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APPENDIX TO PART I. The Conciliation - Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Ethics, vol. 1 
The Principles of Ethics, introduction by Tibor R. Machan (Indianapolis: LibertyClassics, 1978). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Principles of Ethics, 2 vols.
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APPENDIX TO PART I. The Conciliation
[While searching for some memoranda, I have discovered the rough draft of a chapter belonging to this work. Whether it was that, when writing out at length the part of the argument it belongs to, I was led to put aside this chapter as having a form unfitting it for incorporation, or whether it was that I had mislaid it, I cannot now remember. The last supposition is, I think, the more probable; since this rough draft contains matter which, had it been before me, I should have embodied.
Partly because certain of the arguments it contains yield further support to the general conclusion drawn, and partly because such of its arguments as answer to those included in the text are set forth in another way, I have decided here to append this omitted chapter. “The Data of Ethics,” as finally elaborated, was based on a manuscript dictated to a shorthand amanuensis, and written out by him in a series of copybooks, one to each chapter: an arrangement which, I suspect, accidentally led to the omission indicated. As, on reading this rough draft, I find that it is fairly coherent and expressed with adequate clearness, I have thought it well to print it just as it stands. In a few places where the shorthand writer failed to interpret his notes, I have supplied, in square brackets, what I suppose were the missing words; and in some other cases I have corrected errors that were obviously due to misunderstanding or to transcription.]
In the last two chapters have been enunciated the claims of egoism and altruism respectively. Each has been insisted upon so strongly that, taken alone, it would seem to go far toward the repudiation of the other. The usual tendency in ethical speculation is not to recognize in full both factors, as essential to human happiness, but to insist almost exclusively upon the one or the other. Or rather I should say that, in almost all cases, ignoring the egoistic factor, the insistence has been upon the altruistic one.
At first sight it seems that there is some inconsistency in the position here taken. To enunciate the legitimacy of egoism in the way done, possibly caused the reader to think that the higher morality was being denied by the assertion of a system of selfishness. Contrariwise, reading by itself the subsequent chapter, he might, if one who had before appreciated the claims of egoism, be led to suppose that egoism was being ignored, and the tacit assertion made that egoistic gratifications were to be achieved through fulfillment of altruistic obligations. And finding that each of the chapters to a considerable extent seems to conflict with the other, he will incline to allege an incongruity of doctrine. If he does not go farther, he will at any rate be inclined to say that the doctrine implies a necessary incompleteness–implies that there can be no such thing as a life in which all requirements are fully satisfied. That process of evolution set forth in preceding chapters, will appear to be negatived by such incompatibility between the conflicting claims of self and others; so that it cannot end in an entire equilibrium between human nature and its conditions. Taking by itself the chapter on egoism versus altruism, it would seem that for the imperative welfare of the individual, and of those belonging to him, and of those afterwards descending from him, there must be such subordination of the claims of others, as from time to time deducts from their welfare or diminishes the total happiness. On the other hand, reading by itself the chapter on altruism versus egoism, it seems to be an inevitable corollary that self-abnegation–that is, the abandonment of a gratification or the submission to a pain due to the craving unsatisfied, is more or less demanded of all, that there may be maintained that social state which, by its prosperity, conduces to the egoistic welfare of each, and that there may be also achieved the character and the capacity which are the means to their egoistic gratifications; and that thus the pursuit of altruistic ends must of necessity entail egoistic deprivations. Or, to put the matter briefly, it seems to be clear that there must be everywhere a certain large percentage of sacrifice–sacrifice of others to self or sacrifice of self to others; and that, in so far as there is sacrifice, there is a submission to pain, positive or negative, and therefore a necessary failure in the working out of [a] nature capable of complete life–that is, complete happiness.
Here there remains to be shown the invalidity of this conclusion. On tracing upwards the process of evolution to a higher stage, we shall see that this conflict between egoism and altruism, which now constitutes the crux in all ethical speculation, is transitional, and is in process of gradual disappearance.
Already in seeking clues for the interpretation of the future, we have gone back to the past; and that we may understand the past have carried our inquiry back to the beginning. In seeking a right interpretation of egoism we set out with life in its earlier stages, and observed the truth that a predominant egoism, through which each achieved the benefits of its own superiority, was the condition not only to the maintenance of life from the beginning, but a condition to the maintenance of each species, and therefore to the evolution of higher species. Similarly, when seeking for an ultimate basis for the claims of altruism, we observed, on going back to its root, that from the beginning altruism has been coessential; in so far that the continued egoism of generation after generation has been made possible only through the altruism which sacrifices, physically and otherwise, a portion of the life of each generation for the next. Here we may with advantage pursue, in seeking the ultimate conciliation of egoism and altruism, the same course. If we similarly go back to the beginning, we shall get a clue to the method by which the conciliation, already in certain directions achieved, will in the future be carried out to the full.
For how is there effected that conciliation of the egoism and altruism, coessential as we have seen, by which each race, and life on the globe as a whole, have been maintained and evolved? How is there achieved that conciliation between the egoism of the parent, which is essential to production and fostering of offspring, and the altruism by which that fostering is effected? The answer is perfectly simple. There has from the beginning been arising, and has arisen more and more to a higher and higher stage, such constitution in each creature, as entailed egoistic gratification in performing the altruistic action.
If we glance afresh at the cases before indicated, in which there is a self-sacrifice of parent for the benefit of offspring, we observe that throughout, this self-sacrifice is made in gratification of a powerful instinct, and is a source of pleasure, and the negation of it an extreme pain. Not to dwell on cases, even low down among invertebrate animals, where, as even with molluscs, great labor is taken in safe laying of ova, or, as in the case of the spider, the ova are carried about and protected till they are hatched–cases which show us even there that this expenditure of labor by which other beings are benefited, is itself done in fulfillment of an instinct which is only to be satisfied by the act, and is therefore in that sense egoistic; we have this relation forced upon us distinctly when we come to the more highly organized and intelligent creatures. If we ask how it is that there are gone through by a pair of birds, all the labors of nest-building, the denial of activity implied by incubation, the activity of the male in feeding the female while sitting, and the prolonged labors of both in subsequently bringing food to the young; the answer is that all these actions are carried on under the promptings of certain inherited and organized cravings, which make the successive activities sources of gratification. And it needs but to observe the signs of distress consequent on danger to the young to get a measure of the degree of pleasure taken in performing these acts that are directly beneficial to others and at the same time pleasurable to self. Evidently this conciliation between the requirements of egoism and altruism has from the beginning been growing in extent and completeness–necessarily has been doing so–since the higher the type of creature evolved, the more the young becomes dependent upon the parent and the more involved the requirements to be fulfilled in fostering them, and therefore the more continuous and more varied the activities carried on by adults in behalf of the young.
And this conciliation which we see has gone hand-in-hand with evolution, is a conciliation which we see has reached a high degree in the human race. It needs not here to dwell on parental sacrifices as prompted by parental affections. It needs not to dwell on the amount of positive pleasure which the mother derives from daily witnessing that welfare of her offspring which her self-sacrificing efforts achieve; nor does it need to dwell upon the intensity of the unhappiness which from time to time results if illness threatens or death destroys, and if, as a consequence, the mother, no longer called on to make these daily sacrifices, is at the same time defrauded of the pleasures those sacrifices brought. All that needs to be more especially indicated in further insisting on this great fact is that during the evolution of the human race itself there has been a marked further progress in this conciliation; so that whereas during savage life the sacrifices made on the part of both parents are less varied and persistent, they endure for a shorter period, and that among the civilized the labors of both parents, gone through in rearing and education, much more complex, are prolonged over a greater number of years, and the labors gone through in accumulating the means for setting them up in life, and often the injury to health borne in providing them with fortunes, are such as to make it manifest that a large part of the pleasure of daily life is achieved in the process of sacrificing personal ends for the benefit of offspring.
In all which illustrations the one truth to be observed and carried with us is that there gradually evolves with the evolution of a higher life an organic altruism which, in relation to a certain limited class of other beings, works to the effect of making what we call self-sacrifice not a sacrifice in the ordinary sense of the word, but an act which brings more pleasure than pain–an act which has for its accompaniment an altruistic gratification which outweighs the egoistic gratification lost; and this, otherwise stated, implies that as the altruistic gratification is egoistically expressed, egoism and altruism coalesce.
That which has been in course of achievement in respect of the limited group of beings constituting a family in the course of the evolution of life, and has now, in the human race, been in very large measure achieved, has been in course of achievement, and is to a comparatively small extent achieved, with those larger groups constituting societies. The conciliation between egoism and altruism under their aspects as ordinarily understood, is slowly coming about by analogous conciliation of the egoistic and altruistic gratifications.
Only those whose creed prompts them to believe in the unalterable badness of human nature, and who, in face of the evidence which mankind at large furnish, hold that man not only always has been, but always will be, “desperately wicked,” can refuse to recognize the conspicuous fact that along with the progress of civilization, there has been growing up not only that kind of altruism which is shown in decreasing aggressiveness on fellow-men, but also that kind of altruism which is shown in actual regard for their welfare. Go back to the times when blood-feuds were not only chronic between adjacent tribes but in the later times in which there were blood-feuds maintained from generation to generation between families of the same tribe, and contrast it with the present time in which, among civilized peoples, such aggressions as exist, relatively few, are far less violent in kind; and it cannot be denied that that negative altruism which is shown in refraining from injuring others, has increased. Contrast the times in which slavery existing everywhere, excited even in moralists no repugnance, with modern times when slavery, by the more sympathetically-minded, is characterized as “the sum of all villainies”; and it is undeniable that the extent to which selfish gratification is pursued at the cost of misery to others, is alike less extreme and less widespread. Observe the contrast between savages who torture their captives till they die, or ancient so-called heroes who dragged the dead bodies of slain foes after their chariots, with our own days in which, among the more advanced nations, wounded enemies are cared for, and by-standing nations send out doctors and nurses; and it cannot be questioned that there exists now [more kind feeling] than existed in the less developed human beings. So in the contrast between gladiatorial shows and days when pugilism is forbidden, or between the societies in which seeing animals slay one another is a chief pleasure and societies in which there exist associations and laws for the prevention of such remaining cruelty to animals as exists.
If, from the increase of sympathy shown by the decrease of cruelty, we pass to that which is shown by the establishment of juster social relations, the same thing is shown to us. From the times when the system of internal protection was so little developed that men had to rectify their own grievances by force as well as they might, to the times when there exist guardians of life and property patrolling the streets at all hours, we are shown a gradual rise of that public sentiment expressing regard for the claims of others. Defective as is the administration of law, yet men’s properties as well as their lives are far safer than they were in early times; by which there is implied an increase of those feelings which embody themselves in equitable laws. If we again look at the growth of governmental forms, which have gone on from period to period decreasing the unchecked powers of ruling classes, and extending to lower and lower grades shares of political power, we see both that the institutions so established are more altruistic in the sense that they recognize better the claims of all, and in the sense that they are advocated and carried on grounds of equity and by appeal to men’s sense of justice–that is, to the most abstract and latest developed of the altruistic sentiments.
Nor is it otherwise if we consider the altruism which expresses itself in active benevolence. Go back to early societies, and we find little or nothing representing those multitudinous agencies which have grown up during civilization for the care of the sick and aged and the unfortunate. In the rudest forms of society, those who were no longer from one or other cause capable of taking care of themselves, were either killed or left to die. But the moral modification which has resulted from the discipline of social life, as it has gradually passed more and more from the militant to the industrial form, has been accompanied by growth of multitudinous forms of philanthropic activity–countless societies voluntarily established and carried on, enormous sums of money subscribed, innumerable people busying themselves with a view to the welfare of those who are not so well off in the world as themselves. That is to say, altruism arising from that same growth of sympathy which checks cruelty and extends justice, has been simultaneously leading to positive exertions for the benefit alike of individuals and of the community at large.
And if we ask what is the attitude of mind in those who are engaged, now in the checking of actions which inflict pain, now in the furtherance of political changes which conduce to more equitable relations, now in the agitations for changing unjust laws, now in the carrying on of organizations for mitigating the pains of less fortunate fellow citizens or increasing their pleasures; we see that if [not] in the whole, still in large measure, the prompting cause is an actual satisfaction in the contemplation of the benefits achieved. Large numbers of persons are there who, often postponing in large measure, and sometimes unduly, their private affairs to public affairs, are as eagerly energetic in achieving what they conceive will redound to human welfare at large, or the welfare of particular classes of people, as though they were pursuing their personal ends; and so show us that the gratification of their altruistic feelings has become to them a stimulus approaching in potency to the gratification of their directly egoistic feelings. So that the pursuit of the altruistic pleasure has become a higher order of egoistic pleasure.
It is a paradox daily illustrated, that the belief in irrationalities habitually goes with skepticism of rationalities. Those who are impressed by some statement of a wonder, and accept it on the strength of some emphatic assertion notwithstanding its utter incongruity with all that is known of the course of things, will listen with utter incredulity to inferences drawn by the most cogent reasoning from premises that they do not deny. Incapable of conceiving with any vividness the necessary dependence of conclusions upon premises, where these are at all remote from the simplest matters, they are not affected in their convictions by demonstration, however clear, as they are affected by the manifestation of strong belief in those who make statements to them. And thus while, for example, they see nothing whatever ridiculous in the tradition which ascribes the universe to a greater artificer who was tired after six days’ labor, it seems to them quite ridiculous to suppose that there are to come in the future, changes in human nature, and corresponding changes in human society, analogous to, and equally great with, those that have taken place since societies were first formed.
One who, looking at the hour hand of a watch, fails to see it move, and is prompted by his inability to see the movement to say that it does not move, is checked from doing so by his experiences of past occasions when, on looking after an interval, he has seen that movement has taken place; but one can readily imagine that in one who had never had any experiences of watches, and who was told that this hour hand was moving though he could not see it, and that unless familiar with the actions of machinery it would be of little avail to point out the arrangements of mainspring, balance wheel, pinions, and the like, in such way as to prove to him that although he could not see it, the hour hand must be moving. And much in the same condition as would be such an one who had never before seen a watch, and who was incredulous as to the movement of the hour hand because it was imperceptible to him, are the great mass of people who habitually look upon human nature and human society as, if not stationary, still, not moving in such way as to be likely to change their places in such great degree as to make them remote from what they now are. They have indeed the opportunity not paralleled in the hypothetical case just put, of contrasting existing civilized societies with existing savage societies; and they have the opportunity of contrasting the present state of any one civilized society with its preceding state. But strong as is the evidence furnished to them that both the individual human being and the masses of human beings, undergo decided changes, they are so dominated by the daily impression of constancy, as to have either unconsciousness, or no adequate consciousness, of the changes that are, from kindred causes, hereafter to take place. Not denying that there will be changes, their imagination of them is so vague, and their belief in them is so feeble, that, practically, the admission that they may take place amounts to nothing in their general conception of things, and plays no part as a factor in their general thinking. And, most remarkably, this proves to be so not [only] with the commonplace uncultured [and] with those of mere literary culture; but it is to a large extent true of those whose scientific culture should give them clear conceptions of causation–clear conceptions that results will not result without causes, and, conversely, that given the causes the results are inevitable. Even a large proportion of the biological world whose discipline, especially in recent years, might be presumed to give them full faith in the potent working hereafter of causes that have worked so potently heretofore, show no sign that their conceptions of human life and human society are much in advance of those held by other people. Strange to say, naturalists who have accepted in full the general hypothesis of organic evolution, and hold that by direct or indirect adaptation, organisms have perpetually been molded to their respective conditions, and that in the future as the past such moldings to conditions must ever go on, show themselves, like the rest, little regardful of the corollaries which must inevitably follow respecting the future of humanity And many of them may be numbered among those who, in various ways, are busy in thwarting this process of adaptation as respects men and society.
Hence, not at all among the uneducated class, very little among the class called educated, and in no adequate degree even in the scientific class, is there a belief in the unquestionable truth that altruism in the future will increase as it has increased in the past; and that as, at the present time, there has grown up in the superior types of men, a capacity for receiving much personal pleasure from furthering the welfare of others, and in contemplating such welfare as is produced by other means, so will there in the future grow up a much greater degree, and a much more widespread amount, of such pleasure–so will there in the future come a further identification of altruism with egoism, in the sense that personal gratification will be derived from achieving the gratification of others. So far is it from being true, as might be supposed from the general incredulity, that though there has arisen a considerable moralization of the human being, as a concomitant of civilization, there will be no comparable increase of such moralization in the future, it is true that the moralization will hereafter go on at a much greater rate, because it will no longer be checked by influences hitherto, and at present, in operation. During all the past, and even still, the egoism of warlike activities has been restraining the altruism which grows up under peaceful activities. The need for maintaining adaptation to the militant life, which implies readiness to sacrifice others, has perpetually held in check the progress of adaptation to the industrial life, which, carried on by exchange of services, does not of necessity entail the sacrifice of others to self. And because of these conflicting influences, the growth of altruism has of necessity been slow. What this moral modification due to the adaptation of human beings to peaceful social life, might have already achieved in civilized societies, had it not been for the moral effects that have accompanied the necessary process of compounding and recompounding by which great nations have been produced, we may judge on observing the moral state existing in the few simple tribes of men who have been so circumstanced as to carry on peaceful lives. (Here insert examples.)
Judge, then, what might by this time have happened under the closer mutual dependence and more complex relations which civilized societies have originated, but for the retarding causes which have kept sympathies seared; and then judge what will happen in the future when, by further progress such as has been going on in the past, we reach eventually a state in which the great civilized societies reach a condition of permanent peace, and there continues no such extreme check as has been operating thus far. Not only must we infer that the future of man and of society will have modifications as great as the past has shown us, but that it will have much greater. That is to say, the transformation of altruistic gratifications into egoistic ones, will be carried very much further; and an average larger share in the happiness of each individual, will depend on consciousness of the well-being of other individuals.
Doubtless the moral modification of human nature which has thus to take place hereafter, analogous to that which has taken place heretofore, will be retarded by other causes than this primary cause. Not only is the growth of sympathy held in check by the performance of unsympathetic actions, such as are necessitated by militant activities, but it is held in check by the constant presence of pains and unhappinesses, and by the consciousness that these exist even when they are not visible. Those in whom the sympathies have become keen, are of necessity proportionately pained on witnessing sufferings borne by others, not [only] in those cases where they are the causes of sufferings, but where the sufferings are caused in any other way. To those whose fellow feelings were too keenly alive to the miseries of the great mass of their kind–alive not only to such miseries as they saw but to such miseries as they heard of or read of, and to such miseries as they knew must be existing all around, far and near, life would be made intolerable: the sympathetic pains would submerge not only the sympathetic pleasures but the egoistic pleasures. And therefore life is made tolerable, even to the higher among us at the present time, by a certain perpetual searing of the sympathies, which keeps them down at such level of sensitiveness as that there remains a balance of pleasure in life. Whence it follows that the sympathies can become more and more acute, only as fast as the amount of human misery to be sympathized with becomes less and less; and while this diminution of human misery to be sympathized with, itself must be due in part to the increase of sympathy which prompts actions to mitigate it, it must be due in the main to the decrease of the pressure of population upon the means of subsistence. While the struggle for existence among men has to be carried on with an intensity like that which now exists, the quantity of suffering to be borne by the majority must remain great. This struggle for existence must continue to be thus intense so long as the rate of multiplication continues greatly in excess of the rate of mortality Only in proportion as the production of new individuals ceases to go on so greatly in excess of the disappearance of individuals by death, can there be a diminution of the pressure upon the means of subsistence, and a diminution of the strain and the accompanying pains that arise more or less to all, and in a greater degree to the inferior. On referring back to the Principles of Biology, Part VI, the reader will find grounds for the inference that along with social progress, there must inevitably go a decrease in human fertility, ending in a comparative balance of fertility and mortality, as there comes the time when human evolution approaches its limit of complete adaptation to the social state. And as is here implied, the highest evolution of the sympathies, and consequent reaching of the ultimate altruism, though the progress will go on with comparative rapidity when a peaceful state is once arrived at, will yet only approach its highest degree as this ultimate state is approached.
But one of the chief causes of perplexity in this question, arising from the conflict of egoistic and altruistic requirements, and which is natural to the present condition, is due to the fact that altruism is habitually associated with self-sacrifice. So long as egoism is in excess, and so long as, in consequence of its excess, the counteraction of altruism is shown mainly in checking undue personal gratification, or in assuaging the pains that have been produced by selfishness somewhere or other, it happens, as a matter of course, that the conception of altruism is identified with the conception of abandonment of individual gratification, and self-infliction of more or less pain. This, however, as I have implied, is an erroneous and purely transitional view of the effect of altruism in its ultimate workings out.
Sympathy is the root of every other kind of altruism than that which, from the beginning, originates the parental activities. It is the root of that higher altruism which, apart from the philoprogenitive instinct, produces desire for the happiness of others and reluctance to inflict pain upon them. These two traits are inevitably associated. The same mental faculty which reproduces in the individual consciousness, the feelings that are being displayed by other beings, acts equally to reproduce those states when they are pleasurable or when they are painful. Sympathy, therefore, is a state of the individual, of pleasure or pain, according to the states of the surrounding beings. Consequently it happens, as indicated above, that when there exists around a large proportion of pain, sympathy may entail on its possessor more pain than pleasure, and so is continually kept in check. Contrariwise as, in course of the general evolution of humanity and society, the general increase of sympathy everywhere, and improvement in the social relations consequent upon greater sympathy, it more and more happens that the states of consciousness existing in those around are pleasurable; and in proportion as this happens, the effect of sympathy is to increase the pleasure of the possessor.
Evidently the general corollary from this is that with the increase of sympathy, there arises the double result, that by its increase it tends to decrease the causes of human misery, and in proportion as it decreases the causes of human misery and increases the causes of happiness, it becomes itself the cause of further reflected happiness received by each from others. And the limit towards which this evolution approaches, is one under which, as the amount of pain suffered by those around from individual imperfections and from imperfections of social arrangement and conduct, become relatively small, and simultaneously the growth of sympathy goes on with little check, the sympathy becomes at the same time almost exclusively a source of pleasure received from the happiness of others, and not of pains received from their pains. And as this condition is approached, the function of sympathy is not that of stimulating to self-sacrifice and of entailing upon its possessor positive or negative pain, but its function becomes that of making him a recipient of positive pleasure. The altruism which has to arise, therefore, in future, is not an altruism which is in conflict with egoism, but is an altruism which comes eventually to coincide with egoism in respect of a large range of life; and it becomes instrumental in exalting satisfactions that are egoistic in so far as they are pleasures enjoyed by the individual, though they are altruistic in respect of the origin of these pleasures.
So far then from its being, as is commonly assumed, true that there must go on throughout all the future, a condition in which self-regard is to be continually subjected by the regard for others, it will, contrariwise, be the case, that a regard for others will eventually become so large a source of pleasure, as to compete with in its amount, and indeed overgrow the pleasure which is derivable from direct egoistic gratification; and the pursuit of this indirect egoistic gratification may so become itself the predominant part of egoism.
Eventually, then, along with the approximately complete adaptation of man to the social state, along with the evolution of a society complete in its adjustments, and along with the ultimate diminution of pressure of population, which must come with the highest type of human life, there will come also a state in which egoism and altruism are so conciliated that the one merges in the other.
To those who look at the creation at large, and the organic creation in particular, from the old point of view of special creation, and who think of the structures and functions of all species as supernaturally given, and therefore fixed by God, there will not only be a repudiation of a conception like this as chimerical, but there will also be an utter imperviousness to all arguments derived from those adaptations of constitution to conditions which the organic creation at large presents, and especially those which present adaptations of the kind here prophesied. But all who take the evolution view, cannot in consistency deny that if we have in lower orders of creatures cases in which the nature is constitutionally so modified that altruistic activities have become one with egoistic activities, there is an irresistible implication that a parallel identification will, under parallel conditions, take place among human beings.
Social insects furnish us with instances completely to the point; and instances showing us, indeed, to what a marvellous degree the life of the individual may be absorbed in subserving the lives of other individuals. Strangely enough, it happens that the typical illustrations taken from the animal creation to enforce on human beings the virtue of activity, are taken from those creatures whose activities are devoted, not to their own special welfare, but to the welfare of the communities they form part of. The ant, which in the Bible is referred to as showing an industry which should shame the sluggard among men, and the busy bee which, in the child’s hymn, is named as an example to be followed in making the best of time, are creatures whose activities are not like those commended to the child and the sluggard–activities mainly to be expended in subserving personal well-being; but they are activities which postpone individual well-being so completely to the well-being of the community, that individual life appears to be attended to only just as far as necessary to make possible due attention to the social life. These instances which are given as spurs to egoistic activity, are actually supplied by creatures whose activity is almost wholly altruistic. Throughout the animal kingdom there are found no better examples of energetic industry, than these in which the ends which the activities subserve are altruistic rather than egoistic. And hence we are shown, undeniably, that it is a perfectly possible thing for organisms to become so adjusted to the requirements of their lives, that energy expended for the general welfare may not only be adequate to check energy expended for the individual welfare, but may come to subordinate it so far as to leave individual welfare no greater than is requisite for maintenance of individual life.
And now observe, further, that we are thus shown not only the existence of an almost complete identification of egoism and altruism; but we are also shown that this identification takes place in consequence of the gratification accompanying the altruistic activities having become a gratification that is substantially egoistic. Neither the ant nor the bee can be supposed to have a sense of duty, in the acceptation we give to that word; nor can it be supposed that it is continually undergoing self-sacrifice in the ordinary acceptation of that word. At the very outset of its mature life, the working bee begins that life which, with untiring energy, it pursues to the end–collecting food to feed the growing members of the community gathering pollen with which to build new cells, and taking only just such food and such rest as are needful to maintain its vigor; and in the absence of those moral instigations existing only in the higher vertebrates, the instigations are in this case simply those resulting from an organization which has become adjusted in the course of evolution to the carrying on a social life. They show us that it is within the possibilities of organization to produce a nature which shall be just as energetic, and even more energetic, in the pursuit of altruistic ends, as is, in other cases, shown in the pursuit of egoistic ends; and they show that in such cases these altruistic ends are pursued in pursuing ends which on their other face are egoistic. For the satisfaction of the needs of the organization, these actions conducive to the welfare of others must be carried on. The seeking for the satisfaction which the organization requires, itself entails the performance of those activities which the welfare of the community requires.
And here we are brought to a special application of that general law, the relativity of pleasure, set forth and illustrated in a preceding chapter. We have but duly to see the far-reaching sequences of this law, to understand, even without such an illustration as that just furnished, that such a relation between the individual and the community is not only possible, but is certain to establish itself if the conditions to its establishment are maintained.
One who once fully grasps the truth that pleasure of every kind is the concomitant of the actiyity of some nervous structure, inherited from the race or developed by modification in the individual, will see it to be an inevitable corollary that there can be a gratification in altruistic activities just as great as in egoistic activities, if there exists the structure which answers to those activities; and that the evolution of such a structure will inevitably take place, partly by direct and partly by indirect equilibration, where it is to the advantage of the species that it should exist. In proportion as, with the advance of society to a peaceful state, there increases the form of social life which consists in mutual exchange of services–in proportion as it becomes to the advantage of the individual, and to the prosperity of the society, to regard others’ claims and fulfill contracts–in proportion as the individual comes to be aided in leading a more complete life, by possessing a nature which begets friendship and kindly offices from all around; in such proportion does there continuously tend to take place both a strengthening of the altruistic emotions directly in the individual, and the increase of those individuals who inherit most largely the altruistic nature. And in proportion as there goes on this individual modification, conducing ever to the prosperity of the society after the peaceful [stage] has been reached, in that same proportion does it also happen that among societies those among whom that modification has gone on most effectually will be those to [survive and grow, so as gradually to replace those societies] in which the individual nature is not so adapted to social requirements. Inevitably, therefore, by this process, the tendency of peaceful conditions is to the continual increase of those faculties, that is, those nervous structures, which have for their spheres of activity, pleasure taken in the welfare of others; and in proportion as this takes place, there is evolved more and more a nature in which the egoistic pursuit of these pleasures, arising from the activity of the altruistic feelings, becomes a source of such altruistic activities as are needful for the general welfare. As certainly as those organized and inherited structures which prompt the activities of the chase, in animals and in men who live by the chase, and which, surviving in civilized men, give them what seems so natural, the pleasure in achieving the success of the chase, are structures which prompt to actions in pursuit of gratification apart from future egoistic ends (for the sportsman may be indifferent to the game he kills); so are there growing up, and will still further grow up with the progress towards a peaceful state, structures which will prompt to altruistic activities, and which will find their gratification in those altruistic activities quite apart from any egoistic motives.
Anyone who looks around and observes the higher types of men and women already existing, will see that even now the evolution of such structures has made considerable progress; and that there is no limit to the progress, save reaching the height at which it completely fulfills requirements.
Endnotes to Part I
THE INDUCTIONS OF ETHICS