Automatism of Animals

Abstract

PROF. HUXLEY's most interesting address published in NATURE, vol. x. p. 362, seems to me to involve some difficulty, which I take the liberty to state, though well aware that I am stepping on slippery ground. I allude to this passage:—“Suppose I had a frog placed in my hand, and that I could make it, by turning my hand, perform this balancing movement. If the frog were a philosopher he might reason thus: ‘I feel myself uncomfortable and slipping, and feeling myself uncomfortable I put my legs out to save myself. Knowing that I shall tumble if I do not put them further, I put them further still, and my volition brings about all these beautiful adjustments which result in my sitting safely.’ But if the frog so reasoned he would be entirely mistaken, for the frog does the thing just as well when he has no reason, no sensation, no possibility of thought of any kind.”

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WETTERHAN, I. Automatism of Animals. Nature 10, 438 (1874) doi:10.1038/010438d0

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