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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/335

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SOME EIGHTEENTH CENTURY EVOLUTIONISTS.

of the nineteenth century, and of certain of the most significant and characteristic developments of nineteenth century philosophy—especially of philosophical pessimism. The emphasis which Herder lays upon this class of facts is therefore interesting and noteworthy: "Where and when each being could arise, there it arose; energies (Kräfte) pressed in through every gate of entrance and formed themselves to life" (Bk. X., ch. 2). "Nature employs infinitely many germs; . . . she must needs therefore reckon upon some loss, since all things crowd one another (alles zusammengedrangt ist), and nothing finds room completely to develop itself" (Bk. II., ch. 2). "The whole creation is at war, and the most conflicting powers lie close to one another. . . . Each being strives with each, since each itself is hardpressed for life; it must save its own skin, and guard its own existence. Why does nature act thus? Why does she thus crowd her creatures one upon another? Because she aimed to produce the greatest number and the greatest variety of living things in the least possible space; so that one subdues another, and only through the equilibrium of opposing powers is peace brought about in the creation. Every species cares for itself as if it were the only one in existence; hut by its side stands another which keeps it within bounds; and it was only in this adjustment of warring species that creative nature found the means of preserving the whole" (Bk. II., ch. 3). In all this Nature (for Herder almost invariably personifies) takes no account of the individual, but rather sacrifices him ruthlessly to her 'one great end, which is—not the little end of the sentient creature alone, but—the propagation and continuance of the species.' And in this connection Herder anticipates Schopenhauer in picturing the pleasures of the love of the sexes, and the romantic illusions connected with that love in man, as merely a subtle trick whereby nature cajoles the individual to sacrifice himself to her larger aim. Schopenhauer's famous chapter on the 'Metaphysics of the Love of the Sexes' is little more than an amplification of a passage in the second book of the 'Ideen.' Always, Herder perceives, when the reproduction and increase of life is at stake, nature turns Machiavelian, and plays upon the egoism of the individual for her own very different ends. "It is," he writes, "particularly humiliating to man that in the sweet impulses which he terms love, and to which he attributes so much spontaneity, he obeys the laws of nature almost as blindly as a plant. . . . Two creatures sigh for each other, and know not for what they sigh; they languish to become one, which dividing nature has denied; they swim on a sea of deception. Sweetly deceived creatures, enjoy your time; yet know that ye accomplish not your own little dreams, but, pleasantly compelled, the great aim of nature. . . . As soon as she has secured the species, she suffers the individual gradually to decay. Hardly is the season of love over