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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/544

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

prehension of his methods, jumped at this erroneous conclusion—that he was unaware of the danger of possibly mistaking mere accidental resemblances for morphological affinities, and that he assumed that because two objects, perhaps from widely separated regions, appeared more or less identical in form, and possibly in use, they were necessarily to be considered as members of one phylogenetic group. On the contrary, in the grouping of his specimens according to their form and function, he was anxious to assist as far as possible in throwing light upon the question of the monogenesis or polygenesis of certain arts and appliances, and to discover whether they are exotic or indigenous in the regions in which they are now found, and, in fact, to distinguish between mere analogies and true homologies. If we accept the theory of the monogenesis of the human race, as most of us undoubtedly do, we must be prepared to admit that there prevails a condition of unity in the tendencies of the human mind to respond in a similar manner to similar stimuli. Like conditions beget like results; and thus instances of independent invention of similar objects are liable to arise. For this very reason, however, the arts and customs belonging to even widely separated peoples may, though apparently unrelated, help to elucidate some of the points in each other's history which remain obscure through lack of the evidence required to establish local continuity.

I think, moreover, that it will generally be allowed that cases of 'independent invention' of similar forms should be considered to have established their claim to be regarded as such only after exhaustive inquiry has been made into the possibilities of the resemblances being due to actual relationship. There is the alternative method of assuming that, because two like objects are widely separated geographically, and because a line of connection is not immediately obvious, therefore the resemblance existing between them is fortuitous, or merely the natural result of similar forms having been produced to meet similar needs. Premature conclusions in matters of this kind, though temptingly easy to form, are not in the true scientific spirit, and act as a check upon careful research, which, by investigating the case in its various possible aspects, is able either to prove or disprove what otherwise would be merely a hasty assumption. The association of similar forms into the same series has therefore a double significance. On the one hand, the sequence of related forms is brought out, and their geographical distribution illustrated, throwing light, not only upon the evolution of types, but also upon the interchange of ideas by transferrence from one people to another, and even upon the migration of races. On the other hand, instances in which two or more peoples have arrived independently at similar results are brought prominently forward, not merely as interesting coincidences, but also as evidence pointing to the phylogenetic