Page:The Idea of Progress.djvu/14

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10
THE IDEA

It has been pointed out by Mr. Bradley that these apocalyptic prophecies have nothing whatever to do with Darwinism. If we take the so-called doctrine of evolution in Nature as a metaphysics of existence, which Darwin never intended it to be, 'there is in the world nothing like value, or good, or evil. Anything evolution, in the ordinary sense of development or progress, is wholly rejected.' The survival of the fittest does not mean that the most virtuous or the most useful or the most beautiful or even the most complex survive; there is no moral or aesthetic judgement pronounced on the process or any part of it. 'Darwinism', Mr. Bradley goes on to say, 'often recommends itself because it is confused with a doctrine of evolution which is radically different. Humanity is taken in that doctrine as a real being, or even as the one real being; and humanity (it is said) advances continuously. Its history is development and progress towards a goal, because the type and character in which its reality consists is gradually brought more and more into fact. That which is strongest on the whole must therefore be good, and the ideas which come to prevail must therefore be true. This doctrine, though I certainly cannot accept it, for good or evil more or less dominates or sways our minds to an extent which most of us perhaps are dangerously unaware. Any such view of course conflicts radically with Darwinism, which only teaches that the true idea is the idea which prevails, and this leaves us in the end with no criterion at all.' It may further be suggested that Spencer's optimism depends on the transmissibility of acquired characters; but this is too dangerous a subject for a layman in science to discuss.

Although the main facts of cosmic evolution, and the main course of human history from Pithecanthropus