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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/160

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156
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

them to. The truth is that the brain-changes which correspond to mental states are unknown; we have not the least conception how the brain-change of a man meditating a gift to a hospital and that of a man planning to rob a bank differ from one another. Nor have we any direct physical means of producing either. But we do know a good deal about men's minds, and we know how to arouse in them ideas which will—directly or indirectly, it does not matter which—result in definite actions.

The plain man is, then, quite right in explaining his day by a reference to ideas. We have no other way of explaining it. There is no reason for changing our usual modes of expression. The parallelist who calls himself an automatist, or who talks of winding men up by the administration of food harms his own cause gratuitously. There is nothing in parallelism, properly understood, to cause apprehension; and there is nothing about the doctrine that is startling.

It seems right that, having criticized that very clear and charming writer, Clifford, I should close with a word in his defense. It is very easy, when a doctrine is relatively new, and has not been subjected to careful criticism, to misconceive its full significance. Were Clifford alive to-day, I do not believe that he would call man an automaton at all. He would see, I think, that it is misleading to speak so. But he would still be a parallelist, and he would gain the more adherents to his interesting scientific hypothesis, in that his utterances would be less calculated to shock the common sense of his fellow men.