Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/280

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Take a child on your knee, and, turning over with him some engravings of landscapes, note what he observes. "I see a man in a boat," says he, pointing. "Look at the cows coming down the hill." "And see, there is a little boy playing with a dog." These and other such remarks, mostly about the living objects in each view, are all you get from him. Never by any chance does he utter a word respecting the scene as a whole. There is an absolute unconsciousness of any thing to be observed, or to be pleased with, in the combination of wood and water and mountain. And, while the child is entirely without this complex æsthetic consciousness, you see that he has not the remotest idea that such a consciousness exists in others, but is wanting in himself. Take, now, a case in which a kindred defect is betrayed by an adult. You have, perhaps, in the course of your life, had some musical culture, and can recall the stages through which you have passed. In early days a symphony was a mystery, and you were somewhat puzzled to find others applauding it. An unfolding of musical faculty, that went on slowly through succeeding years, brought some appreciation, and now these complex musical combinations, which once gave you little or no pleasure, give you more pleasure than any others. Remembering all this, you begin to suspect that your indifference to certain still more involved musical combinations may arise from incapacity in you, and not from defects in them. See, on the other hand, what happens with one who has undergone no such series of changes—say, an old naval officer, whose life at sea kept him out of the way of concerts and operas. You hear him occasionally confess, or rather boast, how much he enjoys the bagpipes. While the last cadences of a sonata, which a young lady has just played, are still in your ears, he goes up to her and asks whether she can play "Polly, put the kettle on," or "Johnny comes marching home." And then, when concerts are talked about at table, he seizes the occasion for expressing his dislike of classical music, and scarcely conceals his contempt for those who go to hear it. On contemplating his mental state, you see that, along with absence of the faculty for grasping complex musical combinations, there goes no consciousness of the absence—there is no suspicion that such complex combinations exist, and that other persons have faculties for appreciating them.

And now for the application of this general truth to our subject. The conceptions with which sociological science is concerned are complex beyond all others. In the absence of faculty having a corresponding complexity, they cannot be grasped. Here, however, as in other cases, the absence of an adequately complex faculty is not accompanied by any consciousness of incapacity. Rather do we find that, in proportion to the deficiency in the required kind of mental grasp, there is an extreme confidence of judgment on sociological questions, and a ridicule of those who, after long discipline, begin to perceive what there is to be understood, and how difficult is the right un-