Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/230

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the two. Predication is the expression of a judgment, and a judgment is a cognition of agreement or difference; this takes place constantly without language, which latter only facilitates the processes of association. Indeed, a little reflection will convince us that language itself is not logically possible without prior thought. For a word or a name only becomes such by a process of thinking. It must be first fixed by association before it begins to do duty. Before I cognize an object, as a horse, the term horse itself must have become associated with other objects which have come into experience. If the attaching of a word horse, a percept, to another percept—a horse actually seen, as the mark of the latter, is not thinking; then the association of the horse seen with the word horse established as a mark of past experiences can not be thinking, for the two processes are precisely the same. The truth is, that both processes are thought. We may freely admit a great deal that Professor Müller asserts; but when we follow out his own propositions to their proper sequences, we find that his thesis is only true on the hypothesis that language and objects of cognition are convertible terms. People ordinarily understand that language consists of articulate words. Communication of one mind with another may take place by gestures, facial expressions, contortions of the body, inarticulate sounds, or by simple touch. But none of these are properly language. Written words are symbolic of spoken words, which are themselves articulations of the voice, and, while the former perform the office of concentrating, recording, and perpetuating mental experiences, as do many other symbols, their essential character, as language, consists in their relation to articulate communication.

While our author declares himself to be an evolutionist in general, certainly in the science of language, he brings out as a prominent consequence of the truth of his theory of thought, the untruth of that particular doctrine, commonly known as the Darwinian—namely, that man is descended from lower forms of animal life. This Professor Muller asserts to be impossible; and the proof is that animals have no language or any capacity to form language. "If concepts are impossible without names, . . . we then have a right to say that the whole genus man possesses something—namely, language, of which no trace can be found even in the most highly-developed animal, and that therefore a genealogical descent of man from animal is impossible." It may be admitted freely that animals have sensations and percepts; they feel, they perceive, they remember, they act. But concepts they do not have. They are without the power of forming general notions. This is evidenced in +the fact that they are without language, concepts being impossible without names. Now, it is quite obvious, to the casual reader even, that Professor Muller has destroyed his own argument on this point by his previous positions. For he takes considerable pains to prove that percepts are impossible without