Development and Purpose: An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Evolution

By L. T. Hobhouse | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
MENTAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE INDIVIDUAL

1. IN mental as in physical evolution, the emergence of new factors does not involve the total disappearance of the old. These are merely overlaid and in varying degree modified by the later development. Just as man remains an animal, so the most reflective consciousness coexists with the most irrational impulse and the life of the most perfect and complete human being has its roots in methods of action and reaction which it shares not only with the life of the savage or of the dog, but with that of the rhizopod or the plant. Thus we get in the developed man a rough epitome of the history of the race, we find in him modes of action which represent all the stages which the race has passed through. The correspondence is not indeed accurate, for the presence of new factors modifies the operation of those which are older, but (as in embryology) it is sufficiently near to enable us to form a rough outline of the evolutionary process, an outline which we can verify and correct by comparison with the actual behaviour of animals at different grades of development.

We may therefore suitably approach our task by distinguishing the elements discoverable in the activity of the developed man, and considering their analogues in the animal world. In doing so, since we conceive the organism as a psycho-physical unity, we shall take physical reactions into account along with the deliverances of consciousness, using, in any case, the evidence most readily accessible and most easily verifiable.

Having taken correlation to be the typical function of

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