Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/719

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

individual. All this is involved in what Mr. Spencer teaches in his Data of Ethics; but perhaps it may be made plainer if we substitute for happiness the more comprehensive word adaptation. Perfect adaptation—that is, the complete and continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations—would be complete happiness were it attainable, as it covers both the physical and psychical sides of our nature. It includes perfect bodily health as well as perfect mental and moral health, and does not oblige those who teach scientific ethics to face the "disagreeable conclusion" mentioned by your correspondent. In fact, the substitution of adaptation for happiness as the criterion of morals has several advantages.

It bases morality upon the principles of evolution. The development of society implies the development of certain moral instincts in the individuals who compose it; for it is apparent that, unless selfishness is more or less restrained by altruism, social growth would be retarded if not stopped. It explains why opinion varies both in time and place in regard to conduct, for actions are considered virtuous by a given society when they are regarded as conducive to its welfare and sinful when they are supposed to be injurious. It accounts for the gains which altruistic sentiments have made upon egoistic, in man's progress upward, as social contact creates and fosters a public opinion in favor of the former, which is slowly becoming more and more irresistible, until finally shall dawn the era of peace upon earth and good-will to men.

Robert Mathews.
Rochester, N. Y., January 4, 1891.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

A PROFESSION FOR WOMEN.

THE crusade for the higher education of women that is now going on seems to have two chief impelling forces. One is the necessity for a growing number of the sex to provide for their own support; the second is the weariness of being idle that is afflicting another class of women. It is not necessary to point out here the reasons why women without male supporters are more numerous than formerly. They are mainly such as cause the deferment or abandonment of marriage by many men and women, through making family life less attractive and single life more satisfactory to both sexes. The same reasons, with others, operate to increase the number of wealthy women who have nothing to occupy them.

As a remedy for both these ills, collegiate education is being widely prescribed. This promises admission to lucrative professions to the bright women who must support themselves, and offers the degree of a men's college as the goal of their wealthy sisters' efforts. These remarks have been suggested by a recent volume in the International Education Series, on Higher Education of Women in Europe, by Helene Lange, which advocates the collegiate education idea, though in a notably reasonable and discriminating manner. But this way of treating the difficulty has serious defects. In the first place, it tends to increase the evil which it is expected to cure. The lack or deferment of suitable marriage is what is at the bottom of the whole matter, and the literary and professional education of women would make this lack greater. Independence of a husband's support would favor maiden life (though to the extent of preventing false marriage this is a good thing); so, too, would the absorption of women's interest and ambition in study or in a professional career. Moreover, women who have been occupied with books or business to the exclusion of learning how to make a home will not be very desirable as wives. Secondly, the proposed remedy would stimulate that undesirable trait, selfishness. It puts before a young woman the ideal of learning a profession for the benefit of self, of winning honors for self, of acquiring a high culture for self. It crowds out the opposite idea of fitting herself to co-operate with a husband for their joint benefit and that of their children, or the idea of using