180 MEASUREMENT OF CHARACTER.
MEASUREMENT OF CHARACTER. 181
to admit of measurement ? Is it liable to spontaneous changes, or to be in any way affected by a caprice that renders the future necessarily uncertain ? Is man, with his power of choice and freedom of will, so different from a conscious machine, that any proposal to measure his moral qualities is based upon a fallacy? If so, it would be ridiculous to waste thought on the matter, but if our temperament and character are durable realities, and persistent factors of our conduct, we have no Protons to deal with in either case, and our attempts to grasp and measure them are reasonable.
I have taken pains, as some of my readers may be aware, to obtain fresh evidence upon this question, which, in other words, is, whether or no the actions of men are mainly governed by cause and effect. On the supposition that they are so governed, it is as important to us to learn the exact value of our faculties,as it is to know the driving power of the engine and the quality-of the machine that does our factory-work. If, on the other band, the conduct of man is mainly the result of mysterious influences, such knowledge is of little service to him. He must be content to look upon himself as on a ship, afloat in a strong and unknown current, that may drift her in a very different direction to that in which her head is pointed.
My earlier inquiries into this subject had reference to the facts of heredity, and I came across frequent instances in which a son, happening to inherit somewhat exclusively the qualities of his father, had been found to fail with his failures, sin with his sins, surmount with his virtues, and generally to get through life in much the same way. The course of his life had, therefore, been predetermined by his inborn faculties, or, to continue the previous metaphor, his ship had not drifted, but pursued the course in which her bead was set until she arrived at her predestined port.
The second of my inquiries was into the, life-histories of twins, in the course of which I collected cases wbere the pair of twins resembled each other so closely, that they behaved like one person, thought and spoke alike, and acted ,similar parts when separated. Whatever spontaneous feeling the one twin may have had, the other twin at the very same moment must have had a spontaneous feeling of exactly the same kind. Such habitual coincidences, if they had no common cause, would be impossible; we are therefore driven to the conclusion that whenever twins think and speak alike, there is no spontaneity in either of them, in the popular acceptation of the word, but that they act mechanically and in like ways, because their mechanisms are alike. I need not reiterate my old arguments, and will say no more about the twins, except that new cases have come to my knowledge whieh corroborate former information. It follows, that if we had in our keeping the twin of a man, who was his a' double," we might obtain a trustworthy forecast of what the man
would do under any new conditions, by first subjecting that twin to the same conditions and watching his conduct.
My third inquiry is more recent. It was a course of introspective search into the operations of my own mind, whenever I caught myself engaged in a feat of what at first sight seemed to be free-will. The inquiry was carried on almost continuously for three weeks, and proceeded with, off and on, for many subsequent months. After I bad mastered the method of observation a vast deal of apparent mystery cleared away, and I ultimately reckoned the rate of occurrence of perplexing cases, during the somewhat uneventful but pleasant months of a summer spent in the country, to be less than one a day. All the rest of my actions seemed clearly to lie within the province of normal cause and consequence. The general results of my introspective inquiry support the views of those who hold that man is little more than a conscious machine, the larger part of whose actions are predicable. As regards such residuum as there may be, which is not automatic, and which a man, however wise and well informed, could not possibly foresee, I have nothing to say, but I have found that the more carefully I inquired, whether it was into hereditary similarities of conduct, into the life-histories of twins, or now introspectively into the processes of what I should have called my own Free-Will, the smaller seems the room left for the possible residuum.
I conclude from these three inquiries that the motives of the will are mostly normal, and that the character which shapes our conduct is a definite and durable " something," and therefore that it is reasonable to attempt to measure it. We must guard ourselves against supposing that the moral faculties which we distinguish by different names, as courage, sociability, niggardness, are separate entities. On the contrary, they are so intermixed that they are never singly in action. I tried to gain an idea of the number of the more conspicuous aspects of the character by counting in an appropriate dictionary the words used to express them. Roget's Thesaurus was selected for that purpose, and I examined many pages of its index here and there as samples of the whole, and estimated that it contained fully one thousand words expressive of character, each of which has a separate shade of meaning, while each shares a large part of its meaning with some of the rest.
It may seem hopeless to deal accurately with so vague and wide a subject, but it often happens that when we are unable to meet difficulties, we may evade them, and so it is with regard to the present difficulty. It is true that we cannot define any aspect of character, but we can define a test that shall elicit some manifestation of character, and we can define the act performed in response to it. Searchings into . the character must be conducted on the same
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