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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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Mind and Matter                 79

or dynamical condition and feeling the passage from one
state into the other.

Feeling is an art and, like any other art, can be acquired
by taking pains. The analogy between feelings and words
is very close. Both have their foundation in volition and
deal largely in convention ; as we should not be word-ridden
so neither should we be feeling-ridden ; feelings can deceive
us; they can lie; they can be used in a non-natural, arti-
ficial sense ; they can be forced ; they can carry us away;
they can be restrained.

When the surroundings are familiar, we know the right
feeling and feel it accordingly, or if " we " (that is the central
government of our personality) do not feel it, the subordinate
departmental personality, whose business it is, feels it in the
usual way and then goes on to something else. When the
surroundings are less familiar and the departmental person-
ality cannot deal with them, the position is reported through
the nervous system to the central government which is fre-
quently at a loss to know what feeling to apply. Sometimes
it happens to discern the right feeling and apply it, some-
times it hits upon an inappropriate one and is thus induced
to proceed from solecism to solecism till the consequences
lead to a crisis from which we recover and which, then be-
coming a leading case, forms one of the decisions on which
our future action is based. Sometimes it applies a feeling
that is too inappropriate, as when the position is too horribly
novel for us to have had any experience that can guide the
central government in knowing how to feel about it, and this
results in a cessation of the effort involved in trying to feel.
Hence we may hope that the most horrible apparent suffering
is not felt beyond a certain point, but is passed through un-
consciously under a natural, automatic anaesthetic—the
unconsciousness, in extreme cases, leading to death.

It is generally held that animals feel; it will soon be
generally held that plants feel; after that it will be held
that stones also can feel. For, as no matter is so organic
that there is not some of the inorganic in it, so, also, no
matter is so inorganic that there is not some of the organic
in it. We know that we have nerves and that we feel, it
does not follow that other things do not feel because they
have no nerves—it only follows that they do not feel as we