Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/460

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Englishmen. Similarly, my "ego" is the expression of the aggregate force co-ordination of the elements that make up my body.

The old dictum of the philosopher, "I think, therefore I am," is not literally and wholly true. "We think, therefore we are," we co-ordination of brain cells, would be quite as rational. But we brain cells do not think individually, only collectively or colonially, so no single sentence can express the whole truth, nor can a trustworthy philosophy grow out of any axiom of this sort.

The development of the character is the formation of the ego. It is in itself the co-ordination of the elements of heredity, the bringing into union of the warring tendencies and irrelevant impulses left us by our ancestors. The child is a mixture of imperfectly related impulses and powers. It is a mosaic of ancestral heredity. Its growth into personality is the process of bringing these elements into relation to each other.

In a remarkable study of the phenomena of "conversion," Mr. Edwin Diller Starbuck gives this view of the physiological phenomena associated with the development of personality, the building up of a self by a process which is primarily unselfing": "It is pretty well known," Mr. Starbuck says, "that the quality of mind is much dependent upon the fineness of nervous structure. The child has about as many nerve cells as the adult. They differ from those of the adult in form. Those of the child are mostly round, whereas those of the adult have often very many branches with which they connect with the other cells. Nervous growth seems to consist largely in the formation of new nervous connections. The rapid growth at puberty probably means that at that time there is a great increase in nervous branching. The increased ramification of nervous tissue probably determines the ability for seeing in general terms, for intellectual grasp, and for spiritual insight. The rapid formation of new nerve connections in early adolescence may be the cause of the physiological unrest and mental distress that intensifies into what we have called the sense of incompleteness which precedes conversion. The mind becomes a ferment of half-formed ideas, as the brain is a mesh of poorly organized parts. This creates uncertainty, unhappiness, dejection, and the like, because there is not the power of free mental activity. The person is restless to be born into a larger world that is dimly felt. Finally, through wholesome suggestions or normal development, order comes and the new world dawns. Often some emotional stress or shock strikes harmony into the struggling imperfection, and truth comes like a flash."

The evil effect of the excess of sense impressions and of thought dissociated from will and action has been noted many times and in