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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/567

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561
RECENT ADVANCES IN SCIENCE.

from them organs arose. The second of his three famous papers—that on the relationship between man and the animals next beneath him—limned in exemplary fashion the parallelism in the earliest development of all animal beings. But beyond this it stepped boldly across the border line which tradition and dogma had drawn between man and beast. Huxley had no hesitation in filling the gaps which Darwin had left in his argument, and in explaining that "in respect of substance and structure man and the lower animals are one." Whatever opinion one may hold as to the origin of mankind, the conviction as to the fundamental correspondence of human organization with that of animals is at present universally accepted.

 

Omnis Cellula e Cellula.

The greatest difficulty in the advance of biology has been the natural tendency of its disciples to set the search after the unity of life in the forefront of their inquiries. Hence arose the doctrine of vital force, an assumption now discarded, but still revealing its influence from time to time in isolated errors. No satisfactory progress could be made till the idea of highly organized living things as units had been set aside; till it was recognized that they were in reality organisms, each constituent part of which had its special life. Ultimate analysis of higher animals and plants brings us alike to the cell, and it is these single parts, the cells, which are to be regarded as the factors of existence. The discovery of the development of complete beings from the ova of animals and the germ-cells of plants has bridged the gap between isolated living cells and complete organisms, and has enabled the study of the former to be employed in elucidating the life of the latter. In a medical school where the teaching is almost exclusively concerned with human beings this sentence should be writ large: "The organism is not an individual, but a social mechanism." Two corollaries must also be stated—(1) that every living organism, like every organ and tissue, contains cells; (2) that the cells are composed of organic chemical substances, which are not themselves alive. The progress of truth in these matters was much retarded by that portion of Schwann's cell theory, which sought to establish the existence of free cell formation, which really implied the revival of the old doctrine of spontaneous generation. This belief was gradually driven out of the domain of zoology, but in connection with the formation of plastic exudates found a sanctuary in that of pathology. I myself was taught the discontinuity of pathological growths—a view which would logically lead back to the origin of living from nonliving matter. But enlightenment in this matter came to me. At the end of my academical career I was acting as clinical assistant in the eye department of the Berlin Hospital, and