Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/401

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397
LAWS OF ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE

but is the result of will power exercised in this particular direction. An abstainer from alcoholic drinks has no unit-character distinguishing him from those who drink. He uses his will power to create an ideal of abstinence from which habits grow up, making it easy for him to reject liquor. His son, however, will have to go through the same process; nor is the effect diminished unless the temptation is reduced by the absence of opportunity. Bravery, honor, chastity, thrift, honesty and a host of other virtues are in the same position. They are due to one power manifested in many ways and not to many innate characters each manifested in one way. Can any one pick out the psychic or physical mark that accompanies these virtues? If not, it is more reasonable to assume that the virtues a man cherishes are due to the society of which he is a part and not to the germinal determinants that make up his heredity. The real difference between a virtuous person and a victim of vice is that the one has will power to resist temptation while the other lacks will power. The drunkard did not mean to become a drunkard, nor did anything in his make-up force him to become one. He merely wanted to enjoy himself and failed to exercise his will power in restraint of temptation. The same is true of the prostitute. There is no race trait separating her from other women. Lacking home restraints, she drifted into vice, with the result that she was excluded from all social relations except those of her occupation. Vice is not a physical abnormality, but the lack of will power or of a restrictive social environment. The negative of each virtue is a vice, and it appears when the contrasted virtue is not evoked. Both are social in origin and in neither case are there special unit characters except those involved in the expression of will power. A single determinant coupled with a favorable environment gives reality to all the virtues. The lack of will power plus temptation is vice; the growth of will power minus temptation is virtue. These two forces make the difference that exists between the good and the bad.

Criminal traits differ from virtues and vices in that they have a physical background. The study of degeneration carried on by Lombroso and his disciples shows that they are biologic characters. They represent, however, reversions and not creations. They are thus due not to alterations in the germ cell by which it gets more or different determinants, but to retardations in development by which a full expression of inherited traits is prevented. The criminal has had his growth checked, so that he expresses not the full power of his race, but the traits of this race at some earlier period. To hate, to envy, to be brutal are atavistic traits natural to his ancestors, but now suppressed by the full development of normal powers. Their sources are therefore the sources of retardation; they must be studied as examples of retardation and not of germ cell development.