Popular Science Monthly/Volume 31/May 1887/Hygiene as a Basis of Morals

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HYGIENE AS A BASIS OF MORALS.[1]
By FRANCES EMILY WHITE, M. D.,

PROFESSOR OF PHYSIOLOGY AND HYGIENE IN THE WOMAN'S MEDICAL COLLEGE OF PENNSYLVANIA.

IN the philosophy of Fichte, that prince among German idealists, the universe of matter, so called, is reduced to ideas, and that by a method of reasoning which the ablest opponents of idealism find it difficult to refute. This, doubtless, Fichte could easily arrange, so long as his brain, digestive apparatus, etc., were in good working condition; but let a congestion of the organ of mind or of its meninges set in, and what becomes of Fichte's ideas?

Sensibility (by which it is meant to indicate the whole mental life, from mere consciousness to the profoundest thinking) is never manifested (so far as known) apart from a certain mechanism, the living body; and while the universe may, in the last analysis, be reduced to matter and force, these two can not be divorced—not even by a Fichte. Since, therefore, the human body is admitted to be an integrant part of the universe of matter, its various activities must be included in the general category of forces. If, then, it be conceded that the body and mind of man hold to each other the same relations which exist between other aggregations of matter and their associated energies, the physician, though he minister to the body only, becomes thereby the high-priest of humanity, contributing to its noblest ends.

But in the parting words which it is my privilege to address to you (upon whom has just been conferred the responsible and honored title of Doctor of Medicine), I desire to point out a yet more excellent way in the pursuit of which you may indeed become the benefactors of mankind. The art of exterminating disease does not exist; and, although the death-rate varies in different localities and in the same locality under varying conditions, so far as recorded, no disease, once originated, has ever wholly disappeared; and while we may take a justifiable satisfaction in the advances made in the rational treatment of the sufferer from disease, the sources of disease (except so far as bacteriology gives promise in this direction) have not been disturbed, either by the progress in general civilization or by the great development of medical science and art. Both the experience of the past and modern scientific observation, then, alike point—not in the direction of the extirpation or even of the cure of actual disease—but rather in that of preventive medicine or hygiene as presenting the most hopeful field for future work. Not that I would undervalue the efforts of the profession toward the relief of suffering when disease actually exists—a most important and beneficent part of its work but, just as exerertions for the release of an unfortunate inmate of Moyamensing are of less significance than the institution of measures calculated to reduce the number of commitments, so the application of means for the prevention of disease is of far higher value than effort in the direction of mere relief.

It is not, however, with the view of the prevention of physical suffering alone that I desire to commend to you the sphere of preventive medicine. My main thesis introduces us to a far higher and broader region of thought—viz., to a consideration of the moral value of preventive medicine. In presenting this subject I shall endeavor to show that hygiene is the basis of morals, and this from the two following points of view: 1. That whatever promotes the physical well-being of the individual and of the community, promotes also their moral well-being. 2. That the tendency of disease is to undermine morality.

The hygienic value of moral living (a proposition the exact converse of that just stated) has long been recognized. Even its curative influence has not been overlooked. In that charming story, "Little Lord Fauntleroy," the author is true to the universal experience in depicting the improvement in health of the unfeeling old earl which follows upon the springing up in his heart of a true affection for his young grandson and heir. In this new unfolding of sympathetic interests, he gradually forgets the twinges of gout which have heretofore made life a burden; and, thus neglected, the disease languishes—or rather, the new tide of life which courses through his weakened veins gradually sweeps away the ashes which have accumulated around his miserable joints—and he again mounts his horse and rides forth into the life-renewing air and sunshine, tempted to the effort by the winning companionship of the loving and tender-hearted young philanthropist. The returns of moral well-doing in the guise of physical well-being have, indeed, ever been held up as an incentive to morality, from that remote time when length of days was promised as the reward of filial piety, to those modern exhortations to honesty and virtue embodied in the mercenary maxims of the shrewd Ben Franklin. But the idea that hygienic living is the real basis of moral living has scarcely been hinted at, except by the few leaders in this department of thought among whom alone a science of morals is definitely recognized.

It would be idle to claim that society can be regenerated by a scientific formula, however profound; but, if the future progress of the race can be said to depend on the application of any one principle—if the field of rational effort toward this end may be illuminated by any one conception—it is this one of the dependence of morality upon the observance, both public and private, of the principles of health. This claim (which may be regarded by some as a fanciful one) is based upon the penetrating character and universal applicability of the principle—penetrating and universal, because founded in the very laws of our being.

It will scarcely be denied that the most highly civilized races and nations are also, on the whole, the most distinguished for morality, and that the stage of progress of a people at any given period may be fairly estimated by the character of the moral code then prevailing. This is so well understood that illustration is unnecessary. It then follows that the development of morality is inseparable from the general progress. But the degree of civilization of a people at any given stage is determined by the nature of its environment—i.e., by the conditions under whose influence the nation has developed. It has been pointed out by a distinguished philosopher in literature and art, Professor Taine, that "the profound differences which exist between the German races on the one hand, and the Greeks and Latins on the other, have arisen, for the most part, from the differences between the countries in which they are settled"—for social conditions are determined primarily by organic or bodily conditions—these, in turn, depending on the physical environment. Thus, the general sources of organic life must be recognized as the sources also of morals; and the emotional, intellectual, and moral nature of man as an integrant part of his physical organism: being such, these higher qualities are necessarily modified by the conditions which influence and modify the physical organism.

A distinguished English sanitarian, Mr. Edwin Chadwick, has said that he could build a city which would give any desired death-rate from fifty or any number higher than fifty, to five or perhaps even less than five in a thousand, annually; and the President of the Health Department of the British Social Science Association, at the annual meeting in 1875, expressed his unqualified confidence in the feasibility of Mr. Chadwick's proposition. This means nothing less than that the death-rate, within these wide limits, from five or less to fifty or more per thousand annually, depends on the degree of attention paid to certain public sanitary regulations.

Side by side with this proposition, I venture (and with a degree of confidence not less than that of Mr. Chadwick) to place another proposition far more radical than his, viz., that a city might be so built, and the municipality so administered, as to secure any desired degree of morality within certain limits. That these limits can not, at present, be as exactly defined as in the case of the death-rate, results from the lack of systematic study of the subject of morals, and the consequent want of complete statistics in this department of sociology. The nature of the limits may, however, be designated; and I beg to illustrate this point by reference to the principles of animal development, of which it has been said, by Professor Du Bois-Reymond, that "the laws of organic structure must account for whatever, in organisms, is either useless or actually disadvantageous"—natural selection accounting for whatever is positively useful. In other words, two principles are recognized as determining the character of animal forms: 1. Natural selection, which implies the production of such structures as are useful in the particular environments m which the animal is placed. 2. The influence of the structure already acquired at any given period of development—this being determined by heredity. But heredity itself represents the organized product of a permanent environment, as illustrated, for example, in the hereditary blindness of fishes living in Mammoth Cave; or, better still, in the respiratory mechanism of all water-breathing animals; so that the environment is the ultimate factor which determines the specific character of animal forms—the structure developing slowly in accordance with this influence.

Similarly in the department of morals, two factors must be recognized as determining conduct: 1. Those qualities of character belonging by inheritance to the organized structure of body and brain. 2. Those influences which grow out of the social environment, which are constantly modifying the inherited nature, and building up a corresponding character. In my proposition, then, to found a city in which any given degree of morality, within certain limits, may be secured, these limits are understood to depend on the laws of inherited character; while the modifiable morality (that which may or may not be secured at the option of the founder of the city) is that which depends on the particular environment, physical and social, determined upon by the founder; the inherited character, also, like the inherited bodily organism, being subject to modification from this source. To discuss this proposition in a manner commensurate with its importance, would take us too far afield for the present occasion, since it would involve a consideration of the whole subject of the origin and evolution of morals. Your attention is, therefore, invited to a few only, and those the more obvious, points connected with this proposition of securing a given morality-rate within certain limits, inherently as definable, although not as precisely defined, as in the case of the proposition with reference to the mortality-rate.

As a result of Mr. Chadwick's statement, Dr. B. W. Richardson (in the address referred to) projected a city of health, which he named Hygeia (and which it is scarcely necessary to premise was located in Spain!) in which all the modern sanitary inventions and precautions calculated either to promote health or to prevent disease, were grouped together in a picture most delightful to the mind's eye of every sanitarian. This model city, Hygeia, with some alterations and additions, would furnish the material substratum of the possible city of which I have spoken, and which I would name Ethica. A brief glance at the general features of our model will serve to bring the subject fairly before us.

First, and most conspicuously, we note that overcrowding in this city of health is impossible—made so by the style and location of the houses, which secure an equal distribution of the population fixed, at the time of building, at one hundred thousand people, domiciled in twenty thousand houses, which are scattered over an area of four thousand acres. Crowded alleys in the immediate rear of streets lined with spacious dwellings are wholly avoided; neither are tall structures, over-shadowing the streets (a veritable shadow of death), anywhere permitted, four stories, aggregating sixty feet in height, being the limit with which all must comply. Every house has its foundations on solid arches of brick, through which air freely flows, and down whose slopes all currents of water are carried away—this arrangement preventing the entrance of ground-air into the house—an unavoidable mischief in the present style of architecture, the air of all our houses being more or less contaminated from this source. When the soil, naturally impure from the presence of carbonic-acid gas, is honeycombed, as in this city, with cesspools, and saturated with leakage from sewer-pipes, gas-pipes, and the soakings of filth-laden streets, the danger of contamination of houses from ground-air assumes considerable importance.

The liberal extent of territory occupied by our model city allows room for several broad boulevards, which constitute the chief thoroughfares, beneath each of which is a railway operated by electricity, where the heavy traffic of the city is carried on; while all the streets are so broad as to be always thoroughly ventilated, and at times flooded with sunlight. In the city of Hygeia, as described by its projector, the streets run from east to west and from north to south, as in this, our own favored town; but in the founding of Ethica, while keeping to the right-angled plan (though at a considerable sacrifice of artistic effect), I would choose the diagonals of these directions as tending to secure a more equal distribution of sunlight to both sides of the streets, and to all sides of the houses; since in at least one European city the death-rate has been found uniformly higher on the shady side than on the sunny side of the streets. All the open spaces in the rear of the houses are occupied as gardens, and all public buildings, including warehouses, stables, etc., are surrounded with gardens or open lawns, which add no less to the beauty than to the health of the city. The streets are paved, not exactly with gold, but with something equally impermeable to moisture, and far more agreeable to the eye, hence more conducive to comfort and health—a material comparatively noiseless and as susceptible of a clean sweep as Philadelphia at the last election. At present, concrete combines these qualities in a higher degree than any other material thus far employed, but even this leaves much to be desired, and there is room for invention in this direction. Surface-railways are not permitted in Hygeia, the underground roads being regarded as sufficient for all purposes; but in the proposed city of Ethica, underground roads will be used for merchandise only; passenger-railways will be elevated, thus reducing to a minimum the number of employés compelled to spend their working-hours underground. These structures will be made unobjectionable by setting apart the space necessary for them, and by using electricity as the motor power. The sidewalks, paved with a gray-stone, most agreeable to the eye, slope gently toward the streets, where they meet a like gentle inclination of the streets from their centers; and by means of side-openings into the adjacent subways, which underlie the houses, the street washings and sweepings, reduced to a minimum by the abolition of street-railways, and the banishment of all traffic to the underground roads, are daily removed with the sewage; the streets are thus kept uniformly clean and dry, and the gutter being conspicuous by its absence, as the garden by its presence, the Kindergarten supersedes the Kinder-gutter in this scheme of civilization.

Underground rooms do not exist; hence there is no burrowing of human beings in dark and loathsome cellars, such as may be found in most large cities. The style of architecture does not admit even of basement-kitchens, where hundreds of our domestic classes spend the greater part of their lives, as effectually buried as are the laborers in a coal-mine. On the contrary, the living-part of every house begins on a level with the street, so that every room inhales the pure outside air and drinks in the liquid sunlight.

On the subject of the water-supply I hesitate to speak. At this season of the year, especially, it may be considered unwise to stir up the mental subsidence-basin, which must exist in the mind of every thoughtful member of this particular community; but, as this is an important feature of our model city, it calls for emphatic notice. First of all, the water is described as free from sewage or other refuse—a matter that might be supposed to go without saying, in the case of water used for drinking, were it not for the unhappy experience of more than one city which has outgrown the original source of its supply. This water, though free from all avoidable sources of contamination, is nevertheless carefully filtered before admission to the city pipes. It is also tested daily, and, if found in any degree unsatisfactory, is still further purified by the transmission through it of ozone, generated for this and other disinfecting purposes. The water, thus doubly protected, is distributed freely to every house through iron pipes, pipes of lead being strictly forbidden.

In the contemplated city of Ethica I would introduce the system of electric lighting for private as well as public uses; not only on account of its hygienic superiority, but also for its indirect moral influence, since crime lurks in darkness, and the flooding of the streets of any city at midnight with the brightness of noonday must inevitably reduce the percentage of crime, which is, to a certain extent, a matter of opportunity. The prayer, "Lead us not into temptation," is a recognition of the importance of this principle.

Radical changes in the houses appear in connection with the chimneys, the roofs, the kitchens, and their adjoining offices, for the particulars of which I refer those interested to Dr. Richardson's address, as well as for plans for the warming and ventilation of the houses, and for the safe and effectual sewering of the city; also for most important suggestions in regard to public laundries and the carrying on of certain industries (dress-making, tailoring, etc.) in the homes among the children of those engaged in such work. In connection with the last-named point, the author cites an instance as having come under his own observation, in which the half-made riding-habit, destined to figure among the fashionable frequenters of Rotten Row, was made to serve as a coverlet for the poor tailor's child, stricken with malignant scarlet fever—an incident eminently likely to occur under our present system, or want of system, of sanitation—the dangers from public laundries, as at present managed, being equally conspicuous.

It will be seen that no expense is to be spared in the building and administration of the city of Ethica. Money is abundant in the favored country of its location; the vast sums also which are expended in other cities in the support of almshouses, penitentiaries, jails, and other places of detention of incapables and criminals, are largely saved to the public treasury. As a matter of economy merely these methods would pay the best in the end, not only in the results which we have especially in view, but in actual eagles, dollars, dimes, and cents. In the State of Pennsylvania alone there are, in round numbers, five thousand insane and five thousand feeble-minded persons, who constitute a heavy burden upon the community. Those who understand the true nature of many of the causes of idiocy and insanity know that both are, to a great degree, as strictly preventable as are small-pox and diphtheria.

In that startling record of a criminal family—"the Jukes"—covering the history of several generations, it is estimated that a loss of over a million and a quarter of dollars was caused by this single family, so far as its members could be traced, without including the money expended for intoxicants, and without taking into account the entailment of pauperism and crime, or the incurable disease, idiocy and insanity growing out of these unwholesome lives—all of which bring heavy expense upon the public. But it is clearly shown in this history that the perpetuation of criminal tendencies, as of other traits, depends on the permanence of the environiment, and that a change of external conditions may, in time, bring about a change in character. Do our laws, our courts, our jails, our almshouses, our insane hospitals, our schools and churches even, deal with the real questions presented in these statistics? Is not an exact and scientific treatment of the subject of morals, in its entire breadth and fullness, emphatically demanded; and will not the city of Ethica, when it shall arise, prove an economy in every sense of that so-often falsely used word?

But, in the pursuit of the twofold object for which Ethica is to be founded, the intelligent co-operation of all its citizens will be essential to the full success of the experiment. To this end, special instruction in methods of personal hygiene and the hygiene of the house will be given to all, while the training of experts in public sanitation will be provided for by the public. On account of his special acquaintance with the principles of physiology and their hygienic applications, the physician will naturally become the teacher of the people in these matters, thus acting the part of a reformer in the best sense of that much-abused word, since he is the true representative of modern science as applied to the art of living in a manner alone worthy of human beings.

The moral training of children will make a part of the daily education of all their faculties, by methods which conform, in a general way, with Froebel's system. Public instruction in practical methods of moral training of children will also be provided for parents, who may not themselves have experienced the advantages of such training, and who may not fully realize that the foundations of the moral character, as of the physical health, are laid in early infancy and childhood.

To the necromancer of old was attributed the power of subverting the forces of Nature and setting her laws at defiance; but modern science has realized the pretensions of these charlatans, not by defying but by investigating the laws of Nature, and she has not only read the secrets of the stars in her magic mirror, but has penetrated to the hidden sources of human character; and while recognizing the constraining influence of external conditions in human development, she also discerns the power of human invention, human energy, and, above all, human sympathy in modifying the environment, not only by subduing the natural forces, but by directing and controlling social conditions. Under the guiding star of science, human nature reacts upon Nature, remolding her forms and redirecting her forces in accordance with its own desires and needs.

But the triumph of the scientific method is, as yet, far from complete; and not until a science of morals is as definitely recognized as a science of eclipses, or of any physical phenomenon whatever, can the era of science be said to have more than begun. When she shall have mastered the principles of morals, as she already has the principles of physics, and when the science of morals, thus formulated, shall have become an applied science, then real progress in morals will be assured, and will be as much more rapid than it has hitherto been, as the advance in physical science in these modern times has surpassed the slow growth of the pre-scientific era.

The doctrine that morality is to a certain degree subordinate to the physical status, though contrary to commonly received views, is evidently true. The opium-inebriate is abnormally egoistic, unsympathetic, untruthful, in short, immoral; the alcohol-inebriate is morally as well as physically weak and often cruel; as it has been forcibly expressed, "Alcohol reduces its subject first to a child, then to a brute." Its effects, if long-continued, are to pauperize and permanently brutalize, just in proportion as it induces physical deterioration; and none so well as the pathologist knows the extent of the organic degeneration which accompanies and underlies the moral degradation—which is, in fact, the corpus delicti, the very substance and body of the offense. Hence the descent to Avernus by this route is not only easy, but, once fully inaugurated, the return becomes difficult if not impossible. Hoc opus est, hoc labor est.[2] Such a traveler burns his bridges in crossing them, and, the physical basis of moral living being destroyed, the full restoration of the superstructure becomes a physiological and hence a moral impossibility. For the benefit of those whose thoughts are trained to run in curves—to whom a temperature-chart represents the condensed eloquence of a whole chapter of description the statement may be made that in one of the few series of exact observations in this direction the curve of alcoholic expenditure was found to be followed by the curve of arrests for crime of all kinds, even more closely than by the curve of arrests for drunkenness; showing, to a demonstration, that the crime-stage does not always wait for the drunken-stage—that the slow and silent deterioration due to alcoholic drinks is not necessarily dependent on their excessive use. But from that most instructive history of the Jukes, already cited, it appears that certain physical and mental disorders often precede the appetite for stimulants, and that the real cause of their use, in a large proportion of cases, is antecedent physical exhaustion, either hereditary or acquired. Both the prevention of constitutional disease and its cure (if such a thing be possible) will then do much toward the prevention of inebriety and the crimes and lesser immoralities which grow out of it. Disease is the equivalent of weakness, and induces not only physical indifference but moral apathy. Dr. Bruce Thompson, Surgeon to the General Prison of Scotland, says: "In all my experience, I have never seen such an accumulation of morbid appearances as in the autopsies of the prisoners who die here. Almost every organ of the body is more or less diseased; and their moral nature seems equally diseased with their physical frame."

The intimate relationship between nervous diseases and crime is conspicuous. In England, the ratio of insane to sane criminals is thirty-four times as great as of the insane to the whole population, and criminal lunatics are in excess in the high proporton of seventeen to one.[3]

The statistics of insane hospitals in our own country show that insanity, in a large proportion of cases, is associated with unhygienic living—both overwork and want of work, as well as monotony of work, being fruitful of this kind of degeneracy. A considerable percentage of the insane women in our hospitals is drawn from country farms. The monotonous drudgery of their daily lives, and the little time for reading or other means of rescue from mental torpor, are among the causes of loss of mental balance.

Dr. Elisha Harris, Corresponding Secretary of the Prison Association of New York, who has made a special study of the criminal classes, says that habitual criminals spring almost exclusively from degenerating stock. Thus, physiological unsoundness is moral decay. The inference is obvious, and the remedy for criminality from this source stares us in the face. Hygienic methods of living, which, with judicious medical precautions and care, tend toward the prevention of physical degeneration, will tend in an equal ratio to lessen the number of candidates for criminal careers.

The correctional discipline which is sought after (if not found) in our reformatories and prisons, is not only vastly more expensive, but far less satisfactory, than would be the application of preventive measures.

Professor Ferris, in a paper on the hygiene of schools,[4] says: "I can not recall ever having visited a room occupied by forty or fifty pupils that could be said to be properly ventilated; and, under the influence of impure air, study is irksome and good behavior difficult." Thus in our very schools the seeds of physical deterioration and moral degeneracy are sown in the tender bodies and unresisting minds of these criminals of the future, condemned beforehand—foreordained by their unhealthful, and hence immoral, surroundings to careers of pauperism and crime. For their future detention and safe-keeping, living mausoleums are built and officered and maintained at an expense in money but grudgingly supplied for properly constructed school-houses, and at a human sacrifice which I will not attempt to estimate. The preventive method of dealing with immorality, on the other hand, anticipates the development of the potential offender by effecting ameliorations in public and individual health and by methods of education which include moral training; thus removing many of the predisposing causes of immorality—the development of sound minds in sound bodies yielding the necessary product of well-balanced lives.

Men do not, as a rule, become moral by intuition (although the moral genius, like the musical prodigy, is not unknown), but by patient organization of the moral faculties. The phenomena of vice and crime take place, not from any aberration of the laws of Nature, but in exact accordance with them, since educational neglects and unsanitary conditions, with their resulting diseases, lead to imperfect mental development or to the perversion of normal mental qualities. The development of moral activities must be recognized as dependent on the same principles as that of other activities, and the human being must be trained in morals as he is trained in athletics, in music, and in the mechanic or other arts. "By dint of forging, one becomes a blacksmith," says the French proverb; while all the talk of all the blacksmiths the world has ever known would not effect the desired result. "In these bewildered times," said Carlyle, "all education has run to tongue." This is emphatically true of moral education; but the "line upon line and precept upon precept" plan of moral training has ever failed, and will ever fail, of the best results. The child must be exercised in moral conduct until a real knowledge of acting rightly is acquired. The Esquimau baby cries for blubber as the American child does for sugar, and splutters at the first taste of candy as do our own pale infants on their introduction to cod-liver oil—a fair illustration of a universal principle.

Whether, then, the facts with which we have to deal be physical or whether they be moral, they have their causes: vice and virtue are products resulting from complex combinations of the more simple phenomena on which they depend. We are, in short, the true offspring, not the mere step-children, of our mother, Nature; and as our bodies are built up of and maintained by gases, fluids, and solids temporarily withdrawn from the crust of the earth and its gaseous envelope, so our characters are being continuously molded, primarily by the universal natural forces, but more immediately by the social forces incident to life in communities. Conduct is contagious. The manifestations of sentiment, of passion, of impulse, etc., excite similar manifestations in others who have the capacity for like experiences; and to the contagia viva of the bacteriologist must be added a moral contagion the existence of which is proved by the occurrence of epidemics of crime, especially of crimes of the gravest character. A discussion of the methods by which moral contagion is disseminated can not be entered upon at this time. Suffice it to say that, in the city of Ethica, no newspaper will be permitted to act the part of a culture-fluid for the propagation of this contagion by the publication of criminal reports which familiarize the minds of their readers with the details of crime, if they do not actually create crime epidemics. Neither will the system of inoculation—by the "sowing of wild-oats," so called, or other similar methods—receive the slightest encouragement, since this plan is more likely to establish a favorable diathesis than to secure immunity from disease. The maintenance of a high physical tone is most important, since, in the suggestive language of Rousseau, "The weaker the body, the more it commands; the stronger it is, the better it obeys"—a seeming paradox but a true indication of that state of desirable self-control which consists in the ascendency of the intellectual and moral over the instinctive and emotional traits, and which more than anything else distinguishes the highest and best exponents of humanity from its least developed types.

 

Having, as I believe, demonstrated the dependence of moral development upon hygienic living as its physical groundwork, and the fundamental incompatibility between physical disease and moral health, it only remains to add that the observance of moral requirements is essential not only to physical well-being, but to the highest intellectual development and happiness; that, in fact, the pursuit of health and the cultivation of morals are alike to be regarded only as means to higher ends. It is obvious that the man of fine physique does not live for the observance of the laws of hygiene merely, but he observes hygienic laws as a necessary means of comfortable and wise living. So neither does the upright man live merely for the observance of moral laws, but he observes moral laws not only as the mode of living which is alone endurable to him, but as essential to the full realization of his best possibilities and powers as an intellectual and spiritual being. Personal morality has, in fact, been defined as the highest degree of psychical health. From this point of view it appears that as hygienic laws are an expression of the most complete adjustment between the physical life and its physical environment, so the moral law is an expression of the most complete adjustment between the psychical life and the social environment.

The most difficult of ethical problems is regarded as that of uniting the highest well-being of the individual with the greatest good of society the reconciliation of an advantageous egoism with that degree of altruism which the welfare of society demands; but that there is ultimately no antagonism between these two objects is evident when we look deeply enough and broadly enough at the problem. The definition of morality just given brings out the fact that individual progress and the progress of society at large are inextricably associated—that we can not, if we would, separate ourselves from the great world of humanity of which we form a part.

Whoever, then, pursues a career which ministers to the welfare of society as well as to his own individual good, contributes doubly to the general progress. How conspicuously this applies to the medical life (and in a far higher sense than is generally understood) it has been my purpose to show this morning. May you pursue your chosen work with all the devotion of heart naturally inspired by scientific truth consecrated to the highest interests of humanity! In contributing to these interests, your own personal aims can not fail of satisfactory fulfillment.

The first Roman emperor whose name marks a golden era in history is said to have claimed as his greatest triumph that, having found Rome a city of sunburned brick, he should leave it a city of marble. May your ambition as far exceed that of the great Roman as the future city of Ethica will outvalue that world-renowned city of the past! May you contribute toward the glad appearing of this long-sought paradise—this city of our dreams—whose foundations shall be laid upon recognized natural laws; whose streets shall be paved with good intentions realized; whose walls shall sparkle with the gems and fine gold of virtuous and generous conduct; and whose atmosphere shall nourish the highest intellectual pursuits, unhindered by physical ills and unhampered by ignorant prejudice; a city, in short, in which the bodies of the inhabitants shall have become living temples of truth!

There will be no night in that city, since Truth is itself the eternal source of light, and her torch is never inverted.

 

  1. Address delivered at the thirty-fifth annual commencement.
  2. This is the need, in this is the work.
  3. "Book of Health," Malcolm Morris.
  4. "Book of Health," Malcolm Morris.