Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 1.djvu/150
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY.
during the first fourteen centuries of the Christian era, and the whole of it has been the product of the last five centuries. Civilization as we now understand it is altogether due to the abandonment of the optimistic attitude which prevailed before the Protestant Reformation, and the adoption of the spirit of meliorism, to which Protestantism was more favorable. In fact the Reformation is rather the product than the cause of a growing meliorism, and as soon as liberty of opinion and freedom to investigate the laws of nature were achieved the march of civilization had already begun.
We are now prepared to consider the true relation that developed man in the social state bears to the great cosmos of which he is a part. That cosmos, as we have seen, must be contemplated as wholly unintelligent and wholly passive. Man must regard himself as in full possession of the authority to subjugate it and to appropriate it, to reduce all the powers of nature to his service and to apply all the materials of the universe to his own personal use. Notwithstanding the rigid law to which all things are subject, he is to look upon the universe as in a certain sense fortuitous. While there is a cause for all things- there is no intelligent reason why anything should be as it is. That this little planet of ours happens to be peopled with life is merely an accident, or rather the convergence of a number of accidents. So far as can be judged from what we know of the essential conditions to life, the earth is highly favored among the planets of our system, and it may well be that this is the only one out of them all on which the conditions to a high development exist. It seems impossible that the great planets Jupiter and Saturn can be inhabited by any such beings as have been developed on our globe; and careful studies of temperatures that must prevail on Venus and Mercury seem to negative such an assumption for either of them. If Mars possesses life it must be inured to somewhat severer conditions than generally prevail with us, but it is admitted that these do not exclude the idea. If Jupiter radiates his own internal heat he may render some of his swift flying moons inhabitable, but most of the satellites of the solar system