Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/358

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354
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE LAWS OF SOCIAL ATTRACTION
By Professor SIMON N. PATTEN

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

SCIENCE is a powerful transformer of human thought and yet it is remarkable how little direct influence it has on the affairs of life. We live from day to day under the guidance of the same feelings and motives that our ancestors had long before the sway of science was felt. A new discovery attracts our attention and evokes anticipation of great changes, only to drop out of view when the novelty is worn off. Much of this lack of interest is due to the fact that the adjustments that scientific laws demand were long since made in an unconscious way so that we already do what science prescribes. A cat that, falling, lands on its feet does all that a full knowledge of gravitation demands. Law thus has a reflective use in explaining what has happened, but seldom is a force in shaping action.

There is, however, one field to which science is being applied where this conclusion does not hold. Marriage is a subject of deep personal interest and it is also one of the few fields where real choice is increasing. From generation to generation the number of those grow who settle their marriage relations for themselves. Likes and dislikes play an ever-increasing role, while outside pressure—be it economic, social or moral—ceases to dominate choices to the degree it did. We are forced into subordination to environing conditions to an ever-increasing degree, but we get even, so to speak, by asserting our wills more freely in the choice of mates. The economic determination of daily life is thwarted by the impulses that determine love affairs. The one free epoch of a lifetime is often the days of courtship. Can laws be formulated that cover this epoch or is the mating of men and women a matter of chance?

A notable book has recently appeared which does much to put this problem on the new basis. In his "Sex and Character" Weininger assumes that the two sexes differ so fundamentally that every organ and even every cell reflects the peculiarities of the male and female plasms from which they arise, each representing the normal results that follow from the original differences in the sex cell. He holds, however, that there are few, if any, pure males or females, but that most men inherit some female characters while in women male characters are equally common. The ordinary woman is dominantly female, not purely so. The ordinary man in turn is dominantly male