Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/729

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SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

control the individual. Dr. Waldstein shows how this can be roused to activity by the repetition of some impression, an unobserved odor, a sound, or familiar surrounding, and create in us an emotion, or mood, for which we can not otherwise account. Likes and dislikes, antipathies, "love at sight," even religious feeling may be the offspring of this subconscious self. In the earlier years of life, before consciousness is fully developed, it has its largest growth. It is important, therefore, that the impressions received by the young be carefully guarded. As nervous disorders spring from the predominance of this hidden nature, the inhibiting will and judgment must be cultivated. "It is in every case a grave risk to delegate the educational and directing powers of a mother to any stranger." Life in the country supplies the best conditions for the child. To the subconscious self it furnishes the impressions of restfulness and singleness of purpose, while the conscious intellectual activity is exercised in learning to distinguish the differences in natural objects. In the opinion of the author, the subconscious self is always the basis of the aesthetic mood, and not only in a receptive fashion, empowering us to enjoy music, art, and poetry, but it is also responsible for the creations of genius. He enters here upon debatable ground, for the assertion that "Shakespeare perceived without effort great truths through the subconscious self "is somewhat contradictory. Perception involves classification and implies consciousness. Several antitheses are brought forward which are probably merely casual. That between music and mental analysis suggested by Charles Darwin is amply disproved by the case of Chauvenet, distinguished mathematician and musician; also that "careful observers and those of analytical habits can not abide perfumes" is equally doubtful. It is certainly unscientific to connect two coexistent characteristics as cause and sequence when no causative relation has been proved. The author suggests that "heredity" is often invoked to account for habits that are the effects of early impressions or mimicry. This is credible where there has been contact, but not where a generation has intervened. Neither are inherited tendencies "unalterable," "beyond our influence." If recognized in time they may be modified even as the character of leaves may be changed by varying food and temperature, or seedless oranges produced by culture.

This work,[1] forming a supplement to the Journal of Morphology, vol. xii, No. 2, is the outcome of ten years' study of protoplasmic structure in the Protozoa, Metazoa, and higher forms of life. The author made her observations upon living material although comparing it with various "preserved" forms, and concludes that the original delicacy of structure is altered by the reagents commonly used. One object, therefore, of publishing her researches is to induce the biologist to observe the living substance as the naturalist studies the habit of an organism. Acknowledging her indebtedness to Bütschli's work, she claims that the structure known by his name is not the final constitution of the protoplasmic foam, but only one of a graded series yet undiscovered. She finds that there is not only an external environment, but an internal one which the living substance is ever seeking to control, to render itself more independent. As the result of her investigations, a new biological standpoint is offered, that the true organism is the invisible vesicular substance; all powers, functions, and organs are primarily for this, and only incidentally for the animal and plant. Reflex actions are noted as pointing toward this view, in establishing the fact that activities seemingly of the organism are products of local function. Man thus finds himself but a secondary affair, a mere phase of protoplasm, and it is unquestionably "difficult to overcome the natural egotism of the unit" and persuade him of this as truth without many more facts than are brought forward in the present volume. The plea, however, that the phenomena of life is best observed in living protoplasm is well founded and supported by the circumstance that the chemical properties of dead and living cells are unlike, shown in a pamphlet by Prof. Oscar Loew.[2]

The Eleventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, 1895-'96 (Washington, Government Printing Office), comprises the results of an investigation relative to the


  1. The Living Substance, as such and as Organism. By Gwendolen Foulke Andrews. Boston: Ginn & Co. Pp. 176. Price, $1.50.
  2. Popular Science Monthly, vol. li, p. 711.