Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/609

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FOOD, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF MAN.

history of the North American aborigines, of whom but a handful remain to tell the story of their former greatness, or the extent of their ancient civilization.

 

FOOD, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF MAN.
By OTTO ULE.

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN, BY J. FITZGERALD, A. M.

THE progress of science does not consist merely in the discovery of new facts and the enlargement of our knowledge, or even in the ingenious conclusions thence drawn, and which, from their universality, acquire the character of laws; its mightiest work is the change it brings about in our fundamental conceptions, and the consequent revolution in science itself. As science advances, it gains new principles, new arguments; its problems and its aims multiply incessantly. There is no branch of knowledge that has not experienced this, and even historical investigation is no exception. Time was when the earth used to be regarded as merely the temporary abode of man, or even as the place where he spent a brief term of banishment. The history of man used to consist of casual events, or of the free and arbitrary doings of individuals. Great men, great heroes, great rulers, great thinkers, determined the history of peoples and of states. Trifling causes—the walling up of a window, or the spilling of a glass of water—might occasion events that would convulse the world. By the aid of natural science we have come to look on the earth as something more than the temporary abode, as the true home and school of mankind. Man has become a child of Nature; in Nature are all the conditions of his life and development. Climate and soil, the conformation of the land, and the distribution of water, determine the physical and the mental development of nations. It has long been seen that peoples differ, that their history and their civilization are different, accordingly as they live in valleys or on mountains, in islands or in the interior of continents, in deserts and steppes or in forests, in an open, hilly country, or in sequestered valleys. Historical research, however, has but recently begun to concern itself with the natural causes of the development of civilization, and many an important aspect of this subject is still entirely overlooked.

Of all the influences which determine the life of the individual, and on which his weal and woe depend, undoubtedly the nature of his food is one of the weightiest. Every one has for himself experienced how not only the strength of his muscles, but also the course of his thought and his whole mental tone, is affected by the nature of his food. And shall not that hold good for nations which holds good for individuals? Shall the sum of mankind be less affected in their physi-