Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/594

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

aggression, and, while risking death in doing this, to inflict death upon others. The other religion teaches that the glory is in not resisting aggression, and in yielding to others while not asserting the claims of self. A civilized humanity will render the one glory just as impossible of achievement as the other. A diminishing egoism and an increasing altruism must make each of these opposite kinds of honor unattainable. For such an advance implies a cessation of those aggressions which make possible the nobility of resistance; while it implies a refusal to accept those sacrifices without which there cannot be the nobility of self-sacrifice. The two extremes must cancel; leaving a moral code and a standard of honor free from irrational excesses. Along with a latent self-assertion, there will go a readiness to yield to others, kept in cheek by the refusal of others to accept more than their due.

And now, having noted the perversions of thought and sentiment fostered by the religion of amity and the religion of enmity, under which we are educated in so chaotic a fashion, let us go on to note the ways in which these affect sociological conceptions. Certain important truths, apt to be shut out from the minds of the few who are unduly swayed by the religion of amity, may first be set down.


One of the facts difficult to reconcile with current theories of the Universe is, that high organizations, throughout the animal kingdom, habitually serve to aid destruction or to aid escape from destruction. If we hold to the ancient view, we must say that high organization has been deliberately devised for such purposes. If we accept the modern view, we must say that high organization has been evolved by the exercise of destructive activities during immeasurable periods of the past. Here we choose the last alternative. To the never-ceasing efforts to catch and eat, and the never-ceasing endeavors to avoid being caught and eaten, is to be ascribed the development of the various senses and the various motor organs directed by them. The bird of prey with the keenest vision has, other things equal, survived when members of its species that did not see so far died from want of food; and, by such survivals, keenness of vision has been made greater in course of generations. The fleetest members of an herbivorous herd, escaping when the slower fell victims to a carnivore, left posterity; among which, again, those with the most perfectly-adapted limbs survived: the carnivores themselves being at the same time similarly disciplined and their speed increased. So, too, with intelligence. Sagacity that detected a danger which stupidity did not perceive, lived and propagated; and the cunning which hit upon a new deception, and so secured prey not otherwise to be caught, left posterity where a smaller endowment of cunning failed. This mutual perfecting of pursuer and pursued, acting upon their entire organizations, has been going on throughout all time; and human beings have