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THE SCIENCE OF OUR PRESENT IDEAL.
HE goal of the book before you may be presented
by the following quotations from “ Brain and Personality," by William Hanna Thomson, M.D.:
“A stimulus to nervous matter effects a change in the matter by calling forth a reaction in it. This change may be exceedingly slight after the first stimulus, but each repetition of the stimulus increases the change, with its following specific reaction, until by constant repetition a permanent alteration in the nervous matter stimulated occurs, which produces a fixed habitual way of working in it. In other words, the nervous matter acquires a special way of working, that is, of function, by habit.
“ From the facts which we have been reviewing, we arrive at one of the most important of all conclusions, namely, that the gray matter of our brains is actually plastic and capable of being fashioned. It need not be left with only the slender equipment of functions which Nature gives it at birth. Instead, it can be fashioned artificially, that is, by education, so that it may acquire very many new functions or capacities which never come by birth nor by inheritance, but which can be stamped upon it as so many physical alterations in its proplasmic substance.
“This well-demonstrated truth is of far-reaching significance, because it gives an entirely new aspect to the momentous subject of Education.” It would seem to be perfectly evident that the more direct the efforts of
education become, that is to say, the more surely attention is concentrated upon the alteration for improvement of nervous matter and the development of mental powers rather than to the mastering of objective studies, many
of which must prove of little benefit in actual life, the more nearly will education approach its true goai - power in self and ability for successful handling of self with all its powers. This is the method of The Power-Book Library, the ideal of which is — not mastery of books, but sovereign use of the growing self. “Most persons conceive of education vaguely as only mental, a training of the mind as such, with small thought that it involves physical changes in the brain itself ere it can become real and permanent. But as perfect examples of education as can be named are ultimately dependent upon the sound condition of certain portions of the gray matter which have been educated' for each work.” “ The brain must be modified by every process of true special education.
“We can make our own brains, so far as special mental functions or aptitudes are concerned, if only we have Wills strong enough to take the trouble. By practice, practice, practice, the Will stimulus will not only organize brain centers to perform new functions, but will project new connecting, or, as they are technically called, association fibres, which will make nerve centers work together as they could not without being thus associated. Each such selfcreated brain center requires great labor to make it, because nothing but the prolonged exertion of the personal Will can fashion anything of the kind.” And, since the use of any human power tends to its growth, such labor as that suggested in the pages of this book cannot fail both to develop brain centers and also to unfold mind's power in Will.
“ It is the masterful personal Will which makes the
brain human. By a human brain we mean one which has been slowly fashioned into an instrument by which the personality can recognize and know all things physical, from the composition of a pebble to the elements of a fixed star. It is the Will alone which can make material seats for mind, and when made they are the most personal things in the body.
“In thus making an instrument for the mind to use, the Will is higher than the Mind, and hence its rightful prerogative is to govern and direct the mind, just as it is the prerogative of the mind to govern and direct the body.
“ It is the Will, as the ranking official of all in man, who should now step forward to take the command. We cannot over-estimate the priceless value of such direction, when completely effective, for the life of the individual in this world. A mind always broken in to the sway of the Will, and therefore thinking according to Will, and not according to reflex action, constitutes a purposive life. A man who habitually thinks according to purpose, will then speak according to purpose; and who will care to measure strength with such a man?
“That majestic endowment (the Will) constitutes the high privilege granted to each man apparently to test how much the man will make of himself. It is clothed with powers which will enable him to obtain the greatest of all possession - self-possession. Self-possession implies the capacity for self-restraint, self-compulsion and self-direction; and he who has these, if he live long enough, can hare any other possessions that he wants."
PART IV.- DESTRUCTION OF HABIT.
PART V.- CONTACT WITH OTHER PEOPLE.