DEVELOPMENT OF THE NOTION OF PERSONALITY.
all the operations of the organism in action, the notion of our conscious personality does not all at once arrive at the degree of complete perfection which it presents in the adult. It passes through successive phases of development ; it is at first rudimentary in the individual just born, and it follows by degrees, in its natural development, the successive progress of the evolution of the nervous apparatuses which are its basis.
During the first period of the life of the infant it is vague, indefinite, and as confused as the organic machinery which produces it. The plexuses of the sen sor/um are scarcely formed, cerebral biologic development waits upon that of the spinal axis, so that the automatic life then reigns alone.
It is only little by little, by means of the development of the sensorial apparatuses and those of the cerebral activity, that the infant comes to distinguish his sensations, to see, to hear, and to keep a conscious memory of impressions perceived. At the same time he sees himself, feels himself walk and move, has the conscious notion of his own activity ; and what is more, he feels what things have pleased or displeased the sen sitive regions of his organism, and have in any way provoked the of his personality.
On the other hand he touches and sees surrounding objects; he feels that all that surrounds him is not him self, that it is all external to him and his individual sensi bility. Henceforth an incessant labour begins insen sibly in his mind ; a natural selection takes place in the mass of the acquisitions he has made, and while all the impressions radiating from the sensitive regions of his organism are fused into a homogeneous notion in his sensorium—the essential notion of what is himself, of his own personality—impressions from the external world, also perccived in the sensorium, are and remain isolated, forming a heterogeneous store, entirely apart, and henceforth classed as a contingent of external origin, independent of the former.
At this moment the young child, whose sensorium has, by its mere vital force, accomplished this first selection from the natural excitations which have impressed him, is (to make use of a comparison we have previously employed) in the situation of a person placed in a dark chamber, who sees his own image represented on a screen with that of external objects, and who cannot at first recognize his features nor abstract them from the objects he sees imaged on the screen. Henceforth in the mind of the young child in process of develop ment, the phenomena of subjectivity and objectivity have an isolated existence.
This, however, is but the first step. Other opera tions of as great importance will soon begin—his sensibility will reveal itself externally, he will begin to speak.
This work of natural selection between internal and external impressions takes place unconsciously and in silence in the brain of the young child ; his cerebral activity is not yet brought into play with all its riches ; he outwardly expresses but few of the things which take place within him. It is only by degrees that he advances in the direction of mental progress. His ear at first teaches him to repeat the sounds that strike upon it, and this at first automatically, like an echo ; then his mind takes its part, and his faithful memory teaches him that sounds modulated in a special manner express such and such an external object, and that accordingly the different emotional conditions of his sensorium, his joys and sorrows, may be outwardly expressed by significant vocal consonances. Thus, step by step, and effort by effort, he attains to the formation of a series of abstractions, and to the com prehension that if articulate sounds may be the repre sentative signs of surrounding objects, his whole per sonality—his sensitive and impressionable ego—may be represented by a similar abstraction in a single word, by a specific sound which epitomises it, a proper name.