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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

SCIENCE,  NATURAL AND SOCIAL
common type. Altruism, in the sense of sacrifice of the unit for the
good of the whole, has also been carried to a rmich higher pitch. As
with drone bees, only one out of many sperms can ever perform its
fertilizing function; but the ratio is one to many tens of millions,
instead of one to a few hundreds. The cells of the outer skin have no
other function than to be converted into dead horny plates, constantly
shed and as constantly renewed; the red blood-cells lose their nuclei
before being capable of exerting their oxygen-carrying function, and
have a life much more limited even than that of worker bees. Units
may even be pooled. The giant nerve-fibres of cuttlefish are the joint
product of numerous united nerve-cells; our own striped muscle-
fibres are vast super-units, comparable with a permanently united
tug-of-war team.
In terms of biologically higher and lower, there is thus a radical
difference between cells and human beings. Both are biological in-
dividuals which form part of more complex individualities. Cells are
first-order individuals, bodies second-order ones, and human societies
(like hydroid colonies or bee-hives) third-order ones. But whereas the
individuality of the body of a higher animal, be it cuttlefish, insect or
vertebrate, is far more developed than that of its constituent cells, that
of a human society is far less so than that of its individual units.
This fact, while it makes the analogy between cell and human
individual almost worthless, is of great value itself as a biological
analogy, since it immediately exposes the fallacy of all social theories,
like those of Fascism and National Socialism, which exalt the State
above the individual.
A book could be written on the subject of analogies between bio-
logical organisms and society. One with peculiar relevance to-day
is the tendency, repeated over and over again in evolution, for types
to specialize on the development of brute strength coupled with
formidable offensive or defensive weapons, only to be superseded
by other types which had concentrated on. efficiency of general
organization, and especially on the efficiency of the brain. The
outstanding example is the supersession of the formidable reptiles
of the late Mesozoic by the apparently insignificant mammals of
the period.
This phenomenon is often somewhat misinterpreted as the replace-
ment of specialized by generalized types. There is an element of
truth in this idea, but the fact is often lost sight of that the successful
generalized type always owes its success to some improvement in
basic organization. Such improvements in general organization are
specializations, but they are all-round specializations, whereas what are
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