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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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60             Memory and Design

Personal Identity

We are so far identical with our ancestors and our con-
temporaries that it is very rarely we can see anything that
they do not see. It is not unjust that the sins of the fathers
should be visited upon the children, for the children com-
mitted the sins when in the persons of their fathers ; they
ate the sour grapes before they were born : true, they have
forgotten the pleasure now, but so has a man with a sick
headache forgotten the pleasure of getting drunk the night


Our sensations are only distinguishable because we feel
them in different places and at different times. If we feel
them at very nearly the same time and place we cannot
distinguish them.

Cobwebs in the Dark

If you walk at night and your face comes up against a
spider's web woven across the road, what a shock that thin
line gives you ! You fristle through every nerve of your

Shocks and Memory

Memory is our sense that we are being shocked now as we
were shocked then.


Given matter conscious in one part of itself of a shock in
another part (i.e. knowing in what part of itself it is shocked)
retaining a memory of each shock for a little while after-
wards, able to feel whether two shocks are simultaneous or
in succession, and able to know whether it has been shocked
much or little—given also that association does not stick to
the letter of its bond—and the rest will follow.



There is often connection but no design, as when I stamp
my foot with design and shake something down without