Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/16

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6
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

not yet brought into thorough working order. Yet, as the process of adaptation is still continuing, and is in the nature of things tending ever to produce between units and aggregate a state of more perfect equilibrium, the inevitable if optimistic corollary is, that the evil which we deplore will in the end work itself out altogether, and that eventually all friction will entirely disappear: a prophecy which seems to point to a realization of the gorgeous dreams of speculators like Godwin and Condorcet, far as the arguments upon which it is based are seen to differ from their own. Finally, all these special changes in man and in society are regarded as phases only of a process of universal development or unfolding, which is everywhere conducing, in obedience to an inherent metaphysical tendency, to the production in man, as throughout the whole of the animate creation, of more complete individuation and higher and higher types.

We thus see that, unlike Darwin and Wallace, Mr. Spencer approached the question of general evolution not from the organic but from the super-organic point of view — by the way of ethical and sociological investigations. His first conception of development was in the limited shape of progress — of development, that is, of man individually and in society. But Mr. Spencer's was not the mind to rest content with these vague and partial glimpses of a stupendous truth. Before long he began to work his way round through researches of quite a different character, toward the affiliation of these special and disjointed facts and inferences upon other facts and inferences of wider sweep and meaning.

His labors upon Social Statics had led him up to a realization of the important truth that beneath all the much-debated questions of morality and society lay the fundamental doctrines of biology and psychology; and that any really scientific or efficient treatment of man as a moral being or social unit must depend upon a thorough study of the problems of life and mind. Full of these ideas he turned with increased enthusiasm to biological and psychological studies, and to the prosecution of various lines of research in connection with these two subjects a large part, though by no means the whole, of his energies was for some time devoted.

The ten years which followed — the years between 1850 and 1860 (it is well to notice the dates, because, as we shall presently see, they have their own importance) — were years of great activity — an activity to be measured not so much by their productiveness, though that was sufficiently remarkable, as by the amazing growth and organization of ideas which took place in them. During this period some twenty-five exhaustive articles from Spencer's pen were published in the leading organs of liberal thought; and in these articles, if we take them in the order of