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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/686

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

as follows: Only thirty per cent claim to have suddenly discovered the results of creative effort, which they would venture to call new, in the line of practical inventions, poetry, literary conceptions, mathematical solutions, and the like; these creations appeared suddenly, most often while the individuals were engaged on matters foreign to the discovery. About forty per cent do not answer the question, and thirty per cent answer in the negative, while, of those answering affirmatively, only about twenty-five per cent are able to give examples.

 
III.

To clearly apprehend the significance of the facts thus set forth, it is necessary to understand thoroughly the conception of human consciousness. The chief difficulty which obscures this subject is a lack of proper differentiation between self-consciousness and consciousness, in their several relations to human unconsciousness. Self-consciousness is the intellectual perception by which the ego recognizes the ego as seeing, thinking, judging, feeling, etc. Consciousness, though often confounded with self-consciousness, is not a synonym for it, but is merely the environment in which self-consciousness is manifested. Human consciousness is not an intellectual property or state of the mind—it is purely a state of nervous activity; it is nervous energy in a most intensified form. Human unconsciousness is a less intensive state of nervous activity, wherein self-consciousness can not be manifested.

Nervous activity is ever the same in kind, and, while there is a great difference between the simplest reflex action and the highly developed state of consciousness, yet this is one of degree alone. Intellectual activity is ever present in the brain, and every moment is producing new results without cessation from birth to the grave. As a condition precedent to the existence of these results of our changing thought-life, the brain requires a supply of blood commensurate to the calls made upon the nervous energy and corresponding to the intensity of its activity.

There is a broad belt of border-land between consciousness and unconsciousness, whose limits are uncertain, yet where the manifestations of intellectual activity are recognized, which prove the kinship of the life of those two great regions. The world judges each individual by his intellectual activity manifested in consciousness. Upon this our judgment of him is based, as this can be the only known or possible method of determination. Many "mute inglorious Miltons" undoubtedly exist, yet for the world they do not really exist. Shakespeare produced the character of Hamlet, Hamlet came through the door of Shakespeare's consciousness to greet and astonish the world, yet Hamlet and Lear and all the glorious company of Shakespeare's known creations represent not a tenth part of the finished idealized conceptions of character that were born in Shakespeare's brain while