Put that down.

Y.M. Very well; "Must be removed by outside influences or not at all." Go on.

O.M. The iron's prejudice against ridding itself of the cumbering rock. To make it more exact, the iron's absolute INDIFFERENCE as to whether the rock be removed or not. Then comes the OUTSIDE INFLUENCE and grinds the rock to powder and sets the ore free. The IRON in the ore is still captive. An OUTSIDE INFLUENCE smelts it free of the clogging ore. The iron is emancipated iron, now, but indifferent to further progress. An OUTSIDE INFLUENCE beguiles it into the Bessemer furnace and refines it into steel of the first quality. It is educated, now --its training is complete. And it has reached its limit. By no possible process can it be educated into GOLD. Will you set that down?

Y.M. Yes. "Everything has its limit--iron ore cannot be educated into gold."

O.M. There are gold men, and tin men, and copper men, and leaden mean, and steel men, and so on--and each has the limitations of his nature, his heredities, his training, and his environment. You can build engines out of each of these metals, and they will all perform, but you must not require the weak ones to do equal work with the strong ones. In each case, to get the best results, you must free the metal from its obstructing prejudicial ones by education--smelting, refining, and so forth.

Y.M. You have arrived at man, now?

O.M. Yes. Man the machine--man the impersonal engine. Whatsoever a man is, is due to his MAKE, and to the INFLUENCES brought to bear upon it by his heredities, his habitat, his associations. He is moved, directed, COMMANDED, by EXTERIOR influences--SOLELY. He ORIGINATES nothing, not even a thought.

Y.M. Oh, come! Where did I get my opinion that this which you are talking is all foolishness?

O.M. It is a quite natural opinion--indeed an inevitable opinion--but YOU did not create the materials out of which it is formed. They are odds and ends of thoughts, impressions, feelings, gathered unconsciously from a thousand books, a thousand conversations, and from streams of thought and feeling which have flowed down into your heart and brain out of the hearts and brains of centuries of ancestors. PERSONALLY you did not create even the smallest microscopic fragment of the materials out of which your opinion is made; and personally you cannot claim even the slender merit of PUTTING THE BORROWED MATERIALS TOGETHER. That was done AUTOMATICALLY--by your mental machinery, in strict accordance with the law of that machinery's construction. And you not only did not make that machinery yourself, but you have NOT EVEN ANY COMMAND OVER IT.

Y.M. This is too much. You think I could have formed no opinion but that one?

O.M. Spontaneously? No. And YOU DID NOT FORM THAT ONE; your machinery did it for you--automatically and instantly, without reflection or the need of it.

Y.M. Suppose I had reflected? How then?

O.M. Suppose you try?

Y.M. (AFTER A QUARTER OF AN HOUR.) I have reflected.

O.M. You mean you have tried to change your opinion--as an experiment?

Y.M. Yes.

O.M. With success?

Y.M. No. It remains the same; it is impossible to change it.

O.M. I am sorry, but you see, yourself, that your mind is merely a machine, nothing more. You have no command over it, it has no command over itself--it is worked SOLELY FROM THE OUTSIDE. That is the law of its make; it is the law of all machines.

Y.M. Can't I EVER change one of these automatic opinions?

O.M. No. You can't yourself, but EXTERIOR INFLUENCES can do it.

Y.M. And exterior ones ONLY?

O.M. Yes--exterior ones only.

Y.M. That position is untenable--I may say ludicrously untenable.

O.M. What makes you think so?

Y.M. I don't merely think it, I know it. Suppose I resolve to enter upon a course of thought, and study, and reading, with the deliberate purpose of changing that opinion; and suppose I succeed. THAT is not the work of an exterior impulse, the whole of it is mine and personal; for I originated the project.

What is Man? and Other Essays of Mark Twain Page 03

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