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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/276

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272
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

with the natural course of events."[1] In this breaking away from the inherited way of doing things we seem to have a sort of organic initiative which, if we may not call it intelligence, must, after all, develop into it.

Observations on higher animals have been numerous, and Darwin quotes with approval a statement of Rengger that when he first gave eggs to his monkeys in Paraguay, "they smashed them, and thus lost much of their contents; afterwards they gently hit one end against some hard body, and picked off the bits of shell with their fingers."[2] Kinnaman,[3] in his extended study of the intelligence of two monkeys, found that they could learn to manipulate a complex series of locks and latches on a box, and that they made some progress in choosing better methods by eliminating useless acts and in making short cuts. He also tested men with the same apparatus and found that some were slower than the monkeys in finding how to open the box. While there was no evidence of ability to count, one of the monkeys could recognize position as far as three and the other as far as six.

All this is a clear advance on the mental processes of lower forms, which can not be explained solely by the mechanical response of a better organized nervous system. The change from the animal's customary behavior is too great and the variations too sudden for mechanical organization to account for them. And yet Kinnaman's report shows little method in it all. The monkeys knew enough to know when they had failed, which is more than can be said of the fishes until it has been battered into their nervous system through repeated blows on their heads, and they gradually improved on their method by making short cuts. But Thorndike's fishes also showed this improvement, though much more slowly. And this seems to mark an important difference in mental life. Monkeys do not need to wait until a certain mode of behavior has been worked into the mechanism of their organism by the operation of natural selection, as do paramecia, nor is it necessary that the external constraint, which encourages inhibition, be continued for so long a time as in the case of fishes. But, after all, the reasoning of monkeys seems to be of the same associative sort as that of fishes, and there is certainly no convincing evidence that they are able to get beyond this. Kinnaman thought that their action indicated generic images which enabled them to carry over something from a previous experience to a new situation, but we have already seen that even in man consciousness of the process is not necessary to the utilization of experience and it is difficult to see what a generic image of which we are unconscious could be. Indeed, on the theory of evolution, consciousness as an originating force in the learning process would seem to be much less necessary to the


  1. Loc. cit., p. 30.
  2. "Descent of Man," second edition, p. 78.
  3. Am. Jour. of Psychology, Vol. 13, pp. 98 and 173.