A Common-Sense View of the Mind Cure
Laura M. Westall
Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 54
Publication Date: 1908
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A Common-Sense View Of The Mind Cure uses New Thought to assist you in your daily life. It covers things like the nervous system, the brain, pain, attention, imagination, and emotions, and finishes off with some tips for practical applications.
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WE feel before we think; but this is merely another way of saying that mind is developed by means of sensations.
Each one of us is possest of five senses--sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell; and if it were not for these we could acquire no knowledge. But by their operation we not only become self-conscious beings, but come into conscious relation with the world outside ourselves.
A moment's reflection will show this to be true. If, for instance, you could neither see nor hear nor touch your friend, could you form any idea of his character or personality? Would you even know that you had a friend? Or if you could neither see nor smell nor touch a rose, would not a thistle be just as acceptable?
It is unnecessary to multiply examples. The simple fact is that if it were not for the activity of the senses, each one of us would live in a world of darkness and ignorance. We would have no fuller measure of life than a jellyfish.
This is essentially the modern view. It was formerly held that each member of the human species entered upon life endowed with certain ideas--innate ideas, so-called--and hence the purpose of education, as the word implies, was to "draw out" of the mind what was already in it.
But since modern science has studied the human brain with the microscope, we have learned that this was a wrong conception, and that the mind is really a growth or development from small and poor beginnings.
The brain of the infant at birth, according to some authorities, contains all the brain cells, but they are not fully developed. No actually new cells are afterward produced. These cells by constant sense impressions are rapidly developed in the growing child.
The new-born infant can not think if he would; he is blind, deaf, and dumb--"his only language but a cry." But he can feel, and because of this, his mind begins to develop. Thus, waves of light strike upon the retina of his eye, pass along the optic nerve to the brain, and a sight-impression is registered upon the brain; waves of sound strike upon the auditory nerve, are passed up to the brain, and in the same way a sound impression is made. And so with impressions of touch, taste, and smell.
Yet sight, hearing, etc., do not take place upon the first impact; many, many such impressions must be made before the infant consciously sees, hears, etc. For the first three months of life--what our German cousins call the dumm viertel--the brain is busy taking care of these sense-stimuli, as they are called. But just as soon as a sufficient number have been recorded, then one of nature's greatest miracles takes place: the infant looks up into his mother's face and smiles; he "crows" with delight at the sound of her voice. Very beautiful! and quite as mysterious; for just how these sense-impressions become transmuted into consciousness we no more understand than we do chemical affinity or magnetism or gravitation. Neither science nor philosophy can solve the riddle. We merely know that all the sight-impressions are sent to one place in the brain, and those of sound to another, and smell to another, and so on; and that all these various impressions that beat upon the brain through the senses become at last elements of consciousness or mind. But this is merely the alphabet of mind-growth. Our infant must put the letters together to form words; and this is the way he does it:
When his mother holds up before him a round, bright object and says "ball," it means nothing to him--he does not understand--but if she continues to do this daily for some time, he will finally learn to "associate" the object "ball" with the word "ball," so that he will think ball when he hears the word, or sees the object. And in the same way--that is, by "association "--he learns the use to which it is put.
Now if you should put into the hands of an Eskimo an orange, and he had never before seen one, like the infant he would not know what it was or what to do with it. But your child and mine have learned by experience that an orange tastes sweet and is good to eat.
And just so, by experience--that is, knowledge gained through sensations--ideas spring up in the infant mind; and each idea associated by experience with other ideas gives rise to still others, and so on. Naturally, the broader the sense-experience the greater the stock of ideas.
It may be conjectured that the greater the stock of ideas the greater the mental confusion. But no; nature has provided for that. Just as a business man files away the letters he receives daily; just as a great manufacturer systematizes his business, dividing it into departments; just as a general organizes his army, so the mind files and systematizes and organizes its ideas; so that the adult mind has groups or clusters of ideas about art, science, politics, and so on. And what is quite to the point is the fact that these idea-clusters can get into communication with one another.
The nation is divided into cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, each distinct from the others; but a business man in Boston or New York can quickly get into communication with an associate in San Francisco or elsewhere, by mail or telegraph. And in much the same way, by what is known as "association of ideas" and memory, one idea-cluster gets into vital touch with another.
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