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ANIMAL AND HUMAN CONDUCT

ANIMAL AND HUMAN CONDUCT

By

WILLIAM E. RITTER

Professor Emeritus of Zoology &• Director Emeritus

Scripps Institution of Oceanography,

University of California

WITH THE COLLABORATION OF

EDNA WATSON BAILEY

LONDON

GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD.

MUSEUM STREET

This book was published in the U.S.A. under the title " The Natural History of Our Conduct "

First published in Great Britain in ig28

COPYBIGHT, 1927, HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC.

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

PREFACE

This book and one to come are intimately connected with my long and close association with that remarkable man, E. W. Scripps. Realist, student, philosopher, successful journalist and business man, and above all humanist, Scripps was quick to see important implications in the biological idea of "the organism as a whole" for humankind, once that idea had gained secure foothold in his mind. As a consequence, even before he had read any comprehensive biological exposition of the idea, he began to wonder what a thorough-going study of human beings from this stand- point would bring to light; for the enigma of man with his infinite capacity for noble thoughts and deeds and his equal capacity for ignoble thoughts and deeds harassed Scripps beyond measure.

By the time my mind and hands had worked themselves free from enthrallment with The Unity of the Organism, his demands to know what this "damned human animal is, any- way," became so insistent that I could hardly escape taking them seriously, even though they were not usually leveled at me personally.

These demands, superimposed upon rather strong human- istic and philosophic tendencies of my own, must be put down as the "effective environmental factor" in the produc- tion of this book and a companion soon to follow.

The other book will have as title The Natural Philosophy of Our Conduct. Despite the circumstance that the product of my task is wrapped up in two packages, the task itself was a unit and not twofold. This follows from the unitary point of view implied by the organismal conception.

Adequate acknowledgment of all to whom I am indebted.

vi PREFACE

more or less personally, for help in carrying forward the undertaking, it would be impossible to give in the narrow bounds of a foreword. It seems, consequently, that my only course is to attempt nothing whatever of the kind. I must trust that my unmentioned helpers will be satisfied with having taken the chance in this case that all of us must and do take constantly, of getting reward for some of our help- ful deeds from the vast stores of general but undefinable good which constitutes so large a part of human culture. I must presume that some at least of the readers of the books would be made uneasy by an entire absence of in- formation concerning the role of the collaborator in the enterprise. To Dr. Bailey's own contention that she has not contributed a single fact or idea or argument, at least wholly, I can assent only with much reservation. But whatever dubiousness I may have about what she has not done, I have none about what she has done. Any merits the books may have as to organization, readableness, and cogent presentation of the relevancy to human welfare of the subjects treated, are due far less to me than to her.

William E. Ritter.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PACE

CHAPTER

1. INTRODUCTION 3

2. THE ABILITY OF LIVING BEINGS TO EXIST AND

DEVELOP DESPITE ADVERSE CONDITIONS:

THE PHENOMENON OF ADAPTATION II

3. THE PROBLEM OF MAN's ORIGIN AND KIN-

SHIP : FACTUAL EVIDENCE AND ITS PROPER TREATMENT I?

HOW WE THINK ABOUT EVOLUTION, 1 7. COM- MON SENSE AND THE EVOLUTION THEORY, 1 8. THE PRINCIPLE OF IDENTITY AND THE EVOLU- TION THEORY, 20. THE PROBLEM OF NAMING A DEVELOPING THING, 24. ACTUALITY AND POTENTIALITY IN EVOLUTION, 28. THE PRIN- CIPLE OF RESEMBLANCE AND THE EVOLUTION THEORY, 32.

4. THE PROBLEM OF MAN's ORIGIN AND KIN-

SHIP {con.) : CERTAINTY AND PROBABILITY AS TO man's EVOLUTION 35

THE WORTH AND THE LIMITATIONS OF PALE- ONTOLOGICAL EVIDENCE, 44. MAN's MOST PROBABLE DIRECT ANCESTOR, 52. MAN AND THE SOLIDARITY OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, 57. THE INFLUENCE OF MAN's BELIEF IN HIS OWN EVOLUTIONARY ORIGIN ON HIS SELF-RESPECT AND CONDUCT, 62.

5. SUCCESS AND FAILURE IN ANIMAL ACTIVITY 64

SOURCES, TRUSTWORTHINESS, AND ORGANIZA- TION OF DATA, 64. THE CRITERION OF SUCCESS IN ANIMAL ACTIVITY, 70. ACTIVITIES CLASSI- FIED AS LIFE-OR-DEATH AND LIFE-FULFILLING, 73. CLASSES OF MALADAPTVE ACTIVITY, 75.

6. SUCCESSFUL ANIMAL ACTIVITY 77

AT THE LEVEL OF REFLEX ACTION, 78. AT THE LEVEL OF INSTINCTIVE ACTION, 79. AT THE vii

viil CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

LEVEL OF INTELLIGENT ACTION, 88. OF LOW TYPE, 88. OF HIGH TYPE, 90. SYSTEMATIC STUDY OF SUCCESSFUL ACTIVITY IN SUB- HUMAN ANIMALS, 94. PERSONALITY AS AN ELEMENT IN GROUP SUCCESS, 112.

7. MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY RESULTING IN WASTE

OF TIME AND ENERGY II 7

8. MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY RESULTING IN WASTE

OF USEFUL MATERIALS 1 25

AMONG INSECTS, 1 25. AMONG BIRDS, 1 28.

9. WASTE OF USEFUL MATERIALS (con.) :

AMONG NLAMMALS 1 46

10. MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY RESULTING IN IN-

JURY TO KIND 159

AMONG ARTHROPODS, 1 59. AMONG LOWER VER- TEBRATES, 165. AMONG BIRDS, 1 69. AMONG MAMMALS, 174.

11. MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY RESULTING IN SELF-

INJURY 182

AMONG INVERTEBRATES, 1 84.

12. SELF-INJURY (con.) : AMONG BIRDS I98

EXTINCTION OF SPECIES PROMOTED BY MAL- ADAPTIVE ACTIVITY, 200. SELF-INJURY DUE TO DEFECTIVE FEAR, 211.

13. SELF-INJURY (con.) : AMONG MAMMALS 214

UNDER-ACTIVITY IN THE PRESENCE OF DAN- GER, 221. OVER-ACTIVITY IN THE PRESENCE \.. OF DANGER, 232. DUE TO RAGE, 237.

14. MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY IN MONKEYS AND

APES 241

EXTENT OF ACTIVITY RESULTING IN EXCESSIVE- NESS: IN FOOD-TAKING, 242; IN MATERNAL SOLICITUDE, 245. MISDIRECTION OF ACTIVITIES RESULTING IN SELF-INJURY, 246; IN INJURY TO KIND, 248. SELF-INJURY FROM NORMAL TYPES OF ACTION, 25 1.

CONTENTS ix

CHAPTER PAGE

15. MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY AMONG LOW-CUL-

TURED HUMAN BEINGS 254

FOOD-TAKING AMONG SAVAGES, 255. SAVAGE FESTIVALS, 258. MISDIRECTED ACTIVITIES, 264; FOR SECURING FOOD, 265; COMPARED WITH BRUTE ACTIVITY, 27O.

16. MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY AMONG HIGH-CUL-

TURED HUMAN BEINGS 272

OUR VERDICT ON OUR OWN ACTIVITIES; COM- MON KNOWLEDGE OF MALADAPTATION, 272. MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY AS CORRECTED BY SCI- ENCE, 284. MALADAPTIVE REPRODUCTIVE AND SEXUAL ACTIVITIES IN THE HUMAN SPECIES, 288. REPRODUCTIVE MALADAPTIVE ACTIVITY: OVER-POPULATION, 296. DANGERS TO THE MOTHER IN CHILD-BEARING, 296. DANGERS ARISING FROM RELATION OF OFFSPRING TO PAR- ENTS, 297. MALADAPTIVE SEXUAL ACTIVITY, 297.

17. THE ELEMENTS OF MAN'S PHYSICAL STRUC-

TURE WHICH ENABLE HIM TO BE THE MOST ACTIVELY ADAPTIVE OF ALL LIVING BEINGS 3OI

STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL ASPECT, 3OI.

EVOLUTIONAL ASPECT, 3 1 5.

BIBLIOGRAPHY 325

INDEX 329

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

The best part of my life has been devoted to the study of nature. Nature, for me, has always encompassed man in the fullness of his being. This largeness and inclusiveness of nature as it has stood in my conception are largely due, I think, to my having been unwilling to suppress the emotional aspect of my response to nature to any such extent as many scientists seem to do. The emotional part of man has seemed to me no less natural than the coldly rational part. To suppose that in order to deal adequately with nature all emotion must be suppressed appears to presuppose the superior validity of a partial response to nature, as com- pared with the fullest response of which human beings are capable. This fallacious view concerning the influence of emotion on reason in the study of nature probably has arisen through failure to distinguish between the suppression of emotion and the guidance of it.

I have never been able to find proof that man is apart from nature, is over against and above nature in such a sense as is held by much of philosophy and especially of theology. Never have I had the feeling that there exists an implacable and irreconcilable hostility between man and nature such as sorely harasses many persons and has strongly influenced many religious doctrines. Neither the terrible calamities which befall man occasionally, nor the lesser injuries which he frequently receives at the hands of nature, nor yet the misfortunes, disasters, and miseries which he brings upon himself, have seemed to me to re-

3

4 INTRODUCTION

quire such doctrines or to be explained by them. The ab- sence of such sentiments from my general consciousness is justified by my maturer, more critical thoughts about the whole scheme of the world and man's place therein. I find no way of conceiving a true Universe, a state of things that is unified through and through, if the human spirit is not inseparably and essentially identified with it all.

The theory according to which man is divine in a sense that nothing else in the world is divine seems to have arisen because many men in many ages have sensed the unique- ness of the powers accruing to them through their posses- sion of conscious rational minds, but have failed to perceive the way in which these powers are connected with the scheme of things by which we live from day to day. There are two aspects of man's relation to nature revealed by scien- tific study that go far toward explaining the origin of these separatist doctrines. One of these aspects pertains to man's physical make-up; the other to his mind. In these two aspects man must be recognized as the most surprising and marvelous of all natural productions. The most surprising product is he, because of certain of the combinations of his bodily parts; the most marvelous, because of his being conscious, rational, and, at his best, highly intelligent.

The bodily parts to which reference is particularly made are his brain and his hands. That forelimbs terminating in structures called hands should occur in man is not sur- prising since these structures are almost universally present in land vertebrates. That both hands and brain in so high a state of perfection should be man's possession is cause for genuine surprise.

Head and hands, which represent in a sense the develop- mental and functional climaxes of the nervous system and the muscular system, can be shown to hold such a reciprocal relation to each other that neither could have come into being, nor continue to be, without the other. The powers

INTRODUCTION 5

of knowing which characterize man could never have been acquired, nor could they continue to exist wholly apart from the powers of doing with which his hands endow him. It is the uniqueness of the anatomical combination here pre- sented that is surprising.

While this physical combination of brain and hands is a surprising phenomenon, the consciously knowing and thinking mind is a marvelous phenomenon. The fact that a natural object should be able not only to enter into such relations with other natural objects as that called by us knowing, but should be able also to establish a similar rela- tion with itself, is so distinct from all other natural facts with which we are acquainted and is so far beyond our present powers of analytic description as to entitle it to be characterized as marvelous. Man's supreme glory is not only that he can know the world, but that he can know himself as a knower of the world.

During recent years discoveries and speculation concern- ing the structure of the stellar universe have been attracting much attention. The facts, certain and highly probable, are justly characterized as wonderful, marvelous. Surely the numbers and sizes of the celestial bodies are wonderful. Wonderful too are the radiations from them, especially in the form of light, by which knowledge is gained. But this wonder comes solely from the augmentation of what is very familiar to us. Sizes, distances, and radiations are around us on every side. No absolutely new kinds of phenomena enter nature by these newly discovered sizes and distances and vast journeys of light. The knowledge obtained by the investigations leading to these discoveries constitutes a kind of relation between man and the celestial objects con- cerned. A purely physical relation existed before as well as after the knowledge was gained. Stellar gravitation and light act on the child and on the savage just as certainly as on the astronomer. But the moment the physical facts

6 INTRODUCTION

become part of man's knowledge, another sort of relation between him and the objects is established. It is the nature of this new relation and of man's ability to establish it that seems to me to constitute not merely the central won- der of human nature, but the central wonder of all nature.

The doctrines of man's apartness from nature have en- couraged an easy-going manner of knowledge-getting which has largely destroyed the sense of the wonderfulness of the ability of an organism to think and reason. By con- ceiving mind as belonging to a wholly different realm from that to which the other phenomena of nature belong, the realm of the supernatural, we cut ourselves off from any basis of comparison, any standards by which to appraise the powers and capacities of the human mind.

The recognition of man as a part of nature makes it necessary to adopt a different attitude toward his knowl- edge-getting processes. By such recognition these processes are brought down from the realm of the supernatural into the everyday world of phenomena-which-can-be-known. Like other activities of living things, mental processes must be scrutinized as to their stimuli, their courses, and their fruitfulness. That is to say, they become proper subject- matter for the naturalist. Certain highly respectable thinkers have recognized the possibility and the desirability of a "natural history mode of philosophizing," contrasting such a way of thinking about the universe with the pro- fessedly subjective mode on the one hand, and the quanti- tatively exact or mathematical mode, on the other.

The naturalist's way of working is a different way from that of the theologian, or the metaphysician, or the pure mathematician. It is even a different way from that of many modern biologists who restrict the term biology to knowledge gained from experimentation, and who seek only to explain all organic phenomena in terms of physics and chemistry. In other words the naturalist whose realm

INTRODUCTION 7

of study is living nature, as contrasted with the biologist in the modern, restricted sense of biology, seeks all the knowl- edge and understanding he can possibly get of organisms, regardless of whether he can express or explain all he ob- serves in terms used in other realms of nature or not.

The naturalist begins his career when he begins his life, and hence has no presuppositions, postulates, and axioms at the outset. These come later. They grow out of his experiences and are not basic for them. His work and his interest date from a time when he has very little else, men- tally speaking, than ability to respond to stimuli.

If he should decide to make a professional career of studying some segment of the universe for the purpose of understanding it and helping himself and others to live in it more successfully than they otherwise could, he might find that career taking on two sharply different phases. On the one hand he might be occupied with the job of gathering and interpreting facts about the universe external to him- self, and with making them useful to himself and other people. This would make him a thoroughly objective nat- uralist. His single-minded devotion to his career might be greatly productive of good. Because of its sincerity and simplicity of devotion to ideas and ideals this phase of his career could well be characterized as naive. While work- ing in this way he might be spoken of as a naive naturalist, and the phase itself might be called naive naturalism. Then, should he further determine to study minds and what they accomplish as seriously as he studies the phenomena of the Universe external to himself, he would find himself launched into a quite different undertaking. But since he would find nothing to make him doubt that his newly as- sumed tasks were any less natural than all he had been doing as a naive naturalist, he would consider himself as passing into a different phase of his career as a naturalist. This new phase he might well characterize as philosophical.

8 INTRODUCTION

or critical. He would become a critical naturalist as well as a naive naturalist/

My starting-point, my motive, and my procedure in this book have been strictly that of the naturalist in the two- fold sense just defined. Neither as psychologist nor phi- losopher in the specialized sense of these terms, do I make any claim for myself. Recognizing that searching and potent understanding of mind is impossible apart from such understanding of body, I have attempted to describe the working of mind-and-body in human beings and in other living things; to examine critically the mental technique in- volved in such descriptions; and to reason broadly as to the bearings of the facts and processes on human life.

A disparaging remark frequently made about certain persons is that they "do not know their own minds." The assumption seems to be that all really normal and capable people do "know their own minds." As a matter of fact very few people know their own minds even moderately well in a technical sense, and none know their minds fully. Neither do people know their own bodies, so far as that goes. Most of our bodily processes run on quite independently of our knowledge of them. The organs of digestion do their work quite as well in the new-born babe as they do in that same person after he has become a full-fledged physiologist with digestion as his specialty. It is demonstrable that many of the processes involved in acquiring knowledge and in knowing, which are certainly dependent upon the nervous system, run on as independently of our knowledge of those processes and their organs, as is the case with the digestive

^ The terms naturalist and naturalism as here used have only a re- mote connection with those terms as used in traditional philosophy. The naive naturalist never seriously doubts either the reality of the objects with which he is occupied or the trustworthiness of his knowledge of those objects, once this has been fully verified. Every astronomer, chemist, botanist, psychologist, or sociologist whose observational knowl- edge does not permit him to be diverted by dogmatism in one direction or skepticism in the other, is a naturalist in this sense.

INTRODUCTION 9

processes and their organs. The mere fact that we have minds and can use them is no evidence that we understand them. If we would know our own minds we must acquire knowledge of them in much the same ways that have made us know our own digestive or circulatory systems.

No one who has considerable acquaintance with any of the biological sciences can have failed to note the constancy with which the comparative method is resorted to. In any good modern treatise on the digestive or circulatory or nervous system of man, the discussions are based upon observations on animals of very diverse rank in the zo- ological scale, with as little question about the trustworthi- ness of the facts for elucidating the human problem under treatment as those based on observations on man himself. Within limits which the investigator should know well, the structures and functions of the lower creatures are so sim- ilar to the corresponding human structures and functions that the conclusions drawn from them can be applied with- out hesitation to man also.

This similarity between man and inferior animals in so many physical particulars makes it possible for man to know many things about himself and to do to himself many ad- vantageous things that he could never know and do but for his knowledge concerning these less complex creatures. Such a measure of knowledge of the human circulatory and nervous systems as we now possess could not have been reached but for the opportunity of studying them in their varied and much simpler expressions in the lower orders and particularly in the embryos of these orders. Our en- terprise aims to utilize the activities of the lower animals as effectually for enabling us to know our own activities and to control our own conscious acts, as we now utilize the bodies of such animals for enabling us to know our own bodies and to control our purely vegetative functions.

It has long been recognized on the basis of their activities

lo INTRODUCTION

that many animals possess minds, and that these are similar in a considerable number of respects to human minds. Great progress has recently been made in the comparative study of these two orders of minds, each order having been made to contribute much to an interpretation of the other; but no such pronounced success has attended these studies in the direction of closing the gap between the minds of brute animals and the minds of men, as has attended the comparative morphological and physiological studies. In consequence of this, although men are well aware of their supremacy over all other living creatures, we do not yet possess a thoroughly critical presentation of exactly in what this supremacy consists. Such presentation this book will, I trust, go far toward furnishing.

CHAPTER 2

THE ABILITY OF LIVING BEINGS TO EXIST AND DEVELOP DESPITE ADVERSE CONDITIONS: THE PHENOMENON OF ADAPTATION

Among the myriads of bodies in the world there is one great class whose individuals are able to perform a con- siderable number of acts upon which their continued exist- ence depends. All such bodies we call living, or organic. There is another great class, the individuals of which we call non-living, or inorganic, whose continued existence does not depend on any such actions of their own. One great subclass of living bodies has greater ability for acting than another subclass. The more active subdivision we call animal, the less active vegetable. This way of classifying the world of bodies is rough-and-ready but unquestionably true as far as it goes, and useful for our present purposes.

One of the surest tests we can apply toward deciding whether a strange body is an animal is to touch it and see whether it moves after the manner famihar to us as animal movement: movement due to contraction induced by stimu- lation. So characteristic of animals is action of this kind that for most ordinary purposes positive results of such an experiment satisfy us. We conclude it is an animal because of our wide knowledge that no other bodies than animals move in that fashion and under such circumstances. This presents in terms of common experience the familiar gen- eralization as to what essentially characterizes an animal organism. What animal organisms essentially are, that plant organisms are also in some of their deepest attributes. Living beings are fundamentally set apart from non-living beings by their activities and by what these activities ac- complish. Man's way of doing things, especially his ra- il

12 ABILITY OF LIVING BEINGS

tionally conscious activities, distinguishes him within living nature as a distinct kind of living body, and the very thing that separates man most decisively from nature in general identifies him most closely with living nature.

The undertaking upon which we are entering is grounded in the conviction of the essential correctness of the evolu- tionary view of man's origin, and his kinship with the whole living world. The soundness of this point of view is ex- amined in Chapters 3 and 4, "The Problem of Man's Origin and Kinship." Accepting it for the present without ques- tion, such acceptance implies that any study of man must proceed as a two-fold task: first, to point out those of his characteristics which ally him with the living world gen- erally; and second, to establish with equal clearness those characteristics peculiar or specific to man. This involves special emphasis on the comparative method of Louis Agassiz and the older naturalists; but since it is in man's activities, rather than in his bodily structure that we find his most sharply distinguishing characteristics, our task also resembles that of the student of animal behavior.

The point of view maintained here differs from that of many comparative psychologists in requiring us to consider, not only wherein man's activities resemble those of other animals, but wherein these activities are different. The net result of comparative psychology has tended to dehumanize our conception of man, to throw us back on his possessions held in common with the brutes. The treatment in this book starts with the common heritage of man and brutes, but carries the comparison throughout the range of his endow- ments and activities, to examine closely wherein he differs from the brutes. The base line for our comparison is found in the unique ability of living things as compared with all other things to fit themselves into different environments. This ability is known as adaptation and is widely recognized in the treatment of man and all other organisms.

TO DEVELOP DESPITE ADVERSITY 13

There appears to 1)6 no human activity whatever that does not have to submit to the question: How well is it done? It is in the very nature of mankind's knowledge of its own activities to recognize that these are of different degrees of excellence. Some carpenters, some lawyers, some base-ball players, are better than others. The good, better, best criterion is applied down to the smallest ele- ments that enter into the various activities. Some generally good carpenters are specially good at inside finishing or perhaps at shingling. Some lawyers are excellent counselors but indifferent advocates. A star out-fielder may be rather poor as a base runner; and so on without end. This per- ception of difference in excellence of our own acts seems to be as deep seated as our knowledge of the acts.

May the activities of creatures below man be judged in the same way? As to all domestic animals, we surely do judge them thus. With horses, mules and oxen, the good, better, best criterion is applied to their human-service ac- tivities. Concerning such activities as egg-laying by hens, milk-giving by cows, and meat-production by hogs, the regular "performance" records kept by farmers tell the story.

But what about wuld animals? Any one who has lived by the seaside where he could watch pelicans, cormorants, and other fish-eaters at their fishing, will not hesitate to pronounce these all successful, and hence good fishers. No- body's observations in this connection would warrant him in supposing the excellence of their fishing to be entirely faultless. Whether the members of any one of the species differ from one another as individual humans differ in fishing ability is by no means easy to decide, so difficult is it to observe in detail, and thus to compare the perform- ances of a large number of individuals. But as to wild animals generally, we now have a sufficient mass of trust- worthy observations to make it clear that diversities in

14 ABILITY OF LIVING BEINGS

quality of performance occur here also. This evidence we hold to be fundamental to our imdertaking. It has never been brought together and systematically studied to get at its meaning in relation to human activities.

How effective are those activities of animals by which they solve their problems of getting food, securing mates, protecting themselves from injurious things in their sur- roundings and securing their welfare generally? This ques- tion is the essence of the problem of adaptation as applied to the activities of animals. The larger part of all that has been written about adaptation has referred to the structure of organisms only. When one speaks of birds as being adapted for locomotion in the air, what he thinks of is the structure of the forelimbs, of the feathers, of the shape of the body, and so on. The acts involved in flying are not often thought of as adaptive. Birds are more apt to be spoken of as adapted for than as adapted in flight. As a matter of actual observation, organic activity is far and away more adaptive than is organic structure. INIany or- ganic parts, particularly of the higher animals, can act in a variety of ways with little effect on the structures con- cerned. No one would suppose that the magpie's acquired habit of getting its food from the flesh of live sheep would have any perceptible effect on the bird's beak during an individual life time, and perhaps never for the species as a whole. Yet the change of activity might be very important for the welfare of the individuals concerned. The fact that a mule can use his hind limbs to good effect for kick- ing does not prove at all that this particular form of action has had any part in determining the form of the hind limbs. So far as we can judge, the mule's hind legs have been de- veloped for one kind of action and he has found he can use them for an additional kind. The variety of acts that every normal human hand performs may be taken as rep- resenting the highest exemplification of the general principle

TO DEVELOP DESPITE ADVERSITY 15

that one and the same structure may be used by its possessor in more than one way.

The ordinary knowledge of life contains the idea of adap- tation in both structure and activity as essential to life. The idea is inherent in the facts of death and injury as opposed to life and health. Latterly a considerable number of biologists have expressed the view that ordinary knowl- edge is wrong in holding this idea. It ought either to be applied to both non-living and living bodies or to neither. Living bodies are constituted, just as non-living ones are, of "matter" and "energy" and nothing else. If the idea of adaptation is not needed for lifeless beings (composed of energy-yielding matter) no more is it needed for living ones (also composed of energy-yielding matter), according to these biologists.

We are fundamentally opposed to this view that adapta- tion is a useless conception for the description and interpre- tation of vital activity. It is impossible to describe living beings with anything approaching fullness, without constant reference to attributes of them the very existence of which is inseparable from this idea of adaptation. All living be- ings must have constant supplies of substances called foods; otherwise they die. All such beings must reproduce their kind, or they become extinct as a kind. There is always the possibility of their failing to get food or to propagate. To a very great extent successes and failures in these and vari- ous other ways depend on particular structural features of the organisms, and upon what they do or fail to do. This being constructed in such-and-such ways, and acting so-and- so relative to success or failure is what common knowledge calls adaptation. The proposal to eliminate the idea from the biological sciences is tantamount to proposing the elim- ination from these sciences of the ideas of food-taking, of propagating, of dying, and of all the other ideas best es- tablished in all knowledge of organisms. If organisms come

i6 ABILITY OF LIVING BEINGS TO DEVELOP

into living existence at all and continue to live, doing these things is prima facie proof that they are at least partially adapted to do them. The alternatives would be that the}' would never become living, or would not continue to liva The final meaning of adaptation is the continuance of in- dividual life to its wonted end. The final meaning of maladaptation is the discontinuance of individual life before its wonted end. Life-or-death for the individual is the final criterion of adaptation.

While adaptation and adaptability in the human species will be the central interest in this book, we shall be obliged to devote much time to adaptation in animals generally. Their successes and failures in solving their life problems will occupy us in Chapters 5 to 14. The significance of this mass of material for the interpretation of human con- duct depends on the assumption that human animals and brute animals belong to one great family by common de- scent, and that brute activity lends as much assistance to the understanding of human activity as does brute structure to the understanding of human structure. While the kin- ship of humans and brutes in bodily structure is generally recognized, their equally significant kinship in mentality as manifest in their activities is not. To many honest and reverent men, such kinship is open to serious question.

If established, there is no doubt whatever that our con- ception of Man, and of Nature conceived as including Man, will be changed. Therefore our next undertaking, in Chap- ters 3 and 4, will be a careful examination of the evidence available as to the origin and kinships of human beings, giv- ing attention both to the factual evidence and to our mental technique in dealing with it.

CHAPTER 3

THE PROBLEM OF MAN's ORIGIN AND KINSHIP: FACTUAL EVIDENCE AND ITS PROPER TREATMENT

Our primary interest throughout this book h'es in the study of the way in which man's adaptive activities are superior to those of other animals. The value of such a study for human affairs lies in indicating the most effective lines of development, of conscious improvement, of conduct.

Man is, in general, more than a match for the beasts. In the words of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Lord has given him dominion over the earth, beasts and all. In just what manner is this "dominion" made secure? The answer to this question is not to be found in his structure alone. Slow of foot, naked, shivering, short-sighted, dull of ear, on the basis of structure alone man possesses no primacy. When the use of his bodily parts is considered, we find that in the realm ol reflexive and instinctive activities, he is still far from establishing superiority. It is only when we come to deal with that group of activities consciously directed toward securing his own well-being, which we call intelligent, that we find man the unquestioned superior of all other living things. Our study therefore becomes psycho- biological; and concerned primarily with the development of psychical activities as adaptive agencies.

HOW WE THINK ABOUT EVOLUTION

Our mode of treatment, which may be characterized as that of comparative psychobiology, involves an assumption of the kinship of man with the rest of the living world, and of an especially close kinship with the upper levels of the

17

i8 PROBLEM OF IVIAN'S ORIGIN

animal world. "Kinship" as used here is not figurative but literal, carrying the idea of "blood-kin," of common descent, or genetic relationship.

This is too large an assumption, on a matter vital to human -welfare, to be taken for granted. It therefore be- comes necessary to examine the basis of the assumption in facts and in logic. The degree of probable truth revealed by this examination is a measure of the usefulness of the comparative method for the psychobiological study of man and of the trustworthiness of the generalizations which may be made from the descriptive material to be presented later.

COMMON SENSE AND THE EVOLUTION THEORY

Rational human beings living as part and parcel of animate nature have always known a great deal about and have accepted evolution quite independently of any formal theory of evolution. If any one doubts this let him turn to The Origin of Species. "Variation under Domestica- tion" is the title of the first chapter. "Under domestica- tion"! what a body of ordinary experience this connotes; and how skillfully Darwin made use of it!

The main classes of facts and principles upon which rests the evolution theory are well-known and unquestioningly accepted. Such knowledge while positive enough and im- plicitly trusted does not reach much beyond the bounds of immediate observation and experience. With reference to every one of the basic principles considered, the question arises as to whether or not they do hold good beyond the scope of common experience and knowledge. A serious at- tempt to answer the question would, if the answer were affirmative, result in a general hypothesis and theory, or doctrine of evolution.

As is well known, such an hypothesis and theory were

FACTUAL EVIDENCE 19

ushered into the modern world by the publication about sixty-five years ago of The Origin oj Species by Means of Natural Selection. This epochal book dealt, not with the all-embracing problem of organic development, but with one specific though crucial aspect of it, namely that of how new species originate; and it proposed and defended with great ability a casual explanation of such origin. This is the point at which man's understanding of the phenomena of development in living nature may be considered to have passed from the realm of common knowledge to that of technical knowledge, and marks the beginning, in modern times at least, of study by the methods and for the purposes of science of the origin of those species or kinds which compose the vast world of living things.

From the broad outlook to which we have been led by the progress of knowledge since Darwin's great book was writ- ten, we see that instead of defining the evolution theory as being a theory of the "origin of species" merely, it should be defined as the theory that the well-known principles gov- erning the origin of the comparatively few organisms with which the common life of man has made him familiar, govern also the origin of the whole living world. Common knowledge now accepts evolution as the mode of the origin of individual men and all other organisms, animal and plant. There is no longer any question that men and animals and plants originate from parent organisms. The idea of "spon- taneous generation," the origin of organisms without parents, widely prevalent up to seventy-five years ago, is now wholly discarded in common teaching and experience no less than in technical teaching and experience.

Nor does the common acceptance of evolution stop with its application to the growth of individuals, and the causa- tion of individuals by other individuals. Such acceptance has now gone far into the more obscure realm of the origin of kinds of individuals. In agriculture, in horticulture, in

20 PROBLEM OF MAN'S ORIGIN

floriculture, in animal husbandry, and in pet-animal cul- ture, new kinds are so numerously produced that they are much more commonly seen than are the original or parent kinds. The principles upon which such producing depend are widely known and applied, even more so by non-technical persons than by professional biologists. New varieties of potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and wheat; of roses, dahlias, daisies and irises; of chickens, sheep, pigs, cats, dogs, and rabbits, are so commonplace as to attract little attention except for their usefulness or beauty. So far as the evolu- tion or development of a great variety of kinds of organisms is concerned, common sense not only accepts it in knowledge and faith but goes much further than that. It actually lives by it, thus applying to it the supreme test of all knowl- edge and faith in conduct.

THE PRINCIPLE OF IDENTITY IN THE EVOLUTION THEORY

One of the things which makes the problem of origin of new kinds or species peculiarly difficult, no matter from what angle it be approached, is the fact that it inevitably involves the problem of the origin of man himself. As was fully recognized by Darwin and practically every other nat- uralist or philosopher or theologian who has tried seriously to understand the nature of man, his resemblance to other living beings, especially the higher animals, has been obvious enough to arouse the strong conjecture that the ultimate origin of man was involved with the ultimate origin of all the rest of the animate world. The tremendous hold on men's minds and the influence upon their lives exerted by The Origin of Species was only secondarily due to the purely scientific problem of how new kinds of plants and inferior animals originate. The power of the book lay and still lies in its emotional impingement upon man's own life as dependent upon how he came into being. This vital truth

FACTUAL EVIDENCE 21

it is necessary to take full cognizance of in such an under- taking as we are engaged upon.

Why is it that men have so generally desired a mode of racial origin wholly different from and presumably superior to the well-known mode of individual origin? Why have men felt that a supernatural or divine mode of racial origin would be better for them than any natural mode would be, even though they were obliged to be satisfied with a natural mode of individual origin?

Broad information about man in different stages of his culture shows him to be more solicitous about the character of his origin in advanced than in lowly states of his develop- ment. Many savage peoples are apparently well satisfied with the idea that they originated from animal or from even more lowly subhuman ancestors. On the other hand, most of the highly cultivated peoples, as those of Christian na- tions, have been and still are sorely disturbed by any ques- tioning of their supposed supernatural origin. Why is this? An element in the explanation is the fact that men are strongly given to believing their own present natures depend upon the source from which they came in a sense close examination finds not to be correct.

No one now doubts that in general "like produces like" in organic propagation, that the nature of organisms is determined in some sense by the nature of their parents and other ancestors. From the standpoint of the knowledge- processes involved in our knowing anything about the nature and origin of natural bodies, we recognize that in another sense the nature of the organism is quite independent of its origin. Neither the reality of any object nor the certainty of our knowledge about it depend upon what we know or do not know about the origin of that object. The sugar with which you sweeten your breakfast coffee is sugar and not salt or anything else, regardless of whether it originated from sugar-cane or sugar-beets. It makes not the slightest

22 PROBLEM OF MAN'S ORIGIN

difference in your certainty that you have put sugar and not salt into your coffee, whether you have any information about where the sugar came from and how it originated. Knowledge of form, structure, activities of any object, and knowledge of the origin of that object