Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/259

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proclaimed that truth, thousands and thousands of years ago, never imagined a form of social existence in which selfishness would be naturally impossible. It remained for irreligious Nature to furnish us with proof positive that there can exist a society in which the pleasure of active beneficence makes needless the idea of duty,—a society in which instinctive morality can dispense with ethical codes of every sort,—a society of which every member is born so absolutely unselfish, and so energetically good, that moral training could signify, even for its youngest, neither more nor less than waste of precious time.

To the Evolutionist such facts necessarily suggest that the value of our moral idealism is but temporary; and that something better than virtue, better than kindness, better than self-denial,—in the present human meaning of those terms,—might, under certain conditions, eventually replace them. He finds himself obliged to face the question whether a world without moral notions might not be morally better than a world in which conduct is regulated by such notions. He must even ask himself whether the existence of religious commandments, moral laws, and ethical standards among ourselves does not prove us still in