Life: A Book for Elementary Students
Excerpt from Life: A Book for Elementary Students
A year ago the University Press asked me to write a book which would make students of elementary Biology think. I do not know in the least whether I have succeeded in doing so. The average schoolboy, especially at the age when he usually begins to study Biology, is strongly of the opinion that "thinking is but an idle waste of thought," and with few exceptions he turns away from the advice of one of the wisest and worldliest of our teachers. "Of all the truths do not decline that of thinking. The host of mankind can hardly be said to think," as Lord Chesterfield wrote to his son.
What I have tried to do in this book is to emphasize the unity of life, whether it be plant-life or animal-life, and the interrelation of living organisms one with another and with their surroundings. The crayfish with its scaphognathites and dactylopodites, and the fresh-water mussel with its ctenidia and its osphradia do not live self-contained lives tucked away in water-tight compartments. They are in intimate relation with the whole world of other plants and animals and with their physical surroundings. The dead dogfish in a dissecting dish gives one but little idea of what it did and of what happened to it when it was alive. I have tried to bring out the fact that plants and animals are at one in being alive, and I have tried to make clear the intimate association of both with their environment, whether it be the air 01* the soil or the sea. The whole of life is so interwoven and interconnected that the "type-system," however well it may teach us the rudiments of Anatomy, gives a totally inadequate representation of life.
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