Motory Vibrations

The fingers of young children bend upon almost every impression which is made upon the palm of the hand, thus performing the action of grasping, in the original automatic manner. After a sufficient repetition of the motory vibra- tions which concur in this action, their vibratiuncles are generated, and associated strongly with other vibrations or vibra- tiuncles, the most common of which, I suppose, are those excited by the sight of a favourite plaything which the child uses to grasp, and hold in his hand. He ought, therefore, according to the doctrine of association, to perform and repeat the action of grasping, upon having such a plaything presented to his sight. But it is a known fact, that children do this. By pur- suing the same method of reasoning, we may see how, after a sufficient repetition of the proper associations, the sound of the words grasp, take hold, [etc.] the sight of the nurse’s hand in a state of contrac- tion, the idea of a hand, and particularly of the child’s own hand, in that state, and innumerable other associated circum- stances, i.e. sensations, ideas, and motions, will put the child upon grasping, till, at last, that idea, or state of mind which we may call the will to grasp, is generated, and sufficiently associated with the action to produce it instantaneously. It is there- fore perfectly voluntary in this case; and, by the innumerable repetitions of it in this perfectly voluntary state, it comes, at last, to obtain a sufficient connection with so many diminutive sensations, ideas, and motions, as to follow them in the same manner as originally automatic actions do the corresponding sensations, and conse- quently to be automatic secondarily. And, in the same manner, may all the actions

performed with the hands be explained, all those that are very familiar in life passing from the original automatic state through the several degrees of voluntari- ness till they become perfectly voluntary, and then repassing through the same degrees in an inverted order, till they become secondarily automatic on many occasions, though still perfectly voluntary on some, viz. whensoever an express act of the will is exerted.

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