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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/813

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THE DERIVATIVE ORIGIN OF THE HUMAN MIND.

question is neither a superficial nor an easy one. I shall, however, endeavor to examine it with as little obscurity as possible, and also, I need hardly say, with all the impartiality of which I am capable.[1]

It will be remembered that in the introductory chapter of my previous work[2] I have already briefly sketched the manner in which I propose to treat this question. Here, therefore, it is sufficient to remark that I began by assuming the truth of the general theory of descent so far as the animal kingdom is concerned, both with respect to bodily and to mental organization; but in doing this I expressly excluded the mental organization of man, as being a department of comparative psychology with reference to which I did not feel entitled to assume the principles of evolution. The reason why I made this special exception, I sufficiently explained; and I shall therefore now proceed, without further introduction, to a full consideration of the problem that is before us.

First, let us consider the question on purely a priori grounds. In accordance with our original hypothesis—upon which all naturalists of any standing are nowadays agreed—the process of organic and of mental evolution has been continuous throughout the whole region of life and of mind, with the one exception of the mind of man. On grounds of analogy, therefore, we should deem it antecedently improbable that the process of evolution, elsewhere so uniform and ubiquitous, should have been interrupted at its terminal phase. And looking to the very large extent of this analogy, the antecedent presumption which it raises is so considerable, that in my opinion it could only be counterbalanced by some very cogent and unmistakable facts, showing a difference between animal and human psychology so distinctive as to render it in the nature of the case virtually impossible that the one could ever have graduated into the other. This I posit as the first consideration.

Next, still restricting ourselves to an a priori view, it is unquestionable that human psychology, in the case of every individual human being, presents to actual observation a process of gradual development, or evolution, extending from infancy to manhood; and that in this process, which begins at a zero level of mental

  1. It is perhaps desirable to explain from the first that by the words "difference of kind," as used in the above paragraph and elsewhere throughout this treatise, I mean difference of origin. This is the only real distinction that can be drawn between the terms "difference of kind" and "difference of degree"; and I should scarcely have deemed it worth while to give the definition, had it not been for the confused manner in which the terms are used by some writers—e. g., Prof. Sayce, who says, while speaking of the development of languages from a common source, "differences of degree become in time differences of kind" ("Introduction to the Science of Language," ii, 309).
  2. "Mental Evolution in Animals."