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OF THE

UNIVERSITY

CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY SURVEY.

$1. — Modern scientific research brings out into bold relief the fact that civilization is the result of a process of growth, or development, which took its rise on the levels of savagery and animality long before historical times. This evolutionary process, moreover, still goes on around us. Whether or not the theory be true that mankind have ultimately descended from some lower species of animal, we must at all events accept the view that man once lived on the earth without knowledge of the material arts, in an animal condition, whence he rose, by a gradual process of development, into civilized society. This moderate position – which should always be distinguished from the radical view — is supported by many lines of positive evidence, and commands the assent of all competent authorities. Quite naturally, indeed, those who hold that historical man is descended from prehistoric ancestors who lived an animal existence, are likely also to hold, as we do, that prehistoric men were, in turn, derived from a non-human stock. But for the student of the rise and growth of civilized society, it is practically sufficient to accept the evolutionary doctrine as more narrowly applied. In other words, unless we are approaching the study of man from the biological standpoint, we may ignore the matter of his physical origin, and enter upon our work at those levels of animality and savagery whence man has passed upward through barbarism into civilization. This narrower doctrine does not affirm that progress is uniform; nor does it hold that progress admits of no retrogression. It declares that, on the whole, hu

manity is a rising, or progressive, race; that some sections of the race exhibit more progressive tendencies than others; and that progress tends eventually to become generalized.*

Although it has been fully shown by many writers that evolution is a great law of history, a current popular idea is that conditions in general have somehow gone backward from an almost perfect state of things — “the good old times.” Let it be emphasized, however, that this idea, opposed as it is to the doctrine of evolution, is perfectly natural in view of human psychology and the conditions under which progress takes place. There are at least two reasons for the vitality of this mistaken view of life. In the first place, it contains a small measure of truth. Progress plainly involves losses that are, at the least estimate, temporary. If we look at progress from a narrow standpoint, and fail to take a broad view, these losses assume undue proportions; and a primary tendency of our minds is to look at things from the narrow standpoint. In the second place, the retrogressive theory has been a most effective practical stimulus to progress. In a slowly developing world the existence of a widespread longing to recover the felicity of some fancied Golden Age in the distant past helps to urge man along the upward path.

It remains for the popular mind to adjust itself to the new intellectual atmosphere. Despite the great progress of the idea of development, it has not yet been brought home in a practical way to the daily, popular thought. Looking abroad in the world, it is plain that while the doctrine of evolution is fully intrenched in some quarters, it remains within comparatively narrow limits. It is, indeed, a matter of common knowledge that civiliza

* The term "evolution," as used in this book, will have the narrower meaning given it in the text, unless we make specific mention of the more thoroughgoing doctrine of man's descent from non-human stock, etc. We use the word loosely as the equivalent of growth, development, and progress.

tion has in some way arisen out of a simpler and ruder state of things; but this knowledge lies vaguely in the background of the public mind, and finds little or no application to practical questions. Current public opinion is usually based on discouragingly narrow premises.

$ 2. — Although we must, in this inquiry, assume the truth of the doctrine of evolution, without special at. tempt at proof, it may be well briefly to set down here the essential points of the argument for that doctrine as applied to human society.

First of all, historical records clearly show that civilization has grown up out of barbarism. Following the course of history backward and forward, we see that there has been unfolded a series of developmental, or evolutionary, steps.

But written history does not give us the earliest chapters of this great process. It does, indeed, supply more than we are commonly inclined to admit; but it does not take up the story at a point that can be in any way distinguished as a beginning. It breaks in, so to speak, upon a drama that has already begun. For the purpose of the sociological student, written history is fairly complete. It gives the essentials. But in the ancient period it begins to fail; the twilight of tradition and myth gathers; and at last we are left to grope in the darkness of antiquity.

What, now, is the student of social evolution to do? Let us turn away from written records for a time, and look elsewhere. Widely distributed over the world – in Europe, America, Asia, Africa, and in fact wherever investigation has been carried — are found rude tools in the crust of the earth. These implements consist of axes, hammers, knives, arrow-heads, scrapers, awls, and other articles of stone and metal. Now, we learn nothing trustworthy from written history about the nature and origin of these tools. In ancient Egypt and Chaldea they were thought to be of supernatural origin, and were used in connection with religious rites. In Europe, during the Middle Age, they were commonly known as “thunder

stones.” It was thought that they fell from the skies during storms; and that they had been used in the “wars in heaven,” and afterward thrown to the earth. But there is now no doubt that they are the tools used by races which peopled the world long before historical times — prehistoric men, who had not wit enough to make and preserve a written record of their own existence. We have, indeed, no direct knowledge of this; but the physical evidence of it is just as good, and is entitled to as much credit, as evidence that we receive and act upon every day. If, in passing through a field, we see marks like those made by wheels and the feet of horses, we never think of doubting that a vehicle of some sort, drawn by a horse of some color, has been there before us. In the same way, the existence of these rude implements, buried in the soil of Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and elsewhere, taken in connection with the fact that written history from ancient to modern times has nothing trustworthy to tell us about them, proves, as well as anything can be proved from abundant physical evidence, that the earth was peopled in prehistoric ages by races of primitive men.

Not until the nineteenth century were these remains investigated in a thoroughgoing scientific spirit; and the results are even more impressive than at first appears. Very much more has been demonstrated than the mere fact that rude men peopled the earth before the times of writ. ten history. The prehistoric implements are not all found at the same distance from the surface. They are discovered at various levels — some higher, some lower; and in general are distributed in such a way as to show that all have not been where they are during the same length of time. As a rule, those that evidently have been in place the longest are buried deepest, and are significantly the rudest of all. These most primitive tools are made of stone, broken into pieces and brought into shape without smoothing or polishing. Higher up are found more various tools, made with more care and art, more regular in shape, and finished more smoothly, making better instru

ments for cutting, piercing, scraping, grinding, etc. Among these later tools we begin to find parts of the human skeleton; but the bones of man and the smaller animals do not, as a rule, survive the action of natural forces. Only the skeletons of larger animals, like the mammoth and the mastodon, are well preserved. Going higher, and coming still nearer the surface, the polished stone implements begin to be mingled with utensils of copper and bronze. In these deposits the bones of men and animals are more common. Thus there is an ascent clearly marked out, beginning with the Rough Stone Age, passing up through the Smooth Stone Age, and thence into the Age of Metals. The conclusion is irresistible: Not only did primitive men exist on the earth long before the era of written records; but they were at the same time subject to the law of progress, development, or evolution.

By a study of these remains we find that man's condition in later prehistoric ages was practically the same as in the earlier age of written history. Presently we find ourselves driven on to the conclusion that the progress which took place before historical times was the earlier aspect of the same progress which has gone forward during the times of written records. In other words, prehistoric progress and historic progress are parts of one great evolutionary movement whereby modern civilization has grown up from the levels of rudest savagery and animality. This conclusion is fully sustained by all manner of research into the history, antiquities, and life of mankind. The doctrine of evolution is indeed the only doctrine that gives us an intelligible rendering of human history and human society.

$ 3. — The material for a study of the process of social evolution is extensive and various.

For prehistoric times we have the remains of extinct races. These remains are found, as observed above, all over the world beneath the crust in the same general order, beginning lowest down with tools of rough stone, passing upward through deposits of smooth stone uten.

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