Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/194

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182
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

but no one can watch her operations without feeling that there is in all of them as much of purpose as there is in those of the female Pelopæus who so assiduously collects, paralyzes, and stores away in her mud-dabs the spiders which are to nourish her young; or in the many other curious provisions which insects make for their progeny, which, in the majority of instances, they are destined never to behold. Nor can I see any good reason for denying these lowly creatures a degree of consciousness of what they are about, or even of what will result from their labors. They have an object in view, and whether we attribute their performances to instinct or to reason depends altogether on the meaning we give to those words. Define instinct as "congenital habit" or "inherited association" or, as I prefer to characterize it, as the inevitable outcome of organization, and most of the doings of the lower animals may justly be called instinctive; but instinct and intelligence are both present, in most animals, in varying proportion, the last being called into play more especially by unusual and exceptional circumstances, and the power which guides the female Pronuba in her actions differs only in degree from that which directs a bird in the building of its nest, or which governs many of the actions of rational men.

 

THE SURVIVAL OF THE UNFIT.
By HENRY DWIGHT CHAPIN, M. D.

IS modern civilization advancing along satisfactory lines toward a higher development? We hope and believe so, but there are not a few who consider such a question an open one. Both the pessimist and optimist can have much to say on either side of this problem. The forces at work in society are diverse and complex, acting like the ceaseless operation of a complicated engine that is constantly pushing on, throwing some up and some down, and leaving many a wreck behind. It is of pregnant interest to study the destructive factors at work in society that not only produce the unfit, but also tend to their survival. This question derives its principal significance from the apparently hopeless task of dealing with the unfit. Science and theology, from widely divergent poles, appear to reach much the same conclusion with regard to delinquents. Darwinism and Calvinism present about an equally hopeful consideration for the unfortunates of our race. One says heredity and environment; the other, predestination and foreordination. Both suggest the witty aphorism of Dr. Holmes, that the proper time to begin the treatment of some diseases is a hundred years before birth.