II.-Imitative Rites and the Principle of Causality
BUT the processes which we have just been describing are not the only ones employed to assure the fecundity of the totemic species. There are others which serve for the same end, whether they accompany the preceding ones or replace them.
In the very ceremonies which we have been describing, in addition to the oblations, whether bloody or otherwise, there are other rites which are frequently celebrated, whose object is to complete the former ones and to consolidate their effects. They consist in movements and cries whose object is to imitate the different attitudes and aspects of the animal whose reproduction is desired; therefore, we shall call them imitative.
Thus the Intichiuma of the Witchetty grub among the Arunta includes more than the rites performed upon the sacred rocks, of which we have already spoken. When these are finished, the men set out to return to camp; but when they still are about a mile away, they halt and all decorate themselves ritually;
after this, the march is resumed. The decorations with which they thus adorn themselves announce that an important ceremony is going to take place. And, in fact, while the company was absent, one of the old men who had been left to guard the camp had built a shelter out of branches, called Umbana, which represented the chrysalis out of which the insect comes. All of those who had taken part in the previous ceremonies assemble near the spot where this construction has been raised; then they advance slowly, stopping from time to time, until they reach the Umbana, which they enter. At once all the men who do not belong to the phratry of the Witchetty grub totem, and who assist at the scene, though from a distance, lie down on the ground, with their faces against the earth; they must remain in this position without moving until they are allowed to get up
again. Meanwhile, a chant arises from the interior of the Umbana, which describes the different phases through which the animal passes in the course of its development, and the myths of which the sacred rocks are the subject. When this hymn ceases, the Alatunja glides out of the Umbana, though remaining in a squatting position, and advances slowly over the ground before him; he is followed by all his companions who reproduce gestures whose evident object is to represent the insect as it leaves the chrysalis. Also, a hymn which is heard at just this moment and which is like an oral commentary on the rite, consists in a description of the movements made by the insect at this stage of its development.1
Another Intichiuma, 2 celebrated in connection with another kind of grub, the unchalka3 grub, has this character still more clearly. The actors of this rite decorate themselves with designs representing the unchalka bush upon which this grub lives at the beginning of its existence. Then they cover a buckler with concentric circles of down, representing another kind of bush upon which the insect lays its eggs when it has become adult. When all these preparations are finished, they all sit down on the ground in a semicircle facing the principal officiant. He alternately bends his body double by leaning towards the ground and then rises on his knees; at the same time, he shakes his stretched-out arms, which is a way of representing the wings of the insect. From time to time, he leans over the buckler, imitating the way in which the butterfly flies over the trees where it lays its eggs. When this ceremony is finished, another commences at a different spot, to which they go in silence. This time they use two bucklers. Upon one the tracks of the grub are represented by zigzag lines; upon the other, concentric circles of uneven dimensions represent the eggs of the insect and the seed of the Eremophile bush, upon which it is nourished. As in the former ceremony, they all sit down in silence while the officiant acts, representing the movements of the animal when leaving its chrysalis and taking its first flight.
Spencer and Gillen also point out certain analogous facts among the Arunta, though these are of a minor importance: in the Intichiuma of the Emu, for example, at a certain moment the actors try to reproduce by their attitude the air and aspect of this bird ; 4 in the Intichiuma of water, the men of the totem
utter the characteristic cry of the plover, a cry which is naturally associated in the mind with the rainy season.1 But in all, the examples of imitative rites which these two explorers have noted are rather few in number. However, it is certain that their relative silence on this point is due either to their not having observed the Intichiuma sufficiently or else to their having neglected this side of the ceremonies. Schuize, on the other hand, has been struck by the essentially imitative nature of the Arunta rites. "The sacred corrobbori," he says, "are generally ceremonies representing animals": he calls them animal tjurunga2 and his testimony is now confirmed by the documents collected by Strehlow. The examples given by this latter author are so numerous that it is impossible to cite them all: there are scarcely any ceremonies in which some imitating gesture is not pointed out. According to the nature of the animals whose feast is celebrated, they jump after the manner of kangaroos, or imitate the movements they make in eating, the flight of winged ants, the characteristic noise of the bat, the cry of the wild turkey, the hissing of the snake, the croaking of the frog, etc.3 When the totem is a plant, they make the gesture of plucking it, 4 or eating it, 5 etc.
Among the Warramunga, the Intichiuma generally takes a special form, which we shall describe in the next chapter and which differs from those which we have studied up to the present. However, there is one typical case of a purely imitative Intichiuma among this people; it is that of the black cockatoo. The ceremony described by Spencer and Gillen commenced at ten o'clock in the evening. All night long the chief of the clan imitated the cry of the bird with a disheartening monotony. He stopped only when he had come to the end of his force, and then his son replaced him; then he commenced again as soon as he felt a little refreshed. These exhausting exercises continued until morning without interruption.6
Living beings are not the only ones which they try to imitate. In a large number of tribes, the Intichiuma of rain consists essentially in imitative rites. One of the most simple of these is that celebrated among the Arabunna. The chief of the clan is seated on the ground, all covered with white down and holding a lance in his hands. He shakes himself, undoubtedly in order to detach from his body the down which is fixed there and which represents clouds when scattered about in the air. Thus he imitates the men-clouds of the Alcheringa who, according to
the legend, had the habit of ascending to heaven and forming clouds there, from which the rain then fell. In a word, the object of the whole rite is to represent the formation and ascension of clouds, the bringers of rain.1
The ceremony is much more complicated among the Kaitish. We have already spoken of one of the means employed: the officiant pours water over the sacred stones and himself. But the action of this sort of oblation is reinforced by other rites. The rainbow is considered to have a close connection with rain: they say that it is its son and that it is always urged to appear to make the rain stop. To make the rain fall, it is therefore necessary that it should not appear; they believe that this result can be obtained in the following manner. A design representing a rainbow is made upon a buckler. They carry this buckler to camp, taking care to keep it hidden from all eyes. They are convinced that by making this image of the rainbow invisible, they keep the rainbow itself from appearing. Meanwhile, the chief of the clan, having beside him a -pitchi full of water, throws in all directions flakes of down which represent clouds. Repeated imitations of the cry of the plover complete this ceremony, which seems to have an especial gravity; for as long as it lasts, all those who participate in it, either as actors or assistants, may have no relations whatsoever with their wives; they may not even speak to them.2
The processes of figuration are different among the Dieri. Rain is not represented by water, but by blood, which the men cause to flow from their veins on to the assistants.3 At the same time they throw handfuls of white down about, which represent clouds. A hut has been constructed previously, in which they now place two large stones representing piles of clouds, a sign of rain. After they have been left there for a little while, they are carried a little distance away and placed as high as possible in the loftiest tree to be found; this is a way of making the clouds mount into the sky. Powdered gypsum is then thrown into a water-hole, for when he sees this, the rain spirit soon makes the clouds appear. Finally all the men, voung and old, assemble around the hut and with heads lowered, they charge upon it; they rush violently through it, repeating the operation several times, until nothing remains of the whole construction except
the supporting posts. Then they fall upon these and shake and pull at them until the whole thing has tumbled down. The operation consisting in running through the hut is supposed to represent clouds bursting; the tumbling down of the construction, the fall of rain.1
In the north-western tribes studied by Clement, 2 which occupy the district included between the Fontescue and Fitzroy rivers, certain ceremonies are celebrated whose object is exactly the same as that of the Intichiuma of the Arunta, and which seem to be, for the most part, essentially imitative.
These peoples give the name tarlow to certain piles of stones which are evidently sacred, for, as we shall see, they are the object of important rites. Every animal, every plant, and in fact, every totem or sub-totem, 3 is represented by a tarlow which a special clan4 guards. The analogy between these tarlow and the sacred rocks of the Arunta is easily seen.
When kangaroos, for example, become rare, the chief of the clan to which the tarlow of the kangaroo belongs goes to it with a certain number of companions. Here various rites are performed, the chief of which consist in jumping around the tarlow as kangaroos jump, in drinking as they drink and, in a word, in imitating all their most characteristic movements. The weapons used in hunting the animal have an important part in these rites. They brandish them, throw them against the stones, etc. When they are concerned for emus, they go to the tarlow of the emu, and walk and run as these birds do. The skill which the natives show in these imitations is, as it appears, really remarkable.
Other tarlow are consecrated to plants, such as the cereals. In this case, they imitate the actions of threshing and grinding the grain. Since in ordinary life it is the women who are normally charged with these tasks, it is also they who perform the rite, in the midst of songs and dances.
All these rites belong to the same type. The principle upon which they rest is one of those at the basis of what is commonly and incorrectly called sympathetic5 magic.
These principles are ordinarily reduced to two.1 The first may be stated thus: anything touching an object also touches everything which has any relation of -proximity or unity whatsoever with this object. Thus, whatever affects the part also affects the whole; any action exercised over an individual is transmitted to his neighbours, relatives and all those to whom he is united in any way. All these cases are simple applications of the law of contagion, which we have already studied. A condition or a good or bad quality are communicated contagiously from one subject to another who has some connection with the former. The second principle is ordinarily summed up in the formula: like produces like. The representation of a being or condition produces this being or condition. This is the maxim which brings about the rites which we have just been describing, and it is in them that we can best observe its characteristics. The classical example of the magic charm, which is ordinarily given as the typical application of this same precept, is much less significant. The charm is, to a large extent, a simple phenomenon of transfer. The idea of ??the image is associated in the mind with that of the model; consequently the effects of an action performed upon a statue are transmitted contagiously to the person whose traits it reproduces. The function of the image is for its original what that of a part is for the whole: it is an agent of transmission. Therefore men think that they can obtain the same result by burning the hair of the person whom they wish to injure: the only difference between these two sorts of operations is that in one, the communication is made through similarity, while in the other it is by means of contiguity. It is different with the rites which concern us. They suppose not only the displacement of a given condition or quality, which passes from one object into the other, but also the creation of something entirely new. The mere act of representing the animal gives birth to this animal and creates it; by imitating the sound of wind or falling water, they cause clouds to form, rain to fall, etc. Of course resemblance plays an important part in each case, but not at all the same one. In a charm, it only gives a special direction to the action exercised; it directs in a certain way an action not originating in it. In the rites of which we have just been speaking, it acts by itself and is directly efficacious. So, in contradiction to the usual definitions, the real difference between the two principles of the so-called sympathetic magic and the corresponding practices is not that
it is contiguity acts in one case and resemblance in the other, but that in the former there is a simple contagious communication, while there is production and creation in the latter.1
The explanation of imitative rites therefore implies the explanation of the second of these principles, and reciprocally.
We shall not tarry long to discuss the explanation proposed by the anthropological school, and especially by Tyior and Frazer. Just as in their attempts to account for the contagious-ness of a sacred character, they invoke the association of ideas. "Homoeopathic magic," says Frazer, who prefers this expression to imitative magic, "is founded on the association of ideas by similarity; contagious magic is founded on the association of ideas by contiguity. Homoeopathic magic commits the mistake of assuming that things which resemble each other are the same. "2 But this is a misunderstanding of the special nature of the practices under discussion. On the one hand, the formula of F ^ razer may be applied with some fitness to the case of charms; 3 here, in fact, two distinct things are associated with each other, owing to their partial resemblance: these are the image and the model which it represents more or less systematically. But in the imitative rites, which we have just been observing, the image alone is given; as for the model, it does not exist, for the new generation of the totemic species is as yet only a hope and even an uncertain hope at that. So there could be no question of association, whether correct or not; there is a real creation, and we can not see how the association of ideas could possibly lead to a belief in this creation. How could the mere act of representing the movements of an animal bring about the certitude that this animal will be born, and born in abundance?
The general properties of human nature can not explain such special practices. So instead of considering the principle upon which they rest in its general and abstract form, let us replace it in the environment of which it is a part and where we have been observing it, and let us connect it with the system of ideas and sentiments which the above rites put into practice, and then we shall be better able to perceive the causes from which it results.
The men who assemble on the occasion of these rites believe that they are really animals or plants of the species whose name
they bear. They feel within them an animal or vegetable nature, and in their eyes, this is what constitutes whatever is the most essential and the most excellent in them. So when thev assemble, their first movement ought to be to show each other this quality v / hich they attribute to themselves and by which they are denned. The totem is their rallying sign; for this reason, as we have seen, they design it upon their bodies; but it is no less natural that they should seek to resemble it in their gestures, their cries, their attitude. Since they are emus or kangaroos, they comport themselves like the animals of the same name. By this means, they mutually show one another that they are all members of the same moral community and they become conscious of the kinship uniting them. The rite does not limit itself to expressing this kinship; it makes it or remakes it. For it exists only in so far as it is believed in, and the effect of all these collective demonstrations is to support the beliefs upon which they are founded. Therefore, these leaps, these cries and these movements of every sort, though bizarre and grotesque in appearance, really have a profound and human meaning. The Australian seeks to resemble his totem just as the faithful in more advanced religions seek to resemble their God. For the one as for the other, this is a means of communicating with the sacred being, that is to say, with the collective ideal which this latter symbolizes. This is an early form of the á / õîíâî÷? òþ Qew.
However, as this first reason is connected with the most specialized portions of the totemic beliefs, the principle by which like produces like should not have survived totemism, if this had been the only one in operation. Now there is probably no religion in which rites derived from it are not found. So another reason must co-operate with this first one.
And, in fact, the ceremonies where we have seen it applied do not merely have the very general object which we have just mentioned, howsoever essential this may be; they also aim at a more immediate and more conscious end, which is the assurance of the reproduction of the totemic species. The idea of ??this necessary reproduction haunts the minds of the worshippers: upon it the forces of their attention and will are concentrated. Now a single preoccupation can not possess a group of men to this point without being externalized in a material form. Since all think of the animal or plant to whose destinies the clan is united, it is inevitable that this common thought should not be manifested outwardly by gestures, 1 and those naturally designated for this office are those which represent this animal or plant in one of its most characteristic attitudes; there are no other movements
so close to the idea filling every mind, for these are an immediate and almost automatic translation of it. So they make themselves imitate the animal; they cry like it, they jump like it; they reproduce the scenes in which they make daily use of the plant. All these ways of representation are just so many means of ostensibly showing the end towards which all minds are directed, of telling the thing which they wish to realize, of calling it up and of evoking it. And this need belongs to no one time, nor does it depend upon the beliefs of any special religion; it is essentially human. This is why, even in religions very far removed from those we have been studying, the worshippers, when assembled to ask their gods for some event which they ardently desire, are forced to figure it. Of course, the word is also a way of expressing it; but the gesture is no less natural; it bursts out from the organism just as spontaneously; it even precedes the word, or, in any case, accompanies it.
But if we can thus understand how the gestures acquired a place in the ceremony, we still must explain the efficacy attributed to them. If the Australian repeats them regularly each new season, it is because he believes them essential to the success of the rite. Where could he have gotten the idea that by imitating an animal, one causes it to reproduce?
So manifest an error seems hardly intelligible so long as we see in the rite only the material end towards which it seems to aim. But we know that in addition to the effect which it is thought to have on the totemic species, it also exercises a profound influence over the souls of the worshippers who take part in it. They take away with them a feeling of well-being, whose causes they can not clearly see, but which is well founded. They feel that the ceremony is good for them; and, as a matter of fact, they reforge their moral nature in it. How could this sort of well-being fail to give them a feeling that the rite has succeeded, that it has been what it set out to be, and that it has attained the ends at which it was aimed? As the only end which was consciously sought was the reproduction of the totemic species, this seems to be assured by the means employed, the efficacy of which is thus proven. Thus it comes about that men attribute creative virtues to their gestures, which in themselves are vain. The moral efficacy of the rite, which is real, leads to the belief in its physical efficacy, which is imaginary; that of the whole, to the belief in that of each part by itself. The truly useful effects produced by the whole ceremony are like an experimental justification of the elementary practices out of which it is made, though in reality, all these practices are in no way indispensable to its success. A certain proof, moreover, that they do not act
by themselves is that they may be replaced by others, of a very different nature, without any modification of the final result. It appears that there are Intichiuma which include only oblations, with no imitative rites; others are purely imitative, and include no oblations. However, both are believed to have the same efficacy. So if a price is attached to these various manoeuvres, it is not because of their intrinsic value, but because they are a part of a complex rite, whose utility as a whole is realized.
We are able to understand this state of mind all the easier because we can still observe it about us. Especially among the most cultivated peoples and environments, we frequently meet with believers who, though having doubts as to the special efficacy attributed by dogma to each rite considered separately, still continue to participate in the cult. They are not sure that the details of the prescribed observances are rationally justifiable; but they feel that it would be impossible to free oneself of them without falling into a moral confusion before which they recoil. The very fact that in them the faith has lost its intellectual foundations throws into eminence the profound reasons upon which they rest. This is why the easy criticisms to which an unduly simple rationalism has sometimes submitted ritual prescriptions generally leave the believer indifferent: it is because the true justification of religious practices does not lie in the apparent ends which they pursue, but rather in the invisible action which they exercise over the mind and in the way in which they affect our mental status. Likewise, when preachers undertake to convince, they devote much less attention to establishing directly and by methodical proofs the truth of any particular proposition or the utility of such and such an observance, than to awakening or reawakening the sentiment of the moral comfort attained by the regular celebration of the cult. Thus they create a predisposition to belief, which precedes proofs, which leads the mind to overlook the insufficiency of the logical reasons, and which thus prepares it for the proposition whose acceptance is desired. This favourable prejudice, this impulse towards believing, is just what constitutes faith; and it is faith which makes the authority of the rites, according to the believer, whoever he may be, Christian or Australian. The only superiority of tlie former is that he better accounts for the psychological process from which his faith results; he knows that "it is faith that saves."
It is because faith has this origin that it is, in a sense, "impermeable to experience." 1 If the intermittent failures of the Intichiuma do not shake the confidence of the Australian in his
rite, it is because he holds with all the strength of his soul to these practices in which he periodically recreates himself; he could not deny their principle without causing an upheaval of his own being, which resists. But howsoever great this force of resistance may be, it can not radically distinguish religious mentality from the other forms of human mentality, even those which are the most habitually opposed to it. In this connection, that of a scholar differs from the preceding only in degree. When a scientific law has the authority of numerous and varied experiments, it is against all method to renounce it too quickly upon the discovery of a fact which seems to contradict it. It is still necessary to make sure that the fact does not allow of a single interpretation, and that it is impossible to account for it, without abandoning the proposition which it seems to invalidate. Now the Australian does not proceed otherwise when he attributes the failure of the Intichiuma to some sorcery, or the abundance of a premature crop to a mystic Intichiuma celebrated in the beyond. He has all the more reason for not doubting his rite on the belief in a contrary fact, since its value is, or seems to be, established by a larger number of harmonizing facts. In the first place, the moral efficacy of the ceremony is real and is felt directly by all who participate in it; there is a constantly renewed experience in it, whose importance no contradictory experience can diminish. Also, the physical efficacy itself is not unable to find an at least apparent confirmation in the data of objective observation. As a matter of fact, the totemic species normally does reproduce regularly; so in the great majority of cases, everything happens just as if the ritual gestures really did produce the effects expected of them. Failures are the exception. As the rites, and especially those which are periodical, demand nothing more of nature than that it follow its ordinary course, it is not surprising that it should generally have the air of obeying them. So if the believer shows himself indocile to certain lessons of experience, he does so because of other experiences which seem more demonstrative. The scholar does not do otherwise; only he introduces more method.
So magic is not, as Frazer has held, 1 an original fact, of which religion is only a derived form. Quite on the contrary, it was under the influence of religious ideas that the precepts upon which the art of the magician is based were established, and it was only through a secondary extension that they were applied to purely lay relations. Since all the forces of the universe have been conceived on the model of the sacred forces, the
contagiousness inherent in the second was extended to the first, and men have believed that all the properties of a body could be transmitted contagiously. Likewise, when the principle according to which like produces like had been established, in order to satisfy certain religious needs, it detached itself from its ritual origins to become, through a sort of spontaneous generalization, a law of nature.1 But in order to understand these fundamental axioms of magic, they must be replaced in the religious atmosphere in which they arose and which alone enables us to account for them. When we regard them as the work of isolated individuals or solitary magicians, we ask how they could ever have occurred to the mind of man, for nothing in experience could either suggest or verify them; and especially we do not explain how so deceiving an art has been able to impose itself for so long a time in the confidence of men. But this problem disappears when we realize that the faith inspired by magic is only a particular case of religious faith in general, and that it is itself the product, at least indirectly, of a collective effervescence. This is as much as to say that the use of the expression sympathetic magic to designate the system of rites which we have just been speaking is not very exact. There are sympathetic rites, but they are not peculiar to magic; not only are they to be found in religion, but it was from religion that magic received them. So we only risk confusion when, by the name we give them, we have the air of making them something which is specifically magic.
The results of our analysis thus attach themselves to and and confirm those attained by MM. Hubert and Mauss when they studied magic directly.2 They have shown that this is nothing more nor less than crude industry based on incomplete science. Behind the mechanisms, purely laical in appearance, which are used by the magician, they point out a background of religious conceptions and a whole world of forces, the idea of ??which has been taken by magic from religion. We are now able to understand how it comes that magic is so full of religious elements: it is because it was born of religion.
But the principle which has just been set forth does not merely have a function in the ritual; it is of direct interest for the theory
of knowledge. In fact, it is a concrete statement of the law of causality and, in all probability, one of the most primitive statements of it which has ever existed. A full conception of the causal relation is implied in the power thus attributed to the like to produce the like; and this conception dominates primitive thought, for it is the basis both of the practices of the cult and the technique of the magician. So the origins of the precept upon which the imitative rites depend are able to clarify those of the principle of causality. The genesis of one should aid us in understanding the genesis of the other. Now we have shown how the former is a product of social causes: it was elaborated by groups having collective ends in view, and it translates collective sentiments. So we may assume that the same is true for the second.
In fact, an analysis of the principle of causality is sufficient to assure us that the diverse elements of which it is composed really did have this origin.
The first thing which is implied in the notion of the causal relation is the idea of ??efficacy, of productive power, of active force. By cause we ordinarily mean something capable of producing a certain change. The cause is the force before it has shown the power which is in it; the effect is this same power, only actualized. Men have always thought of causality in dynamic terms. Of course certain philosophers had refused all objective value to this conception; they see in it only an arbitrary construction of the imagination, which corresponds to nothing in the things themselves. But, at present, we have no need of asking whether it is founded in reality or not; it is enough for us to state that it exists and that it constitutes and always has constituted an element of ordinary mentality; and this is recognized even by those who criticize it. Our immediate purpose is to seek, not what it may be worth logically, but how it is to be explained.
Now it depends upon social causes. Our analysis of facts has already enabled us to see that the prototype of the idea of ??force was the mana, wakan, orenda, the totemic principle or any of the various names given to collective force objectified and projected into things.1 The first power which men have thought of as such seems to have-been that exercised by humanity over its members. Thus reason confirms the results of observation; in fact, it is even possible to show why this notion of power, efficacy or active force could not have come from any other source.
In the first place, it is evident and recognized by all that it could not be furnished to us by external experience. Our senses
only enable us to perceive phenomena which coexist or which follow one another, but nothing perceived by them could give us the idea of ??this determining and compelling action which is characteristic of what we call a power or force. They can touch only realized and known conditions, each separate from the others; the internal process uniting these conditions escapes them. Nothing that we learn could possibly suggest to us the idea of ??what an influence or efficaciousness is. It is for this very reason that the philosophers of empiricism have regarded tlicse different conceptions as so many mythological aberrations. But even supposing that they all arc hallucinations, it is still necessary to show how they originated.
If external experience counts for nothing in the origin of these ideas, and it is equally inadmissible that they were given us ready-made, one might suppose that they come from internal experience. In fact, the notion of force obviously includes many spiritual elements which could only have been taken from our psychic life.
Some have believed that the act by which our will brings a deliberation to a close, restrains our impulses and commands our organism, might have served as the model of this construction. In willing, it is said, we perceive ourselves directly as a power in action. So when this idea had once occurred to men, it seems that they only had to extend it to things to establish the conception of force.
As long as the animist theory passed as a demonstrated truth, this explanation was able to appear to be confirmed by history. If the forces with which human thought primitively populated the world really had been spirits, that is to say, personal and conscious beings more or less similar to men, it was actually possible to believe that our individual experience was enough to furnish us with the constituent elements of the notion of force. But we know that the first forces which men imagined were, on the contrary, anonymous, vague and diffused powers which resemble cosmic forces in their impersonality, and which are therefore most sharply contrasted with the eminently personal power, the human will. So it is impossible that they should have been conceived in its image.
Moreover, there is one essential characteristic of the impersonal forces which would be inexplicable under this hypothesis: this is their communicability. The forces of nature have always been thought of as capable of passing from one object to another, of mixing, combining and transforming themselves into one another. It is even this property which gives them their value as an explanation, for it is through this that effects can be
connected with their causes without a break of continuity. Now the self has just the opposite characteristic: it is incommunicable. It can not change its material substratum or spread from one to another; it spreads out in metaphor only. So the way in which it decides and executes its decisions could never have suggested the idea of ??an energy which communicates itself and which can even confound itself with others and, through these combinations and mixings, give rise to new effects.
Therefore, the idea of ??force, as implied in the conception of the causal relation, must present a double character. In the first place, it can come only from our internal experience; the only forces which we can directly learn about are necessarily moral forces. But, at the same time, they mast be impersonal, for the notion of an impersonal power was the first to be constituted. Now the only ones which satisfy these two conditions are those coming from life together: they are collective forces. In fact, these are, on the one hand, entirely psychical; they are made up exclusively of objectified ideas and sentiments. But, on the other hand, they are impersonal by definition, for they are the product of a co-operation. Being the work of all, they are not the possession of anybody in particular. They are so slightly attached to the personalities of the subjects in whom they reside that they are never fixed there. Just as they enter them from without, they are also always ready to leave them. Of themselves, they tend to spread further and further and to invade ever new domains: we know that there are none more contagious, and consequently more communicable. Of course physical forces have the same property, but we can not know this directly; we can not even become acquainted with them as such, for they are outside us. When I throw myself against an obstacle, I have a sensation of hindrance and trouble; but the force causing this sensation is not in me, but in the obstacle, and is consequently outside the circle of my perception. We perceive its effects, but we can not reach the cause itself. It is otherwise with social forces: they are a part of our internal life, as we know, more than the products of their action; we see them acting. The force isolating the sacred being and holding profane beings at a distance is not really in this being; it lives in the minds of the believers. So they perceive it at the very moment when it is acting upon their wills, to inhibit certain movements or command others. In a word, this constraining and necessitating action, which escapes us when coming from an external object, is readily perceptible here because everything is inside us. Of course we do not always interpret it in an adequate manner, but at least we can not fail to be conscious of it.
Moreover, the idea of ??force bears the mark of its origin in an apparent way. In fact, it implies the idea of ??power which, in its turn, does not come without those of ascendancy, mastership and domination, and their corollaries, dependence and subordination; now the relations expressed by all these ideas are eminently social. It is society which classifies beings into superiors and inferiors, into commanding masters and obeying servants; it is society which confers upon the former the singular property which makes the command efficacious and which makes power. So everything tends to prove that the first powers of which the human mind had any idea were those which societies have established in organizing themselves: it is in their image that the powers of the physical world have been conceived. Also, men have never succeeded in imagining themselves as forces mistress over the bodies in which they reside, except by introducing concepts taken from social life. In fact, these must be distinguished from their physical doubles and must be attributed a dignity superior to that of these latter; in a word, they must think of themselves as souls. As a matter of fact, men have always given the form of souls to the forces which they believe that they are. But we know that the soul is quite another thing from a name given to the abstract faculty of moving, thinking and feeling; before all, it is a religious principle, a particular aspect of the collective force. In fine, a man feels that he has a soul, and consequently a force, because he is a social being. Though an animal moves its members just as we do, and though it has the same power as we over its muscles, nothing authorizes us to suppose that it is conscious of itself as an active and efficacious cause. This is because it does not have, or, to speak more exactly, does not attribute to itself a soul. But if it does not attribute a soul to itself, it is because it does not participate in a social life comparable to that of men. Among animals, there is nothing resembling a civilization.1
But the notion of force is not all of the principle of causality. This consists in a judgment stating that every force develops in a definite manner, and that the state in which it is at each particular moment of its existence predetermines the next state. The former is called cause, the latter, effect, and the causal judgment affirms the existence of a necessary connection between these two moments for every force. The mind posits this connection before having any proofs of it, under the empire of a sort of constraint from which it can not free itself; it postulates it, as they say, a priori.
Empiricism has never succeeded in accounting for this apriorism and necessity. Philosophers of this school have never been able to explain how an association of ideas, reinforced by habit, could produce more than an expectation or a stronger or weaker predisposition on the part of ideas to appear in a determined order. But the principle of causality has quite another character. It is not merely an imminent tendency of our thought to take certain forms; it is an external norm, superior to the flow of our representations, which it dominates and rules imperatively. It is invested with an authority which binds the mind and surpasses it, which is as much as to say that the mind is not its artisan. In this connection, it is useless to substitute hereditary habit for individual habit, for habit does not change its nature by lasting longer than one man's life; it is merely stronger. An instinct is not a rule.
The rites which we have been studying allow us to catch a glimpse of another source of this authority, which, up to the present, has scarcely been suspected. Let us bear in mind how the law of causality, which the imitative rites put into practice, was born. Being filled with one single preoccupation, the group assembles: if the species whose name it bears does not reproduce, it is a matter of concern to the whole clan. The common sentiment thus animating all the members is outwardly expressed by certain gestures, which are always the same in the same circumstances, and after the ceremony has been performed, it happens, for the reasons set forth, that the desired result seems obtained. So an association arises between the idea of ??this result and that of the gestures preceding it; and this association does not vary from one subject to another; it is the same for all the participators in the rite, since it is the product of a collective experience. However, if no other factor intervened, it would produce only a collective expectation; after the imitative gestures had been accomplished, everybody would await the subsequent appearance of the desired event, with more or less confidence; an imperative rule of thought could never be established by this. But since a social interest of the greatest importance is at stake, society can not allow things to follow their own course at the whim of circumstances; it intervenes actively in such a way as to regulate their march in conformity with its needs. So it demands that this ceremony, which it can not do without, be repeated every time that it is necessary, and consequently, that the movements, a condition of its success, be executed regularly: it imposes them as an obligation. Now they imply a certain definite state of mind which, in return, participates in this same obligatory character. To prescribe
that one must imitate an animal or plant to make them reproduce, is equivalent to stating it as an axiom which is above all doubt, that like produces like. Opinion can not allow men to deny this principle in theory without also allowing them to violate it in their conduct. So society imposes it, along with the practices which are derived from it, and thus the ritual precept is doubled by a logical precept which is only the intellectual aspect of the former. The authority of each is derived from the same source: society. The respect which this inspires is communicated to the ways of thought to which it attaches a value, just as much as to ways of action. So a man can not set aside either the ones or the others without hurling himself against public opinion. This is why the former require the adherence of the intelligence before examination, just as the latter require the submission of the will.
From this example, we can show once more how the sociological theory of the idea of ??causality, and of the categories in general, sets aside the classical doctrines on the question, while conciliating them. Together with apriorism, it maintains the prejudicial and necessary character of the causal relation; but it does not limit itself to affirming this; it accounts for it, yet without making it vanish under the pretext of explaining it, as empiricism does. On the other hand, there is no question of denying the part due to individual experience. There can be no doubt that by himself, the individual observes the regular succession of phenomena and thus acquires a certain feeling of regularity. But this feeling is not the category of causality. The former is individual, subjective, incommunicable; we make it ourselves, out of our own personal observations. The second is the work of the group, and is given to us ready-made. It is a frame-work in which our empirical ascertainments arrange themselves and which enables us to think of them, that is to say, to see them from a point of view which makes it possible for us to understand one another in regard to them. Of course, if this frame can be applied to the contents, that shows that it is not out of relation with the matter which it contains; but it is not to be confused with this. It surpasses it and dominates it. This is because it is of a different origin. It is not a mere summary of individual experiences; before all else, it is made to fulfil the exigencies of life in common,
In fine, the error of empiricism has been to regard the causal bond as merely an intellectual construction of speculative thought and the product of a more or less methodical generalization. Now, by itssif, pure speculation can give birth only to provisional, hypothetical and more or less plausible views, but ones which
must always be regarded with suspicion, for we can never be sure that some new observation in the future will not invalidate them. An axiom which the mind accepts and must accept, without control and without reservation, could never come from this source. Only the necessities of action, and especially of collective action, can and must express themselves in categorical formulae, which are peremptory and short, and admit of no contradiction, for collective movements are possible only on condition of being in concert and, therefore, regulated and definite. They do not allow of any fumbling, the source of anarchy; by themselves, they tend towards an organization which, when once established, imposes itself upon individuals. And as action can not go beyond intelligence, it frequently happens that the latter is drawn into the same way and accepts without discussion the theoretical postulates demanded by action. The imperatives of thought are probably only another side of the imperatives of action.
It is to be borne in mind, moreover, that we have never dreamed of offering the preceding observations as a complete theory of the concept of causality. The question is too complex to be resolved thus. The principle of causality has been understood differently in different times and places; in a single society, it varies with the social environment and the kingdoms of nature to which it is applied.1 So it would be impossible to determine with sufficient precision the causes and conditions upon which it depends, after a consideration of only one of the forms which it has presented during the course of history. The views which we have set forth should be regarded as mere indications, which must be controlled and completed .. However, as the causal law which we have been considering is certainly one of the most primitive which exists, and as it has played a considerable part in the development of human thought and industry, it is a privileged experiment, so we may presume that the remarks of which it has been the occasion may be generalized to a certain degree.
CHAPTER IX 1 ñòîð³íêà | CHAPTER IX 2 ñòîð³íêà | CHAPTER IX 3 ñòîð³íêà | CHAPTER IX 4 ñòîð³íêà | CHAPTER IX 5 ñòîð³íêà | CHAPTER IX 6 ñòîð³íêà | THE IDEA OF SPIRITS AND GODS | BOOK III THE PRINCIPAL RITUAL ATTITUDES | PIACULAR RITES AND TIIE AMBIGUITY OF THE NOTION OF SACREDNESS | CONCLUSION |