Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/254

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good to others ought to be his predominant desire, or, in other words, his religion. But the very fact in human nature that makes the question at issue worth arguing, is the fact that men naturally do not desire the good of others, or, at least, desire it in a very lukewarm way; and every consideration which the positivist school advance to make the good of others attractive and interesting to ourselves Prof. Huxley dismisses with what we may call an uproarious contempt. If, then, we are not likely to he nerved to our duty by a belief that duty done tends to produce and hasten a change that shall really make the whole human lot beautiful, we are not likely to be nerved to it by the belief that its utmost possible result will be some partial and momentary benefit to a portion of "a wilderness of apes." The positivist says to the men of the present day: "Work hard at the foundation of things social; for on these foundations one day will arise a glorious edifice." Prof. Huxley tells them to work equally hard, only he adds that the foundation will never support anything better than pig-sties. His attempt, then, on social grounds, to make duty binding, and give force to the moral imperative, is merely a fragment of Mr. Harrison's system, divorced from anything that gave it a theoretical meaning. Prof. Huxley has shattered that system against the hard rock of reality, and this is one of the pieces which he has picked up out of the mire.

The social argument, then, we may therefore put aside, as good perhaps for showing what duty is, but utterly useless for creating any desire to do it. Indeed, to render Prof. Huxley justice, it is not the argument on which he mainly relies. The argument, or rather the arguments, on which he mainly relies have no direct connection with things social at all. They seek to create a religion, or to give a meaning to duty, by dwelling on man's connection, not with his fellow-men, but with the universe, and thus developing in the individual a certain ethical self-reverence, or rather, perhaps, preserving his existing self-reverence from destruction. How any human being who pretends to accurate thinking can conceive that these arguments would have the effect desired—that they would either tend in any way to develop self-reverence of any kind, or that this self-reverence, if developed, could connect itself with practical duty—passes my comprehension. Influential and eminent men, however, declare that such is their opinion; and for that reason the arguments are worth analyzing. Mr. Herbert Spencer is here in almost exact accord with Prof. Huxley; we will therefore begin by referring to his way of stating the matter.

"We are obliged," he says, "to regard every phenomenon as a manifestation of some power by which we are acted on; though omnipresence is unthinkable, yet, as experience discloses no bounds