« IndietroContinua »
was the ancestor of man. And a biologist
Conversely history and social science will r
by Mr. Darwin.
For paleontology, zoology, history, social and p
Only when we have attained a biological history ca we have any satisfactory conception of environment As we look about us in the world, environment ofter seems to us to be a chaos of forces aiding or destroy ing good and bad, fit and unfit, alike.
But our history of animal and human progress shows us successive stages, each a little higher than the pre
ceding, and surviving, for a time at least, because more completely conformed to environment. If this be true, and it must be true unless our theory of evolution be false, higher forms are more completely conformed to their environment than lower; and man has attained the most complete conformity of all. Our biological history is therefore a record of the results of successive efforts, each attaining a little more complete conformity than the preceding. From such a history we ought to be able to draw certain valid deductions concerning the general character and laws of our environment, to discover the direction in which its forces are urging us, and how man can more completely conform to it.
If man is a product of evolution, his mental and moral, just as really as his physical, development must be the result of such a conformity. The study of environment from this standpoint should throw some light on the validity of our moral and religious creeds and theories. It would seem, therefore, not only justifiable, but imperative to attempt such a study.
Our argument is not directly concerned with modern theories of heredity, or variation, or with the "omnipotence" or secondary importance of natural selection. And yet Nägeli, and especially Weismann, have had so marked an influence on modern thought that we cannot afford to neglect their theories. We will briefly notice these in the closing chapter.
THE PROBLEM: THE MODE OF ITS SOLUTION
THE story of a human life can be told in very few words. A youth of golden dreams and visions; a few years of struggle or of neglected opportunities; then
retrospect and the end.
“We come like water, and like wind we go.”
But how few of the visions are realized. Faust sums p the whole of life in the twice-repeated word vergen, renounce, and history tells a similar story. erah died in Haran; Abraham obtained but a grave the land promised him and his children; Jacob, cated in marriage, bitterly disappointed in his chiln, died in exile, leaving his descendants to become es in the land of Egypt; and Moses, their heroie verer, died in the mountains of Moab in sight of the which he was forbidden to enter. You may anthat it is no injury that the promise is too large, ision too grand, to be fulfilled in the span of a sinfe, but must become the heritage of a race. But has been the history of Abraham's descendants? th-grapple for existence, captivity, and dispersion. national existence has long been lost. s there ever a nation of grander promise than ce or Rome? But Greece died of premature old