Daedalus or Science and the Future

JBS Haldane

First edition, Kegan Paul: London, 1923.

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With regard to the application of biology to human life, the average prophet appears to content himself with considerable if rather rudimentary progress in medicine and surgery, some improvements in domestic plants and animals, and possibly the introduction of a little eugenics. The eugenic official, a compound, it would appear, of the policeman, the priest and the procurer, is to hale us off at suitable intervals to the local temple of Venus Genetrix with a partner chosen, one gathers, by something of a glorified medical board. To this prophecy I should reply that it proceeds from a type of mind as lacking in originality as in knowledge of human nature. Marriage "by numbers", so to speak, was a comparatively novel idea when proposed by Plato 2,300 years ago, but it has already actually been practised in various places, notably among the subject of the Jesuits in Paraguay. It is moreover likely, as we shall see, that the ends proposed by the eugenist will be attained in a very different manner.