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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/553

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THE GENIUS AND HIS ENVIRONMENT.

thought"; and having reached it, he had no alternative but to judge it true and pronounce it to the world.

But the fate of the principle of variations with natural selection had the reception which shows that good judgment may rise higher than the level of its own social origin. Even yet the principle of Darwin is but a spreading ferment in many spheres of human thought in which it is destined to bring the same revolution that it has worked in the sciences of organic life. And it was not until other men, who had both authority with the public and information enough to follow Darwin's thought, seconded his judgment, that his great formula began to have currency in scientific circles.

Now I ask. Does not any theory of man which loses sight of the supreme sanity of Darwin, and with him of Aristotle, and Angelo, and Leonardo, and Newton, and Leibnitz, and Shakespeare, seem weak and paltry? Do not delicacy of sentiment, brilliancy of wit, fineness of rhythmical and aesthetic sense, the beautiful contributions of the talented special performer, sink into something like apologies—something even like profanation of that name to conjure by, the name of genius? And all the more if the profanation is made real by the moral irregularities or the social shortcomings which give some color of justification to the appellation "degenerate." But, on the other hand, why run to the other extreme and make this most supremely human of all men an anomaly, a prodigy, a bolt from the blue, an element of extreme disorder, born to further or to distract the progress of humanity by a chance which no man can estimate? The resources of psychological theory are adequate, as I have endeavored to show, to the construction of a doctrine of society which is based upon the individual, in all the possibilities of variation which his heredity may bring forth, and which yet does not hide or veil those heights of human greatness on which the halo of genius is wont to rest. Let us add knowledge to our surprise in the presence of such a man, and respect to our knowledge, and worship, if you please, to our respect, and with it all we then begin to see that because of him the world is the better place for us to live and work in.

We find that, after all, we may be social philosophers and hero-worshipers as well. And by being philosophers we have made our worship more an act of tribute to human nature. The heathen who bows in apprehension or awe before the image of an unknown god may be rendering all the worship he knows; but the soul that finds its divinity by knowledge and love has communion of another kind. So the worship which many render to the unexplained, the fantastic, the cataclysmal, this is the awe that is born of ignorance. Given a philosophy that brings the