Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/615

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EYE-MINDEDNESS AND EAR-MINDEDNESS.

EYE-MINDEDNESS AND EAR-MINDEDNESS.[1]
By JOSEPH JASTROW, Ph. D.,

PROFESSOR OF EXPERIMENTAL AND COMPARATIVE PSYCHOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN.

THE faculty that determines the direction of one's mental acquisitions has been termed "apperception"; it is equivalent to all that the mind brings with it to perception. Steinthal has made clear the nature and importance of this trait by a variety of clever illustrations. One of these relates to a party of German gentlemen who had traveled together all day, and as they were about to separate one of their number offered to tell the profession of each of the party if each would write without hesitation an answer to the question, "What destroys its own offspring?" One wrote, "Vital force." "You," said the questioner, "are a biologist." A second answered, "War," and was correctly pronounced a soldier. The philologist revealed his profession by writing "Kronos"; the publicist by writing "Revolution"; and the farmer by writing "She-bear." Each answered according to his apperceptive bent. The same thing is illustrated in Don Quixote's seeing a giant in a windmill; in our seeing a man in the moon; in the ancients finding curious animal shapes in the constellations; in children's and savages' personification of animals and natural phenomena; in Macbeth's vision of the dagger; or in the advice of that wise priest who told a maiden consulting him as to her acceptance of a certain suitor, to listen to the church-bells, and if she heard them saying, "Take-him., take-him." her happiness lay in acceptance, while if the bells rang out, "Take-him-not, take-him-not," no good could come of the union. The issue is left in doubt, but the maiden certainly followed her own mind. Especially when distinct perception is difficult does the subjective element of the process come to the front. In a country walk at night, an imaginative person constantly sees a ghost in what his more prosaic companion recognizes as a whitewashed tree. At a spiritualistic séance, it is well known that enthusiastic believers see whatever they are anxious to see. The general formula which sums up all these illustrations is, that we see with all that we have seen; we hear with all that we have heard; we learn with all that we have learned, and so on. Every acquisition and every action, however trivial, leaves a mark on our organization and becomes a causal link in the rest of our lives; it is in this way that experience leaves its deposit in character. This apperceptive

  1. The treatises dealing most fully and ably with the general subject of this article are G. Ballet's "Le langage intérieur et les diverses formes de l'aphasie," and V. Egger's "La parole intérieure"; see also S. Strieker's "Sprachvorstellungen," etc.