transmutation

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13) Once we accept "that mental phenomena flow directly from the brain," and that "the lower animals manifested mental phenomena long before man existed," then the transmutationist "nature of the distinction between what are called instincts and reason" becomes immediately apparent.
Yet, as he realized in composing the "Theory of Life," and as he intended the Reason/ Understanding distinction to prevent, a transmutationist interpretation of progressionist ascendance was all too easy to see.
In the process, however, Thoreau's language makes dramatically and painfully clear progressionism's fundamental incompatibility with anything like an acceptance of human natural history in the transmutationist sense, as animal nature is consistently figured as "the inferior and brutish nature to which [humankind] is allied.