Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/657

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ETHICS BETWEEN MAN AND BEAST.

count waste its sweetness, but fully accomplishes its mission, provided there is a bee or a bug abroad to be drawn to it. That the fragrance and variegated petals are alluring to a vagrant insect is a condition of far more importance in determining the fate of the plant than that they should be charming to man.

Plants, on the other hand, which depend upon the force of the wind for fructification, are not distinguished for beauty of color or sweetness of odor, since these qualities, however agreeable to man, would be wasted on the wind. This is an illustration of the prudent economy of Nature, which never indulges in superfluities or overburdens her products with useless attributes; but the test of utility which "great creating Nature" sets up in such cases is little flattering to man, and has no reference to his tastes and susceptibilities, but is determined solely by the serviceableness of certain qualities of the plant itself in the struggle for existence.

According to Schopenhauer, anthropocentric egoism is a fundamental and fatal defect in the psychological and ethical teachings of both Judaism and Christianity, and has been the source of untold misery to myriads of sentient and highly sensitive organisms. "These religions," he says, "have unnaturally severed man from the animal world, to which he essentially belongs, and placed him on a pinnacle apart, treating all lower creatures as mere things; whereas Brahmanism and Buddhism insist not only upon his kinship with all forms of animal life, but also upon his vital connection with all animated Nature, binding him up into intimate relationship with them by metempsychosis."

In the Hebrew cosmogony there is no continuity in the process of creation, whereby the genesis of man is in any wise connected with the genesis of the lower animals. After the Lord God, by his fiat, had produced beasts, birds, fishes, and creeping things, he ignored all this mass of protoplastic and organic material, and took an entirely new departure in the production of man, whom he formed out of the dust of the ground. Science shows him to have been originally a little higher than the ape, out of which he was gradually and painfully evolved; Scripture takes him out of his environment, severs him from his antecedents, and makes him a little lower than the angels. Upon the being thus arbitrarily created absolute dominion is conferred over every beast of the earth, and every fowl of the air, which, are to be to him "for meat." They are given over to his supreme and irresponsible control, without the slightest injunction of kindness or the faintest suggestion of any duties or obligations toward them.

Again, when the earth is to be renewed and replenished after the deluge, the same principles are reiterated and the same line of demarcation is drawn and even deepened. God blesses Noah and his sons, bids them "be fruitful and multiply," and then adds, as