Full text: Problems in eugenics

A. Niceforo. Sociology and Eugenics.193 
But it seems to me necessary to call the attention of the reader to this 
fact: the great importance which, according to us, the physical and mental 
characters of men have in demography. These characters are intimately 
bound up with the demographic characters, for I believe it is the -physical 
and mental characters of men (measurable in figures and so constituting the 
first chapter of demography) which contribute sensibly to unite men in groups 
of similars; to push them towards certain determined professional groups; 
to make them mount or descend the steps of the social ladder, and by that 
to create the special demographic life of each group. 
In other terms, I think if we class men forming the population after their 
physical and mental characters we obtain a sort of graphic representation 
of which all other graphic representations ranking men according to their 
social, economic, and demographic characters, are only a derivation and a 
deformation. Here, then, is the question which arises : What are the causes which 
produce amongst men of inferior social groups, the characters which we 
have indicated ? 
It is beyond doubt that the mesological conditions in which these men live 
constitute one of the reasons of the deterioration, and of the inferiority of 
their physical, mental and other characters. But there exists also another very 
important category of causes; these are the individual characters which 
each man brings with him at birth, and which constitute the physical and 
mental patrimony of the individual, a patrimony which accompanies him 
throughout his life. Thanks to the simple play of biological variability 
each man is born different to all other men; and by that each human speci­ 
men takes his special place in the binomial curve of the characters and 
aptitudes of individuals. 
Men who are born with physiological and mental characters of an inferior 
order tend to sink into the inferior classes or tend to remain at a low level 
if born there. Vice versa, men who are born owning superior characters 
tend to elevate themselves, or to remain in the high economic, social, and 
intellectual positions which they already occupy. 
It is, therefore, thanks to this continual selection, and to this passage— 
more or less interrupted, and more or less complete—of the social molecules 
through the groups and degrees of society, that our investigations and 
figures discover individual characters of inferiority in the lower classes of 
society, and opposite characters in the upper classes. 
Let us now make a second approximation. I have only spoken so far of 
the mean proportions. The average, for example, of all the figures indi­ 
cating the sensibility (measured by the esthesiometer) in a group of poor 
children shows a lesser sensibility than that presented by the average 
obtained in a group of children of a better class. But, if instead of com­ 
paring the two averages I compare together the two curves in their entirety

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