Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/519

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501
EVOLUTIONARY ETHICS.

Free Contract," respectively indicating various cases in which the restraints imposed by law must be supplemented by self-restraints, and instancing one of the excesses committed under free competition as amounting to "commercial murder." Chapters enjoining further self-restraints for the benefit of others are followed, in the division on Positive Beneficence, by chapters enjoining efforts on their behalf, and the duty which falls on the superior of mitigating the evils which the inferior have to bear. After dealing, in a chapter on "Relief of the Poor," with the evils often caused by attempts to diminish distress, it is contended that philanthropic duty should be performed not by proxy, but directly; and that each person of means ought to see to the welfare of the particular cluster of inferiors with whom his circumstances put him in relation. The general nature of the doctrine set forth may be inferred from two sentences in the closing chapter:—

"The highest beneficence is that which is not only prepared, if need be, to sacrifice egoistic pleasures, but is also prepared, if need be, to sacrifice altruistic pleasures."—§ 474.

And then, speaking of the natures which "the ethical process" is in course of producing, it is said that

"in such natures a large part of the mental life must result from participation in the mental lives of others."—§ 475.

I do not see how there could be expressed ideas more diametrically opposed to that brutal individualism which some persons ascribe to me.

It remains only to say that Prof. Huxley's attack upon the doctrines of Ravachol & Co. has my hearty approval, though I do not quite see the need for it. Evidently it is intended for the extreme anarchists; or, at least, I know of no others against whom his arguments tell. It has been absurdly supposed that his lecture was, in part, an indirect criticism upon theories held by me. But this cannot be. It is scarcely supposable that he deliberately undertook to teach me my own doctrines, enunciated some of them forty-odd years ago. Passing over the historical and metaphysical parts of his lecture, his theses are those for which I have always contended. We agree that the process of evolution must reach a limit, after which a reverse change must begin (First Principles, chaps. "Equilibration" and "Dissolution"). We agree that the survival of the fittest is often not survival of the best. We agree in denouncing the brutal form of the struggle for existence. We agree that the ethical