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Observations placeholder

Whately Carington - The learnt function of spiders



Type of Spiritual Experience


Walter Whately Carington born in London was educated at the University of Cambridge where he studied science. He joined the Royal Flying Corps during World War I and became an experienced pilot, but was badly injured after a forced landing. On behalf of the Air Ministry and War Office he returned to Cambridge to undertake research into acoustics, with special reference to psychological problems. At this time he devised some innovative methods for the mathematical assessment of feelings, which proved useful in his later work.


There are numerous examples that I found of access to a common store of functionality, in this case the functions are those of animals.  I have shown this already on the model – the composer is able to access the box labelled ‘functional input’ and that gives the animal the chance to use functions that it does not otherwise possess.

If we imagine the above to be a very simple form of species hierarchy – so for example at the top we might have all spiders, then at the lower levels various varieties of spiders, the functions that are accessible to any one individual are those of its own species, plus those above it in the hierarchy. 

So a spider of type A11 would have functions 10, 9, 8, 3, 2 and 1.  Whereas a spider of type A3 would have functions 5, 4 and 1.

New function – learnt function – thus has to be in some way established for access by other composers.  At some point the function must be seen to be proven, tried and tested and worthy of addition to the overall database of functionality.  In computing there is a definite procedure or method that controls how new functions [programs] developed by non computer development staff [perhaps computer aware users] are added to the overall database of functions available for general use.  There may be some kind of equivalent process going on here………..

An interesting angle on the survival of the fittest, as the fittest is by definition in this case, the group having the highest number of useful stored functions.

A description of the experience

Whately Carington [1954]

I suggest that the instinctive behaviour of this high order or elaborate type [of species] may be due to the individual creature concerned being linked up into a larger system (or common unconscious if you prefer it) as is the case of spiders in which all of the web spinning experience of the species is stored up

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps