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IT is through the senses that the child wakes to conscious life, through them that he becomes acquainted with the outer world, which he is to know and of which he is to become a counterpart. Without them the child lies dormant in his cradle, sleeping away his days, not even knowing of an outer world, nor dreaming of his own mighty possibilities.
The organic senses just mentioned embrace those senses not so clearly differentiated in the consciousness as the six senses generally recognized. They give us a knowledge of muscular movement, of hunger and thirst, of fatigue, of respiration, of disease, feelings of relish, of depression, of exhilaration, etc.
Possibly the first sense to begin differentiating is that of taste. The first food entering the mouth not only satisfies- hunger, but is grateful to the taste as well. It may be that the newborn child is provided with taste buds that respond even more generously than they do later, for the specific purpose of encouraging it to take the food Nature has provided.
In the order of intellectual value the sense of smell is next to be noted. It also serves a double function, subjective and objective. For some time after birth it is not differentiated from the other physical senses, but at about the age of three months begins to serve as a help in distinguishing food and soon after to contribute materially to the sensuous pleasures of the child.
The child enters the world furnished with all the instruments necessary for becoming acquainted with it, for protecting itself against it, and for finally becoming its master. Nature kindly anticipated the coming by providing the child with a more or less perfect covering, so that the shock of transition shall not be too great.
The sense of hearing is the next in the order of Nature's wise and beneficent provisions for the child. All the senses thus far described are contact senses, but this one gives us information about objects far and near. Without it all existence would be as still as the chamber of death.
We are now to study the king of all the senses - the sense of sight. It, like sound, is not a contact sense. Rays of light are transmitted through space by an intangible medium called ether. So faithfully does it do its duty that the eye is thus permitted to see objects lying hundreds of millions of miles away, a distance so great that no one can form any adequate conception of it.
General Functions
We have now become somewhat acquainted with each of the senses, its specific nature, its particular office or function, its value in an intellectual, aesthetic, and practical way, the diseases to which it is subject, the tests which may be applied in discovering defects, and some of the methods to be used in correcting them.
Consciousness And Apperception
The bridge over from the physical to the mental is found in consciousness. For our present purpose consciousness may be defined as the self knowing its own states or activities. It is that which distinguishes the animal from the plant, and which in the child enables him to recognize himself as a thinking, feeling, self-active being.
The reason that a certain experience means one thing to one child and another to a second is due in large measure, as has been explained, to the differences in their previous experiences and education. If a rabbit is brought into the room, one child will flee from it, while another will immediately fondle it; one will notice its color, another its fur, another its ears, another its tail.
Each object in the universe is the expression of an idea. No flower of the field, no pebble by the wayside, no bird that skims the air, no star that glimmers in the wide expanse of heaven, can be what it is save as the realization, the concrete individual expression of that which first existed as idea. Each stands as the sign of the idea out of which it was born.
Symbolism makes language possible, the whole vocabulary of a people being a great system of symbols, each the repository, the representative of a thought from which it came and for which it speaks. As already stated, many of these words originated in an effort to imitate sounds made by animals or by bodies in motion; others are purely arbitrary forms agreed upon to represent ideas.
Muscular Or Motor Control
The nerves controlling the voluntary muscles of the body lie everywhere in pairs, one for the right and one for the left side. Branching off from the spinal cord, they divide and subdivide into delicate filaments that reach even the minutest muscles of the body. They parallel the sensory nerves, which carry information of peripheral disturbance to the brain.
The Feelings
The state of the self produced by the excitation of the nerves is called sensation. The action of the waves of light produces the sensation of sight; the waves of sound, the sensation of hearing, etc. All these sensations are- called feelings. They are feelings, however, whose origin is purely sensuous.
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