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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

EUGENICS AND SOCIETY
Now all such unconscious thinking is inevitably irrational or at best
non-rational: if it had been submitted to the light of reason, it would
no longer be unconscious. So that a prime task before eugenists is the
reasoned formulation of their views on the environment to which
their schemes of genetic betterment are to be related.
There are, it seems to me, three possible courses to be pursued.
Either we may accept as given our present type of social environment-,
and adjust our eugenic programme to it. In practice we shall of
course be forced to take a dynamic instead of a purely static point of
view, and consider the trends of change within that environment,
while assuming that the social system will not be fundamentally
altered. Or, going to the opposite extreme, we may assume an ideal
social environment—more scientifically, one which is the optimum
we can imagine—and plan our eugenic measures in relation to that,
piously hoping that in the long run social change will adjust itself to
our ideal or to whatever measure of genetic change we may have
brought about. Or finally we may envisage, as in Stapledon's grass-
land work, a joint attack upon environment and germ-plasm.
Assuming that we have some measure of control over the social
environment, we shall adjust our genetic programme to that pro-
gramme of environmental change which represents, both in direction
and tempo, a happy mean between the ideal and the immediately
practical, between what we should like and what we arc likely to get.
Let us look at these three alternatives and their implications. First,
however, it should be pointed out that they are not wholly alternative
to each other. Even if we take the environment for granted, we must
face the fact of social change and attempt to meet it eugenically; and
in so doing we shall find it difficult to avoid giving some play to our
wishes, fears, and hopes. Even if we assume an optimum environ-
ment, our ideal must be based on our conscious or unconscious
estimate of what developments are inherently possible to the present
system. We shall, in effect, be attempting to forecast social improve-
ment, and we shall prove, we can be sure, as widely out in our fore-
casts as if we were attempting to prophesy the future of scientific
discovery. And the third method, of necessity, must take into account
both the hard fact of the present and the ideal of wishes and hopes
for the future.
None the less, there are real differences between the three; and
we must consider these more in detail,
To accept the continuance of the present type of social environment
as essentially given (whether given in reality or in our hopes and fears
will make no difference to our eugenic plans) means, I take it, two