Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/260

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a very primitive stage of social evolution. And these questions naturally lead up to another: Will humanity ever be able, on this planet, to reach an ethical condition beyond all its ideals,—a condition in which everything that we now call evil will have been atrophied out of existence, and everything that we call virtue have been transmuted into instinct;—a state of altruism in which ethical concepts and codes will have become as useless as they would be, even now, in the societies of the higher ants.

The giants of modern thought have given some attention to this question; and the greatest among them has answered it—partly in the affirmative. Herbert Spencer has expressed his belief that humanity will arrive at some state of civilization ethically comparable with that of the ant:—

" If we have, in lower orders of creatures, cases in which the nature is constitutionally so modified that altruistic activities have become one with egoistic activities, there is an irresistible implication that a parallel identification will, under parallel conditions, take place among human beings. Social insects furnish us with instances completely to the point,—and