Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/784

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was what it is represented to have been by Socrates and Plato. It would also seem to be a pretty conclusive answer to those who deride the apprehension of a moral interregnum, and feel confident that society is going to sail, without interruption or disturbance of its rule of conduct, out of the zone of theistic into that of scientific morality. It appears that between one state and the other there may be an interval in which the question will be not between the moral and the immoral, but between the top and the under dog.

The Marquis of Steyne is an organism, and, like all other organisms, so long as he succeeds in maintaining himself against competing organisms, is able to make good his title to existence under the law of natural selection. He has his pleasures: they are not those of a St. Paul, or a Shakespeare, or a Wilberforce, but they are his. They make him happy, according to the only measure of happiness which he can conceive; and if he is cautious, as a sagacious voluptuary will be, they need not diminish his vitality, they may even increase it both in duration and intensity, though they may play havoc with the welfare of a number of victims and dependents. He may successively seduce a score of women without bad consequences to himself. Why is he doing wrong? In the name of what do you peremptorily summon him to return to the path of virtue? In the name of altruistic pleasure? He happens to be one of those organisms which are not capable of it. In the name of a state of society which is to come into existence long after he has moldered to dust in the family mausoleum of the Gaunts? His reply will furnish the anthropologist with a fine illustration of the faculty of facial expression. Suppose you could induce him to try a course of virtue, or of altruism, if the term is more scientific, what in his case would be the practical result? Would it not be a painful conflict between passion and conscience, or perhaps, in the terms of the evolutionary philosophy, between presented sensations on the one hand, and represented or re-represented sensations on the other? Is it not probable that he would end his days before that conflict had been brought to a close? Its fruits, however imperfect, would, of course, be both happy and precious in the estimation of theism; but in the estimation of the philosophy embodied in the "Data of Ethics," what could they be but pleasure, unquestionable pleasure, lost, and pain, pain of a very distressing kind, incurred? And so with other organisms, which, as Dr. Van Buren Denslow would say, are pursuing their peculiar and congenial though conventionally reprobated walks of life. The assassin, the robber, and the sharper have their status in nature, as well as any other members of the predatory tribes. It is possible that by the gradual triumph of industry over militarism, and the general progress of evolution, those changes which Mr. Spencer confidently predicts may be brought about. The wolf may become as the lamb, and may even in the general competition for altruistic pleasures tenderly conjure the lamb to eat him. At present he is a