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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE MODERN WORLD
voyance suggest that some people at least possess possibilities of know-
ledge which are not confined within the ordinary channels of sense-
perception. TyrrelPs work is particularly interesting in this connec-
tion. As a result of an enormous number of trials with apparatus
ingeniously designed to exclude all alternative explanation, he finds
that those best endowed with this extra-sensory gift can guess right
about once in four times when once in five would be expected on
chance alone. The results are definite, and significant in the stat-
istical sense, yet the faculty is rudimentary: it does not permit its
possessor to guess right all the time or even most of the timeómerely
to achieve a small rise in the percentage of right guessing. If, how-
ever, we could discover in what this faculty really consists, on what
mechanism it depends, and by what conditions and agencies it can
be influenced, it should be capable of development like any other
human faculty, Man may thus be unique in more ways than he
now suspects.
So far we have been considering the fact of human uniqueness. It
remains to consider man's attitude to these unique qualities of his.
Professor Everett, of the University of California, in an interesting
paper bearing the same title as this essay, but dealing with the topic
from the standpoint of the philosopher and the humanist rather than
that of the biologist, has stressed man's fear of his own uniqueness.
Man has often not been able to tolerate the feeling that he inhabits
an alien world, whose laws do not make sense in the light of his
intelligence, and in which the writ of his human values does not run.
Faced with the prospect of such intellectual and moral loneliness, he
has projected personality into the cosmic scheme. Here he has found
a will, there a purpose; here a creative intelligence, and there a
divine compassion. At one time, he has deified animals, or personified
natural forces. At others, he has created a superhuman pantheon, a
single tyrannical world ruler, a subtle and satisfying Trinity in Unity.
Philosophers have postulated an Absolute of the same nature as mind.
It is only exceptionally that men have dared to uphold their
uniqueness and to be proud of their human superiority to the im-
personality and irrationality of the rest of the universe. It is time
now, in the light of our knowledge, to be brave and face the fact and
the consequences of our uniqueness. That is Dr. Everett's view, as it
was also that of T. H. Huxley in his famous Romanes lecture. I agree
with them; but I would suggest that the antinomy between man and
the universe is not quite so sharp as they have made out. Man repre-
sents the culmination of that process of organic evolution which has
been proceeding on this planet for over a thousand million years.
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