Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/128

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sides of the body usually act symmetrically. Consequently the heliotropic orientation, for instance, comes about as we have already described. There are animals, however, which move sideways, for instance, certain crabs, such as the fiddler crab. Holmes has found that these crustaceans also go sideways toward the light. Jennings draws from this fact the following conclusions: "The symmetrical position is an incident of the reaction, not its essence."

In other words, he uses these observations of Holmes to indicate that the role ascribed to symmetry has no importance for the theory of tropisms. I am, however, inclined to draw another conclusion, namely, that in the fiddler crabs in the first place there is an entirely different connection between the retina and the locomotor muscles from that in other crustaceans and different animals, and that, secondly, there is a special peculiarity in regard to the function of the two retinas whereby they do not act like symmetrical surface elements. I believe that a new discovery may be made here.[1]


These data may suffice to explain my point of view. To me it is a question of making the facts of psychology accessible to analysis by means of physical chemistry. In this way it is already possible to reduce a set of reactions, namely, the tropisms to simple rationalistic relations. Many animals, because their body structure is not only morphologically, but, also chemically, symmetrical, are obliged to orient their bodies in a certain way in relation to certain centers of force, as, for instance, the source of light, an electric current, the center of gravity of the earth or chemical substances. This orientation is automatically regulated according to the law of mass action. The application of the law of mass action to this set of reactions is thus made possible. I consider it unnecessary to give up the term "comparative psychology," but I am of the opinion that the contents of comparative psychology will under the influence of the above-mentioned endeavors be different from the contents of speculative psychology. But I believe also that the further development of this subject will fall more to the lot of biologists trained in physical chemistry than to the specialists in psychology or zoology, for it is in general hardly to be expected that zoologists and psychologists who lack a physico-chemical training will feel attracted to the subject of tropisms.

In closing let me add a few remarks concerning the possible application of the investigations of tropisms.

  1. From which I expect, furthermore, that they will only confirm still more the laws of heliotropism. This expectation is based upon analogous relations in the pleuronectids, which I can not, however, discuss further here. However, probably no one will maintain that the existence of the pleuronectids invalidates all laws in regard to the symmetrical body structure.