ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL FACULTIES DURING PRIMEVAL AND CIVILISED TIMES.
Advancement of the intellectual powers through natural selection-- Importance of imitation--Social and moral faculties--Their development within the limits of the same tribe--Natural selection as affecting civilised nations--Evidence that civilised nations were once barbarous.
The subjects to be discussed in this chapter are of the highest interest, but are treated by me in an imperfect and fragmentary manner. Mr. Wallace, in an admirable paper before referred to (1. Anthropological Review, May 1864, p. clviii.), argues that man, after he had partially acquired those intellectual and moral faculties which distinguish him from the lower animals, would have been but little liable to bodily modifications through natural selection or any other means. For man is enabled through his mental faculties "to keep with an unchanged body in harmony with the changing universe." He has great power of adapting his habits to new conditions of life. He invents weapons, tools, and various stratagems to procure food and to defend himself. When he migrates into a colder climate he uses clothes, builds sheds, and makes fires; and by the aid of fire cooks food otherwise indigestible. He aids his fellow-men in many ways, and anticipates future events. Even at a remote period he practised some division of labour.
The lower animals, on the other hand, must have their bodily structure modified in order to survive under greatly changed conditions. They must be rendered stronger, or acquire more effective teeth or claws, for defence against new enemies; or they must be reduced in size, so as to escape detection and danger. When they migrate into a colder climate, they must become clothed with thicker fur, or have their constitutions altered. If they fail to be thus modified, they will cease to exist.
The case, however, is widely different, as Mr. Wallace has with justice insisted, in relation to the intellectual and moral faculties of man. These faculties are variable; and we have every reason to believe that the variations tend to be inherited. Therefore, if they were formerly of high importance to primeval man and to his ape-like progenitors, they would have been perfected or advanced through natural selection. Of the high importance of the intellectual faculties there can be no doubt, for man mainly owes to them his predominant position in the world. We can see, that in the rudest state of society, the individuals who were the most sagacious, who invented and used the best weapons or traps, and who were best able to defend themselves, would rear the greatest number of offspring. The tribes, which included the largest number of men thus endowed, would increase in number and supplant other tribes. Numbers depend primarily on the means of subsistence, and this depends partly on the physical nature of the country, but in a much higher degree on the arts which are there practised. As a tribe increases and is victorious, it is often still further increased by the absorption of other tribes. (2. After a time the members or tribes which are absorbed into another tribe assume, as Sir Henry Maine remarks ('Ancient Law,' 1861, p. 131), that they are the co-descendants of the same ancestors.) The stature and strength of the men of a tribe are likewise of some importance for its success, and these depend in part on the nature and amount of the food which can be obtained. In Europe the men of the Bronze period were supplanted by a race more powerful, and, judging from their sword-handles, with larger hands (3. Morlot, 'Soc. Vaud. Sc. Nat.' 1860, p. 294.); but their success was probably still more due to their superiority in the arts.
All that we know about savages, or may infer from their traditions and from old monuments, the history of which is quite forgotten by the present inhabitants, shew that from the remotest times successful tribes have supplanted other tribes.