Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/28

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

of the brain, though in general it can. A person, for instance, may have a large head and a large brain, and the layer of cortical substance be very thin; and another person, with a smaller brain, may have the cortex so thick as to more than compensate for its small superficies. Still, these are exceptional cases. As a rule, the larger the brain, the greater the mental power of the individual.

Another difference between the brain of man and that of woman is found in the conformation of the organ. In man the frontal region is more developed than it is in woman. There is a certain fissure, called the fissure of Rolando, which I point out here on this model. Now, if we take the entire length of the brain as = 100, there will be found in woman 31·3 in front of the upper end of this fissure, while in man there will be 43·9.

Again, the specific gravity of the male brain, both of the white and the gray substance, is greater in man than it is in woman.

It is difficult from these facts to avoid the conclusion that the mind must also be different in the two sexes—not necessarily that one is superior to the other, but that they are different. In some respects that of man excels, in other respects that of woman predominates. It would be a bad state of affairs for mankind if the mind in the two primary divisions of the human race were the same. In barbarous nations, as we have seen, the difference in size is less than it is with civilized peoples, and as one consequence of this fact we find that there is not so great a difference in the mental development. The work of a woman with these is almost the same as that of a man. Her mode of life, her dress, are not essentially different, except in so far as they must be different on account of her sex. But with civilized nations there is variety in modes of thought and in other mental characteristics, in occupation, in manner, in dress, so that the differentiation between the sexes is far more distinctly marked than it is in the nations low in the scale of progress. Who can doubt that this is the direct result of difference, not only in the brain but in other parts of the nervous system? It appears to me, therefore, that while the education of a woman should be just as thorough as that of a man, it ought not to be the same. The two sexes move along paths that approach parallelism at some points of their course, but they can never travel exactly the same road till they have nervous systems presenting exactly the same anatomical configuration and structure.

Another point—and it is one of such practical importance that it would scarcely do for me to pass it over—and that is the influence of age in affecting the relations existing between the mind and the nervous system.

Most civilized communities have enacted laws against the employment of children in severe physical labor. This is well enough, for the muscles of young persons are tender and weak, and not therefore adapted to the work to which cupidity or ignorance would otherwise