Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/793
SCIENCE AND MORALITY. 771
sis, is not absolutely impossible ; it may even be said that, tremendous as the obstacles were, in a space of time very short compared with the total duration of the race, an appreciable, if not a great, progress has been made. At least, it will hardly be denied that in philanthropy the world at the present day is more advanced than it was in the reign of Tiberius. Of that, Mr. Spencer's own sentiments are proof enough. In no ancient writer is there to be found a protest like his against the oppression of the weaker races. But to get this sensible, warm motion to lose itself in a mere generalization, whether the generalization be humanity, animality which for all that we can see has just as good a claim as humanity or simply evolution, and to be content with the prospective welfare of this generalization instead of thinking about its own, does seem to us absolutely impossible, unless it be in the case of a very extraordinary temperament, or during the brief continuance of an artificial mood. Besides, all ends sooner or later in a physical catastrophe in the catastrophe, according to Mr. Spencer, of equili- bration ; and how can it be expected that people will be animated to moral effort by the idea that they are " co-operating with evolution in producing the highest form of life," when evolution itself flings all the results of so much differentiation and integration back into homoge- neity with the recklessness of a child overturning its castle of sand ?
There surely goes a good deal of quasi-religious faith to the making of this evolutionary millennium. We have in effect to assume that all the agencies of progress now at work will continue in full force, not- withstanding the departure of the beliefs with which some of them have been hitherto bound up, and that no new evils will emerge. Un- happily, the last part of the assumption is contradicted by the evidence alike of the sanitary, social, and political spheres. That physical Nat- ure will become kinder to us there seems no reason to believe. The author of the " Data of Ethics " does not promise that she will : he says that flood, fire, and storm will always furnish occasions for the display of heroism heroism which there will no longer be any very tangible motive for displaying. On the progress of science we may count ; and this is so important as to make us feel that humanity alto- gether has at last struck into the right path. Yet, if we shut our ears for a moment to the pseans which are being sung over telegraphs and telephones, we become conscious that, while science has been making miraculous strides, the masses have not yet made strides equally mirac- ulous, either in character or in happiness.
Mr. Spencer seems to expect unbounded improvement from the final ascendency which he confidently anticipates of industry over war. He is no doubt aware that the distinction between the military and the in- dustrial types of society is familiar, though his use of it as a universal key to history is new. There never can have been a purely military state of society ; somebody must have produced, or there would have been nothing for the warriors to pillage ; nor is the difference between