Outwitting Our Nerves eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 322 pages of information about Outwitting Our Nerves.

This, then, completes the list of self-preservative instincts, those which are commonly called egoistic and which have been given us for the maintenance of our own individual personal lives.  But our endowment includes another set of impulses which are no less important and which must be reckoned with if human conduct is to be understood.


In which we learn more about ourselves



=Looking beyond Ourselves.= We sometimes speak of self-preservation as though it were the only law of life, while as a matter of fact it is but half the story.  Nature has seen to it that there shall be planted in every living creature an innate urge toward the larger life of the race.  Although the creature may never give a conscious thought to the welfare of the race, he still bears within himself a set of instincts which have as their end and aim, not the individual at all, but society as a whole, and the life of generations that are to come.  He is bigger than he knows.  Although he may have no notion why he feels and acts as he does, and although he may pervert the purpose for his own selfish end, he is continually being moved by the mighty impulse of the race-life, an impulse which often outrivals the desire I or his own personal existence.  The craving to reproduce ourselves and the craving to cherish and protect our young are among the most dynamic forces in life.  The two desires are so closely bound together that they are often spoken of as one under the name of the sex-instinct, or the family instincts.  Let us look first at that part of the yearning which urges toward perpetuating our own life in offspring.

=Watching Nature Work.= It is wonderful, indeed, to watch Nature in the long process of Evolution, as she adapts her methods to the growing complexity of the organism.  With a variety and ingenuity of means, but always with the same steady purpose, she works from the lowest levels,—­where there is no true reproduction, only multiplication by division,—­on through the beginning of reproduction proper, where a single parent produces the offspring; then on to the level where it takes two parents of different structure to produce a new organism, and sex-life begins.  At first Nature does not even demand that father and mother shall come near each other.  In the water, the female of this type lays an egg, and the male, guided by his instinct, swims to it and deposits his fertilizing fluid.  In plant life, bird and bee, attracted by wonderfully planned perfumes and color and honey, are called in to carry the pollen from male to female cell.

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Outwitting Our Nerves from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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