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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/473

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MIVART'S GROUNDWORK OF SCIENCE.

The question we are to ask the gardener is, therefore, something to this effect: Whether he thinks the cherry tree exists because he sees it and feels it, or because, when he sees it and feels it, he knows that he does so?

If he weighs his words will he not ask how he can know that he does see it and feel it unless he knows that he does so? I, myself, am no philosopher; but, to my untutored mind, Mivart's distinction between things perceived by sense, and things perceived by sense, seems a mere verbal difference of accent and emphasis, rather than a fundamental distinction.

As most men use the word, "mind" implies consciousness of that sort which Mivart calls self-consciousness, and while there is no reason why those who choose should not so use the word as to include unconscious or "subconscious" or "consentious" cerebration, most plain, untutored men prefer to use words as their neighbors do.

If long waiting on Nature has given to the old gardener more shrewdness than we commonly find in those whose pursuits are less leisurely, he may say that, while he knows the tree is there because he has planted it and tended it and watched it grow, it now falls on his eyes day after day, without attracting his notice, unless something about it which calls for his skill catches his eye, and commands his attention.

If we see reason to believe that this difference is a matter of words and definitions; rather than a real difference in kind; if we fail to find any sharp dividing line between unperceived cerebration and "mind," is not this, in itself, enough to lead even Macaulay's schoolboy to ask whether mind may not be a slow and gradual growth from small beginnings, and a co-ordinated whole, to the common function of which all its parts contribute, rather than a "gift" of "lower faculties" and "higher faculties"?

We must ask, however, whether mechanical explanations of mind are in any way antagonistic to the conviction that it is a gift. May not one study the history of the mechanism of mind, and the way this mechanism works, in a spirit of profound and humble gratitude to the Giver of all good gifts?

Is the lamentable prevalence, among plain untutored men, of the notion that mechanical explanations of Nature are inconsistent with belief that all Nature is a gift, to be laid to the charge of the men of science?

Is it not rather the poisonous fruit of the ill-advised attempts of "philosophers" like Professor Mivart to teach that a gift can not be a gift at all unless it is an arbitrary interruption to the law and order of physical Nature?