Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/540

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and personified in a man," says M. Jacoby, "does not return again to the commonwealth, but is lost from it, at least in a physical point of view; it is withdrawn from circulation, and the only trace it leaves is folly, wretchedness, and degeneracy in posterity." Nothing is made out of nothing, and all production supposes some consumption. Science, art, and ideas, to be born and develop themselves, consume generations and peoples. Individuals and nations exhaust themselves by production, like lands not manured, because the products are not returned to the common ground, and are materially lost to it. M. de Candolle also shows that civilized man, by the very fact of his mental superiority, is generally inferior to the savage in physical force and health. With the savage, in fact, the chief conditions of selection are a piercing sight, a fine hearing, muscular strength, and the faculty of resisting cold, heat, moisture, and hunger. The civilized man has not these qualities in the same degree; what he gains on one side he loses on the other, and the law of equivalence of forces is verified here as elsewhere. The brain grows only at the expense of the muscles; the man who thinks is in a sense a depraved animal. Such are the inconveniences of the intellectual development which modern philanthropy tends to favor at the expense of physical force. We are far from desiring to deny these inconveniences, but conclusions which go further than the premises need not be drawn from them. Social science is doubtless right in saying it is dangerous for individuals and peoples to break entirely the natural equilibrium of physical and mental functions: mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a sound body); if a nation becomes physically enfeebled too rapidly, it will have neither time nor means to fortify itself mentally, for intelligence can not make real progress in decaying organisms; all will end in a simultaneous dwindling of mind and body. But it is necessary, on the other side, to look out that the natural movement of civilization be not trammeled. Now, this movement is characterized by the increasing predominance of thought and feeling among modern nations. This predominance favors the development of philanthropy, and is in its turn favored by that through an inevitable reaction. The question of philanthropy, then, when generalized, ultimately becomes confounded with that of civilization itself. Now, it would not do to repeat to-day Rousseau's dissertation against inequality and the arts; we could not take man back to the savage state under the pretext that civilization exhausts his physical forces and the best of his vigor in the intellectual blossoming. The whole of society, in profiting by the discoveries of science or art, profits by the sacrifice of individuals or of their immediate posterity, if there is a sacrifice, and the profit exceeds the loss.

This loss even might be avoided by a better understanding of hygiene and a better system of education; and precisely these ought to be the principal aims of philanthropy. Hitherto the economy of nature, in order to repair the loss incurred by intellectual culture, has