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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/340

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

should come into existence (Wirksamkeit); and thus nothing can escape from its once-determined form" (Bk. V., ch. 3).

It is hard to see how any reader of Herder's generation could have understood these utterances, when taken all together, in any other sense than as an assertion of the essential immutability of species and a denial of man's descent from simian or any other animal ancestors. It would appear then, that Herder never fully recognized that—as Kant put it—'the similarity of form in animals (such that they seem to be make after a common prototype) confirms the supposition that they have an actual blood-relationship, through descent from a common parent.' How, in the absence of such an hypothesis, Herder would have explained the gradual appearance of progressively higher forms is, undeniably, somewhat incomprehensible. But the truth is that his whole treatment of the subject is poetical, vague and not very careful of consistency, rather than explicit, definite and scientific. The theory of descent was, at the time he wrote, almost a commonplace of current biological discussion; but his attitude towards it was certainly ambiguous, and apparently hostile. The author of the 'Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit' may almost be called the father of the modern philosophy of history; but he can not unqualifiedly be called a pioneer of modern evolutionist biology.

IV. Monboddo.—The author of the work that called forth Herder's mingled admiration and criticism, James Burnett, Lord Monboddo, has been a good deal neglected by the historians of evolutionism; and, in spite of the fact that he was perhaps the first to make widely familiar to the British public the doctrine that man is descended from ape-like ancestors, it is doubtless true that his can not be considered a very serious contribution to the progress of zoological knowledge. This learned, original and whimsical judge is a highly picturesque and interesting figure in the literary history of Scotland in the eighteenth century. He was one of the conspicuous leaders of the intellectual society of Edinburgh at a time when the Scotch Athens—even while Jacobite uprisings still threatened—was one of the most notable seats of scientific and philosophical inquiry in Europe. In the circle of Monboddo's intimates were such men as David Hume; Adam Smith; Hutton, the founder of modern geology; Black, originator of pneumatic chemistry and of the theory of latent heat; Robertson, the historian; Lord Kames; Dugald Stewart, and, among the men of letters, Home—a dramatist whom Monboddo preferred to Shakespeare—and Fergusson. Lord Monboddo played the host to Burns in Edinburgh, and to Johnson at his ancestral country-seat—the conversation of the two great men on this latter occasion being recorded with great gusto by Boswell, who dearly loved to see the sparks fly at the contact of opposing