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as a means, I do not believe it has sufficient distinctiveness to be represented as a separate ideal. Individual culture and right social relations seem to be sufficiently comprehensive to include all the great processes in social evolution and these two are so closely related that they may almost be merged into one, individual development.
Relationship of the Individual and the Social Ideals. The relationship of the two movements represented by the individual and the social ideals remains to be discussed. Do they represent separate and distinct ends, or are they part of one general process? If the latter is true, which is the more important? Is either one distinctly a subordinate and secondary process? These questions involve the consideration of whether society is an end in itself, and upon this point opinions differ. Should we anticipate that society will develop into a real organism made up of individual units as an animal is made up of living cells? And if so would this organism be the higher form of life which is to be next evolved? And will further individual effort, therefore, be entirely subordinated to the welfare and growth of this larger being that has arisen? Or, on the other hand, should we suppose that individual development, which has been going on since the dawn of life, will continue to be the all important movement and that social relations are merely one of many new conditions which have appeared in the course of this development and have stimulated it to new and higher planes? From this point of view social life would present a new form of environment, just as at an earlier stage the land came to be superior to the water as an environment for animals. Although social life arose at a late stage of animal progress it is not a temporary condition. Human beings will remain permanently in societies just as animals continue to make use of the land. If this view is the correct one, as I believe it is, then the movement for the perfection of social relations is subordinate to the development of life, although it does seem to be of sufficient distinctiveness and importance to be presented as a separate ideal.
Both of these ideals have been clearly recognized in the past by students of society; but one or the other has appeared to be of the greater importance according to existing conditions. When social contacts have been few or weak, personal development as an ideal has frequently been emphasized, as was the case with the Hebrews, and again in Europe during the Middle Ages. On the other hand, where populations have been dense and social relations complicated, the imperfections of the social organization have forced themselves upon the consciousness and the social ideal has become the important one. We are now passing through such a period, and it is quite true that social relations may be the most important problems for immediate solution. But our discussions of social problems will be more illuminating and our efforts at social betterment will be more rational, if we bear in mind that the perfection of the social organization is not the chief end; but that it is, like the conquest of nature, a means or an instrument whereby the continued development of the individual is made possible.
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Turning now from the discussion of the ideals which present social progress in its most comprehensive aspects, we may next consider the more specific forces and processes of social evolution. The evolutionary process has been represented as generating higher forms of life, and the question now concerns the reasons for these progressive changes. Why has life evolved instead of remaining stationary? What has been the motive force causing superior forms of life to succeed inferior? The answer is to be found in the process of the adaptation of the individual to his environment. Two factors have existed from the start: man, or if we wish to go farther back, the individual animal, and the environment; and it has been the continuous adjustment of these two factors to each other which has caused progress.
Progress Requires a Changing Environment. Professor Patten · has shown that the great steps in progress have not been achieved by the adaptation of man to a single environment. They have resulted rather from his adaptation to a series of environments, or to a continually changing environment. If man lived in an absolutely stable environment, he would progress so long as he was adjusting himself to that environment; but the time would come when he would be satisfied with that adjustment, and would make no further effort to improve his condition. His activities would be controlled by habit; and progress would soon become imperceptible and finally cease altogether. It is only as the environment changes, and new desires arise to stimulate man to new activities, that continuous progress is assured. The conclusion must not be drawn however that all modifications in the environment stimulate progress. Just as some variations prove to be superior to the original form and some inferior, so some alterations in the environment prove to be desirable and others undesirable. However, the formula for progress cannot be stated in terms of the environment alone without reference to the organism. Progress depends also upon the activities which the environment stimulates, and these differ at different periods in the evolution of the individual. In early stages of development a change to a more complicated environment seems to have been stimulating; but the advantage of complexity has a limit and in later periods of culture change to a simplified environment sometimes allows greater freedom for mental activity.
1 Theory of Social Forces.
In addition to the stimuli arising out of the changes occurring in the environment itself, a new impetus also is given to progress when individuals or groups are forced through the intensity of the struggles for life from old environments to new ones previously existing but not fully utilized. The new environment, in offering greater opportunities to those capable of utilizing them, stimulates development in new directions.
Examples of important modifications in physical environments may be found in geological or climatic cycles. At certain periods the water supply has increased, thereby permitting the existence of larger populations and stimulating the passage from a pastoral to an agricultural mode of life. At other times a decrease in the water supply, by making a country more arid, has necessitated a reduction in the population, thereby stimulating migrations or causing a return to nomadic life. Such an environmental change with its accompanying adaptations marks a period of retrogression instead of progress. And migrations also, in forcing a redistribution of the population, have sometimes resulted in the discovery of superior locations where higher forms of civilization have arisen. But at other times migrants have been forced into inferior locations where they have ceased to progress or have even degenerated.
Examples of changes in the social environment are numerous. Mere mechanical inventions serve to alter social conditions. Sometimes they create a series of new occupations, and persons who are adaptable enough to follow these innovations escape for a time the severity of competition in the old employments and develop more freely on a higher level. Immigration into the United States has greatly altered the social environment. It has increased the severity of competition, giving opportunity to the more intelligent of the old inhabitants to enter new and superior occupations and forcing the less resourceful out of the ranks of self supporting laborers into the ranks of the dependents, that is, into an inferior environment which has caused deterioration.
To profit from modifications in the environment requires a high degree of adaptability on the part of the individual. And this adaptability implies a superior development of the nervous organization. In the course of evolution the development of the nervous organization has been continually stimulated by environmental changes. These changes have offered an immediate advantage for the survival of those individuals who possessed the adaptability to take advantage of them, while those who lacked adaptability were eliminated.
Two Forms of Adaptation. In order to explain the detailed processes of adaptation, it will be necessary to distinguish two kinds of environments and two forms of adaptation. The two kinds of environment are the physical and the social. The physical environment will in this chapter be used to include both inorganic nature and lower organic life, though later it will be necessary to separate the two. The social environment comprises both human beings and the products of their industry, or what Spencer has appropriately named superorganic products.
Adaptation to both these environments may be passive or active. The terms passive and active refer here to the individual rather than to the environment, so that passive adaptation means the alteration of the individual to conform to the environment; and active adaptation means the alteration of the environment through the activity of man to suit his needs. With the lower animals and with primitive men passive adaptation is the chief force at work; but as man's intelligence increases he submits to this process to a smaller and smaller degree, though he can never entirely free himself from the influence of the physical environment.