HAVE ANIMALS REASONING POWER?
Agassiz, in a recent lecture in Boston on the “Elephant,”
said: “It is a favourite saying that men are governed by reason,
animals by instinct; but I believe that is all wrong. There is no distinction
of kind between the two, but only of degree.
“As we come to higher animals, we find the brain larger in proportion
to the size of the body. But this does not prove a different kind of
activity of these parts, but only different intensity.
“Now let us see if there is any difference in the mode of action
of the brains of men and animals. Every sensation, to be felt, must
produce a reaction. All animals see, hear, taste, and smell as well
as we do; therefore, the reaction must be the same, and the operation,
as far as the body is concerned, is the same. Next, our perceptions
influence our actions through the operations of the mind; and in the
animals the same influence upon their actions is to be seen; here, again,
is perfect similarity. Although the difference of the intensity of these
actions may be great in different animals, yet the principle is the
The animals gratify their appetites, and so do we, and in the same
manner. For instance, everybody has seen dogs playing only for the pleasure
of playing, just as men often do. And what right have we to assume that
the motive which influences them is not the same as that influencing
us? Again, animals have memory, just as we have; and they can trace
the connection between cause and effect, and this is reason.
But I will go further; only mind can communicate with mind; and if
animals have no mind we could have no inter-course with them. Animals
can be trained, and this proves the existence of reason; a connection
seen between cause and effect. The means of training animals are the
same as those employed for training children; certain sounds are used
as signals. This supposes a perfect logical process, tracing the sequence
of effect from its cause.”