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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

ELEVATION                                233

developed to a standard corresponding to his age, by pure and
simple demonstration.

The importance of such demonstrations was to show that
mental facts are susceptible to mathematical measurement. And
it included the idea, which was considered almost as an axiom,
that the manner of feeling, or rather of perceiving (that is recog-
nizing) stimuli was an absolutely natural quality, not dependent
on knowledge, or on the methodical working of the mind, or on
intellectual education; that is, it was not dependent on those
artificial mental differences which result from education.

Seeing if one thing is larger or smaller than another, feeling
if a minute object has come into contact with our skin* etc. are
experiences common to all, and individual differences are characters
derived from nature which normally creates its own variations,
and which therefore make men more or less sensitive just as they
make them more or less intelligent, more or less markedly dark
or fair. Its judgments therefore were considered as judgments
on the man in his natural mental development. In fact psycho-
logy is intended later to determine the characters corresponding
to the various mental levels associated with each age and asso-
ciated with individual variations (of normal, sub-normal people,
etc.).

In place of this method, Itard proposed to set up maximum
stimuli which were in strong contrast in order to attract to them
the sense faculty of children shut out from their environment and
incapable of obtaining in the ordinary way precise knowledge of it;
he meant to lead them on by repeated exercises, to perceive, step
by step, contrasts less abrupt and differences more minute in the
separate qualities presented to them. In this case it is not a
simple test which is being carried out on the subject in order to
demonstrate his mental condition but a modifying action which is
directed towards the intelligence in order to awaken it, to kindle
contact with the external world, to estimate its characters with
precision and to bring into a harmony of interests the intellect and
the outer realities.