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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

20             Lord, What is Man ?

held that even a piece of gravel found in situ and left there
untouched, provided it is so left because it was deemed
suitable for a road which was designed to pass over the spot,
would become a tool in virtue of the recognition of its utility,
while a similar piece of gravel a yard ofi on either side the
proposed road would not be a tool.

The essence of a tool, therefore, lies in something outside
the tool itself. It is not in the head of the hammer, nor in
the handle, nor in the combination of the two that the essence
of mechanical characteristics exists, but in the recognition
of its utility and in the forces directed through it in virtue
of this recognition. This appears more plainly when we
reflect that a very complex machine, if intended for use by
children whose aim is not serious, ceases to rank in our
minds as a tool, and becomes a toy. It is seriousness of aim
and recognition of suitability for the achievement of that aim,
and not anything in the tool itself, that makes the tool.

The goodness or badness, again, of a tool depends not
upon anything within the tool as regarded without relation
to the user, but upon the ease or difficulty experienced by
the person using it in comparison with what he or others
of average capacity would experience if they had used a
tool of a different kind. Thus the same tool may be good
for one man and bad for another.

It seems to me that all tools resolve themselves into the
hammer and the lever, and that the lever is only an inverted
hammer, or the hammer only an inverted lever, whichever
one wills; so that all the problems of mechanics are present
to us in the simple stone which may be used as a hammer,
or in the stick that may be used as a lever, as much as in
the most complicated machine. These are the primordial
cells of mechanics. And an organ is only another name for
a tool.

Organs and Makeshifts

I have gone out sketching and forgotten my water-dipper;
among my traps I always find something that will do, for
example, the top of my tin case (for holding pencils). This
is how organs come to change their uses and hence their
forms, or at any rate partly how.