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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/377

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I have sought to show that children try to bring meaning and a consistent meaning into the jumble of communications about the unseen world to which they are apt to be treated. I agree with Miss Shinn that children about three and four are not disposed to theologize, and are for the most part simply confused by the accounts of God which they receive. Many of the less bright of these small minds may remain untroubled by the incongruities that lurk in the mixture of ideas, half mythological or poetical, half theological, which are thus introduced. Such children are no worse than many adults who have a wonderful power of entertaining contradictory ideas by keeping them safely apart in separate chambers of their brain. The intelligent, thoughtful child, on the other hand, tries at least to reconcile and to combine in an intelligible whole. His mind has not, like that of so many adults, become habituated to the water-tight-compartment arrangement, in which there is no possibility of a leakage of ideas from one group into another. Hence his puzzlings, his questionings, his brave attempts to reduce the chaos to order. I think it is about time to ask whether parents are doing wisely in thus adding to the perplexing problems of early days.



THE savage instincts which men, even in the most advanced societies, still retain, are ever prompting them to pursue courses of conduct which their civilized intellects condemn—thus causing them to be at war with themselves. "Do this," suggests the nearsighted savage instinct; "Nay, this," opposes the farseeing civilized intellect; and though much ensuing conduct is in the nature of a compromise, yet the commands of instinct are oftener obeyed than those of reason. Hence the saddest and strangest of all anomalies: men who know what is good and do what is evil. When all savage instincts shall have been supplanted by social ones, will it not seem marvelous to men that their ancestors of the nineteenth century should have persisted in courses of conduct whose evil consequences were well known to them? Even to many of us, who still feel the driving force of savage instincts, it is a matter of wonder that some of the knowledge we possess should affect in so slight a degree our habitual conduct. Daily, science makes some discovery which might be expected to alter our conduct, but we go on acting in much the same way as we did before we had gained the new knowledge. Though to-morrow it should be satisfactorily shown that the