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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Lord, What is Man ?             19

end is inseparable from a tool. The very essence of a tool
is the being an instrument for the achievement of a purpose.
We say that a man is the tool of another, meaning that
he is being used for the furtherance of that other's ends,
and this constitutes him a machine in use. Therefore the
word " tool " implies also the existence of a living, intelligent
being capable of desiring the end for which the tool is used,
for this is involved in the idea of a desired end. And as few
tools grow naturally fit for use (for even a stick or a fuller's
teasel must be cut from their places and modified to some
extent before they can be called tools), the word "tool"
implies not only a purpose and a purposer, but a purposer
who can see in what manner his purpose can be achieved,
and who can contrive (or find ready-made and fetch and
employ) the tool which shall achieve it.

Strictly speaking, nothing is a tool unless during actual
use. Nevertheless, if a thing has been made for the express
purpose of being used as a tool it is commonly called a tool,
whether it is in actual use or no. Thus hammers, chisels,
etc., are called tools, though lying idle in a tool-box. What
is meant is that, though not actually being used as instru-
ments at the present moment, they bear the impress of their
object, and are so often in use that we may speak of them
as though they always were so. Strictly, a thing is a tool
or not a tool just as it may happen to be in use or not. Thus
a stone may be picked up and used to hammer a nail with,
but the stone is not a tool until picked up with an eye to
use; it is a tool as soon as this happens, and, if thrown away
immediately the nail has been driven home, the stone is
a tool no longer. We see, therefore, matter alternating
between a toolish or organic state and an untoolish or in-
organic. Where there is intention it is organic, where there
is no intention it is inorganic. Perhaps, however, the word
" tool" should cover also the remains of a tool so long as
there are manifest signs that the object was a tool once.

The simplest tool I can think of is a piece of gravel used
for making a road. Nothing is done to it, it owes its being
a tool simply to the fact that it subserves a purpose. A
broken piece of granite used for macadamising a road is
a more complex instrument, about the toolishness of which
no doubt can be entertained. It will, however, I think, be