« AnteriorContinuar »
In either state of society, there then begins in the human consciousness a disturbance "which is significant of something having another value than that of mere pleasure, and which is pregnant with the promise of another than the merely sensuous or merely intellectual life." The words quoted are Prof. Ladd's, discussing the philosophy of conduct of civilized man-but here, even in the primitive man, the rule applies-the moral idea is born, legitimately enough, out of the altruistic maternal affection.
Not infrequently one comes across such expressions as "when man became civilized," starting always the baffling inquiry-what civilized man? The mystery of life, as Bergson suggests, may be its solution, for in the acquired tendency of looking on the world as containing one emotion at least that was not purely self-gratifying, man was preparing himself for the virtues that followed in the wake of his own first altruistic concept. The loyalty without which there could be no sociality has, on the one hand, a reasoned basis-the selfish and protecting one that may also explain the gregariousness of animals—but it differs from gregariousness by subordinating to the good of another one's own pleasure, just as the mother subordinates her wishes to the pleasure and good of the infant. It is, in fact, the developed emotion that the male acquires through imitation and sympathy from the female, for, "when a tendency splits up : George Trumbull Ladd, Philosophy of Conduct.
in the course of its development, each of the special tendencies which thus arise, tries to preserve and develop everything in the primitive tendency that is not incompatible with the work for which it is specialized."
Back of this sociological "leap" is Nature's long preparation. "The stability of animal marriage," says Wundt, "seems in general to be proportional to affection for the young," and yet the primitive instincts are sometimes so powerful that even among those animals in whom the maternal instinct is strongly developed, they will, even after facing great danger for their young, desert them when the time comes to migrate. This Darwin says is true of swallows, house martins, and swifts. 3
But even in the lowest animals the "chief source of altrusim" is the family group as it revolves round the care of the young, while with the increase in the representative capacity that differentiates man from the brute, and the prolongation of the period of human infancy, there is born real altruism, the germ of morality, through the "knitting together of permanent relations between mother and infant, and the approximation toward steady relations on the part of the male parent.”
Bergson, Creative Evolution, p. 119.
William Wundt, Human and Animal Psychology, p. 143. 3 Darwin, Descent of Man, p. 120.
4 Chas. Ellwood, Sociology and Modern Social Problems, p. 39.
First Conceptions of Humanity 5
How then does it happen that an instinct that has been productive of so much for humanity, an instinct that has given birth to most of those virtues that mark civilized from savage man,' served apparently so little as a safeguard for the offspring that generated the moral evolution? Studying the cross currents and the ever-present struggle for existence of the various nations that worked out of barbarism to civilization, we see that after all it is by and through the very virtues, tenderness, sympathy, and humanity, that were first aroused by the helpless offspring, that the infant comes in turn to be protected, though the path is frequently a tortuous one.
The society that was able to exist in primitive times was always the one that sacrificed the individual, and the infant was naturally low in the scale of value. That very sacrifice of the weakest, stratified into a national characteristic, produced in the greatest civilization of ancient times, a narrow and egoistical morality, with little conception of what we call humanity. "No Greek ever
Ellen Key, The Renaissance of Motherhood, p. 27: "Because of her motherhood, woman's sexual nature gradually became purer than man's. The child became more and more the centre of her thoughts and her deeds. Thus the strength of her erotic instincts diminished. The tenderness awakened in her by her children also benefited the father. Out of this tenderness-as also out of the admiration for the manly qualities which the father developed in the defence of herself and her children-gradually arose the erotic feeling directed to this man alone. Thus love began."
Kidd, Social Evolution, p. 138.
attained the sublimity of such a point of view," says George Henry Lewes.1
In this, the "century of the child," there is a great conception of humanity, and even of children's rights. Little attempt, however, has been made to trace in consecutive and co-ordinate fashion the development among races and nations of the progress of the human race in its attitude toward children. We who are so much interested in the betterment of the race and who are so much moved by humanitarian considerations that almost the first consideration of the state is to provide for the children, have reached this point of view only after a long struggle against blind ignorance and reckless selfishness.
The fact that less than fifty years have passed since we began a definite policy concerning the rights of children shows how rapidly the human race moves. The race may be, let us say, something like 240,000 years old; of that time civilized man-accepting the most generous figures on Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization-has existed only 10,000 years, or of the life of the human species.
Humanized man has existed not more than a few hundred years, and it is within only fifty' years that the race has been concerned with the protection of the child. How deeply ingrained are the habits of barbarity and darkness, may be seen from the fact that cannibalism broke 1 Lewes, History of Philosophy, vol. i., p. 338.
The Century of the Child
out in Japan not more than a hundred years ago.
Unquestionably, this is the century of the child. Undoubtedly, more serious thought is being given in the present generation to the subject than has ever been given before in the entire history of the world. More has been written about the child in the last fifty years than had been written in the world in all civilized times up to the beginning of this half-century. In order to appreciate this statement one must remember that the best friends of the child-Jesus, the Jewish Prophets, and Mohammed-lived centuries before the human theories that they preached had really a living existence.
In this connection, it is germane to state that the theory that philosophy and religion go hand in hand with humanity, is shattered by the fact that Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, and Gautama affected, apparently, not a single jot, the ancient attitude of insufferance toward the undesired children.
There has ever been, on the question of his children, a struggle between man and nature. Endowed with the possibilities of a large offspring man has fought the burdens that nature has thrust upon him. On first view, it seems that parental affection never develops to great degree unless the economic conditions are favourable; yet the various artifices and "laws" used by tribes to get rid of children would show that parental affection kept struggling with the inclinations of men.