Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/352

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340
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

deception is the alternative. There is no pleasure in the consciousness of being an infinitesimal bubble on a globe that is itself infinitesimal compared with the totality of things.

Those on whom the unpitying rush of changes inflicts sufferings which are often without remedy, find no consolation in the thought that they are at the mercy of forces which cause, indifferently, now the destruction of a sun and now the death of an animalcule. Contemplation of a Universe which is without conceivable beginning or imaginable end and without intelligible purpose yields no satisfaction. The desire to know what it all means is no less strong in the agnostic than in others, and raises sympathy with them. Failing utterly to find any interpretation himself, he feels a regretful inability to accept the interpretation they offer.


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STUDIES OF CHILDHOOD.

IX. — FEAR (continued).

By JAMES SULLY, M.A., LL. D.,

GROTE PROFESSOR OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND LOGIC AT THE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON.

IN my last article I gave a general account of children's fears. In this account I purposely reserved for special discussion two varieties of this fear — namely, dread of animals and of the dark. As the former certainly manifests itself before the latter, I will take it first.

It seems odd that the creatures which are to become the companions and playmates of children, and one of the chief sources of their happiness, should cause so much alarm when they first come on the scene. Yet so it is. Many children at least are at first put out by quite harmless members of the animal family. We must, however, be careful in distinguishing between mere nerve-shock and dislike, on the one hand, and genuine fear on the other. Thus a lady whom I know as a good observer tells me that, though when her boy was fifteen months old his nerves were shaken by the loud barking of a dog, he had no real fear of dogs. With this may be contrasted another case, also sent by a good observer, in which it is specially noted that the aversion to the sound of a dog's barking developed late and was a true fear.

Æsthetic dislikes, again, may easily give rise to quasi fears, though, as we all know, little children have not the horrors of their elders in this respect. The boy C—— could not understand his mother's scare at the descending caterpillar. A kind of aesthetic dislike appears to show itself sometimes toward animals