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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

THE UNIQUENESS OF MAN
parts of all circles. Art, on the other hand, is an extreme by-product
of our capacity for synthesis. In one unique production, the painter
can bring together form, colour, arrangement, associations of memory,
emotion, and idea. Dim adumbrations of art are to be found in a
few creatures such as bower-birds; but nothing is found to which the
word can rightly be applied until man's mind gave the possibility of
freely mingling observations, emotions, memories, and ideas, and
subjecting the mixture to deliberate control.
But it is not enough here to enumerate a few special activities. In
point of fact, the great majority of man's activities and characteristics
are by-products of his primary distinctive characteristics, and there-
fore, like them, biologically unique.
On the one hand, conversation, organized games, education, sport,
paid work, gardening, the theatre; on the other, conscience, duty,
sin, humiliation, vice, penitenceóthese arc all such unique by-
products. The trouble, indeed, is to find any human activities which
are not unique. Even the fundamental biological attributes such as
eating, sleeping, and mating have been tricked out by man with all
kinds of unique frills and peculiarities.
There may be other by-products of man's basic uniqueness which
have not yet been exploited. For let us remember that such by-
products may remain almost wholly latent until demand stimulates
invention and invention facilitates development. It is asserted that
there exist human tribes who cannot count above two; certainly
some savages stop at ten. Here the mathematical faculty is restricted
to numeration, and stops short at a very rudimentary stage of this
rudimentary process. Similarly, there are human societies in which
art has never been developed beyond the stage of personal decoration.
It is probable that during the first half of the Pleistocene period,
none of the human race had developed either their mathematical or
their artistic potentialities beyond such a rudimentary stage.
It is perfectly possible that to-day man's so-called supcr-nonnal or
extra-sensory faculties are in the same case as were his mathematical
faculties during the first or second glaciations of the Ice Ageóbarely
more than a potentiality, with no technique for eliciting and develop-
ing them, no tradition behind them to give them continuity and
intellectual respectability. Even such simple performances as multi-
plying two three-figure numbers would have appeared entirely
magical to early Stone Age men.
Experiments such as those of Rhine and Tyrrell on extra-sensory
guessing, experiences like those of Gilbert Murray on thought trans-
ference, and the numerous sporadic records of telepathy and clair*