Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/356

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352
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

GENIUS
By Dr. ROBERT MORRIS OGDEN
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE

CONSIDERED genetically, intellectual and physical functionings oppose one another. The business of organisms is to act. And action means primarily a direct response to stimuli. It is only as the organism grows complex and there is opportunity for more than one reaction to a given stimulus that there comes about a retardation involving an inhibition of action. And this retardation is filled out with weak reflections of the nerve paths which are being stimulated, i. e., with thought. Thought, then, comes at the expense of the organism's natural functionings. Thought brings bodily inertia. Were there no thought, we should be mere reflex organisms. Health is conditioned by physical acts and the healthful rest of the organism is accompanied by sleep.

Now all this means that we who think are in a sense artificial folk. We are transcending nature in a way—at least in comparison with the great mass of animal life which has a more or less reflex existence. Still we have our compensations. We are knowing beings, having two sides to our natures, a physical and an intellectual. We can react on a given presentation in two ways, either intuitively in accordance with our natural physical bias, or logically in accordance with our more artificially developed reason.

It is no mere matter of hyper-intellectualism which leads us in our genesis from the first to the second of these modes of reaction, but a matter of increasing complexity of the organism making simple intuitive reaction more and more impossible. Therefore, as a general proposition, this development is nothing we can or wish to strive for or against. We simply have to accept it as it is.

Yet, turning to the study of individual man, we find great diversity of mental bias and disposition. The happiest and healthiest of men is doubtless he who lives an active life out in the fresh air and amid pleasant natural surroundings. His physical bias is strongly developed and affords a ready and never-failing intuitive force for good and health. His mental outlook is clear if not profound. He takes things as they are and, unless accident befall him to disturb his habitual methods of functioning, he is able to meet the various situations of life with positive equanimity.