Cosmic Consciousness - 3 - On the Plane of Self Consciousness
Sir Charles Lyell, in the "Antiquity of Man" , pointed out the parallelism which exists between the origin, growth, decline and death of languages and of species in the organic world. In order to illustrate and at the same time broaden the present argument let us extend the parallel backward to the formation of the worlds and forward to the evolution of words and concepts.
The accompanying table will serve this purpose as well as, or better then, an elaborately reasoned exposition, and will serve at the same time as a summary of the evolution argument which runs through this volume.
As regards the present thesis the conclusion to be drawn from this comparison is that words, and that therefore the constituent elements of the intellect which they represent and which we call concepts, grow by division and branching, as new species branch off from older, and it seems clear that a normal growth is encouraged and an excessive and useless development checked by the same means in the one case as in the other-that is, by natural selection and the struggle for existence.
New concepts, and words expressing them, which correspond with some external reality (whether this is a thing, an act, state, or a relation0, and which are therefore of use to man, since their existence places him in more complete relation with the outer world, on which relation his life and welfare depend, are preserved by the process of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Some again which either do not correspond at all, or only imperfectly, with an objective reality are replaced by others which do correspond or correspond better with the reality which these aimed to express, and so in the struggle for existence fall into disguise and die out.
The idiom of nomads, as Grimm says, contain an abundant wealth of manifold expressions for sword and weapons, and for the different stages in the life of cattle. In a more highly cultivated language these expressions become burthensome and superfluous. But in a peasant's mouth the bearing, calving, falling and killing of almost every animal has its own peculiar term, as the sportman delights in calling the gait members of game by different names.
Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: A study in the Evolution of the Human Mind; Richard Maurice Bucke
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