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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

THOMAS HENRY : The theory of Natural Selection as Darwin pre-
sented it was certainly very general, and I confess that I was always a
little sceptical over the theorizing zeal of some of his followers, and
anxious for a fuller basis of concrete fact. So do tell me something
about the new developments.
JULIAN : Well, for one thing we now have a pretty thorough know-
ledge of the astonishingly elaborate machinery of heredity and
hereditary change through which evolution comes into being. But
it would take too long to go into all that now, and I can only recom-
mend that you include some books on mendelian genetics in your
reading list. What I think is chiefly relevant to our discussion is that
biologists have now arrived at two far-reaching conclusions: one
about the struggle for existence, the other about its results.
THOMAS HENRY (reminiscently): The struggle for existenceómy
friend Tennyson summed it up: "Nature red in tooth and claw."
JULIAN : That appears to have been an undue simplification. For
instance, intelligence seems to have played as important a part in
evolution as brute force, and co-operation has contributed as much as
THOMAS HENRY : That certainly bears thinking about.
- JULIAN : But that is not my main point. We now distinguish two
radically different forms of the struggle for existence. One is primarily
a struggle of the species as a whole against its enemies and against the
adverse forces of nature, and the other is a struggle for success between
individual members of the species. And this latter kind of competi-
tion within the species may not benefit or improve the species as a
whole in any way, and in some cases can be shown to be actually
harmful to it.
THOMAS HENRY : That seems a paradox, but nature is often para-
doxical, and I am prepared to accept it. You imply that my " cosmic
process" represents only this less useful form of the struggle, while the
ethical force which makes for human progress represents the other?
JULIAN : Roughly speaking, yes. And your word progress brings me
to my second point. I think the most important outcome of biology
for general thought has been the demonstration that there is such a
thing as progress in biological evolution.
THOMAS HENRY: You mean even apart from man? But there is
the fact of degeneration to reckon with, and also the fact that an
amoeba or a louse is every whit as well adapted to survive as a sing-
ing bird or the most gifted human being.
JULIAN : But surely progress does not cease to exist either because
it is not universal or because it is not inevitable? Your generation