forms of life? If I am able to interpret his utterances correctly, he did not; on the contrary, he seems to have been at pains to express his dissent from such a doctrine,—which, as we have seen, was familiar enough to the men of science of his time. There are several distinct passages in the 'Ideen' in which Herder discusses the relation of man to the animal kingdom; and, in order that the reader may have the means of deciding for himself what Herder's position was, I will cite them at some length. "There are those," he says (Bk. III., ch. 6), "who have, I will not say degraded man to the rank of a beast, but have denied to him the character of his race, and would make him out to be a degenerate animal (ausgeartete Thier) which in striving after a higher perfection has wholly lost the distinctive qualities (Eigenheit) of its species. This, however, is manifestly contrary to the truth and to the evidence of natural history; man obviously has characteristics that no animal possesses, and performs actions of which both the good and the evil belong to him alone. . . . Since every animal remains true upon the whole to the character of its species, and since we alone have free will instead of necessity for our ruling power, then this difference must be investigated as a fact—for fact it undeniably is. The other questions—how man came by this distinctive characteristic; whether it was his from the beginning, or is adventitious and acquired: these are questions of a purely historical sort. Now, setting aside all metaphysics, let us confine ourselves to physiology and experience." Herder then points out the anatomical peculiarities of man, particularly those which, as Daubenton had shown, are connected with his greatest peculiarity, the upright attitude. And in view of these considerations Herder concludes thus: "Would the human animal, if he had been for ages in an inferior state—and if he had been formed as a quadruped in his mother's womb, with wholly different proportions—would he have left that state of his own accord and have raised himself to an erect posture? Out of the faculties of a beast, which would ever be drawing him backward, could he have made himself a man, and, even before he became a man, have discovered human speech? If man had ever been a four-footed animal, if he had been such for thousands of years, assuredly he would remain such still; and nothing but a miracle of new creation could have made him what he now is. Why, then, should we embrace unproved, nay totally self-contradictory, paradoxes, when the structure of man, the history of his species and, as it seems to me, the whole analogy of the organization of our earth, lead us to another conclusion? No creature that we know has ever departed from its original organization and adapted itself to another contrary to it; for it can operate only through the powers that inhere in its organization, and Nature is abundantly able to hold each living being fast in that state to which she has assigned it. In man everything is adapted to the form he now
Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/338
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.