Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/69

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EVOLUTION OF THE HUMAN INTELLECT.

account of how this might have happened, and finally to examine any evidence that shows this possible 'how' to have been the real way in which human reason has evolved.

It has already been shown that in the animal kingdom there is, as we pass from the early vertebrates down to man, a progress in the evolution of the general associative process which practically equals animal intellect, that this progress continues as we pass from the monkeys to man. Such a progress is a real fact; it does exist as a possible vera causa; it is thus at all events better than some imaginary cause of the origin of human intellect, the very existence of which is in doubt. In a similar manner we know that the cell structures which compose the brain and the connections between which are the physiological parallel of the associations animals form show as we pass down through the vertebrate series an evolution along lines of increased delicacy and complexity. That an animal associates a certain act with a certain felt situation means that he forms or strengthens connections between certain cells. The increase in the number, delicacy and complexity of cell structures is thus the basis for an increase in the number, delicacy and complexity of associations. Now the evolution noted in cell structures affects man as well as the other vertebrates. He stands at the head of the scale in that respect as well. May not this obvious supremacy in the animal type of intellect and in the adaptation of his brain to it be at the bottom of his supremacy in being the sole possessor of reasoning?

This question becomes more pressing if we realize that we must have some sort of brain correlate for ideational life and reasoning. Some sort of difference in processes in the brain must be at the basis of the mental differences between man and the lower animals, we should all admit. And it would seem wise to look for that difference amongst differences which really do or at least may exist. Now the most likely brain difference between man and the lower animals for our purpose, to my mind indeed the only likely one, is just this difference in the fineness of organization of the cell structures. If we could show with any degree of probability how it might account for the presence of ideas and of reasoning we should at least have the satisfaction of dealing with a cause actually known to exist.

The next important fact is that the intellect of the infant six months to a year old is of the animal sort, that ideational and reasoning life is not present in his case, that the only obvious intellectual difference between him and a monkey is in the quantity and quality of the associations formed. In the evolution of the infant's mind to its adult condition we have the actual transition within an individual from the animal to the human type of intellect. If we look at the infant and ask what is in him to make in the future a thinker and