Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/366

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352
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
THE MUSICAL SENSE IN ANIMALS AND MEN.[1]

By AUGUST WEISMANN.

THE author, having argued at length that the development of the musical sense is not a result of sexual selection; that it is not a faculty essential to the preservation of the race; and that, as it exists naturally in individuals previous to being cultivated, it is not a faculty that grows with the growth of the race — seeks an explanation of its existence in regarding it as simply a by-product of our organs of hearing. These organs, he goes on to say, are necessary in the struggle for existence, and may therefore have originated and been developed to a high degree in the process of selection. No one can be made to believe that the hand of man was formed with reference to playing the piano. It is adapted to grasping and to delicate touch; and, since these faculties are of great use in the struggle for existence, there was nothing in the way of making a finer fashioning of the hand already present in animals, agreeable with that process. In this way it has become finely fingered, delicate, and flexible as we know it, and as we find it even in the lowest savages. We can do with this hand a great many things that were not contemplated — if we may be permitted the expression — in its structure; among others, play the piano, that instrument having been invented; and a wild African, if we drill him to it from childhood, can, under the conditions of modern piano technics, learn it as well as a civilized child. The same is the case, I believe, to a considerable degree, in the artistic musical sense. That is, in a certain sense, a hand with which we play on the soul, but a hand that was not originally designed for that purpose — that is, did not originate out of the necessity of our discovering music, but out of entirely different necessities. This assertion is in need of a fuller demonstration. Our musical faculties consist of two parts: one, the organs of hearing proper — the outer, middle, and inner ear, which translate the different tones into nerve-movements; and the second, of the brain part, which converts these nerve-movements, when they have passed through the auditory nerve, into tone-perceptions, and the auditory center of the brain.

The first part of this duality — the organ of hearing proper — is not, so far as we know, much more highly developed in man than in many animals; and is not in other ways so constructed that we can conclude that it contains any different capacity from that of those animals for hearing music. The higher animals can also enjoy music, as my house-cat shows, when she comes at the play-

  1. From an article in the Deutsche Rundschau.