Popular Science Monthly/Volume 81/December 1912/The Genesis of Individual and Social Surplus

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

THE GENESIS OF INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL SURPLUS
By PROFESSOR ALVAN A. TENNEY

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

LIFE implies surplus energy. No organism can exist for any appreciable period without experiencing the fact that its environment is more favorable or more hostile to its life-activities at one time than at another time. Strength that just suffices to resist some special stress thus yields a surplus when that stress is over. Protozoa and men alike are subject to vicissitudes. At times they barely manage to survive. Again their energy exceeds their needs.

How variations increasing surplus energy are caused no man has definitely shown, though Metchnikoff may yet succeed in proving why the surplus disappears. We merely know that surplus does exist in varying degrees and that its rise and fall depend on measurable facts. We know, too, that the greater the surplus the greater the freedom men have to pursue the higher ends of life or, if they choose, the lower.

The fact that surplus energy exists and that important consequences result therefrom has been often emphasized. Shiller presented the idea in his discussion of esthetics a century ago, and even Groos, though severely criticizing Spencer for connecting the idea of imitation with the overflow of energy, admits the presence of surplus energy to be "the conditio sine quâ non which permits the instincts to be so augmented that finally. . . they. . . permit indulgence in merely sportive acts." Patten has even proclaimed a "new basis of civilization" upon the assumption that a social surplus now exists whereby a "pain economy" has been replaced by a "pleasure economy." These writers, however, and others who have dealt with the subject appear to have been interested primarily in demonstrating that certain phenomena or consequences result from an existing surplus. To a limited extent only do they attempt to show upon what conditions the amount of surplus energy in any given case depends. The way appears open, therefore, for a discussion of the clearly marked stages in the increases of surplus energy which have taken place in the evolution of the higher from the lower forms of life and in the evolution of man himself. Such a discussion may be expected to throw light upon at least three problems of more than academic interest. These are the questions: why man in a comparatively brief period of time (as reckoned in geology) has far outstripped competitors; why sociologists should consider psychological facts of more importance than biological in their interpretations of society; and why it is reasonable, for the present at least, to hold the eugenist's fear of decadence a trifle overdrawn.

Surplus energy, as used in this paper, means the amount of energy available for life-processes which is possessed or obtainable, by any organism, over and above the amount which is necessary for survival at any given time.

Surplus energy, in this sense, assumes many forms. Bodily vigor and long life are not the only manifestations of it. Such material goods, also, as are immediately available for restoration of depleted bodily vigor come under the general heading. Moreover, any structural or other changes in an organism which improve its chances of survival, increase the surplus. The development of useful instincts and the discovery of useful methods of controlling nature and producing wealth—these, too, increase the surplus. Bettered social organization plays its part as well. In fact, in close analysis, every trait and every act of any unit of a group in some way affects the surplus. It is evident, therefore, that only the more important phases of the subject can be considered here. The term social surplus follows directly from the meaning of surplus energy. The social surplus is merely the sum total of surplus energy existing in the individuals composing a social group or immediately available to such individuals.

What were the first-steps in the development of surplus energy in the long series of organic changes that led to the evolution of the higher animals and man, none can say. If it is permissible to hold, however, that the earliest ancestors of man were similar in character to the lowest forms of animal life now existing on this planet, we may at least surmise the general character of those early advances.

Consider, for a moment, the great advantage over the lowest protozoa, certain structural differences give that large group of single-celled animals called Ciliata. The microscopic Amœba proteus, which may be taken as representative of the very lowest animals, is structurally most simple. Its form is irregular and is continually changing in response to stimulation. Although the internal substance of its body shows some differentiation, there is nothing remotely resembling specialized sense organs. According to Jennings, one of the foremost authorities on the behavior of the lower organisms, the amœba has three characteristic reactions to stimulation. These are, the negative, the positive and the food-taking reactions. The first is a contraction of the part of the animal stimulated when, for example, it comes into strong contact with a solid obstacle. The negative reaction may cause movement in a direction opposite to the point of stimulation. A positive reaction to solid bodies occurs when a pseudopodium is pushed forward in the direction of the stimulus and the animal moves toward the solid. The negative reaction is useful in avoiding obstacles; the positive in securing contact with food. The food-taking reaction is the enveloping of food by throwing pseudopodia about it. These three reactions together with the ordinary crawling locomotion and the throwing out of pseudopodia in search of a solid on which to crawl, constitute the entire variety of Amœba's experiences as displayed in behavior.

The structure of the Ciliata is much more complicated and in certain respects marks a distinct advance in equipment for the struggle for existence. Paramecium may represent the type. In this animal not only are the cilia modified locomotory structures, but there is a definite region for food taking. A groove extends obliquely down one side of the body, terminating at its lower end in a mouth. It is to the cilia, chiefly, however, that Paramecium owes its superiority over Amœba. These are usually inclined backward and their stroke then drives the animal forward. The most interesting characteristic of the stroke is its obliqueness so that Paramecium always rotates on its long axis, whether it moves forwards or backwards. In consequence of this fact, according to Jennings, Paramecium solves the problem of how an unsymmetrical organism, without eyes or other sense organs, may, nevertheless, maintain a definite course through trackless water. Not even man succeeds in maintaining a straight course under similar but simpler conditions. On the trackless snow-covered prairie the traveler without compass, landmarks or other guide wanders in circles, though it is possible to err only to right or left, not up and down as in the water.

Paramecium, by rotation, compensates for any wandering by equal wandering in the opposite direction. Nature anticipated the modern rifle by several asons. With this equipment whenever a Paramecium reacts negatively to some stimulus it is able to continue swimming in a direction away from the stimulus until the stimulation ceases. Through the additional power of slightly accentuating the rotation-swerve the animal is enabled to swim in various directions and to remove itself successively from many different environmental conditions, until it has found what Jennings terms the "optimum." This behavior Jennings characterizes briefly as a "selection from the environmental conditions resulting from varied movements." It is in fact a "trial and error" method with selection of the optimum—a method not unknown to man himself.

This characterization of it, however, may seem to imply too much. Paramecium "tries" over and over again, but what is "tried" is always the same thing—there seems to be no profiting by experience. Whether the response of Paramecium to stimulation is conditioned in any degree by subjective phenomena, or is even accompanied by them, is a disputed point. Even if present there remains the further question as to the extent such subjective phenomena may be considered similar to those of the human mind. With respect to the development of surplus energy, however, it matters little whether Jennings's affirmation or Loeb's denial of consciousness is right. It is perfectly clear that the structural change represented by the difference between Amœba and Paramecium permits greater adaptation of the individual to its environment and, other things equal, tends to permit a greater expenditure of energy in non-sustaining activity. Further improvements in structure encountered as we proceed higher in the scale of evolution likewise imply greater adaptation and still greater surplus.

Before leaving Paramecium to discuss behavior of a distinctly more advanced type one more point of special interest to the sociologist must be noted. This is the fact that Paramecia in their individual efforts to find the optimum environment are brought into physical proximity. Further, it has been demonstrated that for certain individual Paramecia the optimum seems to be created, other things being equal, by the presence of carbon dioxide. Inasmuch as carbon dioxide is produced by the Paramecia themselves, this means that such Paramecia not only tend to form groups, but indirectly to influence the behavior of each other. If subjective phenomena accompany response to stimulation by carbon dioxide we have here a state of consciousness modified by the presence of organisms of like kind, even if there is, strictly speaking, no consciousness of kind—that is, even if there is no recognition of the presence of another of its own kind by the animal. The formation of groups by Paramecia as a result of their own production of carbon dioxide, according to Jennings, explains many peculiar phenomena in their behavior. For example, Paramecia in a solution of carbon dioxide react to other agents in a manner entirely different from the action of individuals in water not containing carbon dioxide. Now membership in a group is often an important protection to the individual. It is, therefore, often a factor in survival and is of importance in the production of a surplus.

The important facts to be noted up to this point are, first that change in structure may mean more complex behavior and an increased surplus, and second, that congregation if not association modifies both behavior and safety and this also affects surplus.

In Stentor roeselii there enters a new factor affecting surplus. This is the modification of behavior because of past experience. Stentor roeselii is a colorless or whitish trumpet-shaped water-inhabiting animal consisting of a slender stalk-like body bearing at its end a broadly expanded disk. The surface of the body is covered with cilia. The smaller end of the body is known as the foot and at this end fine pseudopodia are sent out by which the animal attaches itself. The lower half of the body is surrounded by the so-called tube or sheath formed by a mucus-like secretion from the surface of the body. If, now, some such substance as carmine ink be introduced into the water so as to reach Stentor's disk there are several reactions. At first the normal movements of the cilia which cause a current of water to flow toward the animal's mouth are not changed. The particles of carmine ink enter the mouth and thence penetrate the internal protoplasm. If the cloud becomes dense, however, the animal presently bends aside. If this reaction is not effective in getting rid of the particles it is repeated. If failure still results the ciliary movements are suddenly reversed to produce a current of water away from the mouth. This reversal is brief but, if no improvement is effected, it may be repeated many times in rapid succession. Next, contraction within the sheath may occur. By this contraction the animal escapes stimulation entirely, but it also obtains no food. Usually the animal extends itself again in less than a minute. If particles of carmine are again met Stentor no longer reacts in the milder ways employed at first, but contraction occurs at once. This may be repeated many times, each period of retirement lasting longer than the preceding one. Ultimately the animal contracts repeatedly and violently while still encased in its tube. It thus finally detaches its foot from its moorings, leaves its tube, swims away, attaches itself elsewhere and forms a new sheath in a new and more favorable environment.

This behavior differs from that of Paramecium in a radical way. Paramecium, except when fatigue or other cause reduces surplus energy, always reacts in the same way to the same stimulus. Stentor reacts in different ways. As Jennings puts it "the change in reaction must be due to a change in the organism" itself. In any event the present readiness of this organism to react in one of two or more possible ways depends on its past history. The animal profits by experience. The change in reaction is regulatory, not haphazard. Something akin to habit has appeared. This clearly marks the saving of much energy that otherwise would be spent in useless attempts to avoid injurious conditions. There is less waste and more surplus, more chance of survival and a greater length of time during which the animal possesses a surplus of energy over the minimum necessary for survival.

To trace the gradual development of creatures more complex in structure, and in consequence more complex in behavior, might be interesting, but if the recent work of observers of animal behavior is to be trusted no new principles are involved until the primates themselves are approached.

Throughout the period marked by this interval, however, countless changes in the structure, in the production of new reflexes, in the modification of instinctive behavior by the formation of habits, perfected the adjustment of individuals to the physical environment and their accommodation to their fellow creatures. Definite complex combinations and series of combinations of reflex reactions in the presence of a series of complex stimulations appeared and these in turn were rendered more complex by the development of habits based on individual experiences repeated anew by every generation. Each useful instinct and every valuable habit made the individual organism more efficient, lessened the effort necessary to live, increased surplus energy.

As man was approached, however, the factor of habit became more and more important. Some hint of how this occurred may be gained from every-day observation. It is a commonplace that exercise of muscles that are fitted to perform certain functions renders the habitual exercise of that function as certain in its operation as is a pure reflex. Young birds awkward in their first flight become expert rapidly. Beasts of prey by trial and error eliminate unsuccessful modes of attack. Before our eyes instinctive actions become modified by experience to a very appreciable extent. Tricks are even taught to seals, lions and elephants, and finally habits useful to man are learned by horse and dog. Thus man has appropriated to his own use the surplus energy developed in the higher animals and has profited thereby immensely.

But the stage of advance now under discussion is that of man's immediate precursors when they, too, had merely learned to profit by past experience through the method of trial and error and elimination of unsuccessful activities.

At this point doubtless the objection will be made that other functions affecting surplus had by this time appeared in man's precursors. It will be held that imitation, at least, was present far down the scale. Certainly it must be granted that any tendency of an organism A to imitate a useful innovation of a similar organism B would, in most instances, increase the surplus possessed by organism A. A flock of birds may take flight if a single bird flies away in alarm. This may be an advantage to every member of the flock. It is necessary, however, to distinguish sharply at least two kinds of imitation. Instinctive imitation, of which the case of the birds which fly when one of the flock takes wing may be taken as an instance, occurs when the sight or sound of one animal's performing a certain act operates as a direct stimulus to the performance of a similar act by another animal whose organization is such as naturally to lead to that act by reflex response whenever the appropriate stimulus is given. The model-act releases the trigger, the organism does the rest by reflex action in accordance with inherited functions. The second type of imitation occurs only when the model-act suggests to the observer the feeling of pleasure or the idea of utility that would result if he repeated the act for himself. The process involved in the first type appears to be no different from those which occur when an animal responds to any stimulus whatsoever. The function is reflex in accordance with the inherited structural organization of the animal, but becomes modified by the trial and error method.[1] The functioning involved in the second type is radically different from that of the first. It implies the awakening of the impulse to repeat the model-act because of a more or less vivid recognition of its consequences. As Thorndike states it:

One sees the following sequence: "A turning a faucet, A getting a drink." If one can free this association from its narrow confinement to A so as to get from it the association "impulse to turn faucet, me getting a drink," one will surely, if thirsty, turn the faucet, though he had never done so before.[2]

When the second type of imitation, voluntary imitation, appears there is necessarily a tremendous increase in surplus for all social animals possessing it. Thereafter any discovery made by one animal of a group may be transferred by a psychological process to all other animals in the group irrespective of whether they have been accustomed to perform that particular sequence of acts instinctively or not.

A most significant discovery has been made within the past fifteen years in the attempt to ascertain how far down the phylogenetic scale this power of voluntary imitation may be found. This discovery is that man alone possesses it to any considerable degree. Thorndike experimenting with chickens, cats and dogs found no evidence whatever of this type. Even his results with monkeys were, on the whole, negative. Small's rats showed no ability to profit by each other's experience in this way. According to Yerkes this type of imitation plays no considerable role in the learning processes of the dancing mouse. Hobhouse, to be sure, holds that cats, dogs, elephants and monkeys were aided in their learning if he "showed" them how to do a thing. Whether this was voluntary imitation, however, or whether the animals were merely aided in focusing their attention on the important object and thus received assistance by lessening the number of trials and errors, is a difficult question to answer. The past experience of the animals, moreover, was not always fully known in these experiments. Kinnaman's monkeys gave more positive results but, as Washburn says, we can not be sure that Kinnaman's monkeys really had an idea of the proper action suggested to them by seeing their companions perform it; the case might have been one of instinctive imitation, taking here a form more elaborate than was seen in cats and dogs because more complicated movements are natural to the monkey than to the lower mammals. Berry also maintains that his experiments "have shown that voluntary imitation of a certain type does exist in white rats" and that "while this imitation is not of as high a degree as that discovered by Kinnaman in his experiments with monkeys, it is not different in kind." He thinks, also, that "a similar type of imitation exists in cats," that "cats to some extent imitate human beings" and that "cats do not instinctively kill and eat mice, but do so by imitation." He holds, however, that "instinctive imitation in cats is more important than students of animal behavior have supposed." Cole (L. W.) thinks he found evidence of voluntary imitation in the raccoon. These results, however, are open to the same objection as that raised against Hobhouse, namely, that the experiments may not have been sufficiently "controlled." In some laboratories efforts to prove the presence of voluntary imitation in the lower animals have been discontinued because of the discouraging uniformity with which negative results have been reached. No one seems to have found indisputable evidence. It is worth noting, however, that the most positive results seem to have been obtained with monkeys. What the experiments have shown unequivocally is that the animals tested learned almost exclusively by a gradual dropping off of unnecessary movements. Upon the nature of this process psychology has thus far thrown little light. Jennings says that the disturbance set up in the organism by the stimulus, by hunger or confinement, not finding an outlet by one path of discharge, seeks others in succession until one is found which relieves the disturbed condition. After repetition the change which leads to relief is reached more directly as "a result of the law of the readier resolution of physiological states after repetition." This "law" is, however, merely a statement of the fact.

It is doubtless true that intermediate stages are present between instinctive and voluntary imitation. Nevertheless, unless the work of expert observers of animal behavior during the past fifteen years is to be overthrown, the assertion may be made that man alone has developed voluntary imitation to any very important degree.

The significance of the advance to the voluntary imitation stage in development is second to none in the whole evolution of organic life for by its attainment human life, as we know it, now became possible.

It has been customary to recognize a more or less definite boundary between man and his precursors based on the development of speech by man. If, as a matter of fact, there is any value in attempting to define the boundary by a single activity, voluntary imitation may be suggested, on the objective side, at least, as of more importance than speech or language. Both voluntary imitation and speech appear to require either conceptual thought or something closely akin to it. Both may thus be taken as objective indices of the existence of that power of abstraction which. the psychologist and ethnologist hold to be a distinctly human trait. Both could have developed only as the power of conceptual thinking advanced. But speech seems to imply the existence of voluntary imitation, whereas the contrary is not necessarily true. The association of a particular sound or even gesture with a particular thing or act is not the only element in speech. There must be the same association in the minds of two or more individuals. The simplest way to account for such similarity of association is by the process of voluntary imitation. Doubtless inarticulate cries became signals arousing alertness to stimulation of various sorts long before voluntary imitation had become well-developed. Instinctive imitation had doubtless also created similar cries under similar circumstances, and nothing more perhaps was needed, in some instances, than the recognition on the part of one of two individuals that both used the same cry under the same circumstances, to produce the communication of an idea. The moment, however, an individual desired to make use of this recognition for the purpose of communicating an idea, he must have used the signal-sound as a model, knowing it to be the sound which the other individual associated with the idea he wished to convey. This purposive repetition of the model-sound involved voluntary imitation whether the model was the idea of another individual's cry or that of his own. It is evident, however, that soon after voluntary imitation appeared speech must have begun to arise. But many advances other than speech must have occurred as soon as voluntary imitation appeared. Long before language could have developed to any great extent man must have begun purposively to imitate things other than cries and gestures. The unskilful hunter must have learned new methods from the skilful. The man who discovered that a club was more effective than a fist soon had many followers making use of his invention. In short, voluntary imitation presently entered into every phase of life wherein it became possible to hand down by a psychological process the pragmatically valuable results of the past experience of the race. As soon as voluntary imitation appeared, therefore, the basis was laid for the continuity of history. Speech accelerated development tremendously, but it may be surmised with a considerable degree of probability that voluntary imitation of useful activities was well advanced before man did much talking that "accomplished things."

Doubtless the development of whatever degree of conceptual thinking is required for voluntary imitation was a long and gradual process. A prior stage in which thought was purely in recepts, to use Romanes' term, must have existed for ages. There may prove to have been other prior advances of an importance equal to that of voluntary imitation, the exact nature of which the observer of animal behavior may yet discover, but whatever may be in store in this field, it is certain that the arrival of voluntary imitation marks the beginning of continuity in human history. Thereafter custom and tradition were possible.

The effect on surplus of the arrival of voluntary imitation is, however, the subject to which the preceding discussion has been merely a preliminary. For the effect on surplus was sufficient to free man to a considerable extent from the domination of purely biological processes and to make progress thereafter, as Professor Ward is continually reminding us, essentially a psychological process. The capital fact is this: whenever, after voluntary imitation appeared, a new discovery or invention was made, that discovery or invention rapidly became the property of the entire group. To whatever extent the relative amount of energy expended for survival was lessened for one individual it was lessened for all. Whatever addition was made to the surplus energy of the discoverer was likewise made to the surplus of all members of the group. Thus the inventors of bow and arrow, of canoe and hoe, immeasurably increased the surplus of society at large. So, from this time forth society increased its wealth, added to the bodily surplus of its members those economic goods which could be easily converted into bodily surplus, developed extra-somatic surplus as well as somatic surplus.

At this point a Malthusian might object that during all the early history of man population tended to increase rapidly enough to keep the surplus of every individual low. Even if this were so, it is nevertheless true that every gain increased the total energy available. A greater population in itself meant a greater total surplus, for, at times, the struggle for existence was suddenly alleviated and at such times the more individuals there were the greater was the sum of human energy freed from the effort to merely maintain existence. Such periods of rapid progress must have occurred many times in history. Every migration into a more favorable habitat, every invention and discovery, has tended to permit the size of human groups to increase and usually has tended to increase longevity as well. The use of fire, the invention of tools, the beginning of agriculture, the domestication of animals, the discovery of means of navigation, all these things increased the surplus at divers times and in divers places. How tremendous was the increase in social surplus gained by the combination of invention and voluntary imitation in the early periods of man's progress is indicated by a comparison of the differences between paleolithic and neolithic culture. From the earlier period rough stone implements of the chase, arrow points and what may have been spear points, but no hatchets, are found. Plentiful indication of cave-life, but, in general, no evidence of cultivation, of pottery or use of fire has been unearthed. Domesticated animals were probably non-existent. Social life was doubtless extremely simple.

Contrast the neolithic culture. When that stage first was reached man had added agriculture to hunting, used hatchets and smooth stone implements, made pottery and baskets, erected houses, controlled fire, had domesticated sheep and cattle, had begun spinning and weaving, lived in stable villages and had a comparatively complex social life. Life was infinitely more worth living in the neolithic period. Compared with the ages that passed before the anatomical and mental characteristics peculiar to man appeared, this increase in well-being—in surplus energy—between the paleolithic and neolithic periods took place with tremendous rapidity. The actual time must be reckoned in tens, perhaps hundreds, of centuries, but, in comparison with the period that had been required for the production of voluntary imitation by biological processes, the interval between the paleolithic and neolithic periods was but a day. Voluntary imitation and invention had increased the rate of progress many-fold.

To review the successive gains through invention, discovery and imitation during the historic period would not strengthen the argument. In these latter days, we know, the power of the western world has far outstripped even the greatest population increase the planet has ever seen and at the same time has raised the plane of living far above the average of even a century ago. We may turn, therefore, to the inferences of sociological importance which may be drawn from the foregoing facts. Not merely do they show, as has been indicated, that the appearance of voluntary imitation marks the beginning of distinctly human history, but they also provide a definite reason why biological deterioration is not greatly to be feared at present and why the sociologist who bases his explanation of society more upon psychology than biology, is right. For, if it is admitted that the time required for the development of man's somatic surplus through the operation of biological processes upon his structural and mental characteristics was indefinitely longer than the period required for creation of all the extrasomatic surplus accumulated since voluntary imitation appeared, then the conclusion is apparently inevitable that, unless for some reason the biological processes that make for degeneration are much more rapid in their action than were the evolutionary processes that produced the ability to imitate voluntarily, human society is able to increase its total surplus even if somatic-surplus remains constant or even declines to some extent. To put it briefly, extra-somatic increase will more than offset a threatened somatic deficit unless the powers of invention and voluntary imitation are impaired. Somewhat differently stated, up to the limit where biological processes seriously affect them, invention and voluntary imitation will increase the sum total of social surplus faster than biological processes will impair that surplus. That this limit is likely to be reached quickly is absurd. To reach it quickly we should have to breed from the most inferior stocks alone. The burden of proof lies definitely upon those who fear disastrous consequences from biological degeneration to-day to show that those degenerative processes are proceeding so rapidly as soon to threaten the rate of increase of somatic and extra-somatic surplus energy combined. To prove their case they must show that the decrease in somatic surplus, if it exists, will offset the increase in extra-somatic surplus produced by invention and imitation. There are two and apparently only two possible ways of proving such a thesis. The first is to show that somatic surplus is likely to decrease much more rapidly than it has in the past. The second is to show that the increase in extra-somatic surplus, which has registered itself in a continuous elevation of the plane of living since voluntary imitation began, is to turn itself into a deficit.

Now it is self-evident that, however much variation there may be among men with respect to individual traits, the vast mass of humanity is endowed at birth with potentialities that render an elementary education of advantage. Though there are few men of genius, there are also few individuals unable to exercise voluntary imitation. Even if the devolutionary process feared by the eugenic school were to take place with some degree of rapidity, it would take many generations of "reversed selection" to undo the work of the indefinitely longer period of evolution which was required to produce man's present equipment of innate abilities. Genealogical records show no disappearance of family names rapid enough to indicate that even under the most unfavorable circumstances much change could be effected by selection in less than several centuries. If this be true, sociologists, however much they may approve the extension of particular eugenic methods that have demonstrated their efficiency, may wait patiently, if necessary several centuries, for the psychologist and biologist to produce exact results respecting the variation and heredity of psychic traits before they admit great danger from biological degeneration.

It is undoubtedly true that the increased surplus has permitted society to care for many of its unfortunates who in more strenuous times would have been left to perish. But with all the assistance that has been given for centuries the proportion of dependents does not seem to have done more than retard the increase of social surplus in much the same way that the surplus has been affected by modern expenditures for luxuries, whether these have taken the form of individual extravagance or national waste in accoutrements of war.

At least such seems to be the case in the western world, where, thanks to free land, a century of invention and a lowered birth rate, the economic problem, we are told, has transformed itself from one of production to one of distribution. Whether the eastern world is likely to attain an equal surplus is perhaps to be the most interesting question of the coming century. The western world is teaching the east the modern methods of production. It remains to be seen whether the east will use this increased power over nature, gained by voluntary imitation, for the development of a higher plane of living or will merely increase the total population of the Orient on the present plane of misery. The argument from the past is never wholly safe but so far as that argument applies to the present problem it seems to indicate that, as man continues to profit by the method of proving all things and holding fast to that which is good, he will learn in the east as well as in the west that progress will occur by the discovery and rational imitation of those processes which, to use terms employed by Mr. Herbert Spencer, develop individuation with the least necessary expenditure for genesis, or, in terms of this essay, will produce the greatest surplus with the minimum expenditure for survival. When that lesson has been learned man may turn more of his energies from the effort to live, to the endeavor to live well.

  1. "An animal may perform an act the first time because, through inherited nervous connections, the sight of another animal's performing it acts as a stimulus. But it will continue to perform the act, in the absence of any copy to imitate, only if the act is itself an instinctive one, like drinking in birds, or becomes permanent by reason of its consequences, just as would be the case if its first performance had been accidental rather than imitative. As a matter of fact instinctive imitation seems usually to be concerned with actions themselves instinctive." Washburn, "Animal Mind," p. 238.
  2. "Animal Intelligence," p. 50.