Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/91

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tinctive of human faculties. Here the problem is just the reverse of that which occurred in the case of mathematics: in that the favorable variation to be preserved is rare, in this the variation scarcely exists; the faculty of speech is universal; how, then, can there be a survival of the fittest where all are equally fit?

It seems difficult to resist this kind of argument, and I should not be surprised to find the opinion gain ground, and ultimately become established, that while the human faculties have undoubtedly been developed gradually, the development can not in any way be traced to the process of natural selection.

But if it be once admitted that the principle of natural selection is inadequate to explain the development of specially human qualities, there is a temptation to go back to the consideration of the powers and instincts of some of the inferior creatures, and to inquire whether natural selection may not be inadequate also in their case, as in that of man. I confess that I have never been able to perceive how the principle can be brought to bear upon such phenomena as the architecture of insects—for example, that of bees and wasps. What, I suppose, ought to have happened is this, that some variation of an ancient form of bee made a rough approximation to a modern honeycomb, that they who made the best honeycomb were the fittest to survive, and that in this way by slow degrees and by natural selection a race of bees was produced capable of performing the geometrical wonders which modern bees perform. But there are two difficulties: First, in conceiving the original start of insects in the direction of architecture; and, secondly, in perceiving the connection between good architects and survival in the struggle for life. Certain bees might make their wax go further than other bees, and our actual bees use their wax with absolutely mathematical economy; but it is difficult to perceive how this economy is helpful in the struggle for life. Can we get over these difficulties? If it were a case of some device for self-preservation, the conclusion might be different. For example, if we can imagine some variation of a race of spiders devising, in ever so rough a form, those curious houses which have attained such perfection in the hands of the trap-door spider, we can also easily believe that this variation would be likely to survive, and that while less ingenious spiders became the prey of their enemies, those which were concealed in their cunning castles would escape. But there is nothing parallel to this in the case of wasps and bees; here we have a beautiful geometrical problem somehow solved, apparently without connection between the solution and the preservation of life. One of two conclusions seem inevitable—either the geometrical skill has belonged in its perfection to bees and wasps ever since those insects existed; or else the geometrical skill has been developed by some