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Imitation, or the Mimetic Force in Nature and Human Nature

Nature volume 63, page 513 (28 March 1901) | Download Citation



THE canon of affirmative reasoning, which may be said to form the text of this book, is expressed by the author as follows:—“That which is true of a thing is probably true of its like; the degree of probability depending upon the extent and thoroughness of the resemblance.” This principle is applied to the reasoning employed in connection with such subjects as habit and instinct, psychology, physics and biology, and other branches of intellectual inquiry in the natural and spiritual worlds. It is the expression of the theory of imitation, which the author propounds “as a fundamental influence in human affairs and in the natural universe generally.” Many general facts of natural history lend themselves easily to this idea, and use is made of them. How the author does this, and shows that even wave motion is “essentially mimetic or imitative,” can be better read than described.

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