STORY OF THE MIND
JAMES MARK BALDWIN
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1898, 1902,
BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.
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In this little book I have endeavoured to maintain the simplicity which is the ideal of this series. It is more difficult, however, to be simple in a topic which, even in its illustrations, demands of the reader more or less facility in the exploration of his own mind. I am persuaded that the attempt to make the matter of psychology more elementary than is here done, would only result in making it untrue and so in defeating its own object.
In preparing the book I have secured the right and welcomed the opportunity to include certain more popular passages from earlier books and articles. It is necessary to say this, for some people are loath to see a man repeat himself. When one has once said a thing, however, about as well as he can say it, there is no good reason that he should be forced into the pretence of saying something different simply to avoid using the same form of words a second time. The question, of course, is as to whether he should not then resign himself to keeping still, and letting others do the further speaking. There is much to be said for such a course. But if one have the right to print more severe and difficult things, and think he really has something to say which would instruct the larger audience, it would seem only fair to allow him to speak in the simpler way also, even though all that he says may not have the merit of escaping the charge of infringing his own copyrights!
I am indebted to the proprietors of the following magazines for the use of such passages: The Popular Science Monthly, The Century Magazine, The Inland Educator; and with them I also wish to thank The Macmillan Company and the owners of Appletons' Universal Cyclopaedia.
As to the scope and contents of the Story, I have aimed to include enough statement of methods and results in each of the great departments of psychological research to give the reader an intelligent idea of what is being done, and to whet his appetite for more detailed information. In the choice of materials I have relied frankly on my own experience and in debatable matters given my own opinions. This gives greater reality to the several topics, besides making it possible, by this general statement, at once to acknowledge it, and also to avoid discussion and citation of authorities in the text. At the same time, in the exposition of general principles I have endeavoured to keep well within the accepted truth and terminology of psychology.
It will be remarked that in several passages the evolution theory is adopted in its application to the mind. While this great theory can not be discussed in these pages, yet I may say that, in my opinion, the evidence in favour of it is about the same, and about as strong, as in biology, where it is now made a presupposition of scientific explanation. So far from being unwelcome, I find it in psychology no less than in biology a great gain, both from the point of view of scientific knowledge and from that of philosophical theory. Every great law that is added to our store adds also to our conviction that the universe is run through with Mind. Even so-called Chance, which used to be the "bogie" behind Natural Selection, has now been found to illustrate—in the law of Probabilities—the absence of Chance. As Professor Pearson has said: "We recognise that our conception of Chance is now utterly different from that of yore.... What we are to understand by a chance distribution is one in accordance with law, and one the nature of which can, for all practical purposes, be closely predicted." If the universe be pregnant with purpose, as we all wish to believe, why should not this purpose work itself out by an evolution process under law?—and if under law, why not the law of Probabilities? We who have our lives insured provide for our children through our knowledge and use of this law; and our plans for their welfare, in most of the affairs of life, are based upon the recognition of it. Who will deny to the Great Purpose a similar resource in producing the universe and in providing for us all?
I add in a concluding section on Literature some references to various books in English, classified under the headings of the chapters of the text. These works will further enlighten the reader, and, if he persevere, possibly make a psychologist of him.
J. MARK BALDWIN.
PRINCETON, April, 1898.
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I. THE SCIENCE OF THE MIND—PSYCHOLOGY
II. WHAT OUR MINDS HAVE IN COMMON—INTROSPECTIVE PSYCHOLOGY
III. THE MIND OF THE ANIMAL—COMPARATIVE PSYCHOLOGY
IV. THE MIND OF THE CHILD—CHILD PSYCHOLOGY
V. THE CONNECTION OF BODY WITH MIND—PHYSIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY—MENTAL DISEASES
VI. HOW WE EXPERIMENT ON THE MIND—EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
VII. SUGGESTION AND HYPNOTISM
VIII. THE TRAINING OF THE MIND—EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
IX. THE INDIVIDUAL MIND AND SOCIETY—SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
X. THE GENIUS AND HIS ENVIRONMENT
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LIST OF DIAGRAMS.
1. Origin of instinct by organic selection
2. Reflex and voluntary circuits
3. Outer surface of the left hemisphere of the brain
4. Inner surface or the right hemisphere of the brain
5. The speech zone (after Collins)
7. Apparatus for optical experiment
8. Memory curves
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THE STORY OF THE MIND
THE SCIENCE OF THE MIND—PSYCHOLOGY,
Psychology is the science of the mind. It aims to find out all about the mind—the whole story—just as the other sciences aim to find out all about the subjects of which they treat—astronomy, of the stars; geology, of the earth; physiology, of the body. And when we wish to trace out the story of the mind, as psychology has done it, we find that there are certain general truths with which we should first acquaint ourselves; truths which the science has been a very long time finding out, but which we can now realize without a great deal of explanation. These general truths, we may say, are preliminary to the story itself; they deal rather with the need of defining, first of all, the subject or topic of which the story is to be told.
1. The first such truth is that the mind is not the possession of man alone. Other creatures have minds. Psychology no longer confines itself, as it formerly did, to the human soul, denying to the animals a place in this highest of all the sciences. It finds itself unable to require any test or evidence of the presence of mind which the animals do not meet, nor does it find any place at which the story of the mind can begin higher up than the very beginnings of life. For as soon as we ask, "How much mind is necessary to start with?" we have to answer, "Any mind at all"; and all the animals are possessed of some of the actions which we associate with mind. Of course, the ascertainment of the truth of this belongs—as the ascertainment of all the truths of nature belongs—to scientific investigation itself. It is the scientific man's rule not to assume anything except as he finds facts to support the assumption. So we find a great department of psychology devoted to just this question—i.e., of tracing mind in the animals and in the child, and noting the stages of what is called its "evolution" in the ascending scale of animal life, and its "development" in the rapid growth which every child goes through in the nursery. This gives us two chapters of the story of the mind. Together they are called "Genetic Psychology," having two divisions, "Animal or Comparative Psychology" and "Child Psychology."
2. Another general truth to note at the outset is this: that we are able to get real knowledge about the mind. This may seem at first sight a useless question to raise, seeing that our minds are, in the thought of many, about the only things we are really sure of. But that sort of sureness is not what science seeks. Every science requires some means of investigation, some method of procedure, which is more exact than the mere say-so of common sense; and which can be used over and again by different investigators and under different conditions. This gives a high degree of verification and control to the results once obtained. The chemist has his acids, and reagents, and blowpipes, etc.; they constitute his instruments, and by using them, under certain constant rules, he keeps to a consistent method. So with the physiologist; he has his microscope, his staining fluids, his means of stimulating the tissues of the body, etc. The physicist also makes much of his lenses, and membranes, and electrical batteries, and X-ray apparatus. In like manner it is necessary that the psychologist should have a recognised way of investigating the mind, which he can lay before anybody saying: "There, you see my results, you can get them for yourself by the same method that I used."
In fulfilling this requirement the psychologist resorts to two methods of procedure. He is able to investigate the mind in two ways, which are of such general application that anybody of sufficient training to make scientific observations at all can repeat them and so confirm the results. One of these is what is called Introspection. It consists in taking note of one's own mind, as all sorts of changes are produced in it, such as emotions, memories, associations of events now gone, etc., and describing everything that takes place. Other persons can repeat the observations with their own minds, and see that what the first reports is true. This results in a body of knowledge which is put together and called "Introspective Psychology," and one chapter of the story should be devoted to that.
Then the other way we have is that of experimenting on some one else's mind. We can act on our friends and neighbours in various ways, making them feel, think, accept, refuse this and that, and then observe how they act. The differences in their action will show the differences in the feelings, etc., which we have produced. In pursuing this method the psychologist takes a person—called the "subject" or the "re-agent"—into his laboratory, asks him to be willing to follow certain directions carefully, such as holding an electric handle, blowing into a tube, pushing a button, etc., when he feels, sees, or hears certain things; this done with sufficient care, the results are found recorded in certain ways which the psychologist has arranged beforehand. This second way of proceeding gives results which are gathered under the two headings "Experimental" and "Physiological Psychology." They should also have chapters in our story.
3. There is besides another truth which the psychologist nowadays finds very fruitful for his knowledge of the mind; this is the fact that minds vary much in different individuals, or classes of individuals. First, there is the pronounced difference between healthy minds and diseased minds. The differences are so great that we have to pursue practically different methods of treating the diseased, not only as a class apart from the well minds—putting such diseased persons into institutions—but also as differing from one another. Just as the different forms of bodily disease teach us a great deal about the body—its degree of strength, its forms of organization and function, its limitations, its heredity, the inter-connection of its parts, etc.—so mental diseases teach us much about the normal mind. This gives another sphere of information which constitutes "Abnormal Psychology" or "Mental Pathology."
There are also very striking variations between individuals even within normal life; well people are very different from one another. All that is commonly meant by character or temperament as distinguishing one person from another is evidence of these differences. But really to know all about mind we should see what its variations are, and endeavour to find out why the variations exist. This gives, then, another topic, "Individual or Variational Psychology." This subject should also have notice in the story.
4. Allied with this the demand is made upon the psychologist that he show to the teacher how to train the mind; how to secure its development in the individual most healthfully and productively, and with it all in a way to allow the variations of endowment which individuals show each to bear its ripest fruit. This is "Educational or Pedagogical Psychology."
5. Besides all these great undertakings of the psychologist, there is another department of fact which he must some time find very fruitful, although as yet he has not been able to investigate it thoroughly: he should ask about the place of the mind in the world at large. If we seek to know what the mind has done in the world, what a wealth of story comes to us from the very beginnings of history! Mind has done all that has been done: it has built human institutions, indited literature, made science, discovered the laws of Nature, used the forces of the material world, embodied itself in all the monuments which stand to testify to the presence of man. What could tell us more of what mind is than this record of what mind has done? The ethnologists are patiently tracing the records left by early man in his utensils, weapons, clothing, religious rites, architectural remains, etc., and the anthropologists are seeking to distinguish the general and essential from the accidental and temporary in all the history of culture and civilization. They are making progress very slowly, and it is only here and there that principles are being discovered which reveal to the psychologist the necessary modes of action and development of the mind. All this comes under the head of "Race Psychology."
6. Finally, another department, the newest of all, investigates the action of minds when they are thrown together in crowds. The animals herd, the insects swarm, most creatures live in companies; they are gregarious, and man no less is social in his nature. So there is a psychology of herds, crowds, mobs, etc., all put under the heading of "Social Psychology." It asks the question, What new phases of the mind do we find when individuals unite in common action?—or, on the other hand, when they are artificially separated?
We now have with all this a fairly complete idea of what The Story of the Mind should include, when it is all told. Many men are spending their lives each at one or two of these great questions. But it is only as the results are all brought together in a consistent view of that wonderful thing, the mind, that we may hope to find out all that it is. We must think of it as a growing, developing thing, showing its stages of evolution in the ascending animal scale, and also in the unfolding of the child; as revealing its nature in every change of our daily lives which we experience and tell to one another or find ourselves unable to tell; as allowing itself to be discovered in the laboratory, and as willing to leave the marks of its activity on the scientist's blackened drum and the dial of the chronoscope; as subject to the limitations of health and disease, needing to be handled with all the resources of the asylum, the reformatory, the jail, as well as with the delicacy needed to rear the sensitive girl or to win the love of the bashful maid; as manifesting itself in the development of humanity from the first rude contrivances for the use of fire, the first organizations for defence, and the first inscriptions of picture writing, up to the modern inventions in electricity, the complex constitutions of government, and the classic productions of literary art; and as revealing its possibilities finally in the brutal acts of the mob, the crimes of a lynching party, and the deeds of collective righteousness performed by our humane and religious societies.
It would be impossible, of course, within the limits of this little volume, to give even the main results in so many great chapters of this ambitious and growing science. I shall not attempt that; but the rather select from the various departments certain outstanding results and principles. From these as elevations the reader may see the mountains on the horizon, so to speak, which at his leisure, and with better guides, he may explore. The choice of materials from so rich a store has depended also, as the preface states, on the writer's individual judgment, and it is quite probable that no one will find the matters altogether wisely chosen. All the great departments now thus briefly described, however, are represented in the following chapters.
WHAT OUR MINDS HAVE IN COMMON—INTROSPECTIVE PSYCHOLOGY.
Of all the sources now indicated from which the psychologist may draw, that of so-called Introspective Psychology—the actual reports of what we find going on in our minds from time to time—is the most important. This is true for two great reasons, which make Psychology different from all the other sciences. The first claim which the introspective method has upon us arises from the fact that it is only by it that we can examine the mind directly, and get its events in their purity. Each of us knows himself better than he knows any one else. So this department, in which we deal each with his own consciousness at first hand, is more reliable, if free from error, than any of those spheres in which we examine other persons, so long as we are dealing with the psychology of the individual. The second reason that this method of procedure is most important is found in the fact that all the other departments of psychology—and with them all the other sciences—have to use introspection, after all, to make sure of the results which they get by other methods. For example, the natural scientist, the botanist, let us say, and the physical scientist, the electrician, say, can not observe the plants or the electric sparks without really using his introspection upon what is before him. The light from the plant has to go into his brain and leave a certain effect in his mind, and then he has to use introspection to report what he sees. The astronomer who has bad eyes can not observe the stars well or discover the facts about them, because his introspection in reporting what he sees proceeds on the imperfect and distorted images coming in from his defective eyesight. So a man given to exaggeration, who is not able to report truthfully what he remembers, can not be a good botanist, since this defect in introspection will render his observation of the plants unreliable.
In practice the introspective method has been most important, and the development of psychology has been up to very recently mainly due to its use. As a consequence, there are many general principles of mental action and many laws of mental growth already discovered which should in the first instance engage our attention. They constitute the main framework of the building; and we should master them well before we go on to find the various applications which they have in the other departments of the subject.
The greater results of "Introspective" or, as it is very often called, "General" psychology may be summed up in a few leading principles, which sound more or less abstract and difficult, but which will have many concrete illustrations in the subsequent chapters. The facts of experience, the actual events which we find taking place in our minds, fall naturally into certain great divisions. These are very easily distinguished from one another. The first distinction is covered by the popularly recognised difference between "thought and conduct," or "knowledge and life." On the one hand, the mind is looked at as receiving, taking in, learning; and on the other hand, as acting, willing, doing this or that. Another great distinction contrasts a third mental condition, "feeling," with both of the other two. We say a man has knowledge, but little feeling, head but no heart; or that he knows and feels the right but does not live up to it.
I. On the side of Reception we may first point out the avenues through which our experiences come to us: these are the senses—a great number, not simply the five special senses of which we were taught in our childhood. Besides Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, and Touch, we now know of certain others very definitely. There are Muscle sensations coming from the moving of our limbs, Organic sensations from the inner vital organs, Heat and Cold sensations which are no doubt distinct from each other, Pain sensations probably having their own physical apparatus, sensations from the Joints, sensations of Pressure, of Equilibrium of the body, and a host of peculiar sensational conditions which, for all we know, may be separate and distinct, or may arise from combinations of some of the others. Such, for example, are the sensations which are felt when a current of electricity is sent through the arm.
All these give the mind its material to work upon; and it gets no material in the first instance from any other source. All the things we know, all our opinions, knowledges, beliefs, are absolutely dependent at the start upon this supply of material from our senses; although, as we shall see, the mind gets a long way from its first subjection to this avalanche of sensations which come constantly pouring in upon it from the external world. Yet this is the essential and capital function of Sensation: to supply the material on which the mind does the work in its subsequent thought and action.
Next comes the process by which the mind holds its material for future use, the process of Memory; and with it the process by which it combines its material together in various useful forms, making up things and persons out of the material which has been received and remembered—called Association of Ideas, Thinking, Reasoning, etc. All these processes used to be considered as separate "faculties" of the soul and as showing the mind doing different things. But that view is now completely given up. Psychology now treats the activity of the mind in a much more simple way. It says: Mind does only one thing; in all these so-called faculties we have the mind doing this one thing only on the different materials which come and go in it. This one thing is the combining, or holding together, of the elements which first come to it as sensations, so that it can act on a group of them as if they were only one and represented only one external thing. Let me illustrate this single and peculiar sort of process as it goes on in the mind.
We may ask how the child apprehends an orange out there on the table before him. It can not be said that the orange goes into the child's mind by any one of its senses. By sight he gets only the colour and shape of the orange, by smell he gets only its odour, by taste its sweetness, and by touch its smoothness, rotundity, etc. Furthermore, by none of these senses does he find out the individuality of the orange, or distinguish it from other things which involve the same or similar sensations—say an apple. It is easy to see that after each of the senses has sent in its report something more is necessary: the combining of them all together in the same place and at the same time, the bringing up of an appropriate name, and with that a sort of relating or distinguishing of this group of sensations from those of the apple. Only then can we say that the knowledge, "here is an orange," has been reached. Now this is the one typical way the mind has of acting, this combining of all the items or groups of items into ever larger and more fruitful combinations. This is called Apperception. The mind, we say, "apperceives" the orange when it is able to treat all the separate sensations together as standing for one thing. And the various circumstances under which the mind does this give the occasions for the different names which the earlier psychology used for marking off different "faculties."
These names are still convenient, however, and it may serve to make the subject clear, as well as to inform the reader of the meaning of these terms, to show how they all refer to this one kind of mental action.
The case of the orange illustrates what is usually called Perception. It is the case in which the result is the knowledge of an actual object in the outside world. When the same process goes on after the actual object has been removed it is Memory. When it goes on again in a way which is not controlled by reference to such an outside object—usually it is a little fantastic, as in dreams or fancy, but often it is useful as being so well done as to anticipate what is really true in the outside world—then it is Imagination. If it is actually untrue, but still believed in, we call it Illusion or Hallucination. When it uses mere symbols, such as words, gestures, writing, etc., to stand for whole groups of things, it is Thinking or Reasoning. So we may say that what the mind arrives at through this its one great way of acting, no matter which of these forms it takes on, except in the cases in which it is not true in its results to the realities, is Knowledge.
Thus we see that the terms and faculties of the older psychology can be arranged under this doctrine of Apperception without the necessity of thinking of the mind as doing more than the one thing. It simply groups and combines its material in different ways and in ever higher degrees of complexity.
Apperception, then, is the one principle of mental activity on the side of its reception and treatment of the materials of experience.
There is another term very current in psychology by which this same process is sometimes indicated: the phrase Association of Ideas. This designates the fact that when two things have been perceived or thought of together, they tend to come up together in the mind in the future; and when a thing has been perceived which resembles another, or is contrasted with it, they tend to recall each other in the same way. It is plain, however, that this phrase is applied to the single thoughts, sensations, or other mental materials, in their relations or connections among themselves. They are said to be "associated" with one another. This way of speaking of the mental materials, instead of speaking of the mind's activity, is convenient; and it is quite right to do so, since it is no contradiction to say that the thoughts, etc., which the mind "apperceives" remain "associated" together. From this explanation it is evident that the Association of Ideas also comes under the mental process of Apperception of which we have been speaking.
There is, however, another tendency of the mind in the treatment of its material, a tendency which shows us in actual operation the activity with which we have now become familiar. When we come to look at any particular case of apperception or association we find that the process must go on from the platform which the mind's attainments have already reached. The passing of the mental states has been likened to a stream which flows on from moment to moment with no breaks. It is so continuous that we can never say: "I will start afresh, forget the past, and be uninfluenced by my history." However we may wish this, we can never do it; for the oncoming current of the stream is just what we speak of as ourselves, and we can not avoid bringing the memories, imaginations, expectations, disappointments, etc., up to the present. So the effect which any new event or experience, happening for the first time, is to have upon us depends upon the way it fits into the current of these onflowing influences. The man I see for the first time may be so neutral to me that I pass him unregarded. But let him return after I have once remarked him, or let him resemble a man whom I know, or let him give me some reason to observe, fear, revere, think of him in any way, then he is a positive factor in my stream. He has been taken up into the flow of my mental life, and he henceforth contributes something to it.
For example, a little child, after learning to draw a man's face, with two eyes, the nose and mouth, and one ear on each side, will afterward, when told to draw a profile, still put in two eyes and affix an ear to each side. The drift of mental habit tells on the new result and he can not escape it.
He will still put in the two eyes and two ears when he has before him a copy showing only one ear and neither eye.
In all such cases the new is said to be Assimilated to the old. The customary figure for man in the child's memory assimilates the materials of the new copy set before him.
Now this tendency is universal. The mind must assimilate its new material as much as possible, thus making the old stand for the new. Otherwise there would be no containing the fragmentary details which we should have to remember and handle. Furthermore, it is through this tendency that we go on to form the great classes of objects—such as man, animal, virtue—into which numbers of similar details are put, and which we call General Notions or Concepts.
We may understand by Assimilation, therefore, the general tendency of new experiences to be treated by us in the ways which similar material has been treated before, with the result that the mind proceeds from the particular case to the general class.
Summing up our outcome so far, we find that general psychology has reached three great principles in its investigation of knowledge. First, we have the combining tendency of the mind, the grouping together and relating of mental states and of things, called Apperception. Then, second, there are the particular relations established among the various states, etc., which are combined; these are called Associations of Ideas. And, third, there is the tendency of the mind to use its old experiences and habits as general patterns or nets for the sorting out and distributing of all the new details of daily life; this is called Assimilation.
II. Let us now turn to the second great aspect of the mind, as general or introspective psychology considers it, the aspect which presents itself in Action or conduct. The fact that we act is of course as important as the fact that we think or the fact that we feel; and the distinction which separates thought and action should not be made too sharp.
Yet there is a distinction. To understand action we must again go to introspection. This comes out as soon as we ask how we reach our knowledge of the actions of others. Of course, we say at once that we see them. And that is true; we do see them, while as to their thoughts we only infer them from what we see of their action. But, on the other hand, we may ask: How do we come to infer this or that thought from this or that action of another? The only reply is: Because when we act in the same way this is the way we feel. So we get back in any case to our own consciousness and must ask how is this action related to this thought in our own mind.
To this question psychology has now a general answer: Our action is always the result of our thought, of the elements of knowledge which are at the time present in the mind. Of course, there are actions which we do from purely nervous reasons. These are the Instincts, which come up again when we consider the animals. But these we may neglect so long as we are investigating actions which we consider our own. Apart from the Instincts, the principle holds that behind every action which our conduct shows there must be something thought of, some sensation or knowledge then in mind, some feeling swelling within our breast, which prompts to the action.
This general principle is Motor Suggestion. It simply means that we are unable to have any thought or feeling whatever, whether it comes from the senses, from memory, from the words, conduct, or command of others, which does not have a direct influence upon our conduct. We are quite unable to avoid the influence of our own thoughts upon our conduct, and often the most trivial occurrences of our daily lives act as suggestions to deeds of very great importance to ourselves and others. For example, the influence of the newspaper reports of crime stimulate other individuals to perform the same crimes by this principle of suggestion; for the fact is that the reading of the report causes us to entertain the thoughts, and these thoughts tend to arouse in us their corresponding trains of suggested action.
The most interesting and striking sphere of operation of the principle of Suggestion (of other sorts as well as motor) is what is commonly known simply as Hypnotism. To that, as well as to further illustrations of Suggestion, we will return later on.
We are able, however, to see a little more in detail how the law of Motor Suggestion works by asking what sort of action is prompted in each case of thought or feeling, at the different levels of the mind's activity which have been distinguished above as all illustrating Apperception—e.g., the stages known as Perception, Imagination, Reasoning, etc.
We act, of course, on our perceptions constantly; most of our routine life is made up of such action on the perceptions of objects which lie about us. The positions of things in the house, in the streets, in the office, in the store, are so well known that we carry out a series of actions with reference to these objects without much supervision from our consciousness. Here the law of Motor Suggestion works along under the guidance of Perception, Memory, and the Association of Ideas. Then we find also, in much of our action, an element due to the exercise of the Imagination. We fill in the gaps in the world of perception by imagining appropriate connections; and we then act as if we knew that these imaginations were realities. This is especially true in our intercourse with our fellow-men. We never really know what they will do from time to time. Their action is still future and uncertain; but from our familiarity with their character, we surmise or imagine what they expect or think, and we then act so as to make our conduct fit into theirs. Here is suggestion of a personal kind which depends upon our ability, in a sense, to reconstruct the character of others, leading us out into appropriate action. This is the sphere of the most important affairs of our lives. It appears especially so when we consider its connection with the next great sort of action from suggestion.
This next and highest sphere is action from the general or abstract thoughts which we have been able to work up by the apperceiving activity of the mind. In this sphere we have a special name for those thoughts which influence us directly and lead us to action: we call such thoughts Motives. We also have a special name for the sort of action which is prompted by clearly-thought-out motives: Will. But in spite of this emphasis given to certain actions of ours as springing from what is called Will, we must be careful to see that Will is not a new faculty, or capacity, added to mind, and which is different from the ways of action which the mind had before the Will arose. Will is only a name for the action upon suggestions of conduct which are so clear in our minds that we are able to deliberate upon them, acting only after some reflection, and so having a sense that the action springs from our own choice. The real reasons for action, however, are thoughts, in this case, just as in the earlier cases they were. In this case we call them Motives; but we are dependent upon these Motives, these Suggestions; we can not act without Motives, nor can we fail to act on those Motives which we have; just as, in the earlier cases, we could not act without some sort of Perceptions or Imaginations or Memories, and we could not fail to act on the Perceptions or other mental states which we had. Voluntary action or Will is therefore only a complex and very highly conscious case of the general law of Motor Suggestion; it is the form which suggested action takes on when Apperception is at its highest level.
The converse of Suggestion is also true—that we can not perform an action without having in the mind at the time the appropriate thought, or image, or memory to suggest the action. This dependence of action upon the thought which the mind has at the time is conclusively shown in certain patients having partial paralysis. These patients find that when the eyes are bandaged they can not use their limbs, and it is simply because they can not realize without seeing the limb how it would feel to move it; but open the eyes and let them see the limb—then they move it freely. A patient can not speak when the cortex of the brain is injured in the particular spot which is used in remembering how the words feel or sound when articulated. Many such cases lead to the general position that for each of our intentional actions we must have some way of thinking about the action, of remembering how it feels, looks, etc.; we must have something in mind equivalent to the experience of the movement. This is called the principle of Kinaesthetic Equivalents, an expression which loses its formidable sound when we remember that "kinaesthetic" means having the feeling of movement; so the principle expresses the truth that we must in every case have some thought or mental picture in mind which is equivalent to the feeling of the movement we desire to make; if not, we can not succeed in making it.
What we mean by the "freedom" of the will is not ability to do anything without thinking, but ability to think all the alternatives together and to act on this larger thought. Free action is the fullest expression of thought and of the Self which thinks it.
It is interesting to observe the child getting his Equivalents day by day. He can not perform a new movement simply by wishing to do so; he has no Equivalents in his mind to proceed upon. But as he learns the action, gradually striking the proper movements one by one—oftenest by imitation, as we will see later on—he stores the necessary Equivalents up in his memory, and afterward only needs to think how the movements feel or look, or how words sound, to be able to make the movements or speak the words forthwith.
III. Introspection finds another great class of conditions in experience, again on the receptive side—conditions which convert the mind from the mere theatre of indifferent changes into the vitally interested, warmly intimate thing which our mental life is to each of us. This is the sphere of Feeling. We may see without more ado that while we are receiving sensations and thoughts and suggestions, and acting upon them in the variety of ways already pointed out, we ourselves are not indifferent spectators of this play, this come-and-go of processes. We are directly implicated; indeed, the very sense of a self, an ego, a me-and-mine, in each consciousness, arises from the fact that all this come-and-go is a personal growth. The mind is not a mere machine doing what the laws of its action prescribe. We find that nothing happens which does not affect the mind itself for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, for pleasure or for pain; and there spring up a series of attitudes of the mind itself, according as it is experiencing or expecting to experience what to it is good or bad. This is, then, the great meaning of Feeling; it is the sense in the mind that it is itself in some way influenced for good or for ill by what goes on within it. It stands midway between thought and action. We feel with reference to what we think, and we act because we feel. All action is guided by feeling.
Feeling shows two well-marked characters: first, the Excitement of taking a positive attitude; and, second, the Pleasure or Pain that goes with it.
Here, again, it may suffice to distinguish the stages which arise as we go from the higher to the lower, from the life of Sensation and Perception up to that of Thought. This was our method in both of the other phases of the mental life—Knowledge and Action. Doing this, therefore, in the case of Feeling also, we find different terms applied to the different phases of feeling. In the lowest sort of mental life, as we may suppose the helpless newborn child to have it, and as we also think it exists in certain low forms of animal life, feeling is not much more than Pleasures and Pains depending largely upon the physical conditions under which life proceeds. It is likely that there are both Pleasures and Pains which are actually sensations with special nerve apparatus of their own; and there are also states of the Comfortable and the Uncomfortable, or of pleasant and unpleasant feeling, due to the way the mind is immediately affected. These are conditions of Excitement added to the Sensations of Pleasure and Pain.
Coming up to the life of Memory and Imagination, we find many great classes of Emotions testifying to the attitudes which the mind takes toward its experiences. They are remarkably rich and varied, these emotions. Hope gives place to its opposite despair, joy to sorrow, and regret succeeds expectation. No one can enumerate the actual phases of the emotional life. The differences which are most pronounced—as between hope and fear, joy and sorrow, anger and love—have special names, and their stimulating causes are so constant that they have also certain fixed ways of showing themselves in the body, the so-called emotional Expressions. It is by these that we see and sympathize with the emotional states of other persons. The most that we have room here to say is that there is a constant ebb and flow, and that we rarely attain a state of relative freedom from the influence of emotion.
The fixed bodily Expressions of emotion are largely hereditary and common to man and the animals. It is highly probable that they first arose as attitudes useful in the animal's environments for defence, flight, seizure, embrace, etc., and have descended to man as survivals, so becoming indications of states of the mind.
The final and highest manifestation of the life of feeling is what we call Sentiment. Sentiment is aroused in response to certain so-called ideal states of thought. The trend of mental growth toward constantly greater adequacy in its knowledge leads it to anticipate conditions when its attainments will be made complete. There are certain sorts of reality whose completeness, thus imagined, arouses in us emotional states of the greatest power and value. The thought of God gives rise to the Religious sentiment, that of the good to the Ethical or Moral sentiment, that of the beautiful to the Esthetic sentiment. These sentiments represent the most refined and noble fruitage of the life of feeling, as the thoughts which they accompany refer to the most elevated and ideal objects. And it is equally true that the conduct which is performed under the inspiration of Sentiment is the noblest and most useful in which man can engage.
THE MIND OF THE ANIMAL—COMPARATIVE PSYCHOLOGY.
It has already been pointed out that the animal has a very important share of the endowment which we call mind. Only recently has he been getting his due. He was formerly looked upon, under the teachings of a dualistic philosophy and of a jealous humanity, as a soulless machine, a mere automaton which was moved by the starting of certain springs to run on until the machine ran down. There are two reasons that this view has been given up, each possibly important enough to have accomplished the revolution and to have given rise to Animal Psychology.
First, there is the rise of the evolution theory, which teaches that there is no absolute break between man and the higher animals in the matter of mental endowment, and that what difference there is must itself be the result of the laws of mental growth; and the second reason is that the more adequate the science of the human mind has become the more evident has it also become that man himself is more of a machine than had been supposed. Man grows by certain laws; his progress is conditioned by the environment, both physical and social, in which he lives; his mind is a part of the natural system of things. So with the animal. The animal fulfils, as far as he can, the same sort of function; he has his environment, both physical and social; he works under the same laws of growth which man also obeys; his mind exhibits substantially the same phenomena which the human mind exhibits in its early stages in the child. All this means that the animal has as good right to recognition, as a mind-bearing creature, so to speak, as the child; and if we exclude him we should also exclude the child. Further, this also means—what is more important for the science of psychology—that the development of the mind in its early stages and in certain of its directions of progress is revealed most adequately in the animals.
Animal Instinct.—Turning to the animals, the first thing to strike us is the remarkable series of so-called animal Instincts. Everybody knows what animal instincts are like; it is only necessary to go to a zooelogical garden to see them in operation on a large scale. Take the house cat and follow her through the life of a single day, observing her actions. She washes her face and makes her toilet in the morning by instinct. She has her peculiar instinctive ways of catching the mouse for breakfast. She whets her appetite by holding back her meal possibly for an hour, in the meantime playing most cruelly with the pitiful mouse, letting it run and catching it again, and doing this over and over. If she has children she attends to their training in the details of cat etiquette and custom with the utmost care, all by instinct; and the kittens instinctively respond to her attentions. She conducts herself during the day with remarkable cleanliness of life, making arrangements which civilized man follows with admiration. She shows just the right abhorrence of water for a creature that is not able to swim. She knows just what enemies to fly from and when to turn and fight, using with inborn dexterity her formidable claws. She prefers nocturnal excursions and sociabilities, having eyes which make it safe to be venturesome in the dark. She has certain vocal expressions of her emotions, which man in vain attempts to eradicate with all the agencies of domestication. She has special arts to attract her mate, and he in turn is able to charm her with songs which charm nobody else. And so on, almost ad infinitum.
Observe the dog, the birds of different species, the monkeys, the hares, and you find wonderful differences of habit, each adapting the animal differently, but with equal effectiveness, to the life which he in particular is called upon to lead. The ants and bees are notoriously expert in the matter of instinct. They have colonies in which some of the latest principles of social organization seem to find analogues: slavery, sexual regulations, division of labour, centralization of resources, government distribution of food, capital punishment, etc.
All this—not to stop upon details which the books on animal life give in great abundance—has furnished grounds for speculation for centuries, and it is only in the last generation that the outlines of a theory of instinct have been filled in with substantial knowledge. A rapid sketch of this theory may be drawn in the following pages.
1. In instinct in general there is a basis of inherited nervous tendency toward the performance of just the sort of action which the instinct exhibits. This nervous tendency shows itself independently of learning by the individual in a great many cases, as in the instinct of sucking by young animals, pecking for food by young fowls, the migrating actions of adult mammals and birds, the courting movements of many varieties of animal species. In all this we have what is called the "perfect" instinct. To be perfect, an instinct must be carried out successfully by the animal when his organism is ready, without any instruction, any model to imitate, any experience to go upon. The "perfect" instincts are entirely congenital or inborn; the nervous apparatus only needs to reach the proper stage of maturity or growth, and forthwith the instinctive action is performed as soon as the external conditions of life are such as to make its performance appropriate and useful.
2. On the other hand, many instincts—indeed, probably the greater number—are not perfect, but "imperfect." Imperfect instincts are those which do not fully equip the animal with the function in question, but only take him part way to the goal. He has a spontaneous tendency to do certain things, such as building a nest, singing, etc.; but he is not able to do these things adequately or perfectly if left to himself from birth. This sort of endowment with imperfect instincts has been the field of some of the most interesting research in animal psychology, and has led to a new view of the relation of instinct to intelligence.
3. It has been found that young animals, birds, etc., depend upon the example and instruction of adults for the first performance of many actions that seem to be instinctive. This dependence may exist even in cases in which there is yet a congenital tendency to perform the action. Many birds, for example, have a general instinct to build a nest; but in many cases, if put in artificial circumstances, they build imperfect nests. Birds also have an instinct to make vocal calls; but if kept from birth out of hearing of the peculiar notes of their species, they come to make cries of a different sort, or learn to make the notes of some other species with which they are thrown.
4. The principal agency for the learning of the animals, and for the supplementing of their instincts, is Imitation. The sight of certain movements on the part of the adult animals, or the hearing of their cries, calls, notes, etc., leads the young to fall into an imitation of these movements or vocal performances. The endowment which such a young animal has in the direction of making movements and cries similar to those of his species aids him, of course, in imitating these in preference to others. So the endowment and the tendency to imitate directly aid each other in all such functions, and hurry the little creature on in his acquisition of the habits of his species. We find young animals clinging even in their imitations pretty closely to their own proper fathers and mothers, who are thus enabled to bring them up comme il faut.
5. There is every reason to think, moreover, that the tendency to imitate is itself instinctive. Young animals, notably the monkey and the child, fall spontaneously to imitating when they reach a certain age. Imitation shows itself to be instinctive in the case of the mocking bird, the parrot, etc. Furthermore, the mechanism of this function of imitation is now very well known. The principle of psychology recognised above under the phrase Kinaesthetic Equivalents, teaches us that the idea of a movement, coming into the mind through sight or some other sense, stirs up the proper apparatus to bring about the same movement in the observer. This we see in the common tendency of an audience to repeat the gestures of a speaker, and in many similar cases. When this principle is extended to include all sorts of experiences besides those of movement, we have what is generally called Imitation. Moreover, every time that by action the child imitates, he perceives his own imitation, and this again acts as a "copy" or model for another repetition of the act, and so on. This method of keeping himself going gives the young animal or child constant practice, and renders him more and more efficient in the acts necessary to his life.
6. It is evident what great profit accrues from this arrangement whereby a general instinct like imitation takes the place of a number of special instincts, or supplements them. It gives a measure of plasticity to the creature. He can now respond suitably to changes in the environment in which he lives. The special instincts, on the contrary, are for the most part so fixed that the animal must act just as they require him to in this or that circumstance; but as soon as his instinct takes on the form of imitation, the resulting action tends to conform itself to the model actions of the other creatures which set "copies" before him.
These more or less new results due to recent research in the province of Instinct have had direct bearing upon theories of the origin of instinct and of its place in animal life.
Theories of Instinct.—Apart from the older view which saw in animal instinct simply a matter of original created endowment, whereby each animal was made once for all "after his kind," and according to which there is no further reason that the instincts are what they are than that they were made so; apart from this "special creation" view, two different ideas have had currency, both based upon the theory of evolution. Each of these views assumes that the instincts have been developed from more simple animal actions by a gradual process; but they differ as to the elements originally entering into the actions which afterward became instinctive.
1. First, there is what is called the Reflex Theory. This holds that instincts are reflex actions, like the closing of the eye when an object threatens to enter it, only much more complex. They are due to the compounding and adding together of simple reflexes, in greater and greater number, and with increasing efficiency. This theory attempts to account for instinct entirely in terms of nervous action. It goes with that view of evolution which holds that the nervous system has had its growth from generation to generation by the continued reflex adjustments of the organism to its environment, whereby more and more delicate adaptations to the external world were secured. In this way, say the advocates of this theory, we may account for the fact that the animal has no adequate knowledge of what he is doing when he performs an act instinctively; he has no end or aim in his mind; he simply feels his nervous system doing what it is fitted to do by its organic adaptations to the stimulations of air, and earth, and sea, whatever these may be.
But it may be asked: Why do succeeding generations improve each on its parents, so that there is a gradual tendency to perfect the instinct?
The answer to this question brings up another great law of biology—the principle of Variations. This principle states the common fact that in every case of a family of offspring the individual young vary slightly in all directions from their parents. Admitting this, we will find in each group of families some young individuals which are better than their parents; these will have the advantage over others and will be the ones to grow up and have the children of the next generation again, and so on. So by constant Variation and Natural Selection—that is, the "Survival of the Fittest" in competition with the rest—there will be constant improvement in the Instinct.
2. The other theory, the rival one, holds that there are some instincts which show so plainly the marks of Reason that some degree of intelligent adjustment to the environment must be allowed to the animal in the acquiring of these functions. For example, we are told that some of the muscular movements involved in the instincts—such, for example, as the bird's nest-building—are so complex and so finely adjusted to an end, that it is straining belief to suppose that they could have arisen gradually by reflex adaptation alone. There is also a further difficulty with the reflex theory which has seemed insurmountable to many of the ablest psychologists of animal life; the difficulty, namely, that many of the instincts require the action of a great many muscles at the same time, so acting in "correlation" with or support of one another that it is impossible to suppose that the instinct has been acquired gradually. For in the very nature of these cases we can not suppose the instinct to have ever been imperfect, seeing that the partial instinct which would have preceded the perfect performance for some generations would have been not only of no use to the creature, but in many cases positively injurious. For instance, what use to an animal to be able partly to make the movements of swimming, or to the birds to build an inadequate nest? Such instincts would not be usable at all. So we are told by the second theory that the animals must have had intelligence to do these things when they first acquired them. Yet, as is everywhere admitted, after the instinct has been acquired by the species it is then carried out without knowledge and intelligent design, being handed down from generation to generation by heredity.
This seems reasonable, for we do find that actions which were at first intelligent may be performed so frequently that we come to do them without thinking of them; to do them from habit. So the animals, we are told, have come to do theirs reflexly, although at first they required intelligence. From this point of view—that although intelligence was at first required, yet the actions have become instinctive and lacking in intelligent direction in later generations—this is called the theory of Lapsed Intelligence.
This theory has much to commend it. It certainly meets the objection to the reflex theory which was stated just above—the objection that some of the instincts could not have arisen by gradual reflex adaptations. It also accounts for the extremely intelligent appearance which many instincts have.
But this view in turn is liable to a criticism which has grown in force with the progress of biological knowledge in recent years. This criticism is based on the fact that the theory of lapsed intelligence demands that the actions which the animals of one generation have acquired by their intelligence should be handed down through heredity to the next generation, and so on. It is evident that unless this be true it does no good to the species for one generation to do things intelligently, seeing that if the effects on the nervous system are not transmitted to their children, then the next and later generations will have to start exactly where their fathers did, and the actions in question will never become ingrained in the nervous system at all.
Now, the force of this criticism is overwhelming to those who believe—as the great majority of biologists now do—that none of the modifications or so-called "characters" acquired by the parents, none of the effects of use or disuse of their limbs, none of the tendencies or habits of action, in short, none of the changes wrought in body or mind of the parents during their lifetime, are inherited by their children. The only sorts of modification which show themselves in subsequent generations are the deep-seated effects of disease, poison, starvation, and other causes which concern the system as a whole, but which show no tendency to reproduce by heredity any of the special actions or functions which the fathers and mothers may have learned and practised. If this difficulty could be met, the theory that intelligence has been at work in the origination of the complex instincts would be altogether the preferable one of the two; but if not, then the "lapsed intelligence" view must be thrown overboard.
[Footnote 1: The matter is still under discussion, however, and I do not mean in any way to deny the authority of those who still accept the "inheritance of acquired characters."]
Recent discussion of evolution has brought out a point of view under the name of Organic Selection which has a very fruitful application to this controversy over the origin of instincts. This point of view is one which in a measure reconciles the two theories. It claims that it is possible for the intelligent adaptations, or any sort of "accommodations," made by the individuals of one generation, to set the direction of subsequent evolution, even though there be no direct inheritance of acquired characters from father to son. It proceeds in the case of instinct somewhat thus:
Suppose we say, with the first theory given above, that the organism has certain reflexes which show some degree of adaptation to the environment; then suppose we admit the point, urged by the advocates of the lapsed intelligence theory, that the gradual improvement of these reflexes by variations in the endowment of successive generations would not suffice for the origin of instinct, seeing that partial instincts would not be useful; and, further, suppose we agree that many of the complex instincts really involved intelligent adaptation in their acquisition. These points carefully understood, then one new and further principle will enable us to complete a theory which will avoid the objections to both the others. This principle is nothing else than what we have seen already—namely, that the intelligence supplements the partial instincts in each generation and makes them useful in the respects in which they are inadequate, and so keeps the young alive in successive generations as long as the instinct is imperfect. This gives the species time gradually to supplement its instinctive endowment, in the course of many generations each of which uses its intelligence in the same way: time to accumulate, by the occurrence of variations among the offspring, the changes in the nervous system which the perfect instinct requires. Thus as time goes on the dependence of each generation upon the aid of intelligence is less and less, until the nervous system becomes capable of performing the function quite alone. The result then will be the same as if the acquisitions made by each generation had been inherited, while in reality they have not. All that this theory requires in addition to what is admitted by both the historical views is that the species be kept alive long enough by the aid of its intelligence, which supplements imperfect instincts, to give it time to produce sufficient variations in the right direction. The instinct then achieves its independence, and intelligent supervision of it is no longer necessary (see Fig. 1).
This theory is directly confirmed by the facts, already spoken of, which show that many instincts are imperfect, but are pieced out and made effective by the intelligent imitations and acquisitions of the young creatures. The little chick, for example, does not know the value of water when he sees it, as essential as water is to his life; but he depends upon imitation of his mother's drinking, or upon the mere accident of wetting his bill, to stimulate his partial instinct of drinking in the peculiar fashion characteristic of fowls, by throwing back the head. So in other functions which are peculiar to a species and upon which their very lives depend, we find the delicate adjustment between intelligent adaptation by conscious action and the partially formed instincts which the creatures possess.
In the theory of Organic Selection, therefore, we seem to have a positive solution of the question of the origin of instinct. It is capable of a similar application in other cases where evolution has taken certain definite directions, seemingly guided by intelligence. It shows us that mind has had a positive place in the evolution of organic nature.
* * * * *
Animal Intelligence.—Coming to consider what further equipment the animals have, we light upon the fact just spoken of when we found it necessary to appeal in some measure to the animal's Intelligence to supplement his instincts. What is meant by Intelligence?
This word may be used in the broad sense of denoting all use of consciousness, or mind, considered as a thing in some way additional to the reflexes of the nervous system. In the life of the animal, as in that of man, wherever we find the individual doing anything with reference to a mental picture, using knowledge or experience in any form, then he is said to be acting intelligently.
The simplest form of intelligent action in the animal world and that from which most of the higher forms have arisen is illustrated in the following example: a chick will peck at a strange worm, and, finding it unpalatable, will then in the future refuse to peck at worms of that sort. This refusal to do a second time what has once had a disagreeable result is intelligent. We now say that the chick "knows" that the worm is not good to eat. The instinctive action of pecking at all worms is replaced by a refusal to peck at certain worms. Again, taking the reverse case, we find that the chick which did not respond to the sight of drinking water instinctively, but had to see the mother drink first, acted intelligently, or through a state of consciousness, when it imitated the old hen, and afterward drank of its own accord. It now "knows" that water is the thing to drink.
The further question which comes upon us here concerns the animal's acquisition of the action appropriate to carry out his knowledge. How does he learn the muscular combinations which supplement or replace the earlier instinctive ways of acting?
This question appears very clearly when we ask about the child's acquisition of new acts of skill. We find him constantly learning, modifying his habits, refining his ways of doing things, becoming possessed of quite new and complex functions, such as speech, handwriting, etc. All these are intelligent activities; they are learned very gradually and with much effort and pains. It is one of the most important and interesting questions of all psychology to ask how he manages to bring the nervous and muscular systems under greater and greater control by his mind. How can he modify and gradually improve his "reactions"—as we call his responses to the things and situations about him—so as to act more and more intelligently?
The answer seems to be that he proceeds by what has been called Experimenting. He does not simply do things because he has intelligence,—simply that is, because he sees how to do them without first learning how; that is the older and probably quite erroneous view of intelligence. The mind can not move the body simply by its fiat. No man can do that. Man, like the little animal, has to try things and keep on trying things, in order to find out the way they work and what their possibilities are. And each animal, man, beast, or bird has to do it for himself. Apart from the instinctive actions which the child does without knowing their value at all, and apart from the equally instinctive imitative way of doing them without aiming at learning more by the imitations, he proceeds in all cases to make experiments. Generally his experiments work through acts of imitation. He imitates what he sees some other creature do; or he imitates his own instinctive actions by setting up before him in his mind the memories of the earlier performance; or, yet again, after he has struck a fortunate combination, he repeats that imitatively. Thus, by the principle already spoken of, he stores up a great mass of Kinaesthetic Equivalents, which linger in memory, and enable him to act appropriately when the proper circumstances come in his way. He also gets what we have called Associations established between the acts and the pleasure or pain which they give, and so avoids the painful and repeats the pleasurable ones.
The most fruitful field of this sort of imitative learning is in connection with the "try-try-again" struggles of the young, especially children. This is called Persistent Imitation. The child sees before him some action to imitate—some complex act of manipulation with the hand, let us say. He tries to perform it in an experimental way, using the muscles of the hand and arm. With this he strains himself all over, twisting his tongue, bending his body, and grimacing from head to foot, so to speak. Thus he gets a certain way toward the correct result, but very crudely and inexactly. Then he tries again, proceeding now on the knowledge which the first effort gave him; and his trial is less uncouth because he now suppresses some of the hindering grimacing movements and retains the ones which he sees to be most nearly correct. Again he tries, and again, persistently but gradually reducing the blundering movements to the pattern of the copy, and so learning to perform the act of skill.
The massive and diffused movements which he makes by wriggling and fussing are also of direct use to him. They increase remarkably the chances that among them all there will be some movements which will hit the mark, and so contribute to his stock of correct Equivalents. Dogs and monkeys learn to unlock doors, let down fence rails, and perform relatively complex actions by experimenting; persistently with many varied movements until the successful ones are finally struck.
This is the type of all those acts of experimenting by which new complex movements are acquired. In children it proceeds largely without interference from others; the child persists of himself. He has greater ability than the animals to see the meaning of the completed act and to really desire to acquire it. With the animals the acquisitions do not extend very far, on account of their limitation in intelligent endowment; but in the training of the domestic animals and in the education of show-animals the trainer aids them and urges them on by making use of the associations of pleasure and pain spoken of above. He supplements the animal's feelings of pain and pleasure with the whip and with rewards of food, etc., so that each step of the animal's success or failure has acute associations with pain or pleasure. Thus the animal gradually gets a number of associations formed, avoids the actions with which pain is associated, repeats those which call up memories of pleasure all the way through an extended performance in regular steps; and in the result the performance so closely counterfeits the operations of high intelligence—such as counting, drawing cards, etc.—that the audience is excited to admiration.
This first glimpse of the animal's limitations when compared with man may suggest the general question, how far the brutes go in their intelligent endowment. The proper treatment of this much-debated point requires certain further explanations.
In the child we find a tendency to act in certain ways toward all objects, events, etc., which are in any respect alike. After learning to use the hands, for example, for a certain act, the same hand movements are afterward used for other similar acts which the child finds it well to perform. He thus tends, as psychologists say, to "generalize," that is, to take up certain general attitudes which will answer for a great many details of experience. On the side of the reception of his items of knowledge this was called Assimilation, as will be remembered. This saves him enormous trouble and risk; for as soon as an object or situation presents itself before him with certain general aspects, he can at once take up the attitude appropriate to these general aspects without waiting to learn the particular features of the new. The ability to do this shows itself in two rather different ways which seem respectively to characterize man on the one hand and the lower animals on the other.
With the animals this tendency to generalize, to treat objects in classes rather than as individuals, takes the form of a sort of composition or direct union of brain pathways. Different experiences are had, and then because they are alike they tend to issue in the same channels of action. The animal is tied down strictly to his experience; he does not anticipate to any extent what is going to happen. He does not use one experience as a symbol and apply it beforehand to other things and events. He is in a sense passive; stimulations rain down upon him, and force him into certain attitudes and ways of action. As far as his knowledge is "general" it is called a Recept. A dog has a Recept of the whip; so far as whips are not too different from one another, the dog will act in the same way toward all of them. In man, on the other hand, the development of mind has gone a decided step further. The child very quickly begins to use symbols, words being the symbols of first importance to him. He does not have, like the brute, to wait for successive experiences of like objects to impress themselves upon him; but he goes out toward the new, expecting it to be like the old, and so acting as to anticipate it. He thus falls naturally into general ways of acting which it is the function of experience to refine and distinguish. He seems to have more of the higher sort of what was called above Apperception, as opposed to the more concrete and accidental Associations of Ideas. He gets Concepts, as opposed to the Recepts of the animals. With this goes the development of speech, which some psychologists consider the source of all the man's superiority over the animals. Words become symbols of a highly abstract sort for certain classes of experiences; and, moreover, through speech a means of social communication is afforded by which the development of the individual is enormously advanced.
It is probable, in fact, that this difference—that between the Generalization which uses symbols, and mere Association—is the root of all the differences that follow later on, and give man the magnificent advantage over the animals which he has. From it is developed the faculty of thinking, reasoning, etc., in which man stands practically alone. On the brain side, it requires special developments both through the preparation of certain brain centres given over to the speech function, and also through the greater organization of the gray matter of the cerebral cortex, to which we revert again in a later chapter. Indeed, looked at from the side of the development of the brain, we see that there is no break between man and the animals in the laws of organization, but that the difference is one of evolution.
Later on in the life of the child we find another contrast connected with the difference of social life and organization as between the animals and man. The animals probably do not have a highly organized sense of Self as man does; and the reason doubtless is that such a Self-consciousness is the outcome of life and experience in the very complex social relations in which the human child is brought up, and which he alone is fitted by his inherited gifts to sustain.
The Play of Animals.—Another of the most interesting questions of animal life is that which concerns their plays. Most animals are given to play. Indeed that they indulge in a remarkable variety of sports is well known even to the novice in the study of their habits. Beginning when very young, they gambol, tussle, leap, and run together, chase one another, play with inanimate objects, as the kitten with the ball, join in the games of children and adults, as the dog which plays hide and seek with his little master, and all with a knowingness and zest which makes them the best of companions. The volumes devoted to the subject give full accounts of these plays of animals, and we need not repeat them; the psychologist is interested, however, mainly in the general function of play in the life of the individual animal and child, and in the psychological states and motives which it reveals. Play, whether in animals or in man, shows certain general characteristics which we may briefly consider.
1. The plays of animals are very largely instinctive, being indulged in for the most part without instruction. The kitten leaps impulsively to the game. Little dogs romp untaught, and fall, as do other animals also, when they are strong enough, into all the playful attitudes which mark their kind. This is seen strikingly among adult animals in what are called the courtship plays. The birds, for example, indulge in elaborate and beautiful evolutions of a playful sort at the mating season.
2. It follows from their instinctive character that animal plays are peculiar to the species which perform them. We find series of sports peculiar to dogs, others to cats, and so on through all the species of the zooelogical garden, whether the creatures be wild or tame. Each shows its species as clearly by its sportive habits as by its shape, cry, or any other of what are called its "specific" habits. This is important not only to the zooelogist, as indicating differences of evolution and scale of attainment, environment, etc., but also to the psychologist, as indicating differences of what we may call animal temperament. Animals show not only the individual differences which human beings do, one liking this game and another that, one being leader in the sport and another the follower, but also the greater differences which characterize races. The Spaniards love the bull fight; other nations consider it repulsive, and take their fun in less brutal forms, although, perchance, they tolerate Rugby football! So the animals vary in their tastes, some playing incessantly at fighting, and so zealously as to injure one another, while others like the milder romp, and the game with flying leaves, rolling stones, or the incoming waves on the shore.
3. Psychologically, the most interesting characteristic of animal, as of human, play is what is called the "make-believe" state of mind which enters into it. If we consider our own sports we find that, in the midst of the game, we are in a condition of divided consciousness. We indulge in the scheme of play, whatever it be, as if it were a real situation, at the same time preserving our sense that it is not real. That is, we distinguish through it all the actual realities, but make the convention with our companions that for the time we will act together as if the playful situation were real. With it there is a sense that it is a matter of voluntary indulgence that can stop at anytime; that the whole temporary illusion to which we submit is strictly our own doing, a job which we have "put up" on ourselves. That is what is meant by make-believe.
Now it is clear that the animals have this sense of make-believe in their games both with other animals and with man. The dog plays at biting the hand of his master, and actually takes the member between his teeth and mumbles it; but all the while he stops short of painful pressure, and goes through a series of characteristic attitudes which show that he distinguishes very clearly between this play biting and the real. If perchance the master shows signs of being hurt, the dog falls into attitudes of sorrow, and apologizes fulsomely. So also when the animals play together, a vigorous squeal from a companion who is "under" generally brings him his release.
The principal interest of this make-believe consciousness is that it is considered by many to be an essential ingredient of AEsthetic feeling. A work of art is said to have its effect through its tendency to arouse in us a make-believe acceptance of the scene or motive presented, while it nevertheless remains contrasted with the realities of our lives. If this be true, the interesting question arises how far the animals also have the germs of AEsthetic feeling in their make-believe situations. Does the female pea-fowl consider the male bird, with all his display of colour and movement, a beautiful object? And does the animal companion say: How beautiful! when his friend in the sport makes a fine feint, and comes up serene with the knowing look, which the human on-looker can not fail to understand?
In some cases, at any rate, we should have to reply to this question affirmatively, if we considered make-believe the essential thing in aesthetic enjoyment.
Theories of Animal Play.—The question of the meaning and value of play to the animals has had very enlightening discussion of late. There are two principal theories now advocated.
I. The older theory considered play simply the discharge of surplus nerve force in the animal's organism. He was supposed to play when he felt fresh and vigorous. The horse is "skittish" and playful in the morning, not so much so at night. The dogs lie down and rest when they are tired, having used up their surplus energies. This is called the Surplus-Energy Theory of play.
The difficulty with this theory is that it is not adequate to explain any of the characteristics of play which have been given above. Why should play be instinctive in its forms, showing certain complex and ingrained channels of expression, if it were merely the discharge of surplus force? We are more lively in the morning, but that does not explain our liking and indulging in certain sorts of complex games at all hours. Moreover, animals and children will continue to play when greatly fatigued. A dog, for example, which seems absolutely "used up," can not resist the renewed solicitations of his friends to continue the chase. Furthermore, why is it that plays are characteristic of species, different kinds of animals having plays quite peculiar to themselves? It is difficult to see how this could have come about unless there had been some deeper-going reason in accordance with which each species has learned the particular forms of sport in which it indulges.
The advocates of this theory attempt to meet these objections by saying that the imitative instinct accounts for the particular directions in which the discharges of energy occur. A kitten's plays are like those of the cat tribe because the kitten is accustomed to imitate cats; when it falls to playing it is with cats, and so it sheds its superfluous energies in the customary imitative channels. In this way it grows to learn the games of its own species. There is a good deal in this point; most games are imitative in so far as they are learned at all. But it does not save the theory; for many animal plays are not learned by the individual at all, as we have seen above; on the contrary, they are instinctive. In these cases the animal does not wait to learn the games of his tribe by imitation, but starts-right-in on his own account. Besides this there are many forms of animal play which are not imitative at all. In these the animals co-operate, but do not take the same parts. The young perform actions in the game which the mother does not.
All this goes to support another and most serious objection to this theory—in the mind of all those who believe in the doctrine of evolution. The Surplus-Energy Theory considers the play-impulse, which is one of the most widespread characters of animal life, as merely an accidental thing or by-product—a mere using-up of surplus energies. It is not in any way important to the animals. This makes it impossible to say that play has come to be the very complex thing that it really is by the laws of evolution; for survival by natural selection always supposes that the attribute or character which survives is important enough to keep the animal alive in the struggle for existence; otherwise it would not be continued for successive generations, and gradually perfected on account of its utility.
On the whole, therefore, we find the Surplus-Energy Theory of play quite inadequate.
II. Another theory therefore becomes necessary if we are to meet these difficulties. Such a theory has recently been developed. It holds that the plays of the animals are of the greatest utility to them in this way: they exercise the young animals in the very activities—though in a playful way—in which they must seriously engage later on in life. A survey of the plays of animals with a view to comparing them in each case with the adult activities of the same species, confirms this theory in a remarkably large number of cases. It shows the young anticipating, in their play, the struggles, enjoyments, co-operations, defeats, emergencies, etc., of their after lives, and by learning to cope with all these situations, so preparing themselves for the serious onset of adult responsibilities. On this theory each play becomes a beautiful case of adaptation to nature. The kitten plays with the ball as the old cat handles the mouse; the little dogs wrestle together, and so learn to fight with teeth and claws; the deer run from one another, and so test their speed and learn to escape their enemies. If we watch young animals at play we see that not a muscle or nerve escapes this preliminary training and exercise; and the instinctive tendencies which control the play direct the activities into just the performances which the animal's later life-habits are going on to require.
On this view play becomes of the utmost utility. It is not a by-product, but an essential part of the animal's equipment. Just as the infancy period has been lengthened in the higher animals in order to give the young time to learn all that they require to meet the harsh conditions of life, so during this infancy period they have in the play-instinct a means of the first importance for making good use of their time. It is beautiful to see the adults playing with their young, adapting their strength to the little ones, repeating the same exercises without ceasing, drilling them with infinite pains to greater hardihood, endurance, and skill.
On this theory it is also easy to see why it is that the plays are different for the different species. The actual life conditions are different, and the habits of the species are correspondingly different. So it is only another argument for the truth of this theory that we find just those games natural to the young which train them in the habits natural to the old.
This view is now being very generally adopted. Many fine illustrations might be cited. A simple case may be seen in so small a thing as the habit of leaping in play; the difference, for example, between the mountain goat and the common fawn. The former, when playing on level ground makes a very ludicrous exhibition by jumping in little up-and-down leaps by which he makes no progress. In contrast with this the fawn, whose adult life is normally in the plains, takes a long graceful spring. The difference becomes clear from the point of view of this theory, when we remember that the goat is to live among the rocks, where the only useful jump is just the up-and-down sort which the little fellow is now practising; while the deer, in his life upon the plains, will always need the running jump.
Finally, on this theory, play becomes a thing for evolution to cultivate for its utility in the progress of animal life, and for that reason we may suppose it has been perfected in the remarkable variety and beauty of form which it shows.
On the psychological side, we find a corresponding state of things. The mind in the young animal or child gets the main education of early life through its play situations. Games have an extraordinary pedagogical influence. The more so because they are the natural and instinctive way of getting an education in practical things. This again is of supreme utility to the individuals.
Both for body and mind we find that play illustrates the principle of Organic Selection explained above. It makes the young animal flexible, plastic, and adaptable; it supplements all his other instincts and imperfect functions; it gives him a new chance to live, and so determines the course of evolution in the direction which the playful animal represents. The quasi-social and gregarious habits of animals probably owe much of their strength to the play-impulse, both through the training of individual animals and through the fixing of these tendencies as instincts in various animal species in the way just mentioned.
In another place below I analyze a child's game and draw some inferences from it. Here it may suffice to say that in their games the young animals acquire the flexibility of mind and muscle upon which much of the social co-operation, as well as the individual effectiveness, of their later life depends. With children, it is not the only agency, of course, though its importance is not less. We have to carry the children further by other means; but the other means should never interfere with this natural schooling. They should aim the rather by supplementing it wisely to direct its operation and to extend its sphere.