Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/68

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becoming more complex and more delicate. The fish can learn to go to certain places, to take certain paths, to bite at certain things and refuse others, but not much more. It is an arduous proceeding for him to learn to get out of a small pen by swimming up through a hole in a screen. The monkey can learn to do all sorts of things. It is a comparatively short and easy task for him to learn to get into a box by unhooking a hook, pushing a bar around and pulling out a plug. He learns quickly to climb down to a certain place when he sees a letter T on a card and to stay still when he sees a K. He performs the proper acts nearly as well after 50 days as he did when they were fresh in his mind.

This growth in the number, speed of formation, permanence, delicacy and complexity of associations possible for an animal reaches its acme in the case of man. Even if we leave out of question the power of reasoning, the possession of a multitude of ideas and abstractions and the power of control over impulses, purposive action, man is still the intellectual leader of the animal kingdom by virtue of the superior development in him of the power of forming associations between situations or sense impressions and acts, by virtue of the degree to which the mere learning by selection possessed by all intelligent animals has advanced. In man the type of intellect common to the animal kingdom finds its fullest development, and with it is combined the hitherto non-existent power of thinking about things and rationally directing action in accord with thought.

Indeed it may be that this very reason, self-consciousness and self-control which seem to sever human intellect so sharply from that of all other animals are really but secondary results of the tremendous increase in the number, delicacy and complexity of associations which the human animal can form. It may be that the evolution of intellect has no breaks, that its progress is continuous from its first appearance to its present condition in adult civilized human beings. If we could prove that what we call ideational life and reasoning were not new and unexplainable species of intellectual life but only the natural consequences of an increase in the number, delicacy and complexity of associations of the general animal sort, we should have made out an evolution of mind comparable to the evolution of living forms.

In 1890 William James wrote, "The more sincerely one seeks to trace the actual course of psycho-genesis, the steps by which as a race we may have come by the peculiar mental attributes which we possess, the more clearly one perceives 'the slowly gathering twilight close in utter dark.'" Can we perhaps prove him a false prophet? Let us first see if there be any evidence that makes it probable that in some way or another the mere extension of the animal type of intellect has produced the human sort. If we do let us proceed to seek a possible