Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/12

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

child in the State knew that pitch was a "thick, black, sticky substance obtained by boiling down tar," and not only that, but he and the greater part of those present would feel as though their attendance had been obtained by false pretenses, and that the money they had paid for admission should be returned to them?

Or, if I should go out among the sturdy farmers of Northampton County and gather them together to hear a lecture on "ducks," and should confine my remarks to pets and darlings of the female part of the human species, is it not very certain that though the young agriculturists in search of wives would listen with eagerness to what I had to say (and it would be interesting, I think), the more sedate would feel as though I had played them a trick? Neither the young nor the old would have got what they came for, and yet there would be ample authority for the meaning given to the word.

And when I come before an educated assemblage such as this, composed to a great extent of persons of both sexes, who have been in the habit of thinking deeply on subjects of vast importance, and who have formed clear ideas of what meanings are to be given to the words they meet in their studies or use in their conversation, it is indispensable that if I wish to make myself understood and to speak with that force 60 essential in obtaining assent, I should do all in my power to avoid ambiguity of signification.

It would be very easy to bring before you many subjects in regard to which you have your own ideas, formed after much study and reflection, and to which, therefore, you would have a right to cling, and I should be obliged to start out by attempting to define accurately the terms to be employed. I doubt, however, if it would be possible to select one in which such a course would be more necessary than in that of which I am to speak to-day. The word "mind" is a little one, but it means a great deal, and if we strive for accuracy, as of course we should do, it means a great many different things. In fact, it is probable that, were I to send a canvasser among you, I should receive a hundred different explanations of the term, and nowhere would the variations be more numerous or more transcendental than among the eminent gentlemen—president, professors, and trustees—who constitute the governing body of this university; for I think I have observed that, the higher we go in mental development, the more numerous and refined are the differences as to what the mind is. No two metaphysicians ever yet exactly agreed in regard to the signification to be attached to the word mind.

But, before explaining to you my understanding of the term, it is necessary, in order to avoid all ground for misconception, to tell you what I do not mean. I do not mean the soul, although it and the mind are by a large and influential class of philosophers regarded as constituting one essence—as being, in fact, identical. With it, however, I conceive that we have nothing to do, so far as science goes. Its very