Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/122

This page has been validated.



by the exigencies of practice, and prepared with the requisite physiological knowledge, who thoroughly accept this point of view, but it is the point of view that must yet be taken by all who deal with the phenomena of human nature on the basis of real and applicable knowledge. Especially in that profession which aims to direct the development of the mind and character of the young, must the corporeal side of their nature be thoroughly and systematically studied. We lately heard of a professor, high in honor and reputation as a teacher of teachers, whose text-books of mind are the metaphysical treatises of Stewart and Hamilton, and who strenuously denies that corporeal considerations have any right to be imported into the question: happily, the class to which he belongs is fast passing away. He who aspires to the noble work of developing a human being must take the whole nature of that being into account. He has no right to cleave it asunder and throw away one part of it, especially that part which is the organism of life, and brings the individual into relation with the universe. The teacher who has only attained an intellectual comprehension of certain branches in which he is to give instruction, has hardly entered upon his preparation. As we have elsewhere written: "Education is an affair of the laws of our being, involving a wide range of considerations—an affair of the air respired, its moisture, temperature, density, purity, and electrical state in their physiological effects; an affair of food, digestion, and nutrition; of the quantity, quality, and speed of the blood sent to the brain; of clothing and exercise, fatigue and repose; health and disease, or variable volition and automatic nerve-action; of fluctuating feeling, redundancy and exhaustion of nerve-power, sensuous impressibility, temperament, family history, constitutional predisposition, and unconscious influence; of material surroundings, and a host of agencies which stamp themselves upon the plastic organism and reappear in character."

The latest contribution to the literature of this subject is a little book entitled "Mind and Body: the Theories of their Relation,"[1] by Prof. Alexander Bain, author of "The Senses and the Intellect," and "The Emotions and the Will." The volume that now appears represents the leading facts of the question, and their latest theoretical interpretations, and closes with an interesting review of the course of past speculation upon the subject.

It being now established that the brain is the material instrument of the mind, the questions are inevitable, What do we actually know, and how much is it possible to know, of the conditions of this union? It is not enough to recognize that when the circulation of the blood in the brain is arrested, as in fainting, consciousness ceases, nor that alcohol in its influence upon the nervous system modifies mental action in one way, and opium and hashish in other ways; that which we require to understand is, in what manner the mechanism and action of the brain are specially related to the mechanism and action of the mind. Nor is the question as to the ultimate nature of mind and matter, or how they can exist together, for this is beyond the province of science to determine. What are the essence of mind and the essence of matter, and whether they are at bottom two things or one thing, are beyond ascertainment, and will prob-

  1. This is number IV. of "The International Scientific Series." In arranging the works of this series, which aims to represent the latest result of thought, it was deemed important that the new psychology should be fully treated, and by the most competent men. Prof. Bain was accordingly engaged to deal with the more general and philosophical aspects of the subject, while the volume of Dr. William B. Carpenter, in the same series, will be a regular practical text-book of mental philosophy from the physiological point of view. It Mill be issued in January, under the title of "The Principles of Mental Physiology: with their Applications to the Training and Discipline of the Mind, and the Study of its Morbid Conditions."