how many actions are not determined by what is called free will, but by strong invariable passions— when these passions weak, opposed & complicated one calls them free will— the chance of mechanical phenomena.— (mem: M. Le Comte one of philosophy, & savage calling laws of nature chance)

P Animals do attack the weak & sickly as we do the wicked.52— we ought to pity & assist & educate by putting contingencies in the way to aid motive power.—

if incorrigably bad nothing will cure him

52. Darwin has reference to this trait of the wild, white cattle of Britain, e.g., the Chillingham Cattle.


difference is from imperfect condition of mind all motives do not come into play.—

† It may be urged how often one try to persuade person to change line of conduct, as being better & making him happier.— he agrees & yet does not.— because motive power not in proper state.— When the admonition succeeds who does not recognize an accidental spark falling on prepared materials.

From contingencies a man's character may change— because motive power changes with organization

The general delusion about free will obvious.— because man has power of action, & he can seldom analyse his motives (originally mostly INSTINCTIVE, & therefore now great effort of reason to discover them: this is important explanation) he thinks they have none.—

Effects.— One must view a wrecked man like a sickly onep— We cannot help loathing a diseased offensive object, so we view wickedness.— it would however be more proper to pity them to hate & be


disgusted with them. Yet it is right to punish criminals; but solely to deter others.— It is not more strange that there should be necessary wickedness than disease.

This view should teach one profound humility, one deserves no credit for anything. (yet one takes it for beauty & good temper), nor ought one to blame others.—

This view will not do harm, because no one can be really fully convinced of its truth, except man who has thought very much. & he will know his happiness lays in doing good & being perfect, & therefore will not be tempted, from knowing every thing he does is independent of himself to do harm.—

Believer in these views will pay great attention to Education—


These views are directly opposed & inexplicable if we suppose that the sins of a man are, under his control, & that a future life is a reward of retribution.— it may be a consequence but nothing further.—


October 2d 1838

Those emotions which are strongest in man, are common to other animals & therefore to progenitor far back. (anger at the very beginning, & therefore most deeply impressed) shame perhaps an exception. (does it originate in a doubting feel between conscience & impulse) but shame /we alas know/ is far easier conquered than the deeper & worser feelings. Then bad feelings no doubt originally necessary revenge was justice.— No checks were necessary to the vice of intemperence, circumstances made


the check— the licentiousness jealousy, & every one being married to keep up population. with the existences of so many positive checks.— (this is encroaching on views in second volume of Malthus).53 Adam Smith also talks of the necessity of these passions, but refers (I believe) to present day & not to wider state of Society.— Civilization is now altering these instinctive passions which being unnecessary we call vicious.— (jealousy in a dog no one calls vice) on same principle that Malthus has shown incontinence to be a vice & especially in the female

53. Malthus 1826, 2 (bk 4, chap. 1): 255-69, "Of moral restraint, and our obligation to practise this virtue'; chap. 2: 270-82, 'Of the effects which would result to society from the prevalence of moral restraint."


October 2d. 1838

Two classes of moralists: one says our rule of life is what will produce the greatest happiness.— The other says we have a moral sense.— But my view unites** both /& shows them to be almost identical/ & what has produced the greatest good /or rather what was necessary for good at all/ is the /instinctive/ moral sense: (& this alone explains why our moral sense points is to revenge). In judging of the rule of happiness we must look far forward /& to the general action/— certainly because it is the result of what has generally been best for our good far back— (much further than we can look forward: hence our rule may sometimes be hard to tell)

** Society could not go on except for the moral sense, any more than a hive of Bees without their instincts.—


The origin of the social instinct /in man & animal/ must be separately considered.—

The difference between civilized man & savage, is that the former is endeavouring to change that part of the moral sense which experience (education is the experience of others) shows does not tend to greatest good.— Therefore rule of happiness is to certain degree right.— The change of our moral sense is strictly analogous to change of instinct amongst animals.— 54

54. Darwin drew a heavy blue crayon line in the margin beside this paragraph.


Jan 13th 1839

My father received a letter from Mr Roberts /a person he had known & directed many letters to/— could not remember read Christian name; Fancied it looked like W. but concluded it could not be so.— Looked at a direction book, but could not find out— Directed his letter, & I observed he had written Wilson & pointed it out; he was astonished, & said how very odd.— could not think what had put Wilson into his head.— remembered, that he had looked in direction book under head of Wilson, referred to Robert & found his Christian name was Wilson!! How curious an inward, unconscious memory.— 55

55. This incident is also mentioned in N 63.


Jan 14th 1839.—

My father says he has heard of many cases of ideots knowing things, which are often repeated in a wonderful manner.— as the hour of the day &c.— All habits must conduce to their health & comforts.— Both ideots, old People & those of weak intellects.—


Westminster Review. March 184056

p. 267— says the great division amongst metaphysicians— the school of Locke, Bentham & Hartley, & the school of Kant & Coleridge is regarding the sources of knowledge.— whether "anything can be the object of our knowledge except our experience"— is this not almost a question whether we have any instincts, or rather the amount of our instincts— surely in animals according to usual definition, there is much knowledge without experience. so there may be in men— which the reviewer seems to doubt.57

56. The London and Westminster Review. No. 65, for March 1840, pp. 139–162 (a review of seven of Coleridge's Works).

57. Ibid., p. 144: "We see no ground for believing that anything can be the object of our knowledge except our experience, and what can be inferred from our experience by the analogies of experience itself… ."


58 Effects of Life in the abstract is matter united by certain laws different from those, that govern in the inorganic world; life itself being the capability of such matter obeying a certain & peculiar system of movements.59 different from inorganic movements.— *

See Lamarck for this definition given in full.— 60

According to the individual forms of living beings, matter is united in different modification, peculiarities of external form impressed, & different laws of movements.†

2) In the simplest forms of living beings namely /one individual/ vegetables, the vital laws act definitely (as chemical laws) as long as certain contingencies are present, (contingencies as heat light &c) *

During growth tissue unites matter into certain form;62 invariable, as long as not modified by external accidents, & in such cases modifications bear fixed relation to such accidents.

But such tissue bears relation to whole, that is enough must be present to be able to exist as individual.—

58. Date not traced, OUN 34–41.

59. Kirby, William, On the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as Manifested in the Creation of Animals and in their History, Habits, and Instincts, 2 vols., (The Bridgewater Treatises), Pickering, London, 1835, Vol. 1, p. xli: "'We have seen,' says [Lamarck], 'that the life which we remark in certain bodies, in some sort resembled nature, insomuch that it is not a being, but an order of things animated by movements; which also has its power, its faculties, and which exercises them necessarily while it exists.'"* (*Anim. sans Vertebr. i. 321.)

60. Lamarck, op. cit.: "… we may include what essentially constitutes life in the following definition.

"Life, in the parts of any body which possesses it, is an order and state of things which permit of organic movements; and these movements constituting active life result from the action of a stimulating cause which excites them."

62. Ibid., xxiii–xxiv: "Body [Lamarck] observes, being essentially constituted of cellular tissue, this tissue is in some sort the matrix, from the modification of which by the fluids put in motion by the stimulus of desire, membranes, fibres, vascular canals, and divers organs, gradually appear; and thus progressively new parts and organs are formed, and more and more perfect organizations produced; and thus, by consequence, in the lapse of ages, a monad becomes a man!!!"


3) In animal growth of body precisely same as in plants, but as animals bear relation to less simple bodies, and to more extended space, such powers of relation required to be extended.

Hence a sensorium, which receives communication from without, & gives wondrous power of willing.63 These † willings are common to every animal instinctive and unavoidable.

These willings have relation to external contingencies, as much as growth of tissue and are subject to accident; the sexual willing comes on period of year as much as inflorescence.— *

* Has any vegetable or animal matter been formed by the union of simple non-organic matter without action of vital laws.

† Hence there are two great world systems of laws /in the world/ the organic & inorganic— The inorganic are probably one principle for connect of electricity chemical attraction, heat & gravity is probable.— And the Organic laws probably have some unknown relation to them.61

* This is true as long as movement of sensitive plant can be shewn to be direct physical effect of touch & not irritability, which at least shows a local will, though perhaps not conscious sensation.

† (can the word willing be used without consciousness, for it is not evident, what animals have consciousness)

* I here omit the case (if such there are) of animals enjoying only movements such as sensitive plants. (But I include irritability for that requires will in part. ?Why more so than movement of sap or sunflower to sun? -I should think there were direct /physical/ effects of more or less turgid vessels; effect of head, light or shade.)

4) The radicle of plants absorb by physical laws of endosmic & exosmic juices. arm of polypus, show either local or general will, & stomach likewise /does/.†

It is easy to conceive such movements & choice, & obedience to certain stimulants without conscience in the lower animals, as in stomach, intestines & heart of man.‡

How does consciousness commence; where other senses come into play, when relation is kept up with distant object, when many such objects are present, & when will directs other parts of body to do such.—

All this can take place & man not conscious as in sleep; or in sleep is man momentarily conscious, but is memory gone?—

Where pain & pleasure is felt where must be consciousness???*

61. Kirby, op. cit., Vol. 1, pp. xli– xlii: "Speaking of the imponderable incoercible fluids, and specifying heat, electricity, the magnetic fluid, etc., to which he [Lamarck] is inclined to add light, he says, it is certain that without them, or certain of them, the phenomenon of life could not be produced in any body … [but] neither caloric nor electricity, though essential concomitants of life, form its essence."

63. Ibid., pp. xxviii–xxix: "Every action of an intelligent individual, whether it be a movement or a thought … is necessarily preceded by a want of that which has power to excite such action [according to Lamarck]. This want felt immediately moves the internal sentiment, and in the same instant, that sentiment directs the disposable portion of the nervous fluid …'"


5) Kirby thinks that there is one instinct to all animals modified according to species.65 This I suppose he deduces from the ends in each case being the same, & the means very similar. It does not appear more than saying that the thinking principle is the same in all animals.

Kirby extends instincts to plants,66 but surely instincts imply willing, therefore word misplaced.†

The meanings of words must be made out




Definite instincts* begin acquired is most important argument, to show that they result from organization of brain;
(:analogy:— as races are formed or modification of external form, so modifications of brain) As in animal no prejudices about souls, we have particular trains of thoughts as far as man; crows fear of gun.— pointers method of standing.— method of attacking peccari— retriever— produced as soon as brain developed, and as I have said, no soul superadded,67 so


Joining two difficulties into one common one always satisfactory, though not adding to positive knowledge. lessening amount of ignorance


† in Coralline are not two kinds of life vegetable and animal strictly united?

‡ How near in structure is the ganglionic system of lower animals & sympathetic of man.64

* Can insects live with no more consciousness than our intestines have?


† Eyton told me that his retriever Sailor he has seen push a hare through the bar of a gate before him, & then jump over the gate & bring it.

Agrees with ONE animal

* not used by Kirby

64. In this discussion Darwin, with his own interpretation, parallels a similar treatment in Kirby, ibid., Vol. 1, pp. 150–151, eg., p. 150. "Lamarck indeed regards them [Infusoria] as having no volition, as taking their food by absorption like plants; as being without any mouth, or internal organ; in a word as transparent gelatinous masses, whose motions are determined not by their will, but by the action of the medium in which they move." P. 151, "Admitting that the observations of Spallanzani just stated record facts, it appears clearly to follow from them that these animals have volition, and therefore cannot properly be denominated apathetic, or insensible. The fact that they almost all have a mouth and a digestive system; many of them eyes, and some rudiments of a nervous one, implies a degree; more or less, of sensation …"

65. Kirby, ibid., Vol. 2, p. 247: "That the same action should unfold such an infinite variety of forms in one case and instincts in the other is equally astounding and equally difficult to explain.— Compare the sunflower and the hive-bee, the compound flowers of the one, and the aggregate combs of the other …"

66. Ibid., p. 246: "… as the most remarkable instincts of animals are those connected with the propagation of the species, so the analogue of these instincts in plants is the developement of these parts peculiarly connected with the production of the seed …"

Pp. 247–248: "Again, as all plants have their appropriate fruitification, so they have other peculiarities connected with their situation, nutriment, and mode of life, corresponding in some measure with these instincts that belong to other parts of an animal's economy. Some with a climbing or voluble stem, constantly turn one way, and some as constantly turn another… . others close their leaves in the night, and seem to go to sleep; others shew a remarkable degree of irritability when touched …"

67. Kirby, ibid., Vol. i, p. xxviii: "[Lamarck] admits [man] to be the most perfect of animals, but instead of a son of God, the root of his genealogical tree, according to him, is an animalcule, a creature without sense or voluntary motion, or internal or external organs … no wonder therefore that he considers his intellectual powers, not as indicating a spiritual substance derived from heaven though resident in his body, but merely as the result of his organization* (*N. Dict. D'Hist. Nat. xvi. Artic. Intelligence, 344. comp. Ibid. Artic. Idéa, 78, 80.), and ascribes to him in the place of a soul, a certain interior sentiment …"

See also B 232, "The soul by consent of all is superadded …"



thought, however unintelligible it may be seems as much function of organ, as bile of liver.— ? is the attraction68 of carbon, hydrogen in certain definite proportions (different from what takes place out of bodies) really less wonderful than thoughts.69— One organic body likes one kind more than another— What is matter? The whole a mystery.— †

Instinct appear like hereditary memory; but first memory in many cases cannot be acquired by experience for child sucking.— And is it more wonderful that memory should be transmitted from generation: than from hour to hour in man individual.‡

Acquired instincts analogous /& replace/ to experience gained by man in lifetime*

Hereditary memory not so wonderful as at first appears, & no too great advantage: for superiority of memory does not depend on its length: Many animals (as horses) very long & good memories— but on its multiplicity & the comparison of ideas.—

As man has so very few (in adult life) instincts.— this loss is compensated by vast power of memory, reason, &c, and many general instincts, as love of virtue, of association, parental affection— The very existence of mankind requires these instincts, though very weak so as to be overcome easily by reason.— Conscience is one of these instinctive feelings.†

68. Kirby, ibid., Vol. 1, pp. xxiv–xxv: "When indeed, one reads the above account [progression of molecules to monad to man] of the mode by which, according to [Lamarck's] hypothesis, the first vegetable and animal forms were produced, we can scarcely help thinking that we have before us a receipt for making the organized beings at the foot of the scale in either class— a mass of irritable matter formed by attraction, and a repulsive principle to introduce into it and form a cellular tissue, are the only ingredients necessary. Mix them, and you have an animal which begins to absorb fluid, and move about as a monad or a vibrio, multiplies itself by scissions or germes …"

69. Ibid., p. xxix: "… Lamarck sees nothing in the universe but bodies, whence he confounds sensation with intellect."


I think Pincher71 shows surprise, walking home one day met him, with Mark72 riding instantly followed, me and for five minutes every now and then howled.— Now I don't think this only pleasure: for it was different way of showing it, nor was there any cause, & if surprise was felt. analyse feelings.

† This materialism does not tend to Atheism.70 inability of so high a mind without further end, just same argument. without indeed we are step towards some final end. production of higher animals— perhaps say attribute of such higher animals may be looking back, ∴ therefore consciousness, therefore reward in good life

‡ Perhaps even the most complicated instinct might be analysed into steps, as species change.— Must be so if Lamarck's theory true

* But habits acquired even by children plants!

† As sexual instinct comes on late in life, man almost alone in this case can perceive instinct. boy takes delight in mammae before any reason had told him this distinctive mark. it is downright instinct, leading to touch a particular organ.—

Mr. Wynne73 says, that beyond doubt courage is hereditary in fowls & not effect of feeling of individual force in any individual.— His Malay breed /of fowl/ totally different habits from Europaean. begin to prowl about in the evening /seldom leave their perch till evening/ crow different.— Hereditary effect of former tropical climate ((analogous to inflorescence of Tropical plants when imported & plants sleeping)) ((good show aquirement or obliteration of instincts))

70. Ibid., p. xxvii: "Lamarck's great error, and that of many others of his compatriots, is materialism; he seems to have no faith in any thing but body, attributing every thing to a physical, and scarcely any thing to a metaphysical cause." P. xxxiv: "From [Lamarck's] statements … he appears to admit the existence of a Deity …"

71. Pincher— pet dog.

72. Mark, Dr. Darwin's coachman at Shrewsbury.

73. Wynne: See p. 423: "Questions for Mr. Wynne."



As definite instincts modified by hereditary succession so perhaps general ones.— Parental feelings weakened in Otahiti: fear of death in Hindoo population.— Slightly modified in many countries, hence national character, love of country, of association &c stronger in some than others— Hence superiority of Christian over Heathen race.— But as no great modification in brain would probably take place without corresponding change in /external/ man; and as all men nearly same species, so general instincts nearly same; which argument probably applies to particular instincts of animals, even in wild state; certainly to the domesticated.— †

General— Instincts certainly appear a sort of acquired memory. a permanent secretion of thought. (or under contingencies of stimulants of certain kinds such secretion) *

This memory† especially the general kind taking pleasure in virtue because acquired in past ages, seems to indicate that when we turn into angels, this imperfect memory may become perfect & we may look back to definite action or to our conscious selves.— ((Such memory may go back to animals which were changed into man ∴ they meet their reward!))

The difference between hereditary memory & individual secretion of thought, may be no more /different/ than sexual intercourse in plants is involuntary, in man voluntary: ?False.— secretion in both involuntary, application ejection only has will: there must be case of secretion being some time governed by will in some animals, involuntary in others.

† NB. Two dogs having very different instinct always obtain peculiarities of external configuration

* or an ASSOCIATION of pleasures with certain actions performed by your parents, conscience

† Perhaps should hardly be called memory; you cannot call the frame of mind which makes music pleasant, a memory; yet that frame is enhanced by memory of what has been heard; so love of virtue enhanced by this hereditary kind of memory.—

39 74


Why may it not be said thought perceptions will, consciousness, memory, &c. have the same relation to a living body (especially the cerebral portion of it) that attraction has to ordinary matter.

The relation of attraction to ordinary matter is that which an action bears to the agent. Matter is by a metaphor said to attract; & hence if thought, &c bore the same relation to the brain that attraction does to matter, it might with equal propriety be said that the /living/ brain perceived, thought, remembered, etc*

Now this would certainly be a startling expression, & so foreign to the use of ordinary language that the onus probandi might fairly be laid with those who would support the propriety of the expression. They would do well to ask themselves the converse ((because there are living bodies without these faculties)) of the question above stated, & indeed until we know what answer they would give in support of their view it is impossible to shew satisfactorily its erroneousness. ((it is point of indifference))

74. Except for the insertions and the last paragraph, the document numbered 39–41 is not in Darwin's handwriting. Dr. Edward Manier of The University of Notre Dame Philosophy Department believes this document to have been written by Hensleigh Wedgwood. (Note: the emphases, the asterisk footnote, and the strikeouts, are Darwin's.)


we attribute the attraction to the attracting body is that [illeg]


In the absence of such a guide we can only point out the mode /of perceptive action/ by which we come to conceive of matter as attracting & shew that the groundwork of this is entirely wanting by which thought or memory might be in like manner attributed to brain.

There are two modes of perceptive action by which bodily action is made known to us, revealing respectively what are called its subjective & objective aspect.

The subjective aspect of bodily action is revealed to us by the effort it costs us to exert force or by internal consciousness; the objective, by our external /what/ senses in the way in which we apprehend the force of inanimate bodies. How we identify the two aspects as different phases of the same object of thought is a question which ought to be clearly comprehended by anyone who wishes to fully understand this subject, but the answer to it would require a considerable degree of attention.

((How do the senses affect us except by internal consciousness— ))



We must endeavour to do without it as well as we can The objective aspect of Bodily action ((as recognized by our external senses)) consists in the manifestation of force /i.e. movement?/ capable of being traced to the body of the individual to whom the action is attributed: force (be it remembered) being a phenomenon apprehended by the same faculty with matter & being necessarily exhibited in & by matter.

* Well the heart is said to feel

The phenomena of gravity considered in themselves consist in a force manifested in every particle of matter directed towards every other particle; but FORCE, objectively considered, is a phenomenon the essence of whose existence consists in its communication to other matter in the course of its DIRECTION, & thus when we apprehend force in inanimate matter we feel dissatisfied until we can point out



the source from which it arises. ((How can force be recognized by our external senses— only movement can))

But coming round to the subjective aspect of action ((as known by the exertion of our own power & consciousness of it)) we are conscious that we ourselves can originate in any point an opposition of forces balancing each other & moving in opposite directions. We are satisfied therefore if we can trace any force in inanimate matter up to the action of some animated agent Now the phenomena of gravity are manifestly the same as if every particle of matter were an animated being pulling every other particle by invisible strings & as on this supposition the forces manifested would be fundamentally accounted for, we prefer this metaphorical mode of stating the fact to the mere statement of the force exhibited in every phenomena actually apprehensible by sense.



There is nothing analogous to this in the relation of thought, perception, memory &c. either to our bodily frame or the cerebral portion of it

Thoughts, perceptions &c, are modes of subjective action— they are known only by internal consciousness & have no objective aspect. If thought bore the same relation to the brain that force does to the bodily frame, they could be perceived by the faculty by which the brain is perceived but they are known by courses of action quite independent of each other. A person might be quite familiar with thought & yet be ignorant of the existence of the brain. We cannot perceive the thought of another person at all, we can only infer it from his (its) behaviour.

((attraction of sulphuric acid for metal))

Thought is only known subjectively ((??)) the brain only objectively ((We do not know attraction objectively))



The reason why thought &c should imply the existence of something in addition to matter is because our knowledge of matter is quite insufficient to account for the phenomena of thought. The objects of thought have no reference to place.

[We see a particle move one to another, & (or conceive it) & that is all we know of attraction. but we cannot see an atom think: they are as incongruous as blue & weight: all that can be said that thought & organization run in a parallel series, if blueness & weight always went together, & as a thing grew blue it /uniquely/ grew heavier yet it could not be said that the blueness caused the weight, anymore than weight the blueness, still less between action things so different as action thought & organization: But if the weight never came until the blueness had a certain intensity (& the experiment was varied) then might it now be said, that blueness caused weight, because both due to some common cause:— The argument reduced itself to what is cause & effect: it merely is /invariable/ priority of one to other: no not only thus, for if day was first, we should not think night an effect]CD

((Cause and effect has relation to forces & mentally because effort is felt))


1) May 5th, 1839. Maer

Mackintosh Ethical Philosophy

* p. 113 Mackintosh75 Grotius has argued nearly so

On the Moral Sense

Looking at Man, as a Naturalist would at any other Mammiferous animal, it may be concluded that he has parental, conjugal and social instincts, and perhaps others.*— The history of every race of man shows this, if we judge him by his habits, as another animal. These instincts consist of a feeling of love & sympathy or benevolence to the object in question. Without regarding their origin, we see in other animals they consist in such active sympathy that the individual forgets itself, & aids & defends & acts for others at its own expense.— Moreover any action in accordance to an instinct gives great pleasure, & such actions being prevented by necessarily some force give pain: for instance either protecting sheep or hurting them.— Therefore in man we should expect76 that acts of benevolence towards fellow feeling creatures, or of kindness to wife

75. Mackintosh, James, Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy Chiefly During the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Edinburgh, 1830, p. 113: "To this [the opinion that man as well as other animals prefer their own interest to every other object] Grotius answered, that even inferior animals under the powerful though transient impulse of parental love, prefer their young to their own safety or life; that gleams of compassion, and, he might have added, of gratitude and indignation, appear in the human infant long before the age of moral discipline; that man at the period of maturity is a social animal, who delights in the society of his fellow-creatures for its own sake, independently of the help and accommodation which it yields… ." Darwin has a marginal line beside this passage in his copy, now in the Cambridge University Library.

76. Darwin drew a double line in the margin beside the lines from "some force" to "should expect."



and children would give him pleasure, without any regard to his own interest. Likewise if such actions were prevented by force he would feel pain. [By a very slight change in association if others injured these objects, without his being able to prevent it, he would likewise feel pain.— If he saw another man acting in accordance to his instincts, he would know the many experiences pleasure & by association he would feel part of the pleasure, which the actor received.— If either man did not obey his instincts from interference of passion, he would feel pain, which would generally be anger, as he would be tempted to interfere, but with respect to himself it would be remorse as will be presently shown.— This then is moral approbation, as far as it goes.]CD 77

But should he prevented by some passion or appetite, what would be the result? In a dog we see a struggle between its appetite, or love of exercise & its love of its puppies: the latter generally soon conquers, & the dog

77. Darwin drew a marginal line beside this bracketed passage.



probably thinks no more of it.— Not so man, from his memory & mental capacity of calling up past sensations he will be forced to reflect on his choice: an appetite gratified gives only short pleasure. passion in its nature is only temporary, & we do not afterwards think of it.78 — Whatever the cause of this may be, everyone must know, how soon the pleasure from good dinner, or from a blow struck in passion fades away, so that when man afterwards thinks why was such an instinct not followed for a pleasure now though so trifling he feels remorse.— *

He reasons on it & determines to act more wisely other time, for he knows that the instinct (or conscience) is always present (which is indeed, often felt at very time it is disobeyed) & is sure guide.— Hence conscience is improved by attending & reasoning on its action, & on the results following our conduct.— If the temptation to disobey the conscience is extremely great

78. A marginal line beside the last two sentences.



as starvation, or fear of death, one make allowance & either excuses the /non-/ following of one's conscience, & palliates the offence; one always admires the habit formed by conscience /obedience to instinct/, or rather strengthened instinct, even when our reason tells79 us the action was superfluous, as one man trying to save another in desperation.— This shows, that our jealousy, that the instinct ought to be followed, is a consequence of that being part of our nature, & its effects lasting, whilst passions although equally natural leave effects not lasting. By association one gains the rule, that the passions & appetite should /almost/ always be sacrificed to the instincts.— One does not feel it is wrong in very young child to be in a passion, any more than in an animal— which shows that it is owing to some subsequent power80 (reason) obtained by age, which should show the child, which of its instincts are best to be followed.— Yet even at this time, malevolence, when not urged to it by passion, shows a bad child.—

Hence there are certain instincts pointing out lines of conduct to other men,

79. A marginal line beside the lines from "conscience" to "tells."

80. A marginal line beside the lines from "One does not feel" to "power."



which are natural (& which /when present/ give pleasure) & which man ought to follow— it is his duty to do so.— So we say a pointer ought to stand— a spaniels housedog's duty is to watch the house.— it is part of duty their nature.— When a pointer springs his bird, one says for shame (& the /old/ dog really feels ashamed?) not so puppy, we do try to teach him & strengthen his instincts.— so man ought to follow81 certain lines of conduct, although even when tempted not to do so, by other natural appetites he is monster, or unnatural if malevolent, or hates his children without some passion.— If his passions strong & his instincts weak, he will have many struggles, & experience only will teach him, that the instinctive feeling in its nature being always present, & his passions shortlived, it is to his interest to follow the former; & likewise then receive the normal approbation of his fellow men.—

* The cause perhaps lies in its frequency & in its consisting in desire gratified & therefore as soon as desire is fulfilled, pleasure forgotten

81. A marginal line beside the passage beginning "So we say" to "follow."


6) Hence man* must have a feeling, that he ought to follow certain lines of conduct, & he must soon necessarily learn that it is his interest to follow it, even when opposed by some natural passion.— (a)

By interest I do not mean any calculated pleasure but the satisfaction of the mind, which is /much/ formed by past recollections.83 — Hence he has the right & wrong in his mind.— Now we know it is easy by association to give /almost/ any taste to a young person, or it is accidentally acquired from some trifling circumstance.— Thus a child may be taught to think almost anything nasty (accidentally /by old association/ comes to this conclusion not owing to peculiarity of organ of taste, for when grown up often conquers it).84 It will be only rarely that it thinks that nasty, which the natural tastes say is good. Yet horseflesh shows that even this is possible.— So that there nice & nasty in taste, & right & wrong in action, so a child may be taught, or will acquire from seeing conduct of others, the feeling that almost (rarely if opposed to natural instincts) any action is either right or wrong.—

83. A marginal line by this sentence.

84. A marginal line by this sentence.



Hence what parents think will be good for the child on the long run, & for themselves & others (as the parents are instinctly benevolent) they will teach to be wrong or right; this teaching may be curiously modified by circumstances of country, so will the conscience in these cases.— Those instructions, which the child sees uniformly performed by the teachers & all around him, will be paramount, hence the law of honour.* & the etiquettes of Society— Anyone who will reflect must feel, how like to injured conscience, is the feeling of any custom of society broken.— & how far more acute the feeling really is.— all these associated /habitual/ feelings become like instinctive ones, which either lead to actions or not, as feeling of cowardice /this is not connected with sense/ instantaneous declaring it is right or wrong.— /[just as in taste of the mouth]CD/†

* The conscience rebukes malevolent feelings, as much as actions, therefore Sir J. M. talks too much about the contiguity to will.82

(a) The origin of passions too strong for our present interest receive simple explanation from origin of man.—

Feelings of the mind, whether leading to action or not, are the parts of our nature, subject to their instincts, & associations.— often feelings which do not lead to action are repressed Thus avarice &c &c.—

82. Mackintosh, 1837, op. cit., p. 199: "But volitions and actions are not themselves the end, or last object in view, of any other desire or aversion. Nothing stands between the moral sentiments and their object. They are, as it were, in contact with the will … Conscience may forbid the will to contribute to the gratification of a desire. No desire ever forbids will to obey conscience." [Darwin's underlines.] P. 201, "… man becomes happier, more excellent, more estimable, more venerable, in proportion as conscience acquires a power of banishing malevolent passions …"

P. 198, "The truth seems to be, that the moral sentiments in their mature state, are a class of feelings which have no other object but the mental dispositions leading to voluntary action, and the voluntary actions which flow from these dispositions." Darwin drew a line beside this passage, and made the following marginal notation, "How can cowardice, or avarice, or unfeelingness be said to be dispositions leading to action, yet conscience rebukes a man who allows another to drown without trying to save his life."



In the beginning I mentioned only three instincts,— * I am far from saying there are not more, or that the three are as simple as I have said.— the social instinct may be combined with feeling towards one as a leader.— the conjugal feeling may be directed towards one or more.— It will be hard to discover this, for the different races of man may have different instincts, as we see in dogs and pidgeons.— But as man is animal at head of series in which /special/ instincts decrease, I should think they were very few & general in their nature.— So that we have some it is sufficient to give rise to the feeling of right & wrong.— on which /almost/ any other might be grafted.—

Origin of the instincts

Hartley, (according to Sir J.) /p. 254, &c &c/ explains our love of another, as pleasure arising from association from having received benefits from this person.— But the love is instinctive, & how does it apply to mother loving child, from whom, she has never received any benefit.— Yet I think there is much truth in doctrine, for*



we can thus explain love of place.— although here we have not received pleasure from the place, but merely in the place.86 & yet place calls up pleasure.— This feeling seems to vary in races of man, & certainly in /species of/ animals in which case

* Sir J. M. gives different explanation of law of honour from Paley

† My theory of instincts, or hereditary habits fully explains the cementation of habits into instincts.

* Instinctive fear of death: of hoarding . . Ld Kames which Sir J. says is so ridiculous85

* the instinct of sociability & sociability, doubtless grow together

it undoubtedly is instinctive. But does not Hartley explanation apply perfectly to origin of these instincts.— the having received pleasure from some one /person/ in early infancy, during many generations giving love of mother: the having received some advantage from man during many generations giving the social feelings.— *

Although I cannot pretend to say how far & minutely our instincts extend, †yet as they are acquired by social animals, living under certain conditions, in this world, they will conform to the law can only be such, as are consistent with social animals, that is which have a beneficial tendency, (not to any one individual, but to the whole past race) I cannot no one doubts)

85. Mackintosh, 1837, op. cit., n. p. 255: "A very ingenious man, Lord Kames, whose works had a great effect in rousing the mind of his contemporaries and countrymen, has indeed fancied that there is a 'hoarding instinct' in man and other animals. But such conclusions are not so much objects of confutation, as ludicrous proofs of the absurdity of the premises which lead to them."



that the instincts of bees & beavers /deer/ have been formed a beneficial tendency to them as social animals of peculiar kinds social feelings, & living under certain conditions; by my theory they have been formed by the circumstances, which have led to the peculiarities, & hence must only that have which had a beneficial tendency during past races could become instinctive.— ‡

Better simply put it, beneficial tendency in every instinct to the species in which it occurs [or, more correctly /in which it/ has been so in some past time, hence passions]CD /although perhaps useful at present to some extent./ Hence this is the law of our instinctive feelings of right & wrong,— education of parents strives*

* According to my theory, all instincts demand some explanation

On Law of Utility Nothing but that which has beneficial tendency through many ages could be acquired, & we are certain from our reason, that all which (as we must admit) has been acquired, does possess the beneficial tendency)

‡ It is probable that becomes instinctive which is repeated under many generations (& under unknown conditions) (for pig will not so readily attain instinct of pointing as a dog.— also, age has much influence.) — & only that which is beneficial to race, will have reoccurred. NB. Until it can be shewn, what things easiest become instinctive, this part of argument fails, or rather is weak.—

* for it strives to give conduct beneficial to all the children,† (each himself) & parents, & hence to nearly all the world—


† Our tastes in mouth by my theory are due to habit hereditary habit (& modified & associated during lifetime), as in our moral taste.

p. 152 Reason can never lead to action.— 87

p. 164 Ld Shatsbury [i.e., Shaftsbury] under term of Reflex Sense seems to have compared perceived the comparison between our instinctive feelings & our short lived Passions.

State broadly in child or animal it is equally proper to obey anger as benevolence (but not cool malevolence). it only after reason comes into play that anger can be said to be wrong.— for then only is it perceived, that our passions are too strong for our instincts to gain long-lived good, ie happiness, yet this system not selfish.— explained by principles of Mackintosh.

p. 262 Some good remarks on analogy of pleasure of imagination /the utility part being blended & lost/ & moral sense— my theory explains both, perhaps, by habit— 89

87. Mackintosh, 1837, op. cit., p. 152: "Reason, as reason, can never be a motive to action."

88. Probably Eugenius; or, The Infidel Reclaimed, 2 vols., Dawson, Stockport, London, 1830, Vol. 1, p. 116: "He [i.e., man] receives hourly additional means of cultivating virtue, and of maturing moral excellence… ." Pp. 145–146: "When we connect education with matters of most consequence … morality … I am persuaded it imperiously demands to be soberly, scrupulously, and sedulously conducted."

89. Ibid., p. 261: "The sentiment of moral approbation, formed by association out of antecedent affections, may become so perfectly independent of them, that we are no longer conscious of the means by which it was formed, and never can in practice repeat, though we may in theory perceive, the process by which it was generated. It is in that mature and sound state of our nature that our emotions at the view of Right and Wrong are ascribed to Conscience." Darwin drew a vertical marginal line beside this passage, and wrote, "rather instinctive" in the margin.

P. 262: "The pleasures (so called) of Imagination appear, at least in most cases, to originate in association. But it is not till the original cause of the gratification is obliterated from the mind, that they acquire their proper character. Order and proportion may be at first chosen for their convenience: it is not until they are admired for their own sake that they become objects of taste."

As emotions change, from civilization, education changes, & probably likewise instincts, for the same law effects both.—

changes /in accordance to beneficial tendency/ will most readily effect the instincts, for they are in accordance with it. thus a dog may be trained to hunt one pig sooner than other, rather than change hunting instinct.

to same end.— & general actions of community must frequently teach same end.— Hence this becomes the law of right & wrong, though that part which is acquired by association from education & imitation, has often been perverted from want of reason.— Hence as Eugenius88 says, slow growth of rule of right.—



Whewells preface

It appears that Sir J. & others think there is distinct faculty of conscience.— I believe that certain feelings & actions are implanted in us, & that doing them gives pleasure & being prevented uneasiness, & that this is the feeling of right & wrong.— so far it has independent existence. & is supreme because it is a part of our nature which regulates our feelings steadily & not like an appetite & passion, which receive enjoyment from gratification & hence are forgotten— only so far do I admit its supremacy*

p. 37 Whewell gives Mackintosh's theory: the remarks about "contact with will" is unintelligible to me.— conscience regulates feelings, as of cowardice.— the whole appears to me rather rigmarole. — He does not say anything about any principles born in us.91— Great difference with my theory.— see p. 349— remark on this point.— *

* p. 194 &c. Butler's view given on conscience; I cannot admit it.— see notes by me.90

* p. 333 & 377 some remarks showing that instinct cannot be said to guide will, as bird building nest, but supplies it— instinctive feelings will doubtless lead to similar actions which in prior generations led to their formation.— N.B. feeling or emotion rises from hereditary action on body,— this feeling, when instinctive will lead to action.— the passion rising from weariness leads to striking blows.— 92

90. Ibid., p. 194: "This natural supremacy [of man in nature] belongs to the faculty which surveys, approves, or disapproves the several affections of our minds and actions of our lives. As self-love is superior to the private passions, so conscience is superior to the whole man. Passion implies nothing but an inclination to follow it; and in that respect passions differ only in force. But no notion can be formed of the principle of reflection, or conscience, which does not comprehend judgment, direction, superintendency. 'Authority over all other principles of action is a constituent part of the idea of conscience, and cannot be separated from it.'" N.B.: The quotation marks were added by Darwin in pencil, and in the margin beside this statement he wrote, "if so, my theory goes.— in child one sees pain & pleasure struggling." (This passage is in the Section on Butler.)

91. Ibid., p. 38: "According to [Mackintosh], the moral faculty consists of a class of desires and affections which have dispositions and volitions for their sole object … The moral sentiments are in contact with the will …" P. 36: "Man's soul at first, says Professor Sedgwick, is one unvaried blank, till it has received the impressions of external experience."

92. Ibid., p. 333: "[Mr. Dugald Stewart] considers the appearance of moral sentiment at an early age, before the general tendency of actions could be ascertained, as a decisive objection to the origin of these sentiments in association,—an objection which assumes that, if utility be the criterion of morality, associations with utility must be the mode by which the moral sentiments are formed, which no skilful advocate of the theory of association will ever allow. That the main, if not sole, object of conscience is to govern our voluntary exertions, is manifest. But how could it perform this great function if it did not impel the will? and how could it have the latter effect as a mere act of reason, or indeed in any respect otherwise than as it is made up of emotions, by which alone its grand aim could in any degree be attained? Judgment and reason are therefore preparatory to conscience, not properly a part of it." Darwin has drawn a marginal line beside this passage, and has written in the margin, "can the instinct of bird building nest be said to imply will.—" And at the bottom of the page he wrote, "yet emotions are results—are trains of thought firmly long associated with action." N.B.: Darwin underlined "impel the will" and "emotions."

Pp. 376–377: "But it may still be reasonably asked, why these useful qualities [pursuit of truth and knowledge for their own sake, without regard for power or fame] are morally improved, and how they become capable of being combined with those public and disinterested sentiments which principally constitute conscience? The answer is, because they are entirely conversant with volitions and voluntary actions, and in that respect resemble the other constituents of conscience, with which they are thereby fitted to mingle and coalesce." Darwin drew a marginal line beside this passage, and wrote, "Nonsense—similar association may be made with actions, involuntary, as — [CD's blank) & etiquettes of society broken unconsciously.—" And beside the following passage Darwin has a marginal line and a large question mark and two large exclamation marks: "All those sentiments of which the final object is a state of the will, become thus intimately and inseparably blended; and of that perfect state of solution … the result is Conscience—the judge and arbiter of human conduct; which though it does not supercede ordinary motives of virtuous feelings and habits, which are the ordinary motives of good actions, yet exercises a lawful authority even over them, and ought to blend with them."


p. 224 Hume's Inquiry— good abstract of Butler & arguments of beneficial tendency of affections.— If ever I write on these subjects consult following pages. p. 231 marked in my Mackintosh



Mackintosh's Ethical Philosophy

p. 6— "The pleasure which results when the object is attained (the gratification of one's offspring) is not the aim of the agent, for it does not enter into his contemplation"— Now Eugenius93 would contend against this— but the pleasure a dog has in obeying its instinct, as young pointer to point— clearly shows this is true.

p. 13— Affections cannot be analysed with "power" &c &c &c— & if termed "selfish," must be subclassed as "disinterested"94

p. 14 It is allowed, that we have conception of moral obligation /when grown up ? ? ?/ & the question is, whether this can be resolved into some operation of intellectual faculties95— Will Eugenius96 allow this moral obligation?

93. Eugenius, op. cit., Vol. 2, pp. 25–26: "I indulged intense contemplation of the distant but flattering prospect, till my ideas grew vivid, my passions warm, and borne on fancy's soaring pinions, I winged my way thither… . When nearly examined, however, the entrancing forms, so lately inspiring ecstasy, vanished, and left me in the blackness of total midnight."

94. Mackintosh, 1837, op. cit., p. 13: "The benevolent and family affections, and the desire of power, appear, then, to differ in some other way than in being modifications of the same elements; and, even if we choose … to call the latter class of principles selfish, the former must be arranged in a different group, which we cannot designate better than by calling them disinterested."

95. Ibid., p. 14: "It is allowed on all sides that we have a conception of moral obligation; and the question is, Whether this conception can be resolved into some operation of the intellectual faculties, as the perception of general utility; or whether, on the contrary, it is incapable of being thus resolved, and must properly be ascribed to a separate faculty." The insertion is Darwin's.

96. Eugenius, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 63: "… they [i.e., the early Christian martyrs] underwent evil usage, not on account of crimes, but for well-doing; as people instrumental in promoting the peace and happiness of rational intelligence …" P. 214: "[Hume] endeavours, in his treatise on morals, to abolish the distinction between virtue and vice—to annihilate the sense of right and wrong, inherent in the constitution of things, innate in the conscience of each rational being …"



[The improvement of the instinct of a sheperd dog, is strictly analogous to education of child,— causing many actions to be considered right & wrong,— to be associated with the approving or disapproving instinct— which were not originally, if the shepherd dog had no instinct to commence with scarcely possible to teach it— all dogs might be taught, but not cat, that is not act by gusto, though by fear it might be partly made.]CD

p. 21 "Why ought I to keep my word"97— gives the problem of ethics— [my answer would be to all such cases— either, that from the necessities /& good/ of society such conduct is instinctive in me (& as a consequence, but not cause gives me

97. Mackintosh, 1837, op. cit., p. 21: "[Paley] reduces moral obligation to two elements— external restraint, and the command of a superior. This attempt at an analysis of morality is singularly futile … external constraint annihilates the morality of the act, and the reference to a superior presupposes moral obligation … If Paley had stated his question … 'Why ought I to keep my word?' he would have had before him a problem more to the purpose of moral philosophy, and one to which his answer would have been palpably inapplicable."



pleasure) or that I have been taught or habituated to associatical, the emotions of this instinct, with that line of conduct, & if taught rightly, it will be for the general good, that is the same cause which gives the instinct.— ]CD

p. 22 says affections, desires, & moral sense all different.—

p. 22 Butler & Mackintosh characterize the moral sense by its "supremacy."98— I made its supremacy, solely due to greater duration of impression of social instincts, than other passions, or instincts.— is this good?— I should think some parts of the emotive part of man, may be quite artificial, as avarice love of gold.— love of fame— Yes Hartley explains this & Mackintosh shows the change produced—

98. Mackintosh, 1837, p. 22: "Thus, as we separate the affections from the desires, we distinguish the moral sense, or conscience, from both. Butler, and Mackintosh with him, express the relation of conscience to the other principles of action, by ascribing to it a supremacy, or a right of command."


p. 38) Conscience checks the wish to outward gratification, whilst no desire of gratification will check the consciences desire for virtue:— [I expect there is some fallacy here.— at least point of /false/ honour will stop all wish to gratify it anything contrary to it]CD NB. the very end of conscience is stop to wishes of passion &c. Whilst the passions have no relation I think this is nonsense— My theory of durableness will explain it.—

Would not the maternal affections (in a dog & therefore not instinct conscience) equally destroy all wish of outward gratification.— see what cases Mackintosh gives & try it.—



if so, it is perhaps deviation from the instinctive, right & wrong.— (animals excepting domesticated ones have no right & wrong except instinctive ones). Perhaps my theory of greater permanence of social instincts explains the feeling of right & wrong— arrived at first rationally by feeling— reasoned on, steps forgotten, habit formed,— & such habits carried on to other feelings, such as temperance, acquired by education.— In similar manner our desires become fixed to ambition, money, books &c. &c. ] the "secondary passion" of Hutcheson unfolded by D. Hartley.100

100. Mackintosh, 1837, pp. 251-252, in section on David Hartley, "[Mr. Gay] blames perhaps justly, that most ingenious man [Hutcheson], for assuming that these sentiments and affections are implanted, and partake of the nature of instincts …" "This precious mine may therefore be truly [be] said to have been opened by Hartley; for he who did such superabundant justice to the hints of Gay, would assuredly not have withheld the like tribute from Hutcheson, had he observed the happy expression of 'secondary passions'…"


p. 241

(1) Any action by habit may be thought wrong.— & conscience will imperiously say so, & produce shame & remorse99— [Thus pungency of one's feeling for indecency— preposterously so, for Marquesans think only of prepuce, crepitando,]CD & if passion makes one break these artificial rules, get remorse— ((hence desires do not intervene between this kind of conscience & the will, though this conscience does between the desires & will?)) (2) It is other question what it is desirable to be taught,— all are agreed general utility (3) It is other question whether any thing is taught instinctively; I say yes, & my explanation agrees with last head.— (4) It is other question, how the feeling of ought, shame, right & wrong comes into mind in first case— seeing how shame is accompanied by blushing, bears some relation to others

99. Mackintosh, 1837, p. 240, "For it is certain that in many, nay in most cases of moral approbation, the adult man approves the action or disposition merely as right, and with a distinct consciousness that no process of sympathy intervenes between the approval and its object." Darwin made a marginal line beside this passage, and at the bottom of the page wrote, "My whole question with the breaking mere rule of etiquette."

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