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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/306

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of possible actions small, but they cover also a small period of time. In animals which have acquired a higher organization the adjustments are more complex, both because the reactions are more varied and because they cover a longer period of time. Thus the jelly fish depends upon such food as happens to come within its reach, seizing from moment to moment that which it encounters; but a lobster pursues its food, making complicated movements in order to reach and seize it. One can trap lobsters easily; I doubt if one could trap a jelly fish at all. The next great advance is marked by the establishment of communication between individuals of the same species. About this phenomenon we know exceedingly little; the investigation of it is one of the most important duties of the comparative physiologist. Its bionomic value is obviously great, for it allows an individual to utilize the experience of another as well as its own. We might, indeed, compare it with the addition of a new sense, so greatly does it extend the sources of information. The communication between individuals is especially characteristic of vertebrates, and in the higher members of that subkingdom it plays a very great role in aiding the work of consciousness. In man, owing to articulate speech, the factor of communication has acquired a maximum importance. The value of language, our principal medium of communication, lies in its aiding the adjustment of the individual and the race to external reality. Human evolution is the continuation of animal evolution, and in both the dominant factor has been the increase of the resources available for consciousness.

In practical life it is convenient to distinguish the works of nature from the works of man, the 'natural' from the 'artificial.' The biologist, on the contrary, must never allow himself to forget that man is a part of nature and that all his works are natural works. This is specially important for the present discussion, for otherwise we are likely to forget also that man is as completely subject to the necessity of adjustment to external reality as any other organism. From the biological standpoint all the work of agriculture, of manufactures, of commerce and of government is a part of the work of consciousness to secure the needed adjustments. All science belongs in the same category as the teleological efforts of a jelly fish or a lobster. It is work done at the command of consciousness to satisfy the needs of existence. The lesson of all this to us is that we should accustom ourselves to profit by our understanding of the trend of evolution, which, in the progress humanity makes, obeys the same law of adaptation to objective reality which has controlled the history of animals. This view of the conditions of our existence puts science in its right place. As all sensations are symbols of external reality useful to guide organisms to teleological reactions, so is all science symbolic and similarly useful.