Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/800

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ground continually increasing. The text-books contain speculations which are unverifiable, and often have little to do with psychology. They include descriptions of things which no one could understand from the description, but which every one understands without it. There are often anecdotes, which belong to the nursery. Then, in more recent times, we find accounts of the eye and brain, which are sometimes good physiology, but which seldom increase our knowledge of sensation and thought. It may be added that in the popular mind psychology consists largely of ghosts and mesmeric exhibitions.

But in the midst of confusion there are signs of order. Psychologies are now written which do not range at large through metaphysics, logic, ethics, and aesthetics, or, if they do, the writers at least know where they are wandering. Description and analysis become of greater value as introspection is more careful and words are more exactly defined. When works on physics, physiology, and pathology are sifted, there is found to be a considerable remnant which belongs to psychology. Even "telepathy" and hypnotism contribute their modest quota of facts. Comparative zoölogy, anthropology, philology, history, and art discover interrelations with psychology. Lastly, the attempt has recently been made to apply the methods of natural science, and even the measurements of exact science, in the study of the mind.

The backwardness of psychology is not indeed surprising. Certain material needs must be satisfied before there is time for self-observation. Even the lower animals are concerned with the changes of day and night and the return of summer and winter, with the growth of plants on which they feed and the habits of beasts which prey upon them. Astronomy, physical geography, botany, and zoölogy have their first foundation in remote, prehuman times. When the savage appears, he needs must attend to the external world, whereas self-observation would profit him but little. If his life depend on killing a bird with a stone, he must know the habits of the bird, and even something of the course of projectiles. Should he stop to consider the relation between sensation and movement, he would not survive to tell his thought. Even nowadays, when every one must have exact knowledge of some part, however small, of the material world, there are but few who have time to study their mental life, which indeed goes on none the better for being watched.

The elements of physical science are not only more necessary to life than knowledge of the mind—they are also more easily obtained. The facts of the material world are comparatively constant and accessible to observation. The stars return daily in their courses, and the plants repeat yearly their monotonous