Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/189

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perform its functions when separated from the whole. No part, not the smallest, can be separated from the body without the whole suffering.

It is very different with the plant. A tree indeed appears to be a single being, sinking the net-work of its roots into the ground, raising its slender trunk into the air and spreading out above the web of its limbs and boughs. The members of which the tree consists may be regarded as its organs. It sucks up its nourishment through its roots, it breathes through its leaves, it propagates its species through its flowers. But the connection of these members with each other is of an infinitely looser character than that of the organs of the animal. I can strip as many leaves as I please from a willow, the rest lives on; I can cut off its limbs, those that are left grow more vigorously; I can cut it down near the roots, new shoots spring up from the stump; I set the rootless stem in moist earth, and it continues to live. If I wish to make a layer, I have only to plant the end of a bough, and it takes root and grows. In many plants a single leaf has the capacity of living and growing. The plant is not therefore indivisible, like the animal; its individual members are in a much higher measure independent and competent to live. We may say the animal is a single being, each of its members is only a part, not itself a whole, only an organ, not itself an individual. The plant, on the other hand, is a composite being, a chain of individuals, each of which possesses an independent life, but all of which are connected in a collective life of a higher order; the plant is an organism the organs of which are themselves organisms.

This relation may be made clear by a suitable figure. A state is, without doubt, in many respects a single organism, which maintains an independent, often sharply denned, unchanged character through centuries, and marks its domain as an indivisible, also as a real individual. Each state has its own development-history: it is founded, it grows, reaches its prime, and decays; it has its life-economy, for the functions of which it maintains its particular organs, its officers. The state also acts in external affairs as a single organism; it makes war, it establishes enterprises for the general benefit, it builds important works, etc. But if the state thus appears as a single whole, so also it may be regarded on the other side as a collection of provinces; each province is a state in miniature, likewise organized in itself; and history furnishes us with numerous examples in which single provinces have been able to cut loose from the collective state and maintain themselves as independent state-organisms. The province, again, can be regarded as an association of villages which represent the smallest social organizations; every village is also a state in miniature, with independent economy, and capable of maintaining itself independently in case of necessity, and, in fact, of growing up, as Rome, Carthage, and Venice have shown, into mighty states. If we carry our similitude to the end, we may liken the animal to a compact, centralized,