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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/332

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

greedy; but they are not obvious. As society advances, however, even this seeming success of the rapacious is found to diminish, though as yet there has been no race or society from which it has been actually eliminated. Conduct which is imperfect, conduct characterized by antagonisms between groups and antagonisms between members of the same group, tends to be more and more reduced in amount, by the failure or by the elimination of those who exhibit such conduct. What is regarded as gallant daring in one generation is scorned as ferocity in a later one, resisted as rapacious wrong-doing yet later, and later still is eliminated either by death or nearly as effectually (when indirect as well as direct consequences are considered) by imprisonment.[1]

As violence dies out, and as war diminishes—which usually is but violence manifested on a larger scale the kind of conduct toward which processes of evolution appear to tend, "that perfect adjustment of acts to ends in maintaining individual life and rearing new individuals, which is effected by each without hindering others from effecting like perfect adjustments," will be approached. How nearly it will ever be attained by any human race—quien sabe?

One further consideration, and we have done with the evolution of conduct, the right understanding of which is essential to the scientific study of conduct. The members of a society, while attending to adjustments necessary for their wants or interests, may not merely leave others free to make their adjustments also, but may help them in so doing. It is very obvious that conduct thus directed must tend to be developed. As Mr. Spencer says, such conduct facilitates the making of adjustments by each, and so increases the totality of the adjustments made, and serves to render the lives of all more complete. But besides this (as he should also have shown, since it is an essential part of the evolution argument), it tends to its own increase: for, being essentially mutual, conduct of this kind is a favorable factor in the life-struggle.

We have next to consider what, seeing thus the laws according to which conduct is evolved, we are to regard as good conduct and bad conduct.

  1. Many overlook the bearing of imprisonment on the evolution of conduct its influence (when long terms are considered) in diminishing the numerical increase of particular types of character, and therefore in diminishing the quantity of particular forms of conduct.