Skip to main content

Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

See other formats

put evolution on the map: ours has mapped evolution. And our
analysis has shown that progress is one of the types of evolutionary
change. It is true that most of the results of evolution are not pro-
gressive. Much is mere change; much else, though advance, is one-
sided advance, doomed to come eventually to a dead end. But a
narrow thread of true progress does run through the whole web of
THOMAS HENRY : I hope you are not arguing in a circle, and defin-
ing progress merely from a human standpoint. After all, man is but
one species among hundreds of thousands.
JULIAN: No, progress can be defined biologically in a perfectly
objective way, as denoting increased harmony of construction, in-
creased capacity for knowledge and for feeling, and increased control
over nature, increased independence of outer change.
THOMAS HENRY : I still have the feeling that you are slipping back
into an anthropomorphic view, and creating progress in your own
JULIAN : I don't think so. In fact, it is the exact reverse. The
Middle Ages judged the universe from the standpoint of man: the
modern biologist investigates the trends of evolution^ and then finds
that man happens to be at the top of the trend toward progress.
THOMAS HENRY: Man as the trustee of progress instead of the Lord
of Creation?
JULIAN : If you like. At any rate, it is some comfort to feel that
there is some standard, some direction in things, quite independent of
ourselves. Against that background, this fearful war can be seen in
better proportion and better perspective, and our efforts and suffer-
ings appear as part of a process which extends far beyond the im-
mediate necessity of winning.
THOMAS HENRY : That is one of the gifts of science: it sets our life
in the midst of spacious and inspiring vistas, while never allowing us
the delusion that we can achieve anything without effort. But ulti-
mate standards are rather too large a proposition to discuss now: it's
time for me to leave you.
JULIAN : Not so soon, surely?
THOMAS HENRY : What can it matter? I am merely, after all, a
projection of your private fancy. Wasn't that agreed at the outset?
JULIAN : All the same, there's much else we could say to each other.
THOMAS HENRY: Indeed, yes.    Even from the little you've had
time to tell me, it's clear that science has made great strides since
my day.    I am old, I come from another age, but perhaps I am not,
entirely out of date.