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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/242

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

an end. Prof. Huxley speaks of the "fanatical individualism" of our time as failing to construct morality from the analogy of the cosmic process. An individualism which regards the cosmic process as equivalent simply to an internecine struggle of each against all must certainly fail to construct a satisfactory morality, and I will add that any individualism which fails to recognize fully the social factor, which regards society as an aggregate instead of an organism, will, in my opinion, find itself in difficulties. But I also submit that the development of the instincts which directly correspond to the needs of the race, is merely another case in which we aim consciously at an end which was before an unintentional result of our actions. Every race, above the lowest, has instincts which are only intelligible by the requirements of the race; and has both to compete with some and to form alliances with others of its fellow-occupants of the planet. Both in the unmoralized condition and in that in which morality has become most developed, these instincts have the common characteristics that they may be regarded as conditions of the power of the race to maintain its position in the world, and so, speaking roughly, to preserve or increase its own vitality.

I will not pause to insist upon this so far as regards many qualities which are certainly moral, though they may be said to refer primarily to the individual. That chastity and temperance, truthfulness and energy, are, on the whole, advantages both to the individual and to the race, does not, I fancy, require elaborate proof; nor need I argue at length that the races in which they are common will therefore have inevitable advantages in the struggle for existence. Of all qualities which enable a race to hold its own, none is more important than the power of organizing ecclesiastically, politically, and socially, and that power implies the prevalence of justice, and the existence of mutual confidence, and therefore of all the social virtues. The difficulty seems to be felt in regard to those purely altruistic impulses which, at first glance at any rate, make it apparently our duty to preserve those who would otherwise be unfit to live. Virtue, says Prof. Huxley, is directed "not so much to the survival of the fittest," as to the "fitting of as many as possible to survive." I do not dispute the statement, I think it true in a sense; but I have a difficulty as to its application.

Morality, it is obvious, must be limited by the conditions in which we are placed. What is impossible is not a duty. One condition plainly is that the planet is limited. There is only room for a certain number of living beings. It is one consequence that we do in fact go on suppressing the unfit, and can not help going on suppressing them. Is it desirable that it should be otherwise? Should we wish, for example, that America could