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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN IN THE  MODERN WORLD
number has steadily diminished with time, it has avoided the cul-de-
sac of mere specialization and arrived at a new level of oi^ganization,
more harmonious and more efficient, from which it could again launch
out toward greater control, greater knowledge, and greater independ-
ence. Progress is, if you will, all-round specialization. Finally, but
one line was left which was able to achieve further progress; all the
others had led up blind alleys. This was the line leading to the evolu-
tion of the human brain.
This at one bound altered the perspective of evolution. Experience
could now be handed down from generation to generation; deliberate
purpose could be substituted for the blind sifting of selection; change
could be speeded up ten-thousandfold. In man evolution could
become conscious. Admittedly it is far from conscious yet, but the
possibility is there, and it has at least been consciously envisaged,
Seen in this perspective, human history represents but the tiniest
portion of the time man has before him; it is only the first ignorant
and clumsy gropings of the new type, born heir to so much biological
history. The constant setbacks, the lack of improvement in certain
respects for over two thousand years, arc seen to be phenomena as
natural as the tumbles of a child learning to walk or the deflection of
a sensitive boy's attention by the need of making a living.
The broad facts remain. Life had progressed even before man was
first evolved. Life progressed in giving rise to man. Man has pro-
gressed during the half-million or so years from the first Hommidae,
even during the ten thousand years since the final amelioration of
climate after the Ice Age. And the potentialities of progress which
are revealed, once his eyes have been opened to the evolutionary vista,
are unlimited.
At last we have an optimistic instead of a pessimistic theory of this
world and our life upon it. Admittedly the optimism cannot be facile,
and must be tempered with reflection on the length of time involved,
on the hard work that will be necessary, on the inevitable residuum
of accident and unhappiness that will remain. Perhaps we had better
call it a melioristic rather than an optimistic view; but at least it
preaches hope and inspires to action.
I believe very definitely that it is among human personalities that
there exist the highest and most valuable achievements of the universe
—or at least the highest and most valuable achievements of which we
know or, apparently, can have knowledge. That means that I believe
that the State exists for the development of individual lives, not indi-
viduals for the development of the State.
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