Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/245
ETHICS AND THE STRUGGLE FOE EXISTENCE. 235
It is true that this suggests one of the most difiBcult questions of the time. It is suggested, for example, that in some respects the " highest " specimens of the race are not the healthiest or the fittest. Genius, according to some people, is a variety of disease, and intellectual power is won by a diminution of reproductive power. A lower race, again, if we measure " high " and " low " by intellectual capacity, may oust a higher race, because it can support itself more cheaply, or, in other words, because it is more efficient for industrial purposes. Without presuming to pronounce upon such questions, I will simply ask whether this does not interpret Prof. Huxley's remark about that "cosmic nature" which, he says, is still so strong, and which is likely to be strong so long as men require stomachs. The fact is simply that we have not to suppress it, but to adapt it to new circumstances. We are engaged in working out a gigantic problem : What is the best, in the sense of the most efficient, type of human being ? What is the best combination of brains and stomach ? We turn out saints who are too good to live," and philosophers who have run too rapidly to brains. They do not answer in practice, because they are instru- ments too delicate for the rough work of daily life. They may give a foretaste of qualities which will be some day possible for the average man ; of intellectual and moral qualities which, though now exceptional, may become commonplace. But the best stock for the race are those in whom we have been lucky enough to strike out the happy combination in which greater intellectual power is gained without the loss of physical vigor. Such men, it is probable, will not deviate so widely from the aver- age type. The reconciliation of the two conditions can only be effected by a very gradual process of slowly edging onward in the right direction. Meanwhile the theory of a struggle for existence justifies us, instead of condemning us, for preserving the delicate child, who may turn out to be a Newton or a Keats, because he will leave to us the advantage of his discoveries or his poems, while his physical feebleness assures us that he will not propagate his race.
This may lead to a final question : Does the morality of a race strengthen or weaken it ; fit it to hold its own in the general equi- librium, or make its extirpation by lower races more probable ? I do not suppose that anybody would deny what I have already suggested, that the more moral the race, the more harmonious and the better organized, the better it is fitted for holding its own. But if this be admitted, we must also admit that the change is not that it has ceased to struggle, but that it struggles by differ- ent means. It holds its own, not merely by brute force, but by justice, humanity, and intelligence, while, it may be added, the possession of such qualities does not weaken the brute force.