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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 85.djvu/408

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE EVOLUTION OF SERVICE BY UNION AND COOPERATION, CONSERVATION AND EXCHANGE
By Professor WILLIAM PATTEN

DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

THE specialist, who has wandered far into the wilderness of created things, seeking the solution of his problem at its source, must pause now and again to note the location of the sun and the direction in which the streams are flowing. Having done so, he well may greet his distant colleagues and send a field-note of progress to his friends at home. Herewith is such a greeting and such a field-note of progress.

 

Part I

I. Evolution and the Conduct of Life

The theory of evolution is now accepted by all classes of intellectual leaders. Its transforming influence has penetrated society far beyond the point where the theory is formally recognized, or the meaning of the term even vaguely understood. It has destroyed old standards for the interpretation of life; erased old formulas for the conduct of life; and has compelled us to make new standards and formulas more in harmony with our new conceptions of nature and her methods.

With the disappearance of the old landmarks, the acknowledged leaders of humanity, of all kinds of belief and training, are groping about seeking a new standard for the interpretation and the conduct of life; a standard that is based on the best of the old religious, and on the best of the new knowledge; one that is not in downright conflict with the common-sense teachings of every-day life, nor with the conduct of affairs in which these leaders are the acknowledged experts; nor with the vision of the modern prophets who foresee the coming of a new man.

It is therefore again time to enquire what is the nature of the underlying processes common to the evolution of the living and of the non-living world? What, after all, constitutes progress in nature, and how it is accomplished? In what directions are the great evolutionary streams of plant life, and animal life, moving? What are the ethics and morals of nature, if indeed she has any? What has science to offer the trustees of tradition in place of that which it seems to have destroyed? What have the students of nature, and of life at large, learned, however elemental, that will be to all mankind a fundamental truth and a guiding principle to right living? Is mankind to live, and make