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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"


Second, with the evolution of man the character of progress
becomes altered. With human consciousness, values and ideals
appeared on earth for the first time. The criteria of further progress
must include the degree to which those ideal values are satisfied. The
quest for truth and knowledge, virtue, beauty and aesthetic expression
and its satisfaction through the channels of science and philosophy,
mysticism and morality, literature and the arts, becomes one of the
modes or avenues of evolutionary progress. A tendency in this
direction had been manifested earlier in evolution. On the whole,
biological progress in its later stages had been more concerned with
independence of the environment than with control over it. The
introduction of ideal values makes it possible for this tendency to go
further. We may anticipate that in the remote future human control
over the environment will become increasingly devoted to securing
greater independence—in other words, greater freedom from material
exigencies—and both of them together to securing a greater degree of
self-realization and of the satisfaction of human values.

It is also important to note that biological progress demands no
special agency. In other words, it does not require the intervention
of a conscious Divine purpose, nor the operation of some mysterious
life-force or ilan vital: like most other facts of evolution, it is the
automatic result of the blind forces of reproduction, variation, and
differential survival. Newton's great generalization of gravitational
attraction made it possible and indeed necessary to dispense with the
idea of God guiding the stars in their courses; Darwin's equally great
generalization of natural selection made it possible and necessary to
dispense with the idea of God guiding the evolutionary courses of life.
Finally, the generalizations of modern psychology and comparative
religion make it possible, and necessary, to dispense with the idea of
God guiding the evolutionary courses of the human species, through
inspiration or other form of supernatural direction.

The present culmination of the thousand-million-year sweep of bio-
logical progress is the human species, with all its defects and mistakes.
Thus the highest and richest product of the cosmic process (or, again,
the highest of which we have any knowledge) is the developed human
personality. It is among individual men and women that we must
search for our exemplars.

A corollary of the facts of evolutionary progress is that man must
not attempt to put off any of his burden of responsibility on to the
shoulders of outside powers, whether these be conceived as magic or