Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/679

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657
COMPARATIVE PSYCHOLOGY.

extent to which animals do continue, it may be in pairs or in larger numbers, to defend themselves against enemies; hunt down prey; rear young; elude enemies; overcome difficulties in travel; work in concert in the preparation of dwellings, and in many other instances, has been but inadequately considered. And in many such cases it is quite impossible to explain these things by that refuge of the unthinking or prejudiced, "instinct." The limits of an address of this kind do not, of course, permit of detailed evidence being adduced for the views maintained. Such evidence is, however, within the observation of all to some extent, and is, so far as the literature is concerned, found in elaborate form in the admirable writings of Romanes and Lindsay more especially. Thus much by way of clearing the ground, of preparing the mind for a careful and earnest study of our fellow-creatures of the lower grades, without prejudice and without fear of any loss of self-respect by the concessions we may be obliged to make.

As to how, so far as the study of comparative psychology itself is concerned, the objects of this society may be best advanced, let me now endeavor to indicate briefly. A great part of the material available is found in literature of very varying reliability. In many cases there is so obvious a prejudice in favor of the particular animals whose performances are described, that very large deductions must be made. We shall do well to be more than cautious in what we accept. At the same time much that can not be regarded as wholly reliable may prove suggestive and serve as the starting-point of investigations. But there is no reason why many points now bearing the character of uncertainty and indefiniteness might not be submitted to the test of experiment. Doubtless not a few supposed facts would vanish into thin air if subjected to such examination. However, I must at the same time state that a careful perusal of the accounts of the experiments of even the most skillful investigators by this method, with its clearly defined but artificially arranged conditions, has convinced me that such do not wholly meet the case. They bear with them the danger of fallacy against which one must constantly be on the watch. It must always be considered that the great question is, not how an animal's mind may act, valuable as that may be, but how it normally does act; that is to say, what are the natural psychic processes of the class of animals under investigation? The same cautions, in drawing conclusions, must be observed in the allied science of physiology, one in which the conditions can be much more accurately regulated. Plainly, it will be desirable to keep our facts very sharply apart from our explanations. The science of psychology is a very youthful one, that of comparative psychology still more so; and, at the present stage of the science, any one who contributes a single fact will be a real friend to their progress. We must endeavor to secure a large number of correspondents who will furnish accurate accounts of phenomena in this realm, of which they have been themselves the observ-