Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/588

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the two, is a conclusion which but few consciously formulate and still fewer avow.

Yet the untenability of the doctrine of self-sacrifice in its extreme form is conspicuous enough; and is tacitly admitted by all in their ordinary inferences and daily actions. Work, enterprise, invention, improvement, as they have gone on from the beginning and are going on now, depend on the principle that, among citizens severally having unsatisfied wants, each cares more to satisfy his own wants than to satisfy the wants of others. The fact, that industrial activities proceed on this basis, being recognized, the inevitable implication is that un-qualified altruism would dissolve all existing social organizations: leaving the onus of proof that absolutely-alien social organizations would act. That they would not act becomes clear on supposing the opposite principle in force. Were A to be careless of himself, and to care only for the welfare of B, C, and D, while each of these, paying no attention to his own needs, busied himself in supplying the needs of the others, this roundabout process, besides being troublesome, would very ill meet the requirements of each, unless each could have his neighbor's consciousness. And after observing this we must infer that a certain predominance of egoism over altruism is beneficial, and that in fact no other arrangement would answer. Do but ask what would happen if, of A, B, C, D, etc., each declined to have a gratification, in his anxiety that some one else should have it, and that the some one else similarly persisted in refusing it out of sympathy with his fellows—do but contemplate the resulting confusion and cross-purposes and loss of gratification to all, and you will see that pure altruism would bring things to a dead-lock just as much as pure egoism. In truth, nobody ever dreams of acting out the altruistic theory in all the relations of life. The Quaker who proposes to accept literally, and to practise, the precepts of Christianity, carries on his business on egoistic principles just as much as his neighbors. Though, nominally, he holds that he is to take no thought for the morrow, his thought for the morrow betrays as distinct an egoism as that of men in general; and he is conscious that to take as much thought for the morrows of others would be ruinous to him and eventually mischievous to all.

While, however, no one is entirely altruistic—while no one really believes an entirely altruistic life to be practicable, there continues the tacit assertion that conduct ought to be entirely altruistic. It does not seem to be suspected that pure altruism is actually wrong. Brought up, as each is, in the nominal acceptance of a creed which wholly subordinates egoism to altruism, and gives sundry precepts that are absolutely altruistic, each citizen, while ignoring these in his business, and tacitly denying them in various opinions he utters, daily gives to them lip-homage, and supposes that acceptance of them is required of him though he finds it impossible. Feeling that he cannot call them