Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/464

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

forms of social insects with stable colonies, or in the analogous human history, has demanded centuries of time.

As we review these different kinds of individuals—the one-celled animal, the many-celled creature and the community—we see that each one must obey certain rules of nature. It must preserve itself, it must perpetuate its kind, and, if it be a member of a higher community, it must act in the interests of others and of the whole group. Do we not find, then, biological definitions of right, and evil, and duty to others as well as to self? Do we not see why altruism has grown out of egoism as communities have evolved at the behest of nature?

But still, facts like these are purely zoological facts. To be well within his rights, the zoologist should perhaps only suggest their usefulness for the analysis of human social relations and obligations. It is for the sociologist and the student of comparative ethics to employ and apply them according to the principles of the genetic method, should they see fit to do so.

In closing, may I say a few words regarding the attitude of the zoologist toward his problems and his results. He may maintain this attitude because of a certain temperament which leads him and his fellows to enter the field of science as investigators. While this may be true, it is also true, I believe, that the subjects of their study, the principles they may discern in nature's order, and their methods of analysis have a profound reflex effect upon not only the contents of their minds but upon their mental machinery as well. The zoologist, like his fellow men of science, learns early that he must adopt an impersonal attitude, for emotion and purely human interest are disturbing elements that prevent him from attaining the purpose of the investigator—which is, to ascertain and verify facts, to classify them logically, so as to derive from them the summaries which like so much "conceptual short-hand" are available for others as well as himself. Science is "organized knowledge," as Pearson defines it; "organized common sense" in Huxley's phrase; and like other men of science the zoologist learns to view his great common-sensible principles like the doctrine of descent, not as absolute eternal verities, but only as summaries up to date, as working programs, to employ Professor Wilson's concise phrase. This may be pragmatism; it is certainly science.

But surely this does not mean that principles like the one mentioned are so many gratuitous assumptions. Like the principle of gravitation and the law of the conservation of energy, zoological laws have the strength and approximate finality of all the wide range of facts that they summarize. And these are many—a vast store of detail and generalization accumulated during decades and centuries by those who have sought upon the mountains or in the abysses of the seas for new knowledge, but countless students who have spent their lives in the field