Littell's Living Age/Volume 128/Issue 1658/Miscellany

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Brains — A brain attains its highest utility, as distinguished from its highest development, when it can not only absorb from others and direct its own further evolutions, but can also organize and regulate the working of other brains under its own superintendence and control. This power it is which enables the rising merchant or manufacturer to utilize other brains, to either use them for purposes of comparative mental drudgery, or to perform higher work under the immediate superintendence of the ruling brain. By such means the single brain can multiply its working indefinitely by a well-selected series of other brains under itself; a few brains of comparatively high order regulating the working of numerous brains of a lower order, which perform the purely mechanical mental work. Such is the organization of a first-rate business in full working order. Of a precisely similar nature is the co-ordinating and ruling power of such men as Cromwell, Napoleon, or Washington, whose single brains controlled nations and peoples. The highest of all forms of brain-value must be clearly differentiated from several similar but really unlike forms of control; and the rule of brute force must not be confounded with it. Such rule we see in the lower animals, where the red ant enslaves the black ant, and where the power to kill in fight enables a lower organism to subordinate another of a higher but less warlike form. A similar supremacy of mere brute force and animal courage over higher intellectual development lacking these qualities, is far from uncommon in history. In this the capacity to slay in war has exerted a supremacy which is far removed from that of one organizing brain over other brains inferior to it in power, in development, or subordinated by the pressure of the environment. The power to aid the working of one brain by a trained staff of subordinates is utilized by our legislators, and by such means it is essayed to transmute an ordinary politician into a far-sighted statesman. But this inversion of a normal process, though ingenious, is not successful, and the difference betwixt the working of a department under a natural chief is very great from its operation under a merely nominal chief. Thus it is that in most of our public institutions the character of the chief tints that of each and all of his subordinates. It is in commerce that the value of a brain capable of controlling other brains, and so increasing its utility, is best seen. In the professions this employment of vicarious brains is either entirely impossible, or, if possible, only to a very limited degree.

Medical Examiner