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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

MAN  IN  THK  MODKRN   WORLD

new compelition causes it to become extinct. Thus most mammals
have not evolved in any important way for (en or twenty million
years, birds not for twenty or twenty-live million,, ants not (or thirty
million.

But besides these lines of spociali'/ation we find a few lines whose
trend is toward all-round instead of one-sided improvement; and
these arc not doomed to come to n stop. 11 is this all-round and
therefore potentially unlimited advance that may legitimately Uncalled
progress. It is concrete and measurable.*. It consists in an increased
control by life over its environment, an increased independence in
relation to the changes of that environment, an increase* of knowledge,
of harmonious complexity and sell-regulation.

But it is not universal or inevitable. It occurs in a Jew only out of
the tens of thousands of evolving types. It reveals itself not in any
advance of Hie as a whole, but in a raising of the level reached by the
type that is biologically dominant at any given time. The. union of
many cells to form a single individual was evolutionary progress. So
was the formation of a central nervous system, of a head, of a blood
circulation, of elaborate; sense-organs. Later on, emergence on to
land, with its consequent increase of self-regulation, marked a step in
progress; so did the self-regulation of temperature that we call warm
blood, the nourishment of the mammalian young by its mother, and
the steady development of intelligence and the power to profit by
experience in the mammalian stock. The evolution by man of con-
ceptual thought, of conscious reason and purpose, fmally produced a
dominant type with radically new biological characteristics.

To assert that man is the highest product of evolution to date is a
statement of simple biological fact. There are, however, souui other
points concerning man's position relative to evolutionary progress
that are less obvious. First is the curious fact that the human species
is now, in all probability, the solo repository of any possible future
progress for life. When rnultieellular animals first appeared, they all
had reached a new level of progress: later, some cut themselves off
from furlhcr advance by entering on blind alloys, such as the fixed,
vegetative existence of the polyps and corals or the headlessness and
radial symmetry of the starfish and other eehinoderms. The process
of restriction has now, it seems, gone so far that all future progress
hangs on the human germ-plasm. It is apparently a biological im-
possibility for any other line of life to progress into a new dominant
typeónot the ant, the rat, nor the ape.
172