Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/237

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A second current prejudice which may deserve notice suggests that an organ, when its function is perfect, becomes unconscious, so that if adaptation were complete life would disappear. The well-learned routine of any mechanical art passes into habit, and habit into unconscious operation. The virtuoso is not aware how he manipulates his instrument; what was conscious labour in the beginning has become instinct and miracle in the end. Thus it might appear that to eliminate friction and difficulty would be to eliminate consciousness, and therefore value, from the world. Life would thus be involved in a contradiction and moral effort in an absurdity; for while the constant aim of practice is perfection and that of labour ease, and both are without meaning or standard unless directed to the attainment of these ends, yet such attainment, if it were actual, would be worthless, so that what alone justifies effort would lack justification and would in fact be incapable of existence. The good musician must strive to play perfectly, but, alas, we are told, if he succeeded he would have become an automaton. The good man must aspire to holiness, but, alas, if he reached holiness his moral life would have evaporated.

These melodramatic prophecies, however, need not alarm us. They are founded on nothing but rhetoric and small allegiance to any genuine good. When we attain perfection of function we lose consciousness of the medium, to become more