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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/814

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

life and may culminate in genius, there is nowhere and never observable a sudden leap of progress, such as the passage from one order of psychical being to another might reasonably be expected to show. Therefore, it is a matter of observable fact that, whether or not human intelligence differs from animal in kind, it certainly does admit of gradual development from a zero level. This I posit as the second consideration.

Again, so long as it is passing through the lower phases of its development, the human mind assuredly ascends through a scale of mental faculties which are parallel with those that are permanently presented by the psychological species of the animal kingdom. A glance at the accompanying diagram will serve to show in how strikingly quantitative, as well as qualitative, a manner the development of an individual human mind follows the order of mental evolution in the animal kingdom. And when we remember that, at all events up to the level where this parallel ends, the diagram is not an expression of any psychological theory, but of well-observed and undeniable psychological fact, I think every reasonable man must allow that, whatever the explanation of this remarkable coincidence may be, it certainly must admit of some explanation—i.e., can not be ascribed to mere chance. But, if so, the only explanation available is that which is furnished by the theory of descent. These facts, which I present as a third consideration, tend still further—and, I think, most strongly—to increase the force of antecedent presumption against any hypothesis which supposes that the process of evolution can have been discontinuous in the region of mind.

Lastly, it is likewise a matter of observation, as I shall fully show in the next installment of this work, that in the history of our race—as recorded in documents, traditions, antiquarian remains, and flint implements—the intelligence of the race has been subject to a steady process of gradual development. The force of this consideration lies in its proving that, if the process of mental evolution was suspended between the anthropoid apes and primitive man, it was again resumed with primitive man, and has since continued as uninterruptedly in the human species as it previously did in the animal species. Now, upon the face of these facts, or from a merely antecedent point of view, such appears to me, to say the least, a highly improbable supposition. At all events, it certainly is not the kind of supposition which men of science are disposed to regard with favor elsewhere; for a long and arduous experience has taught us that the most paying kind of supposition which we can bring with us into our study of nature, is that which recognizes in nature the principle of continuity.

Taking, then, these several a priori considerations together, they must, in my opinion, be fairly held to make out a very strong