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THE important chapter which closes this work was included in a public lecture which I delivered at the meeting of Naturalists and Physicians held this year at Wiesbaden; my purpose being, as I am willing to confess, to ascertain, by experience, whether on this significant subject I had struck the right note to suit a circle of hearers and readers not hampered by prejudice.
After the reception given to this fragment, which I also issued in a separate pamphlet, under the title of "The Doctrine of Descent, in its application to Man (Die Anwendung der Descendenzlehre auf den Menschen), I venture to hope that the whole may find a welcome.
With the exception of the Ecclesiastico-political question, no sphere of thought agitates the educated classes of our day so profoundly as the doctrine of descent. On both subjects the cry is, "Avow your colours!"
We have, therefore, endeavoured to define our standpoint sharply in the introduction, and to preserve it rigidly throughout the work. This is, indeed, a case in which, as Theodor Fechner has recently said, a definite decision has to be made between two fundamental alternatives. May our exposition afford a lucid testimony to this dictum of one of the patriarchs of the philosophical view of nature.
STRASBURG, October 18th, 1873.