Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/43

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
35
WHAT IS SOCIAL EVOLUTION?

WHAT IS SOCIAL EVOLUTION?
By HERBERT SPENCER.

THOUGH to Mr. Mallock the matter will doubtless seem otherwise, to most it will seem that he is not prudent in returning to the question he has raised; since the result must be to show again how unwarranted is the interpretation he has given of my views. Let me dispose of the personal question before passing to the impersonal one.

He says that I, declining to take any notice of those other passages which he has quoted from me, treat his criticism as though it were "founded exclusively on the particular passage which" I deal with, "or at all events to rest on that passage as its principal foundation and justification."[1] It would be a sufficient reply that in a letter to a newspaper numerous extracts are inadmissible; but there is the further reply that I had his own warrant for regarding the passage in question as conclusively showing the truth of his representations. He writes:—

Should any doubt as to the matter still remain in the reader's mind, it will be dispelled by the quotation of one further passage. "A true social aggregate" he says ["as distinct from a mere large family], is a union of like individuals, independent of one another in parentage, and approximately equal in capacities."[2]

I do not see how, having small liberty of quotation, I could do better than take, as summarizing his meaning, this sentence which he gives as dissipating "any doubt." But now let me repeat the paragraph in which I have pointed out how distorted is Mr. Mallock's interpretation of this sentence.

Every reader will assume that this extract is from some passage treating of human societies. He will be wrong, however. It forms part of a section describing Super-Organic Evolution at large ("Principles of Sociology," sec. 3), and treating, more especially, of the social insects; the purpose of the section being to exclude these from consideration. It is implied that the inquiry about to be entered upon concerns societies formed of like units, and not societies formed of units extremely unlike. It is pointed out that among the Termites there are six unlike forms, and among the Sauba ants, besides the two sexually-developed forms, there are three classes of workers—one indoor and two outdoor. The members of such communities—queens, males, soldiers, workers—differ widely in their structures, instincts, and powers. These communities formed of units extremely unequal in their capacities are contrasted with communities formed of units approximately equal in their capacities—the human communities about to be

  1. Nineteenth Century, p. 316.
  2. Aristocracy and Evolution, pp. 52, 53. The italics are his.