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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/158

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154
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

Hence, we ought to abandon our usual ways of thinking and speaking about ourselves and others.

If these results actually do follow from an acceptance of parallelism, men may well feel apprehensive when they see able men advocate it. If none of them follow, there is small cause for apprehension, and the question becomes one of merely scientific interest.

Let us consider the first point. Must the parallelist regard man as an automaton?

Before one can decide this point intelligently one must know what the word 'automaton means. He who consults his dictionary is informed that it means 'that which is self-moving, or has the power of spontaneous movement, but is not conscious.' A little lower down it is explained to him that the term more specifically denotes 'an apparatus in which the purposely concealed power is made to imitate the voluntary or mechanical motions of living beings, such as men, horses, birds, fishes,' etc. He is further given to understand that the word may be applied to 'a person or an animal whose actions are purely involuntary or mechanical,' or to a person who acts 'without active intelligence, especially without being fully aware of what he is doing.'

Do any of these definitions cover the case of the man described in the first paragraphs of this paper? Was he without consciousness? Was he constructed to imitate the actions of a living being? Were his actions involuntary? Did he go through his day without active intelligence? Yet the definitions are very fair, and do not misrepresent the actual use of the word defined. Even in psychology, when we speak of 'automatisms,' we never have in mind a shrewdly planned raid upon the bourse, or the production of C├Žsar's 'Commentaries.'

The fact that I choose to pin my faith to one view of the relation between mind and body rather than to another gives me no right to wrest words from their proper uses and to employ them in ways that must be misleading. Normal man is not an automaton in any legitimate sense of the word; and it is a grave injustice to parallelism to call it 'the automaton theory.' To be sure, Clifford and others have invited the injustice which has been visited upon them, and we can scarcely pity them as much as though it were wholly unmerited. But the frankest adherence to their parallelism need not induce us to call man an automaton. To say that consciousness is 'parallel' to brain changes is not equivalent to saying that consciousness is not present at all, or is present in defective measure.

And now for the second point. Must the parallelist regard man's mind as insignificant, and say that his actions would be the same if he had no mind?

Surely not. Bear in mind what parallelism maintains. It maintains that mental phenomena and certain cerebral changes are invariable