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HABIT

17

vague as it is, it is really the last word of our wisdom in the matter.[1]

It must be noticed that the growth of structural modification in living matter may be more rapid than in any lifeless mass because the incessant nutritive renovation of which the living matter is the seat tends often to corroborate and fix the impressed modification, rather than to counteract it by renewing the original constitution of the tissue that has been impressed. Thus, we notice after exercising our muscles or our brain in a new way, that we can do so no longer at that time;

  1. Those who desire a more definite formulation may consult J. Fiske's 'Cosmic Philosophy,' vol. ii. pp.142-146, and Spencer's 'Principles of Biology,' sections 302 and 303, and the part entitled 'Physical Synthesis' of his 'Principles of Psychology.' Mr. Spencer there tries, not only to show how new actions may arise in nervous systems and form new reflex arcs therein, but even how nervous tissue may actually be born by the passage of new waves of isometric transformation through an originally indifferent mass. I cannot help thinking that Mr. Spencer's data, under a great show of precision, conceal vagueness and improbability, and even self-contradiction.