Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/461

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THE EVOLUTION OF THE MIND.

many ways. When men have made themselves wise with the lore of others, the learning which ends in self and does not spend itself on action, they have been neither virtuous nor happy. "Much learning is a weariness of the flesh." Thought without action ends in intense fatigue of the soul, the disgust with all "the sorry scheme of things entire," which is the mark of the unwholesome and insane philosophy of pessimism. This philosophy finds its condemnation in the fact that it has never yet been translated into pure and helpful life.

In like manner has sentiment not woven into action failed to be a source of effectiveness or of happiness. "If thou lovest me," said Christ to Simon Peter, then shalt thou "feed my lambs." Genuine love works itself out in self-spending, in doing something for the help or pleasure of those beloved. Religious sentimentalism, whatever form it may take, if dissociated from action, has only evil effects. Appeals to the emotions for emotion's sake have been a great factor in human deterioration. Much that has been called "degeneration" in modern social life is due to the predominance of sensory impressions over motor movement. The mind passes through a round of sensations, emotions called up by literature, music, art, religion, none of these having any direct bearing on human conduct. Their aggregate influence on the idle soul is always an evil one. And the misery of motor paralysis, of intellectual pauperism, is felt as the disease of ennui. The remedy for evils of reverie, ennui, narcotism, and the like, is to be found in action. The knowledge of this fact constitutes the strength of the Salvation Army movement. The victim of mental deterioration is given something to do. He is not to wear out the little force he has in ineffective remorse. Better let him beat a big drum and make night hideous with unmusical song than to settle down to the dry rot of reverie or the wet rot of emotional regret. Something to do, and the will to act, furnish the remedy for all forms of social discontent.

Not every sense impression needs a distinct response. It is the function of the intellect to sift these impressions, turning over into action only those in which action is desirable or wise. The power of attention is one of the most valuable attributes of the trained mind; and the essential of this power is in the suppression by the will of all impulses which do not concern the present need of action.

As the normal workings of the mind are reducible to sensation, thought, will, and action, so the abnormal workings may be due to defects of any one of these elements. We may have defects of sensation, defects of thought, vacillation of will, and inaccuracy of action. Hyper├Žsthesia, an├Žsthesia, sensory weakness, appear in the uncertain action of the muscles guided by the ill-informed brain.