Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/330

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view of the struggle for life? Can one imagine, in the recesses of an organ, a single cell, a single element, which is not fighting for existence? If there could be one, then there would exist in reality something else than forces encountering forces, and that is a consequence which Hartmann himself could not admit, recognizing, as he does, nothing but forces in the atoms of matter, and explaining, as he does, reality and consciousness by the opposition of contending forces. We shall find him, farther on, maintaining that, when two contrary but equal forces meet, they annul and annihilate each other, and all reality vanishes; and yet the same author, arguing against Darwin, supposes a reality which is not the result of the encounter and strife of forces. For Hartmann, more than any other reasoner, the sphere of selection ought to be coextensive with that of reality, and whenever conflict and selection cease, by reason of the equilibrium of forces, there should be nothing but annihilation. But contradiction, we all know, is the hereditary vice of metaphysics.

In proof that certain facts have no concern with the struggle for life, Hartmann mentions beauty, and especially the beauty of plants, which it would be difficult to explain by selection. Here we find ourselves face to face with German æsthetics, with its mystical theories, and its metaphysical entities. For ourselves, regarding beauty not as a real fact, but simply as a relation between things and our faculties, we do not feel this difficulty. We admit that selection has nothing to do with the matter, because beauty is neither an act, nor an organ, nor a function: it is simply a mode in us of feeling outward objects; it is a sentiment inspired by things which answer to our habits of thought, and correspond with our associations of ideas. There is not, in Nature, any fact which is beautiful only; whatever is beautiful is at the same time an object, and the forces that produce it, produce it, so far as it is an object, and not so far as it is beautiful. We are not speaking of art, in which selection again comes up; and, in fact, if there is no natural selection as to beauty, there may be, in very many cases, artificial or intelligent selection: among animals, and especially as regards man, we know that beauty exerts a certain influence on choice in sexual passion. As to the plant, which cannot choose, we have to take account of natural selection by man, whose culture promotes the preservation of the species most agreeable to the eye; we may even admit a certain selection by insects, which assist the transfer of the pollen, and are perhaps not wholly insensible to size among flowers, to their brilliancy of color, etc.

Can an argument against Darwinism be founded on the equality of vitality among different species? When selection has induced a very considerable difference between two varieties, developing in two more or less opposite directions, it often occurs that these two varieties or species no longer have the same conditions of existence, and cease to compete with each other. The farther apart the types grow,