Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/468

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to revolve them both at once in the same direction; but the puzzle is to revolve them both at the same time, but in opposite directions, the points of the fingers facing each other. Much practice may enable one to execute it slowly, defectively, and awkwardly; never, however, with the same ease, freedom, and dexterity, with which we revolve either finger alone, or the two fingers together in the same direction. Again, it is not only difficult, but impossible, simply by a voluntary effort, or by any amount of practice, to roll one eye up and one down at the same time, or to turn both outward at the same time, beyond the parallelism of their axes. The muscular combination or coördination required in such movements is not organically possible, and no amount of education can make it so; otherwise, education would be a substitute for evolution and maturation.

The current ideas of the growth of voluntary motion and the will are based upon an ill-defined notion that the muscular and nervous systems were first developed, like a piece of complex machinery, and then the mind somehow came into rapport with it, or happened to be there, just at the right time, and commenced to learn how to work a certain part of it—for it is admitted that the rest can get along without the mind. But the truth is, the importance of the mind as a factor in the movements of the body is vastly overrated. It never really learns how to work even the limited portion of the organization which the current theories assign to it. When a child or even a man makes a certain voluntary movement for the first time, and practises it until he can execute it with ease and rapidity, has he learned how to do it? If so, he can tell how it is done. But, the fact is, he has learned nothing at all about the mechanism which he seems to handle so dexterously, and can give no account whatever as to how he does it—that is something which has staggered the most capable and profound students of voluntary motion and the will. Look at it. A child reaches out after a bright object and misses it. Does it know how or why it happened to miss it? It keeps reaching, fumbling, and trying, and now it grasps it. Does it know how or why? Does it know that now it opens an outlet or a valve of nervous discharge which then was closed; or, that it shuts one which it had left open; or, that it opens three instead of two or one; or, that it opens them one-half, one-third, or one-fourth, instead of full flood? Does it learn any of these things, and then treasure them up in the memory consciously or intentionally, so as to be able to do it again, next time, without balk or failure? The growth of a voluntary movement is an organic procedure, not such a mechanical process as that. That would, indeed, make the organization a machine for the mind to manipulate, instead of the mind being (as we think we can easily show) but a symbolical representation in consciousness of the workings of certain parts of the organization—the brain. Then, when we have mastered a voluntary movement, all that we have really learned is that we can make it.