Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 85.djvu/25

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II. Development of the Mind

THE development of the mind parallels that of the body: whatever the ultimate relations of the mind and body may be, there can be no reasonable doubt that the two develop together from the germ. It is a curious fact that many people who are seriously disturbed by scientific teachings as to the evolution, or gradual development of the human race, accept with equanimity the universal observation as to the development of the human individual,—mind as well as body. The animal ancestry of the race is surely no more disturbing to philosophical and religious beliefs than the germinal origin of the individual, and yet the latter is a fact of universal observation which can not be relegated to the domain of hypothesis or theory, and which can not be successfully denied. If we admit the fact of the development of the entire individual, surely it matters little to our philosophical or religious beliefs to admit the development or evolution of the race.

The origin of the mind, or rather of the soul, is a topic upon which there has been much speculation by philosophers and theologians. One of the earliest hypotheses was that which is known as transmigration or metempsychosis. This doctrine probably reached its greatest development in ancient India, where it formed an important part of Buddhistic belief; it was also a part of the religion of ancient Egypt; it was embodied in the philosophies of Pythagoras and Plato. According to these teachings, the number of souls is a constant one; souls are neither made nor destroyed, but at birth a soul which had once tenanted another body enters into the new body. This doctrine was generally repudiated by the Fathers of the Christian Church. Jerome and others adopted the view that God creates a new soul for each body that is generated, and that every soul is thus a special divine creation. This has become the prevailing view of the Christian Church and is known as creationism, On the other hand Tertullian taught that souls of children are generated from the souls of parents as bodies are from bodies. This doctrine, which is known as traducianism, has been defended by certain modern theologians, but has been formally condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.

Traducianism undoubtedly comes nearer the scientific teachings as to the development of the mind than does either of the other doctrines named, but it is based upon the prevalent but erroneous belief that the