Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/474

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464
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
I believe we need to work further on this problem of evolution until we see that in its consummation organic evolution passes into a form of adjustment in which the inner world with its conscious pattern for changes in the outer world is more important than any form of objective selection which can be discovered. . . . Consciousness is the essential fact in human life, as I have attempted to show. What man does with his environment depends upon consciousness. That phase of individuality which is important enough to change the type of evolution certainly can not be described as non-existent or as merely resolvable into its elements.[1]

Some day the historian of thought will write it down as one of the curious fallacies of immature science that certain physiologists, biologists and even psychologists were satisfied to call their own personalities mere by-products, without essential significance in the world, just because they did not find consciousness capable of description in the regular scientific formulas adapted for the discussion and explanation of external reality. One hardly knows how to find phrases in which to answer those who hold consciousness to be less real and potent than physical forces."[2]

These writers refuse to limit the idea of causality in such a way as to exclude the conspicuous fact that the mind is a veritable cause. By its peculiar and exclusive power of ideal reconstruction of experience, it becomes a tremendous new force in the world, bending material forces to its will, first picturing then realizing ever higher marks in science, art, literature, justice and the progress of civilization in general. Consciousness certainly is potent, and if potent, then, according to pragmatism, true and real.

Thus far, then, it begins to appear that, even granting that consciousness may be a product of evolution, nevertheless its potency and hence its reality might become the ground for what may be called a re-discovery of the soul. But there is a tendency not only to recognize the reality and potency of consciousness, but to carry it farther and farther back in the evolutionary process, if not to make it a primitive datum. The old "orthodox" descent, starting with chance variation and natural selection and coming down through simple irritability and sensory-motor reflexes, till finally consciousness is evolved, no longer satisfies either psychologists or biologists. Many believe that all so-called reflex acts, including instincts, were once conscious acts. The fact that conscious actions tend to become automatic might, however, easily be misunderstood. It does not point to any displacement or impoverishment of consciousness. Such apparent displacement "is for the sake of its own inherent ends, being the conditio sine quâ non, of its further extension and enrichment."[3] Human development does

  1. C. H. Judd, "Evolution and Consciousness," Psychological Review, Vol. XVII., 2, pp. 90, 93.
  2. C. H. Judd, "Psychology," p. 62. Compare Edward M. Weyer, "A Unit Conception of Consciousness," Psychological Review, XVII., 5, p. 318.
  3. Norman Smith, Philosophical Review, Vol. XVII., p. 334, reviewing Mitchell's "Structure and Growth of the Mind."