Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/834

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ticed. There are, however, a few criteria within our reach by means of which we are enabled to judge with some approach to exactness of the extent of the range within which the average standards of these qualities vary. The criteria are afforded by intellectual defects and aberrations, such as insanity, idiocy, the mental disorders arising from certain physical diseases, criminality, and the propensity to suicide. The information given by the statistics of the circulation of newspapers, letters, and telegrams; the results of the examinations of schools and for the military service; and even the statistics of misdirected letters, are all made of service in this investigation. They exhibit a tendency to uniformity which, although it does not always appear as marked as in respect to some of the qualities that have been considered, is nevertheless real. It is particularly striking in the case of suicides, concerning which Morselli has published very complete and minute statistics.

There need be no real difficulty in showing that the freedom of will and action which we accord to human beings and societies is consistent with subjection to the laws of social physiology. While we have not sufficient physical vigor to live more than a certain number of decades; while we are restricted in our scientific and artistic efforts by the capacity of our brain and nervous system; while we are preponderantly subject to the influence of the intellectual, political, and social currents of the age; while we are dependent on our geographical situation, on climate, soil, and the price of food—it is not yet necessary that we should be deprived of the attribute of free will. The laws of social physiology, although they have been deduced by observation as laws of Nature, and have suffered modification only through a short evolutionary epoch as compared with that through which the laws of Nature have subsisted, give nevertheless sufficient room for individual development. Because in the whole social body only the final results appear of the endless diversities existing within it, the freedom of individuals is consistent with the regularity of the whole. This whole, moreover, is itself not a stationary or rigid body, but an organism that is giving itself specific cultivation, and is continually suffering change, metamorphosis, and further development. An entire civic society can, by its collective will, modify, within the limits imposed by natural laws, all those properties and laws which we have discovered in the domain of social physiology.—Translated and condensed from the Deutsche Rundschau.

 

 
Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace acknowledges that the Americans possess, in respect to educational institutions, some special advantages over his own countrymen. They are comparatively free from Old-World establishments and customs; are not afraid of experiments; and seek, in whatever they undertake, to have "the biggest thing attainable." These features are manifested in some of the great American museums, "which rival, in certain special departments, the long-established national museums."