Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/471

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SIGHT AND THE VISUAL ORGAN.

more you will know of the works and of the will of God. At least, you will be in harmony with the teaching of the Psalmist. "The heavens," says he, "declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. There is neither speech nor language where their voices are not heard among them." So held the Psalmist concerning astronomy, the knowledge of the heavenly bodies; and what he says of sun and stars is true likewise of the flowers around our feet, of which the greatest Christian poet of modern times has said—

"To me the meanest flower that grows may give

Thoughts that do lie too deep for tears."

Abstract from Good Words.

 
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SIGHT AND THE VISUAL ORGAN,
By Dr. A. VON GRAEFE,
LATE PROFESSOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BERLIN.

BE the idea what it may, that we form to ourselves of the mysterious tie that links our perception to the life of the soul, so much is undoubted, that the material supplied by the impressions of the senses constitutes the basis on which the soul unfolds; further, that they furnish the nutriment on which our thoughts and conceptions live and grow, and that through them alone is preserved the connection between the invisible "I" and the external world—the soil in which all conscious intellectual activity strikes root.

The child does not come into the world fitted out with elementary notions, as the idealists have taught, but endowed with the capacity for acquiring these ideas. These impressions, coming to it through the senses, furnish the "intellectual fuel" for the first psychical processes. And, obviously for this embryo stage of mental life, the association of the senses of seeing and feeling is of peculiar importance. The richer the world of sensuous impressions is, and the more manifold the relations of sense to sense are, so all the more numerous and varied are our inductions from them. By means of a process of collecting and comparing, compound ideas are evolved out of simple ones, and the normal, logically organized mental life attains an ever-higher development, while, by the inexhaustible activity of the senses, it receives a never-failing supply of fresh material for the perfecting of its psychical structure.

The senses are indeed the gates to the mind, through which aliment passes for its sustenance; but equally, they are the portals through which science must endeavor to penetrate into the mental world. This has often been attempted, though in another manner, as by lay-