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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/307

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THE PROBLEM OF CONSCIOUSNESS.

Nature never produces what to us seems a perfect organism, but only organisms which are provided with means of adjustment sufficient to accomplish the survival and perpetuation of the species. Man also is imperfect, but in the struggle for existence wins his way because his consciousness has greater resources than that of any other organism. His great power arises from his appreciation of evolution. His highest duty is to advance evolution, and tins duty must be most strongly felt by those who accept the religious interpretation of life. The advancement of science is an obligation. To this view of the work of our Association I may safely claim the assent of all present.

The function of science is to extend our acquaintance with the objective world. The purpose of the American Association is not alone to increase the sum total of science, but equally also to preach by word and precept the value of truth, truth being the correct conscious symbol of the objective, by utilizing which our purposeful reactions are improved. The most serious obstacle truth encounters is the prevalence of what I may call 'doll ideas'—by analogy with the material dolls, with which children play. The child makes believe with the doll, knowing all the time its unreality, assigns to it hopes, passions, appetites; the child may feel the intensest sympathy with its doll, weep at its sorrows, laugh over its joys, yet know always that it is a mere inanimate, senseless doll. Adult men and women have ideas, with which they play make-believe; doll ideas, which they know are unreal, and yet they mourn sincerely over the adversities of their mental dolls, rejoice over their successes and fight for them with passion. Such doll ideas become mingled with the real and inextricably woven into the fabric of life. They are treated with the most earnest seriousness. Men will fight for them as a child will fight for its doll, not because it is property, but because it is a sacred personality. So are doll ideas often made sacred and defended with fanaticism. Yet, behind, in consciousness is the sense of unreality, the disregarded admission of 'making believe.' Do not doll ideas, pseudo-opinions, play a great role in human life? I think they do, and thinking so, deem it all the more imperative that you and others should teach the people the standard of science, the humble acknowledgment of reality. I wish that an impulse toward this goal from our Association could be imparted to every man and woman in the country, and I hope that the Association may continue to grow in number and power for long years to come, as it has grown in the last few years, so that it shall be a national, all-pervading influence serving the truth.

It seems to me inconceivable that the evolution of animals should have taken place as it actually has taken place, unless consciousness is a real factor and dominant. Accordingly I hold that it actually affects the vital processes. There is, in my opinion, no possibility of avoiding