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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/333

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THE GENIUS AND HIS ENVIRONMENT.

pear about us. First, there is the idiot. He is not available, from a social point of view, because lie varies too much on the side of defect. He shows from infancy that he is unable to enter into the social heritage because ho is unable to learn to do social things. His intelligence does not grow with his body. Society pities him if he be without natural protection, and puts him away in an institution. So of the insane, the pronounced lunatic; he varies too much to sustain in any way the wide system of social relationships which society requires of each individual. Either he is unable to take care of himself, or he attempts the life of some one else, or he is the harmless, unsocial thing who wanders among us like an animal or stands in his place like a plant. He is not a factor in social life; he has not come into the inheritance.

Then there is the extraordinary class of people whom we may describe by a stronger term than those already employed. We find not only the unsocial, the negatively unfit, those whom society selects with pity in its heart; but there are also the antisocial, the class whom we usually designate as criminals. These persons, like the others, are variations; but they seem to be variations in quite another way. They do not represent lack on the intellectual side always or alone, but on the moral side, on the social side, as such—for morality is in its origin and practical bearings a social thing. The least we can say of the criminals is that they tend, by heredity or by evil example, to violate the rules which society has seen fit to lay down for the general security of men taken together in the enjoyment of the social heritage. So far, then, they are factors of disintegration, of destruction; enemies of the social progress which proceeds from generation to generation by just this process of social inheritance. So society says to the criminal also, "You must perish." We kill off the worst, imprison the bad for life, attempt to reform the rest. They too, then, are excluded from the heritage of the past.

So our lines of eligibility get more and more narrowly drawn. The instances of exclusion now cited serve to give us some insight into the real qualities of the man who lives a social part, and the way he comes to live it.

 
II.

Passing on to take up the second of the informal topics suggested, we have to find the best description that we can of the social man—the one who is fitted for the social life. This question concerns the process by which any one of us comes into the wealth of relationships which the social life represents. For to say that a man does this is in itself to say that he is the man so-