Jack London, in his essay "How I Became A Scientist," presents strong evidence that one's philosophy of life is shaped and defined primarily by experience. The essay is also effective in presenting the view that young people adopt philosophies of life which are based on a very narrow sense of reality. As soon as that sense of reality expands through experience which conflicts with or even negates the young person's previous experience, the young person's philosophy is likely to change dramatically.
In London's case, he was originally an "individualist" primarily because, as he puts it, "because I was strong myself" (1117). He was a healthy young man who knew life only through his own personal experience and his own experience told him that if he was strong, everybody was strong, and so everybody could and should take care of himself. Individualism made sense to him in the context of his self-centered experience.
However, as London says, socialism "was hammered into me" (1117) by the experience he received as he left his isolated youth and encountered people who had lost their strength and youth and suffered as a result of circumstances beyond their control: "At the bottom of the [Social] Pit I saw them, myself above them, not far, and hanging on to the slippery wall by main strength. . . . What when my strength failed?" (1119). That realization of human vulnerability was the beginning of the process of London's evolution from individualism to socialism. Had he chosen t