Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/307

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293
WOMAN'S PLACE IN NATURE.

study, into numerous sets of apparatus, each having a definite office in the general economy—as the digestive apparatus, the reproductive, the intellectual, etc.—the correlation of all the forces and functions of the body is so intimate and subtile that true philosophy makes no attempt to measure the exact and separate influence of any one force or function upon the rest, or upon the organism as a whole. Hence, to estimate the influence of sex in any given organism is impossible upon general principles, and evidently so in the case under consideration, from the fact that there is no standard of comparison. To assume man as the standard would be obviously absurd, for he is as distinctively differentiated as is woman, and it is impossible for a scientific imagination to conceive of a common type of the human species excluding the idea of sex; the attempt would demonstrate the impossibility of separating the mental conception of its two phases—just as it would be impossible to conceive of a magnetic needle without polarity. Its opposite poles may be designated and described, their peculiarities discussed, and their superficial relations partially understood; but who has any distinct idea of the real significance of their relations? The only clear thought is that they are complemental, and incapable of separate existence—furnishing a complete example of perfect duality in perfect unity; and the absurdity of the idea of a "common type" of its two poles is obvious. If any thing, it would be a magnetic needle without magnetism; in other words, a conceived inconceivability! Recognizing the difficulties which beset this investigation, then, the most that can be hoped for is the attainment of some broader and deeper truth than appears on the surface of the present disturbances in the social world; the only legitimate inquiry seems to be in regard to the influences and conditions which have resulted in the woman of to-day; and the practical questions related to it: Is there a tendency toward any important change in these influences and conditions, and, if so, in what direction? From what has gone before, my readers will have already inferred that the study of this subject will unavoidably include that of its natural complement, and that, should we succeed in obtaining answer to these questions, others of equal interest will find solution.

While the distinction of sex has for its manifest object the continuation of the race, that it is of deeper significance than this—that it has important bearings upon race-development as well as race-preservation—is indicated by a mass of evidence of so great weight as to carry with it the force of a demonstration. In Darwin's "Descent of Man" we have an accumulation of statements of facts gathered from vast fields of observation by many of the foremost naturalists of the age; and his deductive interpretations of these facts seem to have been accepted by a majority of the leading naturalists and physicists of the day. Such being the case, we are warranted in making this work the basis of our inquiry, thus looking at the subject from the