The Antiquity of Man The Antiquity of Man

The Antiquity of Man

Publisher Description

The Antiquity of Man is a Scientific book. The book draws a great problem of the origin of living beings. The theories of Darwin and Wallace brought to a head and presented in a concrete shape the somewhat vague speculations as to development and evolution which had long been floating in the minds of naturalists. In the actual working out of Darwin's great theory it is impossible to overestimate the influence of Lyell. This is made abundantly clear in Darwin's letters, and it must never be forgotten that Darwin himself was a geologist. His training in this science enabled him to grasp the import of the facts so ably marshalled by Lyell in the "Principles of Geology", a work which, as Professor Judd has clearly shown, contributed greatly to the advancement of evolutionary theory in general. From a study of the evolution of plants and of the lower animals it was an easy and obvious transition to man, and this step was soon taken. Since in his physical structure man shows so close a resemblance to the higher animals it was a natural conclusion that the laws governing the development of the one should apply also to the other, in spite of preconceived opinions derived from authority. Unfortunately the times were then hardly ripe for a calm and logical treatment of this question: prejudice in many cases took the place of argument, and the result was too often an undignified squabble instead of a scientific discussion. However, the dogmatism was not by any means all on one side. The disciples as usual went farther than the master, and their teaching when pushed to extremities resulted in a peculiarly dreary kind of materialism, a mental attitude which still survives to a certain extent among scientific and pseudo scientific men of the old school. In more Recent times this dogmatic agnosticism of the middle Victorian period has been gradually replaced by speculations of a more positive type, such as those of the Mendelian school in biology and the doctrines of Bergson on the philosophical side. With these later developments we are not here concerned.

Science & Nature
22 February
Public Domain
Public Domain

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