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Alexis Carrel Man the Unknown 1935

Alexis Carrel Man the Unknown 1935

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Published by theosophy2010

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Published by: theosophy2010 on Aug 26, 2012
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03/28/2013

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MAN,THEUNKNOWN
 by ALEXIS CARREL
 NOBEL PRIZE WINNER 
Containing A New Introduction 
To My Friends Frederic R. Coudert Cornelius Clifford and  Boris A. Bakhmeteff this book is dedicated 
 Copyright 1935, 1939 by HARPER & BROTHERSAll rights reserved
 
INTRODUCTION
T
HIS BOOK 
is having the paradoxical destiny of becoming more timely while it growsolder. Since its publication, its significance has increased continually. For the value of ideas, as of all things, is relative. It augments or decreases according to our state of mind.Under the pressure of the events that agitate Europe, Asia, and America, our mentalattitude has progressively changed. We are beginning to understand the meaning of thecrisis. We know that it does not consist simply in the cyclic recurrence of economicdisorders. That neither prosperity nor war will solve the problems of modern society.Like sheep at the approach of a storm, civilized humanity vaguely feels the presence of danger. And we are driven by anxiety toward the ideas that deal with the mystery of our ills.This book originated from the observation of a simple fact--the high development of thesciences of inanimate matter, and our ignorance of life. Mechanics, chemistry, and physics have progressed much more rapidly than physiology, psychology, and sociology.Man has gained the mastery of the material world before knowing himself. Thus, modernsociety has been built at random, according to the chance of scientific discoveries and tothe fancy of ideologies, without regard for the laws of our body and soul. We have beenthe victims of a disastrous illusion--the illusion of our ability to emancipate ourselvesfrom natural laws. We have forgotten that nature never forgives.In order to endure, society, as well as individuals, should conform to the laws of life.We cannot erect a house without a knowledge of the law of gravity. "In order to becommanded, nature must be obeyed," said Bacon. The essential needs of the human being, the characteristics of his mind and organs, his relations with his environment, areeasily subjected to scientific observation. The jurisdiction of science extends to allobservable phenomena--the spiritual as well as the intellectual and the physiological.Man in his entirety can be apprehended by the scientific method. But the science of mandiffers from all other sciences. It must be synthetic as well as analytic, since man issimultaneously unity and multiplicity. This science alone is capable of giving birth to atechnique for the construction of society. In the future organization of the individual andcollective life of humanity, philosophical and social doctrines must give precedence tothe positive knowledge of ourselves. Science, for the first time in the history of the world, brings to a tottering civilization the power to renovate itself and to continue its ascension.* * *The necessity for this renovation is becoming more evident each year. Newspapers,magazines, cinema, and radio ceaselessly spread news illustrating the growing contrast between material progress and social disorder. The triumphs of science in some fieldsmask its impotence in others. For the marvels of technology, such as featured, for example, in the New York World's Fair, create comfort, simplify our existence, increasethe rapidity of communications, put at our disposal quantities of new materials,synthesize chemical products that cure dangerous diseases as if by magic. But they fail to bring us economic security, happiness, moral sense, and peace. These royal gifts of 
 
science have burst like a thunderstorm upon us while we are still too ignorant to use themwisely. And they may become highly destructive. Will they not make war anunprecedented catastrophe? For they will be responsible for the death of millions of menwho are the flower of civilization, for the destruction of priceless treasures accumulated by centuries of culture on the soil of Europe, and for the ultimate weakening of the whiterace. Modern life has brought another danger, more subtle but still more formidable thanwar: the extinction of the best elements of the race. The birth rate is falling in all nations,except in Germany and Russia. France is becoming depopulated already. England andScandinavia will soon be in the same condition. In the United States, the upper third of the population reproduces much less rapidly than the lower third. Europe and the UnitedStates are thus undergoing a qualitative as well as quantitative deterioration. On thecontrary, the Asiatics and Africans, such as the Russians, the Arabs, the Hindus, areincreasing with marked rapidity. Never have the European races been in such great perilas today. Even if a suicidal war is avoided, we will be faced with degeneration because of the sterility of the strongest and most intelligent stock.No conquests deserve so much admiration as those made by physiology and medicine.The civilized nations are now protected from the great epidemics, such as plague,cholera, typhus, and other infectious diseases. Owing to hygiene and to a growingknowledge of nutrition, the inhabitants of the over-populated cities are clean, well-nourished, in better health, and the average duration of life has increased considerably. Nevertheless, hygiene and medicine, even with the aid of the schools, have not succeededin improving the intellectual and moral quality of the population. Modern men andwomen manifest nervous weakness, mental instability, lack of moral sense. About 15 per cent remain at the psychologic age of twelve years. There are hosts of feeble-minded andinsane. The number of misfits reaches perhaps thirty or forty million. Furthermore,criminality increases. The recent statistics of J. Edgar Hoover show that this countryactually contains nearly five million criminals. The tone of our civilization cannot help being influenced by the prevalence of mental weakness, dishonesty, and criminality. It issignificant that panic spread through the population when a radio cast enacted an invasionof the earth by the inhabitants of Mars. Also, that a former president of the Stock Exchange of New York was convicted of theft, and an eminent Federal judge of sellinghis verdicts. At the same time, normal individuals are being crushed under the weight of those who are incapable of adapting themselves to life. The majority of the people liveson the work of the minority. Despite the enormous sums spent by the government, theeconomic crisis continues. In the richest country of the world, millions are in want. It isevident that human intelligence has not increased simultaneously with the complexity of the problems to be solved. Today, as much as in the past, civilized humanity shows itself incapable of directing either its individual or its collective existence.* * *As a matter of fact, modern society--that society produced by science and technology--is committing the same mistake as have all the civilizations of antiquity. It has createdconditions of life wherein life itself becomes impossible. It justifies the sally of DeanInge: "Civilization is a disease which is almost invariably fatal." The real significance of 

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