Darwin and poetry

Can parts of the mind become atrophied through misuse? Charles Darwin seemed to think it possible, and that it had happened to him. He felt certain that the remedy was to engage the affected parts of the brain in culturally stimulating activities. There has been much speculation that mental illness may have been the culprit. However Darwin, known for speaking his mind only after lengthy reflection, persuades us that he was not speculating wildly. Progress traps appear to follow the same pattern - specialization followed by atrophy. But let Darwin's words express the conundrum:

    "A man with a mind more highly organized or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature."
     

see also: http://www.progresstrap.org/content/darwin-mental-atrophy

Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 18091882, Edited by Norah Barlow, Norton, London, 1992, p. 139.


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"The Progress Trap - and how to avoid it" Copyright Daniel O'Leary, registered at
the Copyright Office, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Canada on April 5, 1991 (ref 405917)