Regarded anatomically, the resemblances between the foot of Man and the foot of the Gorilla are far more striking and important than the differences. ...be the differences between the hand and foot of Man and those of the Gorilla what they may the differences between those of the Gorilla and those of the lower Apes are much greater.
Our reverence for the nobility of manhood will not be lessened by the knowledge that man is in substance and in structure, one with the brutes; for he alone possesses the marvellous endowment of intelligible and rational speech whereby he has slowly accumulated and organized the experience which is almost wholly lost with the cessation of individual life in other animals; so that he now stands raised above it as on a mountain-top, far above the level of his humble fellows, and transfigured from his grosser nature by reflecting, here and there, a ray from the infinite source of truth.
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It may be well to remember that the highest level of moral aspiration recorded in history was reached by a few ancient Jews--Micah, Isaiah, and the rest--who took no count whatever of what might not happen to them after death. It is not obvious to me why the same point should not by and by be reached by the Gentiles.
I am not afraid of the priests in the long-run. Scientific method is the white ant which will slowly but surely destroy their fortifications. And the importance of scientific method in modern practical life--always growing and increasing--is the guarantee for the gradual emancipation of the ignorant upper and lower classes, the former of whom especially are the strength of the priests.
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The saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing is, to my mind, a very dangerous adage. If knowledge is real and genuine, I do not believe that it is other than a very valuable posession, however infinitesimal its quantity may be. Indeed, if a little knowledge is dangerous, where is a man who has so much as to be out of danger?
Mathematics may be compared to a mill of exquisite workmanship, which grinds you stuff of any degree of fineness; but, nevertheless, what you get out depends upon what you put in; and as the grandest mill in the world will not extract wheat-flour from peascods, so pages of formulae will not get a definite result out of loose data.
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I hated tobacco. I could have almost lent my support to any institution that had for its object the putting of tobacco smokers to death...I now feel that smoking in moderation is a comfortable and laudable practice, and is productive of good. There is no more harm in a pipe than in a cup of tea. You may poison yourself by drinking too much green tea, and kill yourself by eating too many beefsteaks. For my part, I consider that tobacco, in moderation, is a sweetener and equalizer of the temper.
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As for your doctrines I am prepared to go to the Stake if requisite ... I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse & misrepresentation which unless I greatly mistake is in store for you... And as to the curs which will bark and yelp - you must recollect that some of your friends at any rate are endowed with an amount of combativeness which (though you have often & justly rebuked it) may stand you in good stead - I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness.
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The whole analogy of natural operations furnishes so complete and crushing an argument against the intervention of any but what are termed secondary causes, in the production of all the phenomena of the universe; that, in view of the intimate relations between Man and the rest of the living world; and between the forces exerted by the latter and all other forces, I can see no excuse for doubting that all are co-ordinated terms of Nature's great progression, from the formless to the formed from the inorganic to the organic from blind force to conscious intellect and will.
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To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or sea-side stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall. Teach him something of natural history, and you place in his hands a catalogue of those which are worth turning around. Surely our innocent pleasures are not so abundant in this life, that we can afford to despise this or any other source of them.
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Each such answer to the great question, invariably asserted by the followers of its propounder, if not by himself, to be complete and final, remains in high authority and esteem, it may be for one century, or it may be for twenty: but, as invariably, Time proves each reply to have been a mere approximation to the truth tolerable chiefly on account of the ignorance of those by whom it was accepted, and wholly intolerable when tested by the larger knowledge of their successors.
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I have endeavoured to show that no absolute structural line of demarcation, wider than that between the animals which immediately succeed us in the scale, can be drawn between the animal world and ourselves; and I may add the expression of my belief that the attempt to draw a physical distinction is equally futile, and that even the highest faculties of feeling and of intellect begin to germinate in lower forms of life.
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Social progress means a checking of the cosmic process at every step and the substitution for it of another, which may be called the ethical process; the end of which is not the survival of those who may happen to be the fittest, in respect of the whole of the conditions which obtain, but of those who are ethically the best.
Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. ... Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
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In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.
Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before. Some day, I doubt not, we shall arrive at an understanding of the evolution of the aesthetic faculty; but all the understanding in the world will neither increase nor diminish the force of the intuition that this is beautiful and that is ugly.
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There are some men who are counted great because they represent the actuality of their own age, and mirror it as it is. Such an one was Voltaire, of whom it was epigrammatically said: "he expressed everybody's thoughts better than anyone." But there are other men who attain greatness because they embody the potentiality of their own day and magically reflect the future. They express the thoughts which will be everybody's two or three centuries after them. Such as one was Descartes.
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I conceive that the leading characteristic of the nineteenth century has been the rapid growth of the scientific spirit, the consequent application of scientific methods of investigation to all the problems with which the human mind is occupied, and the correlative rejection of traditional beliefs which have proved their incompetence to bear such investigation.
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If the twentieth century is to be better than the nineteenth, it will be because there are among us men who walk in Priestley's footsteps....To all eternity, the sum of truth and right will have been increased by their means; to all eternity, falsehoods and injustice will be the weaker because they have lived.
For these two years I have been gravitating towards your doctrines, and since the publication of your primula paper with accelerated velocity. By about this time next year I expect to have shot past you, and to find you pitching into me for being more Darwinian than yourself. However, you have set me going, and must just take the consequences, for I warn you I will stop at no point so long as clear reasoning will take me further.
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Material advancement has its share in moral and intellectual progress. Becky Sharp's acute remark that it is not difficult to be virtuous on ten thousand a year has its applications to nations; and it is futile to expect a hungry and squalid population to be anything but violent and gross.
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I know of no department of natural science more likely to reward a man who goes into it thoroughly than anthropology. There is an immense deal to be done in the science pure and simple, and it is one of those branches of inquiry which brings one into contact with the great problems of humanity in every direction.
The supernatural is being swept out of the universe in the flood of new knowledge of what is natural. It will soon be as impossible for an intelligent, educated man or woman to believe in a god as it is now to believe that earth is flat, that flies can be spontaneously generated, that disease is a divine punishment, or that death is always due to witchcraft.
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... our "Physick" and "Anatomy" have embraced such infinite varieties of being, have laid open such new worlds in time and space, have grappled, not unsuccessfully, with such complex problems, that the eyes of Vesalius and of Harvey might be dazzled by the sight of the tree that has grown out of their grain of mustard seed.
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Mr. Darwin's hypothesis is not, so far as I am aware, inconsistent with any known biological fact; on the contrary, if admitted, the facts of Development, of Comparative Anatomy, of Geographical Distribution, and of Palaeontology, become connected together, and exhibit a meaning such as they never possessed before; and I, for one, am fully convinced that if not precisely true, that hypothesis is as near an approximation to the truth as, for example, the Copernican hypothesis was to the true theory of the planetary motions.
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As if to demonstrate, by a striking example, the impossibility of erecting any cerebral barrier between man and the apes, Nature has provided us, in the latter animals, with an almost complete series of gradations from brains little higher than that of a Rodent, to brains little lower than that of Man.
Perhaps no order of mammals presents us with so extraordinary a series of gradations as this [step by step, from humans to apes to monkeys to lemurs] - leading us insensibly from the crown and summit of the animal creation down to creatures, from which there is but a step, as it seems, to the lowest, smallest, and least intelligent of the placental Mammalia. It is as if nature herself had forseen the arrogance of man, and with Roman severity had provided that his intellect, by its very triumphs, should call into prominence the slaves, admonishing the conqueror that he is but dust.
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The vast results obtained by Science are won by no mystical faculties, by no mental processes other than those which are practicedby every one of us, in the humblest and meanest affairs of life. A detective policeman discovers a burglar from the marks made by his shoe, by a mental process identical with that by which Cuvier restored the extinct animals of Montmartre from fragments of their bones.
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The besetting sin of able men is impatience of contradiction and of criticism. Even those who do their best to resist the temptation, yield to it almost unconsciously and become the tools of toadies and flatterers. "Authorities," "disciples," and "schools" are the curse of science and do more to interfere with the work of the scientific spirit than all its enemies.
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It is an error to imagine that evolution signifies a constant tendency to increased perfection. That process undoubtedly involves a constant remodeling of the organism in adaptation to new conditions; but it depends on the nature of those conditions whether the direction of the modifications effected shall be upward or downward.
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I cannot say that I am in the slightest degree impressed by your bigness, or your material resources, as such. Size is not grandeur, and territory does not make a nation. The great issue, about which hangs true sublimity, and the terror of overhanging fate, is what are you going to do with all these things?
Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.
It is given to few to add the store of knowledge, to strike new springs of thought, or to shape new forms of beauty. But so sure as it is that men live not by bread, but by ideas, so sure is it that the future of the world lies in the hands of those who are able to carry the interpretation of nature a step further than their predecessors.
Common sense is science exactly in so far as it fulfills the ideal of common sense; that is, sees facts as they are, or at any rate, without the distortion of prejudice, and reasons from them in accordance with the dictates of sound judgment. And science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.
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