Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/817

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soul would gladly have devoted its powers toward climbing the steps of a broader and higher truth. The octopian struggle for existence with its deadly tentacles has throttled many a one that would have gladly climbed to loftier heights of truth.

Thus the emotions and the limitations of humanity deflect and narrow truth. There is also another powerful deflecting factor. This is called association or apperception by different schools. Each succeeding truth that comes to the mind is changed by the resultant force of preceding truths. A compass may point exactly north until it is brought near a bar of iron, when the direction of the needle is changed. This iron has an analogy to an idea already existing in the mind. To Turks and South Africans polygamy may not clash with a moral truth, because they have been brought up amid polygamous associations. Had we sprung from such ancestry and been reared in the same way, we should doubtless consider polygamy quite moral. The child of Catholic, Baptist, or Mohammedan parentage will commonly look at religion from the point of view of his early associations. When we hear a person, referring to a certain sect, saying, "I could never have belonged to this or that church," we may know that he would probably have been a Catholic, or Baptist, or a Mohammedan had he been born such. The truths of religion may not change, but our ways of apprehending them are largely determined by association.

Eminent German psychologists have said that we can not think as we will, but we must think as just those associations which happen to be present prescribe. When we come to view such statements as these in the light of what history has recorded, they furnish food for careful reflection. Had we been born in the times of religious persecution, should we not have joined the vast majority who believed in repressing heresy by lighted fagots? When every Christian nation from Scotland to Spain was torturing witches, should we have stood aloof from the councils of the wisest? At one time even the most intelligent in the Southern States were fighting for what early associations had taught the people to regard as the truths of slavery. The North, schooled differently, was fighting on the other side. History shows us that association has ever been a potent factor in our conception of truth, and association is often purely accidental.

All of the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States may be hearing the same testimony in a case, and yet these judges frequently express dissenting opinions, although no selfish end is to be gained by this course. This illustration shows the varying, even accidental, factors in the production of so-called truth. The truths of justice ought not to be less important than other truths, and yet here are judges, each equally desirous of awarding jus-