Though I thought it well thus to repudiate the absurd belief ascribed to me, I did not think it well to enter upon a discussion of Mr. Mallock's allegations at large. He says I ought to have given to the matter "more than the partial and inconclusive attention he has [I have] bestowed upon it." Apparently he forgets that if a writer on many subjects deals in full with all who challenge his conclusions, he will have time for nothing else; and he forgets that one who, at the close of life, has but a small remnant of energy left, while some things of moment remain to be done, must as a rule leave assailants unanswered or fail in his more important aims. Now, however, that Mr. Mallock has widely diffused his misinterpretations, I feel obliged, much to my regret, to deal with them. He will find that my reply does not consist merely of a repudiation of the absurdity he ascribes to me.
The title of his book is a misnomer. I do not refer to the fact that the word "Aristocracy," though used in a legitimate sense, is used in a sense so unlike that now current as to be misleading: that is patent. Nor do I refer to the fact that the word "Evolution," covering, as it does, all orders of phenomena, is wrongly used when it is applied to that single group of phenomena constituting Social Evolution. But I refer to the fact that his book does not concern Social Evolution at all: it concerns social life, social activity, social prosperity. Its facts bear somewhat the same relation to the facts of Social Evolution as an account of a man's nutrition and physical welfare bears to an account of his bodily structure and functions.
In an essay on "Progress: its Law and Cause," published in 1857, containing an outline of the doctrine which I have since elaborated in the ten volumes of Synthetic Philosophy, I commenced by pointing out defects in the current conception of progress.
- Literature, April 2, 1898.