Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/249

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245
PRACTICAL VALUE OF PURE SCIENCE

the wax and build of it the geometrical comb, even ventilate the hive. No wonder that men sit for hours in their gardens contemplating such organized unity. The drones, they represent a plutocracy, they have but one mission and when that is accomplished the workers kill them. Different wild bees and wasps exhibit various stages leading up to this complex state. Yet still more wonderful governments are known among the ants, with their different castes of workers, each with its particular set of occupations, with their more complex nests with granaries, dining-chambers and bed-rooms; with their habits of harvesting, of keeping milch cattle and providing stables for them, of cleansing the young, of growing and tending mushroom beds, true vegetable gardens beneath the earth, with even the habits of keeping slaves and guests. Ants also have a language by which they communicate their ideas to each other, not by articulate words, but by touch and smell; and certain solitary wasps are known that make use of a stone as a tool, a faculty generally supposed to be limited to mankind.

Now, such cases have been discovered by biologists, and biologists are analyzing their evolution. Pure science has made them known for the pleasure of the work and of the explanation. Yet it is not idle to suppose that such study may yet have its bearings on human social problems. Three practical men have turned with profit to the study of the social life of insects: McCook, the American preacher; Lubbock, the English parliamentarian, and Maeterlinck, the Belgian novelist. Robert Bruce got inspiration from a spider, and engineers have studied with profit the architectural skill of insects and spiders, particularly with regard to bridge making. The study of bees offers much more than the mere output of commercial honey. These lower animals show the real natural state of society, and make ridiculous Rousseau's wild imaginings. They have their trades, their agriculture and animal breeding, their guests and slaves, even their tools; they construct an eminently appropriate architecture with no waste of material, they store food and keep their cities clean and aseptic; some show even the beginnings of barter and exchange. Most of these occupations we generally suppose to be limited to ourselves, for we are nothing if not egotistic. The wonder of it is the perfect order and harmony, the excellence of the state. Willoughby was undoubtedly wrong in arguing that the state exists only in the case of man. Now, can sociology afford to disregard such data? Can the conflicting factors of human society be explained only by the study of man? Surely we ought to at least wrest from the insects their secret of perfect harmony. Many of man's occupations extend far back into nature, therefore to understand them we must trace them to the community life of lower animals, even back of this to the origin of the factor that made the family, the maternal instinct. Sociology has applied some of the teachings of pure science,