Зображення сторінки

physiological generalizations, these comparisons necessarily remained vague. So little was the natural and necessary law of development conceived of, that that true saying of Mackintosh : constitutions are not made, they make themselves,' at first caused only surprise. Has not history been explained by supernatural interventions ; by the preponderating action of great men, instead of its being understood that the great man can only disturb, retard, or aid the general evolution, but that, taken in its totality, it remains out of his reach. Mr. Herbert Spencer reduces 'the principal resemblances which exist between social organization and living organism to four :

1. That, commencing as small aggregations, they insensibly augment in mass; some of them eventually reaching ten thousand times what they originally were.

2. That while at first so simple in structure as to be considered structureless, they assume in the course of their growth a continually-increasing complexity of structure.

3. That though in their early, undeveloped states, there exists in them scarcely any mutual dependence of parts, their parts gradually acquire a mutual dependence; which becomes at last so great, that the activity and life of each part is made possible only by the activity and life of the rest.

4. That the life and development of a society is independent of, and far more prolonged than, the life and development of any of its component units ; who are severally born, grow, work, reproduce, and die, while the body politic composed of them survives generation after generation, increasing in mass, completeness of structure, and functional activity.

On the other hand, the leading differences between societies and individual organisms are these :

1. That societies have no specific external forms. This, however, is a point of contrast which loses much of its importance, when we remember that throughout the vegetable kingdom, as well as in some lower divisions of the animal kingdom, the forms are often

very indefinite. 2. That, though the living tissue whereof an individual organism consists, forms a continuous mass; the living elements of a society do not form a continuous mass.

3. That while the ultimate living elements of an individual organism are mostly fixed in their relative positions, those of the social organism are capable of moving from place to place, seems a marked disagreement. But here, too, the disagreement is much less than would be supposed. For while citizens are locomotive in their private capacities, they are fixed in their public capacities. ... Each great centre of production, each manufacturing town or district, continues always in the same place; and many of the firms in such town or district are for generations carried on either by the descendants or successors of those who founded them.

4. The last and perhaps the most important distinction is, that while in the body of an animal only a special tissue is endowed with feeling, in a society all the members are endowed with feeling Even this distinction, however, is by no means a complete one. For in some of the lowest animals, characterized by the absence of a nervous system, such sensitiveness as exists is possessed by all parts. It is only in the more organized forms that feeling is monopolized by one class of the vital elements. Moreover, we must remember that societies, too, are not without a certain differentiation of this kind. Though the units of a community are all sensitive, yet they are so in unequal degrees. The classes engaged in agriculture, and laborious occupations in general, are much less susceptible, intellectually and emotionally, than the rest; and especially less so than the classes of highest mental culture.1

In short, the resemblances are fundamental, essential; and the differences all exterior, and, strictly speaking, contestable. The analogy is much more striking if we consider them in their development, if we remark how closely the lower forms of life resemble the lower forms of social organization. Are there not analogies between the almost structureless protozoa, such as rhizopodes, the foraminifera, the vorticellæ, which form aggregates of cells, without subordination of parts, and inferior races, such as the Bushmen, among whom society is sometimes reduced to two or three families, and division of labour exists only between the sexes ? 1

[blocks in formation]

Physiological division of labour appears in the common polype ; this is a progress. In the same way a less rude society comprehends warriors and a chief council invested with authority. Certain zoophytes, like the hydra, produce others by a process of germination; a tribe also produces its slips ; jealousies, quarrels, cause divisions, a chief takes the initiative of the rupture, and the members part, and emigrate.

In the germ of a polype, as in the human egg, the aggregate of cells whence the animal is to come forth, gives birth to a peripherical layer of cells which afterwards subdivides itself into two, the one interior, called mucous or endodermous; the other, exterior, called serous or ectodermous. From the latter come the digestive and respiratory organs; from the former the nervous, muscular, and bony systems. In the social evolution we see an analogous first differentiation of species, that of the governing and the governed, of masters and of slaves, of nobles and of serfs. And in the same way that at a later stage, between the mucous and the serous layer, a third is formed, called vascular, whence come the blood vessels ; so, when a society is growing up, an intermediate class forms itself, a class given to industry and commerce, which is also the distributing organ of that society, as the blood-vessels are the distributing apparatus of the body.

The lower animals have no blood or circulating channels in the bulk of the body, thus uniting the different portions; but as soon as the being becomes more complex, they are a necessity; each portion of the organism must receive the materials which it assimilates. An inferior society has no roads, no way of communication ; but the development of civilisation necessarily supposes them

Where civilisation is only beginning there are some rude tracks traced out by use, like those lacuna which serve in the inferior animals for the distribution of the nutritive fluids.

Again, if we come to the nervous system, we find ganglions in the inferior organisms which are sometimes almost independent, just as in feudal society we see the barons and the other lords governing without any control ; sovereignty, almost local, exercised within narrow limits. The superior animal, on the contrary, has his nerves, his cerebro-spinal axis of a complicated structure ; just as England has her parliament, her ministers, her sheriffs, and her judges, animated by the same thought and obedient to a common impulsion.


If we

Thus, in a few words, we have explained how the law of evolution draws together social and biological phemomena. If we go into another domain, that of science, we shall find there also continuity in development. It is organically produced ; its genesis is the work of an inherent progress; it comes out of vulgar knowledge, as the oak comes out of the acorn. consider the current opinions, we find science regarded as a kind of knowledge apart, sui generis, placed in an almost inaccessible region, having processes of research proper to itself, totally foreign (save in its applications) to the reasonings and the habits of common life. The doctrine of evolution, on the contrary, shows that between science and common knowledge any line of demarcation is impossible; that they differ in degree, not in kind, and that any absolute separation between them is illusory and chimerical. More than this, as development implies continuity, all the sciences hold by each other; they are the parts of one whole, there is between them unity of composition, and each influences the others; one progress renders new discoveries possible, which shall throw more light upon that which has been already acquired. Everything coheres ; high civilisation is possible only through the culture of the sciences ; but let it be borne in mind that the culture of the sciences is only possible through civilisation ; thus, cause becomes effect and effect becomes cause, because in everything that lives the supreme law is reciprocity of action.

We shall now leave it to Mr. Herbert Spencer to trace back the Genesis of Science (Essays, vol. i. p. 166-193) ; that is to say, its evolution.

If we oppose to science under its most precise form, that of mathematics, our everyday modes of thought, in which there is no method, the contrast is striking. But only a little reflection is required to see that in the two cases the same faculties are brought into play, and that their mode of operation is the same at bottom. Shall we say that science is organized knowledge ? But all knowledge is more or less organized ; the commonest domestic actions presuppose facts observed, inferences drawn, results expected. Shall we say that science is a prevision? The definition would then be too extended; for the child who sees an apple, foresees that it will be resistant, soft to the touch, and of a certain flavour. Shall we say that science is an exact prevision ? But there are sciences which are not and which never can become exact, like physiology, and there are exact previsions which we do not regard as science ; for instance, that a light will be extinguished in water, and that ice will melt on the fire. Logically, then, the distinction between scientific knowledge and common knowledge is not justifiable.

If they do not differ in kind, what relation is there between them ? (1.) That which science reveals is more distant from perception than that which is given by common knowledge : the prediction of an eclipse of the moon by an astronomer differs, in this respect, from the prevision of a servant that fire will make water boil. It may be said, from this point of view, that science is an extension of the perceptions by means of reasoning. (2.) Science, undeveloped, is a qualitative prevision; science developed is a quantitative prevision. To foresee that a piece of lead will weigh more than a piece of wood of the same size; and to foresee that at a certain moment two specified planets will be in conjunction—that is the difference between qualitative and quantitative prevision. There is no true science except where the phenomena are measurable. Space is measurable, thence geometry; force and space are measurable, thence statics ; time, space, and force are measurable, thence dynamics. No measure is possible for our sensations; thus, there is no science of flavours or of odours.

In proportion as we pass from qualitative to quantitative prevision, we pass from inductive to deductive science. While science is purely inductive, it is purely qualitative; when it becomes imperfectly quantitative, it comprehends deduction and induction ; when perfectly quantitative, it is completely deductive.

« НазадПродовжити »