Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/71

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EVOLUTION OF THE HUMAN INTELLECT.

Can we now see how the vague gross feelings of the animal sort might turn into the well-defined particular ideas of the human sort, by the aid of a multitude of delicate associations?

It seems to be a general law of mind that any mental element which occurs with a number of different mental elements, appears that is in a number of different combinations, tends to thereby acquire an independent life of its own. We show children six lines, six dots, six peas, six pieces of paper, etc., and thus create the definite feeling of sixness. Out of the gross feelings of a certain number of lines, of dots, etc., we evolve the definite elementary feeling of sixness by making the 'six' aspect of the situations appear in a number of different connections. We learn to feel whiteness as a definite idea by seeing white paper, white cloth, white eggs, white plates, etc., etc. We learn to feel the meaning of but or in or notwithstanding by feeling the meaning of a number of total phrases containing each of them. Now in this general law by which different associates for the same elementary process elevate it out of its position as an undifferentiated fragment of a gross total feeling, we have, I think, the manner in which the vague feelings of the nine-months-old infant become the definite ideas of the five-year-old boy, the manner in which in the race the animal mind has evolved into the human, and the explanation of the service performed by the increase in the delicacy of structure of the human brain and the consequent increase in the number of associations.

The bottle to the six-months-old infant is a vague sense impression which the infant does not think about or indeed in the common meanings of the words perceive or remember or imagine. Its presence does not arouse ideas, but action. It is not to him a thing so big, or so shaped, or so heavy, but is just a vaguely sizable thing to be reached for, grabbed and sucked. Like the lower animals, with the exception that as he grows a little older he reacts in very many more ways, the child feels things in gross in a way to lead to direct reactions. Vague sense impressions and impulses make up his mental life. The bottle, which to a dog would be a thing to smell at and paw, to a kitten a thing to smell at and perhaps worry, is to the child a little later a thing to grab and suck and turn over and drop and pick up and pull at and finger and rub against its toes and so on. The sight of the bottle thus becomes associated with a lot of different reactions, and thus by our general law tends to gain a position independent of any of them, to evolve from the condition of being a portion of the cycles see-grab, see-drop, see-turn over, etc., to the condition of being a definite idea.

The increased delicacy and complexity of the cell structures in the human brain gives the possibility of very small parts of the brain processes forming different connections, allows the brain to work in