Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/556

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some high political axiom: when we think of all this, who is it that can not see that beyond the ferment of the passions the most fatal enemies of man have been certain weaknesses and imperfections of his intelligence otherwise so highly developed?" A raison d'être therefore highly moral, and above all useful.

The volume is divided into two parts. The first deals with the physio-psychology of the symbol, the second with its psycho-sociological application. It is preceded by an introduction which treats of the laws of least resistance and of mental inertia, concerning which Ferrero holds views that are supported by Spencer, Letourneau, Garlanda, and other sociologists. It is beyond doubt a fact that man feels a natural repulsion for mental labor, and if there is one thing on earth that he dislikes it is work, even that of the muscles. In our author's words: "The Hebrew legend of Genesis causes God to give to man labor as a punishment for sin; a precious and ingenuous human document regarding the sentiments of primitive humanity toward activity. The love of savages for rest is for that matter so well known that it would be almost useless to dwell upon it at any length. It is sufficiently proved by the fact that almost universally the most fatiguing labors are reserved for women—that is to say, laid on the sex that were the first slaves, and which can not rebel owing to its weakness. In all savage communities the only male labor has been war and the chase; because war and the chase are associated with the pleasures of success—that is, those which arise from a consciousness of personal power, and the pleasures of vanity, through the esteem which surrounds, in primitive tribes, the strongest warrior or hunter."

Comparative etymology teaches that in Hebrew, in Latin, in Italian, and in French the word labor signifies pain or punishment. Man, by nature, avoids not only physical exertion but also mental, in that form which is known as attention. One constantly sees, "how practice precedes theory, and action is adapted to surrounding circumstances without the intervention of abstract thought."

How man acts under the influence of the law of the least effort Ferrero explains by the following example: "Another proof that man seeks to obtain results by the least possible effort is furnished to us by the growth of sociological evolution. Spencer has justly criticised with severity those scientific systems which see in every human institution, in the exact form in which we find it, the ultimate result of an effort on the part of mankind directed toward its creation. Man does not think as much as that; and no peoples have ever created their own institutions according to a finished plan, previously traced. Every social organism is the result, not of a complex idea, created by the