Automatism of Animals


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.”

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

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

Download citation


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.