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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

THE UNIQUENESS  QF  MAN
That process, however wasteful and cruel it may be, and into however
many blind alleys it may have been diverted, is also in one aspect
progressive. Man has now become the sole representative of life in
that progressive aspect and its sole trustee for any progress in the
future.
Meanwhile it is true that the appearance of the humau type of
mind, the latest step in evolutionary progress, has introduced both
new methods and new standards. By means of his conscious reason
and its chief offspring, science, man has the power of substituting less
dilatory, less wasteful, and less cruel methods of effective progressive
change than those of natural selection, which alone arc available to
lower organisms. And by means of his conscious purpose and his set
of values, he has the power of substituting new and higher standards
for change than those of mere survival and adaptation to immediate
circumstances, which alone are inherent in pre-human evolution.
To put the matter in another way, progress has hitherto been a rare
and fiftul by-product of evolution. Man has the possibility of making
it the main feature of his own future evolution, and of guiding its
course in relation to a deliberate aim.
But he must not be afraid of his uniqueness. There may be other
beings in this vast universe endowed with reason, purpose, and aspira-
tion: but we know nothing of them. So far as our knowledge goes,
human mind and personality are unique and constitute the highest
product yet achieved by the cosmos. Let us not put oil' our responsi-
bilities on to the shoulders of mythical gods or philosophical absolutes,
but shoulder them in the hopefulness of tempered pride. la the
perspective of biology, our business in the world is seen to be the
imposition of the best and most enduring of our human standards
upon ourselves and our planet. The enjoyment of beauty and interest,
the achievement of goodness and efficiency, the enhancement of life
and its variety—these are the harvest which our human uxiiqueness
should be called upon to yield.