J. Howard Moore

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Universal ethics is a corollary of universal kinship. Moral obligation is as boundless as feeling.

John Howard Moore (December 4, 1862June 17, 1916) was an American zoologist, philosopher, educator and socialist. He advocated for the ethical consideration and treatment of animals and authored several articles, books, essays and pamphlets on topics including education, ethics, evolutionary biology, humanitarianism, utilitarianism and vegetarianism. He is best known for his work The Universal Kinship (1906), which advocated for a secular sentiocentric philosophy he called the doctrine of "Universal Kinship", based on the shared evolutionary kinship between all sentient beings.


This is a gray world. There is enough sorrow in it, even though we cease to scourge each other—the sorrow of floods, famines, fires, earthquakes, storms, diseases, and death. We should trust each other, and love each other, and sympathize with and help each other, and be patient and forgiving.
  • There is nothing more frightful to the philosopher than the unconscious tragedies of human reason. Men are somnambulists. Stupefied by the long night of instinct out of which it arose, the human mind is only half awake to the world of reality and duty. George Washington was the father of his country, and a great and good man, but he held human beings as slaves, and paid his hired help in Virginia whisky. It took Americans one hundred years to find out that "all men" includes Ethiopians; yet men who risked their lives in order to achieve personal and political liberty for black men, deliberately doom white women to a similar servitude. A rich man will give millions of dollars to a museum or a university, when he would know, if he had the talent to stop and think, that the thousands who make his wealth work like slaves from morning till night, and feed on garbage and suffocate in garrets, in order that he may be munificent.
  • We preach the Golden Rule with an enthusiasm that is well-nigh vehement, and then freckle the globe with huge murder-houses for the expeditious destruction of those who have as good a right to live as we have.
  • It is simply monstrous, this horrible savagery and somnambulism in which we grope. It is the climax of mundane infamy—the "paragon of the universe" dozing on the pedestal of his imagination and contemplating himself as an interstellar pet and all other beings as commodities. Let us startle ourselves, those of us who can, to a realization of the holocaust we are perpetrating on our feathered and fur-covered friends. For remember the same sentiment of sympathy and fraternity that broke the black man's manacles and is to-day melting the white woman's chains will to-morrow emancipate the sorrel horse and the heifer; and as the ages bloom and the great wheels of the centuries grind on, all the races of the earth shall become kind, and this age of ours, so bigoted and raw, shall be remembered in history as an age of insanity, somnambulism, and blood.
  • Well may we be dazed by the horrific metamorphosis. Dark days are upon us. The pendulum of civilization trembles, as if to swing back to the inglorious twilight of the past. Imperialistic tendencies are laying their damning clutches on the unsuspecting form of the republic. Fearful questions confront us. Whether we are to be compelled henceforth to read with downcast gaze the matchless axioms of Jefferson and to mumble in confusion the heroic history of our dead—whether the Fourth of July is to be henceforth a day of embarrassment and shame instead of, as hitherto, an occasion for spontaneous and boundless pride—whether Yorktown and Monmouth are to become events which, instead of inspiring a continent to eulogy and song, shall provoke no higher eloquence than that which gutturals from the limping lips of apology—whether the political wisdom of the founders of the republic, gleaned in terrible hours, by anxious eyes, from the travail of ages past, shall be swept away by the heartless levity of upstart statesmen—whether, in short, we shall turn our backs inexorably upon the past—a past glorious achievement and unrivaled in precept—and become the wretched exemplars of a policy, ruinous to ourselves and to our children, repulsive to every truly civilized mind and destructive of the fairest hopes of humanity—these. are questions that assail with relentless emphasis the consciences of a great people.
Each being is an integer in the stupendous scheme of consciousness.
  • I have just finished your little book on 'The Logic of Vegetarianism.' It is the best thing on this subject in existence – bold, brilliant, unanswerable. I am glad you are on earth. If it were not for a very few souls like you, this world would seem to me an intellectual solitude.
  • Writing is so unnatural & hard for me that I have a good deal of difficulty in getting myself to undergo the hardship. It's a good deal like "sweating blood" for me. And unless I am driven by terrible feelings or convictions, I am inclined to go on & do nothing. I hate writing. It is the greatest hardship of my life. It seems to me I might be reasonably happy if I weren't everlastingly nagged by the obligation to perpetuate literary things on people.
  • I cannot express myself when I get to thinking about these things—these terrible crimes that man is inflicting year after year on millions of his poor, helpless brothers. I become indignant and desperate. I am ashamed of the race of beings to which I belong. It is so cruel and bigoted, so hypocritical, so soul-less and insane. I'd rather be an insect—a bee or a butterfly—and float in dim dreams among the wild flowers of summer than be a man and feel the wrongs and sufferings of this wretched world.
  • Is murder stripped of its blackness by become a fine art? All assassination is practically instantaneous and painless, the assassination of men as as well as that of birds and quadrupeds. What would the author of such nonsense think if the assassination of his brother or mother blandly attempted to relieve himself of all guilt by means of the assurance that his victim had experienced no suffering? The crime of extermination does not consist in the creation of pain, but in the destruction of that precious and mysterious essence called life.
    • Debate with Laurence Gronlund, quoted by Karen Iacobbo and Michael Iacobbo in Vegetarian America: A History (2004), p. 121
  • The ability to weigh the stars is all right, but it is not more important than the disposition to be just.
  • We should be a little more disposed to move along. We live in a world that is neither petrified or perfect. The universe is a liquid. It is flowing. Humanitarianism is in the air.
The only consistent attitude, since Darwin established the unity of life (and the attitude we shall assume, if we ever become really civilised), is the attitude of universal gentleness and humanity.
  • Human nature is defective. It is selfish. It is cruel and revengeful. It is a product of militancy and hate. It is much better adapted to a fighting life, in which it was generated, than it is in cooperation and peace.
    • "Human Nature is Defective", speech to the Young People's Socialist League, The Chicago Tribune, 20 Oct. 1910
  • Every being is incomparably precious to himself. This is the most mournful feature in human psychology. We did not invent it. It was handed to us along with our fingers and our fondness fo eating. It is the psychic calamity of the animal kingdom.
    • "Human Nature is Defective", speech to the Young People's Socialist League, The Chicago Tribune, 20 Oct. 1910
  • It is a crime to start a child learning to read and write as soon as it is out of the cradle. We should get ideas before starting on the business of representing them.
    • "Human Nature is Defective", speech to the Young People's Socialist League, The Chicago Tribune, 20 Oct. 1910
  • Much of the vagueness of the human mind is due to the fact that the mind is largely composed of material derived second-hand from books. The ideas are not read.
    • "Human Nature is Defective", speech to the Young People's Socialist League, The Chicago Tribune, 20 Oct. 1910
  • I came to the conclusion out there on the Kansas prairies that the animals were not treated right by human beings. I thought we had not even a right to kill them for food and came to the University of Chicago to study the matter. At that time I had never heard of vegetarianism.
    • The National Humane Review, Vol. 4–6, American Humane Association, 1916
  • I sit here tonight in this great city and think back along the years. Life is so full and so different now – full of teaching, writing and problem solving. But, oh, those precious memories away back there in the morning! The prairies are gone, where we used to gather wild strawberries and tiger lilies, but the old school house still stands, I am told, where the High Bank lifts its formidableness above the singing stream.
  • Religion is a strictly human infirmity. No other animal has it. It originated far back in the past, when the human world was young and the mind just beginning to open. It is an anachronism today, with our science and understanding. It survives solely by the force of tradition.
  • Religion is essentially pre-scientific. It will pass away. It represents a certain stage of mental development. It has been tinkered with and tinkered with until it is about ready for the scrap heap. The more men know of chemistry and physics and evolution and natural law, the less use they have for supernaturalism. No true scientist can pray. Prayer is unscientific. No evolutionist can believe in the divine origin of anything.
  • Religion has had a natural origin, like coal, and rock salt, and mountains, and river valleys, and everything else. It has been made in the laboratory of human feeling and imagination. The gods did not make men; men made the gods.
  • The long struggle is ended. I must pass away. Good-by. Oh, men are so cold and hard and half conscious toward their suffering fellows. Nobody understands. Oh my mother! and Oh my little girl! What will become of you? And the poor four-footed! May the long years be merciful! Take me to my river. There, where the wild birds sing and the waters go on and on, alone in my groves, forever.
    • Suicide note
  • This is a gray world. There is enough sorrow in it, even though we cease to scourge each other—the sorrow of floods, famines, fires, earthquakes, storms, diseases, and death. We should trust each other, and love each other, and sympathize with and help each other, and be patient and forgiving.

Why I Am a Vegetarian: An Address Delivered before the Chicago Vegetarian Society (1895)[edit]

Vegetarianism is the ethical corollary of evolution. It is simply the expansion of ethics to suit the biological revelations of Charles Darwin. Evolution has taught us the kinship of all creatures.

Full text online at the Internet Archive, Chicago: Frances L. Dusenberry, 1895.

  • The human race is like a snake—it sheds. Ever and anon, as the ages bloom, old forms of thought are superseded by intellectual bran-news. Shrines at which one generation adores become to the succeeding desolate and despised.
    • "Preface"
  • [This work] would be inexcusable to suppose it to be exhaustive. It is not even defensive. It is a projectile, and projectiles do not apologize.
    It intends to be followed.
    • "Preface"
  • I became a vegetarian by my own reflection. I did not know at the time of the vegetarian movement, and hence, supposed myself among republics of carnivora. It did not seem to me graceful or ideal that I, an ethical being should maintain my existence at the incessant expense of misery and death to others.
    • pp. 11–12
  • I am a vegetarian because I believe that present-day ethics is founded on that puerile, pre-Darwinian delusion that all other kinds of creatures and all worlds were created explicitly for the hominine species. Vegetarianism is the ethical corollary of evolution. It is simply the expansion of ethics to suit the biological revelations of Charles Darwin. Evolution has taught us the kinship of all creatures.
    • pp. 19–20
  • I am a vegetarian, therefore, because cannibalism is unnecessary. I can live just as well and be just as happy without drinking the blood of my fellows, and why should I slay them? Why should I not live and let live—especially when I can do it just as well as not? It is not necessary that ten thousand creatures should give up their lives in order that I may keep mine, and if I make any pretensions to morality why should I require them to do it? If you say such a thing is necessary in your case, I say to you it is not—and further, that if it were, it would be your duty as an ethical being to call on your undertaker. There is no sense in carnivora talking about ethics and justice and mercy, for their very existence is a travesty on such things. It makes me indignant and sad when I hear men deplore sin and prate about justice and love and mercy, when the very energy they expend in preaching justice and mercy is obtained from the skeletons and sensibilities of their fellows. It is a spectacle that ought to make the imps of netherdom tremble for their laurels—man, the remorseless glutton, going about with a tongue and a knife, with his tongue preaching peace, mercy, and love, and with his knife making the very earth sodden with blood.
    • pp. 39–40
  • We are striving for the amelioration of this suffering world. Let us be economical.
    • pp. 43–44

Better-World Philosophy: A Sociological Synthesis (1899)[edit]

Inconsideration by human beings toward the rest of sentients is an aspect of that vast unconsciousness which taught that blacks were made for whites, females for males, and "barbarians" for Romans.

Full text online at the Internet Archive, Chicago: Ward Waugh Co., 1899.


  • No being knows. He thinks he knows. A few grams strategically shifted here and there in his organism, and he knows, or thinks he knows, something altogether otherwise. All is attitude and relativity.

The Problem of Industry[edit]

  • Man's desires are, indeed, innumerable, often hopeless, and sometimes vile, but they may all be rolled together into two: the desire to avoid pain, and the desire to experience pleasure. Every conscious movement made by living beings, from oyster to philosopher, is directed toward the accomplishment of one or both of these ends.
    • p. 12
  • The satisfaction of the much stigmatized ''animal propensities," or ''carnal desires," whatever they are, may be just as exemplary and noble as the satisfaction of the desire for knowledge or opulence; and they are, in fact, frequently more so. The only rational characterization of a low desire is one incapable of yielding to the universe in its satisfaction large returns of happiness. And a high desire is simply one affording to the universe in its satisfaction wide and profound welfare. The only reason why any desire, so-called "high" or so-called ''low," should be kept in abeyance is that its satisfaction will not contribute to the utilities. There is no reason why any desire capable of satisfaction possessed by a living being should not be satisfied, except that its satisfaction may interfere with the satisfaction of other more valuable desires possessed by the being himself or by other beings.
    • pp. 16–17
  • Every pain is to be avoided, except those whose endurance will enable the avoidance of greater pain, and every possible happiness is to be harvested, save those whose foregoing will help the universe to larger happiness. There is no obligation commanding any being to endure misery save to avoid misery, and no consideration demanding any one to neglect happiness save for larger happiness—those ascetics who proclaim the divinity of wretchedness to the contrary notwithstanding.
    • p. 17
  • Man, in satisfying his desires, in avoiding misery and achieving happiness, strives to do two things with the inanimate universe: to manage it and to foreknow it. The inanimate is not devoted to us. We are not birdlings cuddled in an order of things where we need simply to yawn and be filled. We must bestir ourselves, or be in a position to compel others to bestir themselves for us, or perish. We are waifs, brought into existence by a universe whose solicitude for us ended with the travail that brought us forth. The inanimate universe is our mother, but without the blessed mother-love. The first thing we are conscious of, and about the only thing we ever absolutely know, is that we are whirling around in a very helpless manner on a whirligig of a ball, out of whose substance by the sweat of our brows we must quarry our existence. The universe is practically independent of us. But we, alas, are not independent of it. The food we eat, our raiment, our habitations, our treasures, our implements of knowledge, and our means of amusement are all portions of the inanimate, which we living beings must somehow subtract from the rest. In order to obtain these indispensable portions of the universe about us, we must halter it and control it and compel it to produce to the tune of our desires.
    • pp. 19–20
  • So the disinherited loan themselves to the possessors of things, the landlords and the capitalists, who allow to them a rental for the use of their bodies. The industrial system which allows the unlimited appropriation of land and inventions furnishes to the more powerful and avaricious classes of communities the means by which they compel the rest to labor for them. And not to call such deprivation slavery is to neglect to use the word with its most essential connotation.
    • pp. 36–37
  • The human beings who possess the dominion of land and machinery and compel others, in order to obtain the essentials of existence, to serve them, are as truly masters of slaves as they who exact blood from the dorsals of their fellows with literal slave whips.
    • p. 37
  • All of these victimizations, the enslavement of species by species, of race by race, and of class by class, are aspects of one and the same fundamental fact. They are all exemplifications of the same principle—the principle asserting the right to escape one's part in the hardships of life—the doctrine that the weak are, and of right ought to be, the means, and the strong the ends—the doctrine that might makes it right for some to burglarize the lives of others of all that is precious, and at the same time to add to others' woes by the compulsory imposition of their own.
    • pp. 37–38
  • Inventions are a blessing. They tame the wild tendencies of the inanimate and train them to do human bidding. They save human bodies hard and laborious exertions by becoming their obsequious aids. But they are not invariable and universal blessings. The sad and peculiar conditions prevailing in human industry cause inventions to be to many human beings a catastrophe and a dread. To those who are able to own them and have lands on which to operate them they are blessings. But to the great disinherited class, who have nothing on earth but their hands, inventions are a disadvantage and an evil.
    • pp. 40–41


  • [T]he universe, we may rest assured, is all alike, the intricate and the simple. It is all a universe of law, from the daisy to the star and from the diatom to the philosopher, from the flowing rivers and growing fields to the processes of our own brains.
    • p. 54
  • Caprice is a hallucination. There is no caprice, only ignorance.
    • p. 55
  • The universe of things in the midst of which we discover ourselves, is to be managed and placated, in so far as it is to be managed and placated at all, by the observation and classification of its phenomena, by the ascertainment of its habits, and by ingenious and business-like manipulations of its tendencies, and in no other way.
    • p. 72

The Social Problem[edit]

  • It has been called a problem of adaptation. There is a subjective and there is an objective, a self and a not-self. And between this self and the not-self there is incessant irrelation. That which is not-self is a process, always changing. It never tires of adopting new attitudes toward the self. The self also is a process, and hence is continually losing joint, or is in continual danger of losing joint, with its environment. Life, therefore, at best, since in the nature of things it is a struggle and a search, is an enterprise with exasperating lack of sunshine.
    • pp. 74–75
  • If the rest of cosmos were a conspiracy intriguing for the maintenance and entertainment of the sentient creatures it has brought into existence, it would seem to be an arrangement more creditable and more worthy of an all-wise and amicably disposed inventor. But it is not.
    • p. 75
  • [O]ne being is not alone in the universe, nor anything like it. What creatures there may be on other spheres, we know not. The noiseless sapphires that cavalcade the midnight firmament may be, for all we know, loaded with wretches like ourselves, or they may be sepulchres which coffin the ashes of races that wailed and wondered and went out ages upon ages ago. We know not.
    • pp. 76–77
  • The inanimate universe is related to the animate as means to end. We conscious individuals manipulate it in manners best adapted to the satisfaction of our desires. We barricade its rivers, plow its seas, ingulf its vegetations, enslave its atmospheres, torture its soils, and perform upon it any other surgery or enormity that will help us in the satisfaction of these driving desires of ours. The inanimate is. if reason is not treason, the gigantic accessory of the consciousnesses that infest it. The animate environment, on the contrary, is related to each living being, not as means, but as end.
    • pp. 78–79
  • Each being is an integer in the stupendous scheme of consciousness.
    • p. 79
  • Each living being of the universe, therefore, sustains to every other living being the relation of possible right and wrong, but to the insentient universe no such relation exists. Right is that relation which is conducive to happiness, or welfare, or complete living, or whatever synonym is preferred. Wrong is that which conduces to the opposite of happiness—misery, ill-fare, maladaptation.
    • pp. 79–80
  • All conscious beings are struggling, struggling to keep themselves in joint with their environment. Those things and creatures and events that aid them in their struggles are desirable and they call them good, and those things and creatures and events that oppose and defeat the satisfaction of desires are called bad. Right and wrong exist as conceptions of mind, because there are portions of the universe capable of happiness and misery. Erase sentiency from the universe and you erase the possibility of ethics. Every conscious portion of the universe, therefore, has ethical relations to every other conscious portion (man, woman, worm, Eskimo, oyster, ox), but not to inanimate portions (clod, cabbage, river, rose), because the ones are sentient and the others are not.
    • pp. 81–82
  • We, you, reader, and I, are parts of nature, and are as liable to deserve the suspicion of infallibility as any other part. Why not? We represent the boldest and most elaborate evolutions. Why should we be the authors of the most disreputable phenomena?
    • p. 87
  • The tradition that the universe was originally constructed and has ever since been, and is to-day, guided by the cerebral processes of an all-wise brain, is responsible for it all. Blinded by this inheritance, human beings condone the most palpable defects in the economies of the universe—limitations which, it is not violent to say, if possessed by a fellow human being, would be characterized as those of an imbecile.
    • p. 87
  • Disease is contagious, and death an unavoidable necessity. Pleasure is often exhausting, and life is everywhere interpolated with pain. Droughts, darknesses, floods, pestilences, storms, and scourges harrow the earth from one pole of it to the other. The earth is, and always has been, peopled by deformities—creatures so defective in their natures that they visit upon each other without hesitancy crimes and barbarities of the most horrible hue. These wretches are compelled to pass their lives in the midst of a universe so mysterious and mighty that the most arrogant of us are helpless in the crash and melee of its tendencies. Yet human contemplators look out over this dark and contentious chaos and declare it to be without spot or blemish.
    • pp. 87–88
  • The universe, so far as we can make out, is neither all wise nor all foolish. It is both good and bad. It maintains some of the most careful economies side by side with the most reckless. The defects of the universe are just as apparent to him who is not cowardly or incompetent as are its excellencies. It is the rogue and the ignoramus who argue in justification of existing barbarisms that these barbarisms are beautiful because they represent the procedures of "nature." As a matter of fact, all ways are nature's ways, the unconscious and clumsy as truly as the intelligent and exquisite. The philosophers of laissez faire, who would have human beings disuse what little intelligence has, during the past twenty millions of years, been developed on the earth, and would have them derive their ethics from the regions of biological somnambulism, are the philosophers to be heeded when humanity goes mad. It is childish to assume that we upper intelligences can not improve on the unconscious conditions about us. It is the very thing that is being done every hour of time. The whole effort of industry is nothing else than an effort to improve the attitudes of the material universe. And it is just as sagacious to suppose that living beings are incompetent to improve their relations to the inanimate universe as to suppose they may not reform and enhance their relations to each other.
    • pp. 89–90
  • The relations of living beings to each other observed among the races (especially the unconscious races) of the earth to-day, or as contemplated in the paleontologies of past evolutions, are not such, I assert, as to appeal with anything like eloquence to the ideal of any unbiased mind. I will assert further, that the principle that has operated in the development of life on this planet, the natural selection principle, and the relations prevalently established among living beings by the necessities of this principle, are irrational and barbarous—that the moral progress thus far made by civilized beings here on the earth has been made in spite of, and in opposition to, this principle—and finally, that the great task of reforming and regenerating the universe and of establishing right relations among its inhabitants consists in the elimination of those tendencies implanted in the natures of living beings by the struggle and survival principle.
    • pp. 90–91

Egoism and Altruism[edit]

  • In the nature of living beings there are two elements—that element which impels a living creature to move in behalf or in the interests of itself, and that which prompts or prevents movement out of consideration for others. The former of these two elements is called egoism, the latter, altruism.
    • p. 92
  • The acts of living beings are, as a rule, neither all altruism nor all egoism. They consist generally of blends of the two elements, with a preponderance of egoism. It is frequently impossible, too, to estimate just the amount of each element in a given act. An act which may seem altruistic may be in reality only sly and far-sighted egoism.
    • p. 96
  • Where did these two elements in our nature, egoism and altruism, come from? Why have human beings and all other beings known to terrestrial intelligence these two elements, just as they are, in their natures? Why have they not all egoism or all altruism? Why have not the beings in the universe a tendency to act each for its own individual self without any particle of regard for others? Or why are they not so natured as to be oblivious of self and conscious only of those around them? These are profound questions and questions of superlative importance to the student of social culture. What the social scientist is attempting to do, or should be attempting to do, is to ameliorate the relation of associated beings, and this is to be accomplished by improving the conduct or modifying the modes of motion of these beings. And it is necessary in order to modify these modes of motion to know where and how these modes of motion have been acquired. It is impossible for a physician to prescribe rationally to a pathology whose causation he does not know.
    • pp. 98–99
  • Sympathy is consciousness of kind. It is the putting of one's self in the place of another, the projection of one's own personality into the periphery of another and sharing or simulating by means of the imagination the emotions of that other. Sympathy is the lily of the imagination.
    • p. 115
  • Sympathy, consciousness of kind, means simply the realization or the conscious recognition by living beings of the kinship of content. A human being unconscious of kind, an unsympathetic and inhuman person, is one who is likely to assume that his conscious states are sui generis, that they are more precious and intense than, and intrinsically different from, those of others—one who realizes that an injured sensory is a savage thing in his own organism, but who does not suppose it to be anything of the kind when it hangs to the brain of a Hottentot or a horse. Why do the human rich treat the human poor with such inconsideration? Why do they allow or compel them to remain disinherited and crushed while they themselves loll in superfluous wealth? Because there is Inadequate consciousness of kind.
    • pp. 116–117
  • There is no sympathy, no consciousness of kind, no realization that the emotions experienced by that valiant little creature struggling to avoid the mouths of those instinct-maddened dogs are similar to the emotions they themselves would experience in an identical predicament.
    • pp. 117
  • There is a kinship of all beings, for the life process has sprung from one source and evolved according to one fundamental principle. Consciousness of kind, therefore, the ability to participate in the psychic states of others, is cultivated by a knowledge of the nature and content of those around us, and anything which tends to increase or complete our knowledge of others, as identity of language, association, or ambition, tends to intensify consciousness of kind, and whatever limits or prevents knowledge of others tends to cause us to consider them of a different order or kind from ourselves.
    • pp. 117–118
  • Why are non-human beings ostracized and treated by humans with no consideration save as they administer to selfish human ends? Whence the doctrine that non-human species were made for the hominine species, and that there is no logic or sanity in their existence save as they feed or slave for their human tyrants? Because they are dumb, that is, because their language is not understood by human minds, and because they are wild, that is, because they are for the most part unassociated with human animals, and because the civilized consciousness, which is barely able to realize the kinship of human beings, is yet too feeble and rudimentary to comprehend the solidarity of all beings.
    • p. 119
  • Inconsideration by human beings toward the rest of sentients is an aspect of that vast unconsciousness which taught that blacks were made for whites, females for males, and ''barbarians" for Romans.
    • p. 120
  • Longitudinal or serial altruism, that is, altruism toward the generations in future time, arises, like lateral or space altruism, thru sympathy, that is, thru the imagination. The living sustain a vital relation to the unborn. Every one who recognizes and shows any regard for this relation, and there are very few who do, does so by putting himself in the place of the unborn billions, and by anticipation sharing their welfare and ill-fare.
    • p. 120
  • The evolution of consciousness, in its ethical import, means the extension in both space and time of the consciousness of similarity. Starting from individual egoism, consciousness has extended, vividly or vaguely, from individual self to family, and from family to clan, and from clan to tribe, and from tribe to nation, and from nation to race, and from race to species, and from species to kingdom. This amplification has gone on and is still going on in both space and time. Universal consciousness of similarity contemplates all the beings in space and all those to be in time.
    • pp. 120–121

The Preponderance of Egoism[edit]

  • The sad and unmistakable thing one observes in looking out over the universe of conscious existence is the preponderance of egoism, the intense and almost maniacal regard with which beings, as a rule, act in behalf of themselves, and the lukewarm consideration, on the whole, allowed to others.
    • p. 122
  • All over the non-human world, with few exceptions, each being seeks the satisfaction of his own desires, if not with positive disregard for the happiness and misery of the rest of the universe, at least with sincere unconcern. There is no courtesy, sympathy, or amenity there—a cold, heartless, implacable world of strangers.
    • p. 123
  • The chief activities of beings, both human and non-human, are put forth, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of procuring food. The suppression, entire or partial, of one being by another for nutritive purposes is, therefore, the form of the most frequent and excessive egoism. The lowly forms of life—the worms, echinoderms, mollusks, and the like—are, for the most part, vegetarians. So, also, are prevalently the insects, birds, rodents, and ungulates. These creatures are not, as a rule, aggressively harmful to each other, chiefly indifferent. But upon these inoffensive races feed with remorseless maw the reptilia, the insectivora, and the carnivora. These being-eaters cause to the earth-world its bloodiest experiences. It is their nature (established organically by long selection, or, as in the case of man, acquired tentatively) to subsist, not on the kingdom of the plant, the natural and primal storehouse of animal energy, but on the skeletons and sensibilities of their neighbors and friends. The serpent dines on the sparrow and the sparrow ingulfs the gnat; the tiger slays the jungle-fowl and the coyote plunders the lamb; the seal subsists on fish and the ursus maritimus subsists on seal; the ant enslaves the aphidae and man eats and enslaves what can not get away from him. Life riots on life—tooth and talon, beak and paw. It is a sickening contemplation, but life everywhere, in its aspect of activity, is largely made up of the struggle by one being against another for existence—of the effort by one being to circumvent, subjugate, or destroy another, and of the counter effort to reciprocate or escape.
    • pp. 123–125
  • The stars of heaven never looked down on a more pitiful sight than that of a horse, after having drudged faithfully all his days in the service of his lord, cast out in his helpless old age to wander and perish.
    • pp. 128–129
  • Oh, universe! Pitiful spectacle! Aggregation of tragedy, somnambulism, inhumanity, terrorism, and death! It makes one long to seal up his sensibilities and leap out into the gulfs and be swallowed up. The handiwork of an all-wise biophilist? Rhapsody of an idiot! Gods? No! The monstrous kindergarten of an idle-pated knave! A Satanic prank! The surreptitious handiwork of an ass! A universe is, indeed, to be pitied whose dominating inhabitants are so unconscious and so ethically embryonic that they make life a commodity, mercy a disease, and systematic massacre a pastime and a profession.
    • pp. 131–132
  • Women are everywhere systematically deprived of privileges which men have fought and bled and died to obtain for themselves. In many lands a woman legally ceases to exist the day she is wed—if she ever existed before. Man has always been, and is to-day, the race, and woman his shadow.
    • p. 133
  • Look at the manner in which the aborigines are swept away from continent after continent by the sword and beverage of the Aryans. See how the red children of America have been cheated and debauched and driven from homes where they and their fathers had lived from immemorial generations. When the banner of Castile first furled in Bahama breezes, America was inhabited by a noble, magnanimous, and happy people. They were not like the sodden, suspicious, revengeful remnants that to-day huddle on barricaded reserves, the vindictive survivors of four centuries of injustice. They were kind and generous. They came to the invading Europeans as children, with minds of wonder and with hands filled with presents. They were treated by the invaders like refuse. They were plundered, and their outstretched hands cut off and fed to Spanish hounds. They are gone from the valleys where once their camp-smokes curled to heaven, and their quaint canoes ruffle the moonlight of the rivers no more. They that remain are too weak to rise in warlike challenge to the aggressions of the mighty white. But the story of the meeting of the pale and the red, and of the wrongs of the vanquished red, will remain as one of the mournful tales of this world when the kindred of Lo, ''like fleecy clouds, have melted into the infinite azure of the past."
    • p. 133–134
  • Look at human industry! See the pounds of flesh daily torn by men everywhere from the skeletons of each other in the awful riot of ''business." Just look at it! The inequity, the unconsciousness, the hard-heartedness, the ruffianism, and the infernalism of the industrial relations and conditions of men! Watch an unfortunate approach a rich man's mansion and ask in the most graceful manner for a necessary of life. Observe the egoism the baron shows as he sends the sufferer away unfed. See the lord in his marble palace, upholstered with all the comforts of civilization and stuffed with the dainties of the zones, and around him the men and women who made his wealth feeding on garbage, suffocating in shanties, and working like wretches from morning till night. See the multi-millionaire, scraping the palms of his slaves till the blood starts for the last farthing their struggles have produced, not because he is hungry and would buy, but because he is a ruffian and can. No attention whatever is paid to the fact that some have all they can utilize in the satisfaction of their desires and multiples more, while others just as good-looking and more worthy have nothing. No attention is paid to the fact that this little pill of a world is to man the only accessible portion of the universe; that he is cut off from other balls by leagues of impassable space.
    • pp. 134–136
  • The weak submit because they are helpless and because they are ignorant, because they are incarcerated and disarmed, and because they have been taught and intimidated into believing that the conventional and the legal, whatever they are, have been ordained and established by the immeasurable manufacturer of things.
    • p. 137
  • A more pyramidal farce could not be framed at the present stage of the human imagination than that of human industry—the immense privilege and monopoly and the immense flatulence of wealth side by side with the most helpless and sickening deprivation—all brought about and perpetuated by hypocrites who lapse into hysterics over the injunction, "What you do not like when done to yourself do not do to others."
    • pp. 137–138

The Social Ideal[edit]

  • The earliest examples of human association were those practically of autocentricism. Each individual considered himself the only or chief end for which the universe existed. Each's own individual welfare was the end for which he struggled, and all the rest of the universe, sentient and insentient, was contemplated as means to this.
    • p. 142
  • Ethics, in our part of the world, may be considered to have advanced, at least in its pretensions, to the anthropocentric stage of evolution. Aggregation has advanced from individual to tribe, and from tribe to race, and from race to sex, and from sex to species, until to-day the ethical conception of many minds includes, with greater or less vividness and sincerity, all sexes, colors, and conditions of men. The fact that an animal is a human, that is, that he belongs to the hominine species of beings, entitles him, regardless of his imperfections, to some sort of consideration.
    • p. 143
  • Zoocentricism, that stage of solidarity in which the entire sentient universe is contemplated, universal consideration and love, is as yet too difficult for human consciousness. Human philosophy, which has been so slow in discovering the solidarity of the human species, is to-day, except in its Oriental manifestations, as reluctant to recognize other species in its ethical contemplations as were dominant human groups in less advanced stages of aggregation reluctant to recognize the solidarity of the hominine species.
    • p. 144
  • [T]o the prophet, that supermundane soul who has heard the secrets and intentions of the universe, the grand confederation of all the graceful races and species of the earth into one universal scheme of consideration, is as inevitable as the processes of evolution. The deprecations to-day of the most wanton crimes perpetrated by the human on associated species, seen in societies for the prevention of cruelties of various sorts, are but the dawn-peeps of a clearer consciousness and of more sweeping and consistent consideration. The ideal relation of the inhabitants of the universe to each other, then, is that relation which will most actively conduce to the welfare of the universe; and the welfare of the universe means, not the welfare of any one individual or guild, but the welfare of all the beings who now inhabit it, and of those who shall come after—the welfare of that mighty and immortal personality who comprehends all species and continues from generation to generation—the Sentient Cosmos.
    • pp. 144–145
  • The ideal universe is a universe so ordered or natured as to allow its inhabitants to understand and dominate it sufficient to satisfy their desires, and inhabited by beings with desires so poised and assorted that there is not only not mutual inhibition of desires, but such a dovetailing and intertwining of the consciousnesses that there is mutual aid in the satisfaction of desire—a universe responsive to the whims of its inhabitants, and inhabited by beings socially harmonious and helpful.
    • p. 146
  • The relation of the inhabitants of the universe to each other most favorable to the satisfaction of the desires of the universe is, therefore, that which will enable the animate universe, as a whole, to attain that relation which an individual living being, if he were alone In the universe, would desire to achieve for himself—a relation such as is sustained to each other and to the whole by the individual cells of a multicellular organism—a relation in which each acts in the interests of all, including himself, and all act in the interests of each.
    • pp. 146–147
  • Justice is more than equity: it is benevolence. It is not enough to live and let live. We should live and help live. There is as much grace and utility, as genuine moral glory, in the lifelong succor of the helpless by the strong as there is in the temporary chivalry shown by a human being in extricating a fellow from passing misfortune.
    • p. 153
  • Ideal cooperation is rational and intentional rather than accidental. The clumsy, unsystematic production of existing societies is replaced by perfectly symmetrical and unified procedures. The whole of society constitutes one mighty organism carrying on the functions necessary to its maintenance and welfare in the most intelligent and magnanimous manner. The social ideal is an organized fraternity of perfectly articulating supplements, assaulting the inanimate as an individual personality, not as a mob of incompatible ruffians.
    • p. 155
  • Why should living beings struggle against each other, except as they struggle to advance the general welfare? Happiness is just as valuable and just as beautiful a thing in one being as in another. Some have greater talent for it than have others but it is a state of sweetness and elation always and everywhere. And each living being, in deliberating on the problem of the proprieties, should realize the fact that, as a matter of fact, it is a matter of indifference whether this relation belongs to his sensorium or to some other sensorium. It is insane for each being to insist that he, as an organism, is the one organism to whom pleasure is indispensable. The only indispensable is that pleasure be maximized. If a definite amount of happiness is to be experienced, it is, in the eyes of the absolute, a matter of indifference whether this happiness is experienced by one individual or by another, by self or by some other conscious portion of the universe.
    • pp. 157–158
  • This universe is not an ideal universe. It is impossible, without more fundamental revision of its character than human beings can ever hope to effect, to make of it an ideal place, or anything like an ideal place, for the satisfaction of desires. The cosmic processes which have evolved conscious beings on the earth—and these processes are but the hard-headed tendencies of matter—have so hopelessly nuptialed pleasure and pain that it is impossible to believe that fumbling philosophy will ever be able to divorce them. But we are here, useless and mysterious as it may seem, a set of incompatible vagrants, orphaned here on a dervish-like lump of something, in the midst of immensities so hard and arrogant that no wail from our worm-like larynxes can aught avail. And, so far as we can make out, it is the program of things that we are to remain here. We can not lie down peacefully and perish, for we are possessed by an instinct lashing us to live.
    • pp. 158–159
  • The earth is our mother, our habitation, and our tomb. In the presence of these facts, it would seem the highest sanity for us to be kind and merciful to each other, and to cultivate without hypocrisy the charming chivalry of the Golden Rule. The task of understanding and managing the tendencies which surround and beat upon us and in the midst of which we writhe and supplicate is certainly sufficient in itself without our turning upon and cudgeling each other.
    • pp. 159–160
  • One thing is certain, however, and that is, that the most powerful instinct of human nature, the instinct to struggle and survive, the instinct to be superior, must be destroyed or greatly subordinated before the state here outlined can be realized; for the ideal state will be practically bereft of opportunity for its satisfaction.
    • p. 161
  • It is not possible, and it never will be possible, to organize all the beings occupying space into one immense confederacy. This would be ideal, but from the inexorable nature of things it can never be. The denizens of the sea depths can not correlate with the inhabitants of the clouds. The lion can not fraternize with the lamb, nor the hawk with the sparrow. The natures of beings have been evolved thru war, and they are in large part irredeemably antagonistic. But the approximation, if honest, may be more successful than is supposed, and may include many species not human. The bird may contribute his song and plumage, the sheep his fleece, the horse, the ox, the elephant, and the camel their strength or speed, the cow and the fowl their secretions, the dog his fidelity, and man his art. The ultimate and ideal aggregation of the living universe will not be a pan-American union nor a Euro-American league, nor even an aggregation whose spirit is embodied in a parliament of man, but the widest and most consummate possible Confederation of the Consciousnesses.
    • pp. 161–163
  • And what is it to act upon others as you would that others would act upon you? It is to put yourself in the place of others. It is consideration of others as ardent as consideration of self. It is the balancing of abilities, supplementation, the social ideal.
    • p. 164

The Derivation of the Nature of Living Beings[edit]

  • Since impulses are simply sensations which have become motor, and since sensations are only tendencies from without become conscious, the nature of any being may be said to be the manner in which it correlates the tendencies which it contacts, or the manner in which a being, as a distinct and detached portion of the universe, reacts upon the rest of the universe.
    • p. 171
  • An ox is of a very different nature from a fox, and men (some of them) are very unlike serpents, because the classes of impulses in the consciousnesses of these animals are for the most part very different in one animal from another. Serpents, oxen, foxes, and men, however, are all similar in their eagerness to reproduce themselves, and in their emphatic reluctance to die.
    • p. 172
  • The dread of death, an instinct so unfailing in all animals, exists, not because existence is intrinsically so sweet, nor because annihilation is so distressing, but because this bugaboo has been an indispensable safeguard against the suicide of the life process. The expectation of post-mortem consciousness, so prevalent and so insistent among human beings, is a hope arising from the concussion of a desire and a fancy—the desire to persist just referred to, and the fancy or hallucination of a double which originated among savages from shadows, images, dreams, and the like.
    • pp. 176–177
  • The inanimate is the fundamental of things, the substratum upon which the possibilities rear themselves. Before life was, it was, and it will be when life's last inertia is spent. Out of its mysterious parts the life process came, and upon its hard herbage and by the grace of its scanty tolerances it survives. The inanimate is the mighty trellis about whose inhospitable parts the tendrils of sentiency creep. It is the riddle, the catastrophe, and the sine qua non of the enterprise of consciousness. The inanimate is and has always been indifferent to life, and for this reason it has been indefatigable in its selections. It has no ears for distress, no eyes for injustice, and no sympathy for the unsophisticated. Its hardships, of food, climate, and cataclysm have entered with tireless energy into the destinies of the consciousnesses. It must have been some unprecedented scarcity of nutrition that originated that coarse and fearful manifestation of egoism, carnivorousness.
    • pp. 188–189
  • The animate environment has been the most formidable factor in the evolution of mundane life. The inanimate has been indifferent. The animate has not been so. It has been relentless. While the ages were yet tender, life began to riot upon life, and it has continued to do so to this moment. Where the inanimate has slain and selected one, the animate has slain multitudes. It is estimated that the life process is now about twenty millions of years old. Its existence has been one unbroken bacchanal of blood. Aggregate has preyed upon aggregate and species has decimated species. Tides of irresponsibles have swept over the continents and thru the deeps, collided, grappled, and exterminated each other. What is hidden in the horrible chasm between monera and man, no fancy will ever illume. It is the mighty charnal of creation. The skeletons of two millions of exterminated species of living beings are there with all their unimaginable accompaniments—wars, blacknesses, frightful manglings, eclipses, horrible concussions, inextinguishable malignities, hell.
    • pp. 189–190
  • For it must be remembered that there was a time when no set of beings tyrannized and terrorized the planet as do the reigning cutthroats to-day. Estimate finally, if you can, and history will help you, the amount of bloodshed and war and woe necessary to develop those unfinished Troglodytes into beings clever enough to write history and invent gin and originate the hope of heaven. Compute these totalities, and you will know what it has cost to teach you and me and the rest to talk politics and wax sarcastic with our fore limbs in the air. Question: If it has required two or three millions of species struggling for life twenty millions of years to produce a being barely above derision, how long will it take and how many millions of species to evolve a being as nearly divine as the average man thinks he is?
    • pp. 191–192
  • Consciousness arises with, or out of, and accompanies, these clay compounds called creatures, but it does not cause, nor in any way interfere with, their phenomena. If it were possible to construct artificial clods, chemically as accomplished as philosophers, but without any accompanying consciousness, these soulless mechanisms, without will, feeling, or conscious intelligence, simply acting out their chemical and physical affinities, would not behave otherwise in any infinitesimal particular than the real, conscious meditators on things.
    • pp. 200–201

Race Culture[edit]

  • If we would return to the shaggy condition of primitive ages, we need only acquire an environment which will favor from age to age those whose peripheries retain to the intensest extent the hirsute tendency. If the disparities between the sexual tastes of male and female would be leveled or inverted, the conditions which have caused the existing disparity must be reversed. The horse exposed to a fad for dwarfs would, in the course of ages, the length of time depending on the pitch of discrimination, be dwindled to its fox-like proportions of eocene times. In an environment requiring courage, foxes would either disappear or grow heroic. Serpents could be rendered as loving as doves by a procedure no more laborious than that by which they have been made vindictive. And beardless aesthetes may become philosophers as easily as have men.
    • pp. 208–209
  • Human beings are bigots and egoists almost to a creature. They are so because their phyletic environment has fancied this disgusting cut of consciousness. And the only possible way to attain, with anything like alacrity, any other pattern is by means of an environment with an enlightened and inextinguishable dislike for the prevailing style of things. Let this truth be distinctly and profoundly realized. It is the essential spark of the illumination. If we would bloom into beings of beauty and light, we must acquire an environment which will insist on beings of beauty and light as the mammas and papas of posterity.
    • pp. 209–210
  • If this ball is ever other than a globule of alloy, if the universe ever experiences the long longed for millennium of prophecy and hope, all must come thru the reformed and glorified gateway of the womb. Individual, or post-natal, reformation is, and must always be, more or less imperfect. It is powerless in determining the nature with which beings come into the world, and it is ineffectual in modifying it after it is determined.
    • p. 210
  • The absolute and only function of punishment is to reform the one receiving the punishment and to deter others of like impulses. No misery should be inflicted upon a criminal because he has done a wrong, but because he and others have dispositions to do other wrongs. The function of punishment is not to "satisfy" in some mysterious sense a past offense, but to provide against and curtail future offenses.
    • p. 221
  • The purpose of all penal schemes should be, not reciprocity, but reformation pure and simple; not the relentless and absurd infliction of misery commensurate with the crimes committed, but the achievement of the largest possible reformation with the gentlest and most strategic deprivation.
    • pp. 221–222
  • The criminal should be considered and pitied, not despised. He simply complies with the nature with which he came into the world, modified by the environment in which he has lived, the same as does every other being who breathes. You or I, with identical heredity and environment, would do identical deeds. Measured by his ability to do otherwise, the villain is not less divine than the humanitarian. Every creature acts out the impulses which arise in his own consciousness, and the will cannot create, but simply registers, those impulses. Punishment is one of the means possessed by society for its self-culture, and its administration should not be made an opportunity for pugilistic cocks to color their spurs.
    • p. 224
  • Parenthood is the gravest of all responsibilities. The act of generation is a momentous act. It should be illuminated. It should be more serious, and deliberate, and conscious. It should be far more frequently neglected. Human beings should know that it is a grave conspiracy, the conspiracy to bring into the universe a living being, an organism with lungs and responsibilities and the faculty for being affected. Would-be parents should ascertain whether or not they are undertaking the dissemination of disease and crime among future generations. For society not to know, nor care to know, and not to determine, nor care to determine, the character of purposed contributions to a new generation, would seem amazing, were we not born looking upon it. Were we accustomed to accomplished and scientific procreation, our indiscriminate somnambulism would scarce wear the aspects of sanity.
    • p. 238–239

Individual Culture[edit]

  • The twofold function of individual culture is so to develop beings that they shall be able to perceive their proper relations to the rest of the uiniverse, to the inanimate about them, and to other beings in space and time, and realizing their relations to others, to be disposed to assume them.
    • p. 247
  • From the time an individual human comes into the world a sprawling, squalling, unpeepered vagrant, to the hour he goes out in tragedy and pain, life is one continuation of the very conditions which brought him into the world a confirmed egoist.
    • p. 256
  • Is it any wonder, therefore, that the young, accustomed to such an environment, grow up to consider life itself a game, in which they are to strive to outwit those about them? Is it any wonder that you and I and men and women everywhere are helplessly selfish, when we were born so, when all that we know of altruism has come thru Sunday-school rumors and straggling precepts, and when we have all our lives been surrounded by selfish people and occupied in selfish pastimes and professions? Nothing could be more natural. Altruism is anomalous on the earth, and it is not astonishing.
    • pp. 260–261
  • Living beings who love themselves no more ardently than they love others are prodigies, and it will never be otherwise so long as beings are born as they are and live in like conditions.
    • p. 261
  • Altruism should be inculcated from the cradle, and savagery should be denounced. Maxims and precepts, proclaiming the equal preciousness of all, should be assiduously dinned into the consciousness. The young should be convinced beyond all chance of deterioration that the only laudable thing in the world is the causing of happiness, and that happiness in others is just as precious and valuable as it is in themselves. They should be taught that only "happiness which comes like the red flowers of the oleander out of the bosom of the all" is true happiness, not that which is gleaned from the pain and discomfiture of others.
    • pp. 262–263
  • All school-room competition should be abolished. The school should be a family, a fraternity, a colony of cooperating, helping, sympathizing brothers and sisters, not a camp of hot combatants bent on mutual discomfiture. Competition is not necessary, and if it were necessary, it would not be justifiable. If it is not possible to produce great intellects without crimes on character, then let us doze forever in the holy haze of mediocrity. A graceful nature is the most essential psychic possession of a living being.
    • p. 264
  • Who, that has pity, is disposed to censure a child for rebelling against the useless and absurd rumination, thru painful years, of mummified languages and fearful mathematical formulae, which have no more real bearing, and which to the average human being never will have any more real bearing, on the great, living, performing universe around him than the esoteric nonsense of the Five Kings?
    • p. 266
  • Teach a child to love others as it loves itself; let this be the first and most impressive injunction that invades its ears; allow it never to infringe this rule in its conduct toward others, and never to associate with those who do; teach it that the highest virtue is forbearance and helpfulness; inculcate the equal rights of all to the joys of the universe; forbid all competitive indulgence as degrading and ungallant; teach it the propriety of exercising its combativeness against the tendencies of the inanimate, never against a fellow-creature; allow only those amusements which encourage kindness and the rivalry of good-doing;—and when that child grows to manhood or womanhood, and encounters the conditions of more serious life, it will encounter them, not ideally, perhaps, but in a spirit very remote from that in which it would have approached them had it come up thru conditions of incessant egoism.
    • p. 275
  • Revision of character will be a much more tangible and scientific thing when the physiology of psychology becomes more than a controverted conjecture. There has been no attempt, no methodical attempt, to amend character thru physiological and neural violence; and about all we know about the possibilities of such a surgery consists of glimpses caught on occasions of casualty. We do know, however, that neural changes appear promptly and invariably in consciousness, and that there is every reason to suspect perfect parallelism between the neural and psychic processes. This unfailing attendance and dependence of mind on physical phenomena, and the superior tangibility of matter over consciousness, assure the prophet that an accomplished and sensitized attention is the all-essential to the achievement of psychical amendment by neural and physiological alteration. In the New Age which we prevision and approach, among the marvels to amaze our clumsy contemplations will be the miracles of cerebral surgery, the physics of the humors, the science of the physiology of consciousness.
    • pp. 274–275

The Universal Kinship (1906)[edit]

Whatever the inhabitants of this world were or were thought to be before the publication of 'The Origin of Species,' they never could be anything since then but a family.

Full text online at the Internet Archive, Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1906.


  • The Universal Kinship means the kinship of all the inhabitants of the planet Earth. Whether they came into existence among the waters or among desert sands, in a hole in the earth, in the hollow of a tree, or in a palace; whether they build nests or empires; whether they swim, fly, crawl, or ambulate; and whether they realise it or not, they are all related, physically, mentally, morally—this is the thesis of this book. But since man is the most gifted and influential of animals, and since his relationship with other animals is more important and more reluctantly recognised than any other, the chief purpose of these pages is to prove and interpret the kinship, of the human species with the other species of animals.
  • [T]here is a Future. And the creeds and ideals, men bow down to to-day will in time to come pass away, and new creeds and ideals will claim their allegiance. Shrines change as the generations come and go, and out of the decomposition of the old comes the new. The time will come when the sentiments of these pages will not be hailed by two or three, and ridiculed or ignored by the rest; they will represent Public Opinion and Law.

The Physical Kinship[edit]

  • [M]an is an animal. It was away out there on the prairies, among the green corn rows, one beautiful June morning—a long time ago it seems to me now—that this revelation really came to me. And I repeat it here, as it has grown to seem to me, for the sake of a world which is so wise in many things, but so darkened and wayward regarding this one thing. However averse to accepting it we may be on account of favourite traditions, man is an animal in the most literal and materialistic meaning of the word. Man has not a spark of so-called 'divinity' about him. In important respects he is the most highly evolved of animals; but in origin, disposition, and form he is no more 'divine' than the dog who laps his sores, the terrapin who waddles over the earth in a carapace, or the unfastidious worm who dines on the dust of his feet. Man is not the pedestalled individual pictured by his imagination—a being glittering with prerogatives, and towering apart from and above all other beings. He is a pain-shunning, pleasure-seeking, death-dreading organism, differing in particulars, but not in kind, from the pain-shunning, pleasure-seeking, death-dreading organisms below and around him. Man is neither a rock, a vegetable, nor a deity. He belongs to the same class of existences, and has been brought into existence by the same evolutional processes, as the horse, the toad that hops in his garden, the firefly that lights its twilight torch, and the bivalve that reluctantly feeds him.
    • "Man an Animal", pp. 4–5
  • Man is a talkative and religious ape. He is an ape, but with a much greater amount of enterprise and with a greater likelihood of being found in every variety of climate. Like the anthropoid, man has a bald face and an obsolete tail. But he is distinguished from his arboreal relative by his arrogant bearing, his skilled larynx, and especially by the satisfaction he experiences in the contemplation of the image which appears when he looks in a mirror.
    • "Man an Animal", p. 17
  • The universe is an evolution. Change is as extensive as time and space. The present has come out of that which has been, and will enter into and determine that which is to be. Everything has a biography. Everything has evolved—everything—from the murmur on the lips of the speechless babe to the soul of the poet, and from the molecule to Jehovah.
    • "The Earth an Evolution", p. 35
  • Hardships have come. They have come from the inanimate universe in the form of floods, fires, frosts, accidents, diseases, droughts, storms, and the like; from other species, who were competitors or enemies; and from unbrotherly members of the same species. Some have survived, but the great majority have perished. Only a fraction, and generally an appallingly small fraction, of each generation of a species have lived to maturity.
    • "The Factors of Organic Evolution", p. 35
  • How helpless human beings are—in fact, how helpless all beings are! How hopelessly dependent we are upon the past, and how impossible it is to be really original! What the future will be depends upon what the present is, for the future will grow out of, and inherit, the present. What the present is depends upon what the past was, for the present has grown out of, and inherited, the past. And what the past was depends upon a remoter past from which it evolved, and so on. There is no end anywhere of dependence, either forward or backward. Every fact, from an idea to a sun, is a contingent link in an eternal chain.
    • "The Genealogy of Animals", p. 85
  • Kinship is universal. The orders, families, species, and races of the animal kingdom are the branches of a gigantic arbour. Every individual is a cell, every species is a tissue, and every order is an organ in the great surging, suffering, palpitating process. Man is simply one portion of the immense enterprise. He is as veritably an animal as the insect that drinks its little fill from his veins, the ox he goads, or the wild-fox that flees before his bellowings. Man is not a god, nor in any imminent danger of becoming one. He is not a celestial star-babe dropped down among mundane matters for a time and endowed with wing possibilities and the anatomy of a deity. He is a mammal of the order of primates, not so lamentable when we think of the hyena and the serpent, but an exceedingly discouraging vertebrate compared with what he ought to be. He has come up from the worm and the quadruped. His relatives dwell on the prairies and in the fields, forests, and waves. He shares the honours and partakes of the infirmities of all his kindred. He walks on his hind-limbs like the ape; he eats herbage and suckles his young like the ox; he slays his fellows and fills himself with their blood like the crocodile and the tiger; he grows old and dies, and turns to banqueting worms, like all that come from the elemental loins. He cannot exceed the winds like the hound, nor dissolve his image in the mid-day blue like the eagle. He has not the courage of the gorilla, the magnificence of the steed, nor the plaintive innocence of the ring-dove. Poor, pitiful, glory-hunting hideful! Born into a universe which he creates when he comes into it, and clinging, like all his kindred, to a clod that knows him not, he drives on in the preposterous storm of the atoms, as helpless to fashion his fate as the sleet that pelts him, and lost absolutely in the somnambulism of his own being.
    • "Conclusion", p. 101

The Psychical Kinship[edit]

  • The story of Eden is a fabrication, bequeathed to us by our well-meaning but dimly-lighted ancestors. There has been no more miracle in the origin of the human species than in the origin of any other species. And there is no more miracle in the origin of a species than there is in the birth of a molecule or in the breaking of a tired wave on the beach. Man was not made in the image of the hypothetical creator of heaven and earth, but in the image of the ape. Man is not a fallen god, but a promoted reptile. The beings around him are not conveniences, but cousins. Instead of stretching away to the stars, man's pedigree slinks down into the sea. Horrible revelation! Frightful antithesis! Instead of celestial genesis and a 'fall'—long and doleful promotion. Instead of elysian gardens and romance—the slime. Instead of a god with royal nostrils miraculously animating an immortal duplicate—a little lounging cellule, too small to be seen and too senseless to distinguish between midnight and noon. But the situation is not half so horrible as it looks to be to those who see only the skin of things. Is it not better, after all, to be the honourable outcome of a straightforward evolution than the offspring of flunky-loving celestials? Are the illustrious children of the ape less glorious than the sycophants of irrational theological systems? Darwin dealt in his quiet way some malicious blows to human conceit, but he also bequeathed to a misguided world the elements of its ultimate redemption.
    • "The Conflict of Science and Tradition", p. 107
  • The supposed psychical gulf between human and non-human beings has no more existence, outside the flamboyant imagination of man, than has the once-supposed physical gulf. It is pure fiction. The supposition is a relic of the rapidly dwindling vanity of anthropocentricism, and is perpetuated from age to age by human selfishness and conceit. It has no foundation either in science or in common-sense. Man strives to lessen his guilt by the laudation of himself and the disparagement and degradation of his victims.
    • "The Conflict of Science and Tradition", p. 108
  • I have seen a mother mouse in a moment of peril flee from her home among the falling pieces of a cord-wood pile, and disappear under the roots of a neighbouring oak. I have seen her a little later, recovered from her initial dismay, making her way back again, clambering along among the tangled timbers, stopping now and then to look and listen, her eyes wild and anxious, and her whole little body quaking with excitement. I have seen her go among the ruins of her dwelling, take a poor little squeaking young one in her mouth, and hurry away with it to the gloomy refuge in the roots of the oak. I have watched her return again and again, each time taking in her careful teeth the tiny body of a babe, until five mouthfuls of precious pink were safely lodged within the fortress of the oak. And I could as soon believe that woman, when she saves her children from some fearful harm, is a soulless machine as think that that brave little woodmother, out there alone under the trees, snatching her darlings from the jaws of death, was a heroine without sense or feeling.
    • "The Common-Sense View", pp. 184–185
  • The frail, narrow, fantastic character of human sympathy is the most mournful fact in human nature. 'Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn,' and his inhumanity to not-men makes the planet a ball of pain and terror.
    • "The Elements of Human and Non-Human Mind Compared", p. 208
  • [T]he difference in mental method between the man of learning and the ordinary man or woman is the same as the difference between mature men and children and between men generally and other animals. It is one of degree, not of kind. The philosopher, the clodhopper, and the ape, all use precisely the same methods of reasoning, differing only in exactness and in the materials of consciousness dealt with.
    • "The Elements of Human and Non-Human Mind Compared", pp. 220–221
  • We know what a lion looks like when painted by a man, but human eyes have never yet been allumined by the sardonic lineaments of a man painted by a lion. Being boiled alive in order to look well as corpses in store-windows, and having wooden pegs thrust into our muscles and left there to rot for a week or two to keep us in our agony from doing something desperate—we know what these experiences are like when they are delegated to lobsters, and we take no more serious part in them than to insure their infliction, but we are too fervent barbarians to bother our heads about what they are like from the crustacean point of view.
    • "Conclusion", p. 233
  • Let us be honest. Honour to whom honour is due. It will not emaciate our own glory to recognise the excellence and reality of others, or to come face to face with our own frailties. We are our brother's keeper. Our brethern are they that feel. Let us universalise. Our thoughts and sympathies have been too long wingless. The Universe is our Country, and our Kindred are the Populations that Mourn. It is well—it is eminently well, for it is godlike—to send our Magnanimity to the Dusts and the Deeps, our Sunrises to the Uttermost Isles, and our Charity to the Stars.
    • "Conclusion", p. 240

The Ethical Kinship[edit]

  • One of the wisest things ever said by one of the profoundest philosophers of all time was the warning to the seeker after truth to beware of the influence of the 'idols (or illusions) of the tribe' by which he meant that body of traditional prejudices which every sect, family, nation, and neighbourhood has clinging to it, and in the midst of which and at the mercy of which every human being grows up.
    • "Epigraph", p. 244
  • To the initiated, therefore, it is not strange that we civilised folk in our conduct display so freely the phenomena of the savage. There is nothing more inevitable in the life of the convert than the haunting inclination to give way to original impulses. It is not strange that we are powerless to be as good and beautiful and true as we would like to be, that our divine efforts are our half-hearted efforts, and that the only time we get terribly in earnest and put forth really titanic energies is when we are dominated directly or indirectly by the instincts of the pack. Human aspiration is fettered by the fearful facts of human origin. It is not strange that we are continually conscious of being torn by contending tendencies, conscious of ghastly masteries, and of horrible goings on in our innermost beings. The human heart is the gladiatorial meeting-place of gods and beasts.
    • "Human Nature a Product of the Jungle", p. 246
  • Egoism is preference for self, partiality toward that part of the universe bounded by one's own skin. It may consist simply of regard for self, but with regard for self is usually associated enmity toward others. Egoism manifests itself in such qualities of mind as selfishness, cruelty, intolerance, hate, hardheartedness, savagery, rudeness, injustice, narrowness, and the like. It is the primal impulse of the living heart. Enmity is older and more universal than love. Enmity constituted the very loins from which long ago came the original miscreants of this world.
    • "Egoism and Altruism", pp. 247–248
  • I saw the fishes playing there;
    I saw all that was in the whole world round;
    In wood, and bower, and marsh, and mead, and field,
    All things which creep and fly, And put a foot to earth.
    All these I saw, and say to you,
    That nothing lives among them without hate.
    • "Egoism and Altruism", p. 248
  • The preponderance of egoism in the natures of living beings is the most mournful and immense fact in the phenomena of conscious life. It has made the world the kind of world it would have been had the gods actually emptied their wrath vials upon it. Brotherhood is anomalous, and, even in its highest manifestations, is but the expression of a veiled and calculating egoism. Inhumanity is everywhere. The whole planet is steeped in it. Every creature faces an inhospitable universeful, and every life is a campaign. It has all come about as a result of the mindless and inhuman manner in which life has been developed on the earth. It has been said that an individual of unlimited faculties and infinite goodness and power made this world and endowed it with ways of acting, and that this individual, as the world's executive, continues to determine its phenomena by inspiring the order of its events. But one cannot help thinking sometimes, when, in his more daring and vivid moments, he comes to comprehend the real character and condition of the world, what a discrepancy exists between the reputation of this builder and his works, and cannot help wondering whether an ordinary human being with only common-sense and insight and an average concern for the welfare of the world would not make a great improvement in terrestrial affairs if he only had the opportunity for a while.
    • "Egoism and Altruism", p. 249
  • The fact that altruism has been evolved by the cooperation of individuals with each other and against others is a significant fact in the analysis and understanding of the ethical phenomena of the earth. To this fact is due the restricted and illogical character of all altruism.
    • "Egoism and Altruism", pp. 251–252
  • The evolution of consciousness in its social and ethical aspects consists in the evolution of the ability to make real and vivid the phenomena that are more and more distant in both space and time.
    • "Modern Ethics", pp. 268–269
  • All the barbarism is not behind us nor around us. History looks dark and discouraging to us, as we turn its terrible pages, but we would see something just as discouraging if we would look into a mirror.
    • "Modern Ethics", pp. 270–271
  • The denial by human animals of ethical relations to the rest of the animal world is a phenomenon not differing either in character or cause from the denial of ethical relations by a tribe, people, or race of human beings to the rest of the human world. The provincialism of Jews toward non-Jews, of Greeks toward non-Greeks, of Romans toward non-Romans, of Moslems toward non-Moslems, and of Caucasians toward non-Caucasians, is not one thing and the provincialism of human beings toward non-human beings another. They are all manifestations of the same thing. The fact that these various acts are performed by different individuals and upon different individuals, and are performed at different times and places, does not invalidate the essential sameness of their natures. Crimes are not classified (except by savages or their immediate derivatives) according to the similarity of those who do them or those who suffer from them, but by grouping them according to the similarity of their intrinsic qualities. All acts of provincialism consist essentially in the disinclination or inability to be universal, and they belong in reality, all of them, to the same species of conduct.
    • "The Ethics of Human Beings Toward Non-human Beings", p. 276
  • There is, in fact, but one great crime in the universe, and most of the instances of terrestrial wrong-doing are instances of this crime. It is the crime of exploitation—the considering by some beings of themselves as ends, and of others as their means—the refusal to recognize the equal, or the approximately equal, rights of all to life and its legitimate rewards—the crime of acting toward others as one would that others would not act toward him. For millions of years, almost ever since life began, this crime has been committed, in every nook and quarter of the inhabited globe.
    • "The Ethics of Human Beings Toward Non-human Beings", pp. 276–277
  • Every being is an end. In other words, every being is to be taken into account in determining the ends of conduct. This is the only consistent outcome of the ethical process which is in course of evolution on the earth. This world was not made and presented to any particular clique for its exclusive use or enjoyment. The earth belongs, if it belongs to anybody, to the beings who inhabit it—to all of them. And when one being or set of beings sets itself up as the sole end for which the universe exists, and looks upon and acts toward others as mere means to this end, it is usurpation, nothing else and never can be anything else, it matters not by whom or upon whom the usurpation is practised.
    • "The Ethics of Human Beings Toward Non-human Beings", pp. 277–278
  • Deeds are right and wrong in themselves; and whether they are right or wrong, good or evil, proper or improper, whether they should be done or should not be done, depends upon their effects upon the welfare of the inhabitants of the universe.
    • "The Ethics of Human Beings Toward Non-human Beings", pp. 278
  • The partially emancipated human being who extends his moral sentiments to all the members of his own species, but denies to all other species the justice and humanity he accords to his own, is making on a larger scale the same ethical mess of it as the savage. The only consistent attitude, since Darwin established the unity of life (and the attitude we shall assume, if we ever become really civilised), is the attitude of universal gentleness and humanity.
    • "The Ethics of Human Beings Toward Non-human Beings", p. 279
  • To take the life of an ox for his muscles, or to kill a sheep for his skin is murder, and those who do these things or cause them to be done are murderers just as actually as highwaymen are who blow off the heads of hapless wayfarers for their guineas. If these things seem untrue it is not because they are untrue, but because those to whom they seem so are unable to judge conduct from the quadrupedal point of view.
    • "The Ethics of Human Beings Toward Non-human Beings", pp. 281–282
  • If there were in this world beings as much more clever than Caucasians as Caucasians are more clever than cows and sheep, and these beings should regard themselves as the darlings of the gods and should attach a fictitious dignity and importance to their own lives, but should look upon Caucasians as simply so much 'beef' and 'mutton,' these bleached terrorists of the world would in the course of a few generations of experience probably become sufficiently illumined to realise that current human conceptions of cows and sheep are not only preposterous, but fiendish.
    • "The Ethics of Human Beings Toward Non-human Beings", p. 282
  • If to do good is to generate welfare, then to cause welfare to a horse, a bird, a butterfly, or a fish, is to do good just as truly as to cause welfare to men. And if to do evil is to cause unhappiness and illfare, then to cause these things to one individual or race is evil just as certainly as to cause them to any other individual or race. And if to put one's self in the place of others, and to act toward them as one would wish them to act toward him, is the one great rule—the Golden Rule—by which men are to gauge their conduct when acting toward each other, then this is also the one great rule—the Golden Rule—by which men are to regulate their conduct toward all beings. There is no escape from these conclusions, except for the savage and the fool.
    • "Universal Ethics", p. 296
  • The psychology of the exploitation of nonhuman beings by human beings is not different in kind from the psychology of any other act of exploitation. The great first cause of man's inhumanity to not-men is the same precisely as the great first cause of man's inhumanity to man—Selfishness—blind, brutal, unconscionable egoism.
    • "The Psychology of Altruism", p. 301
  • The ox, the hare, the bird, and the fish have no rights in the world in which they live other than those that are convenient for men to allow to them, because they are 'animals.' They are assumed to belong to an order of beings entirely different from that to which human beings belong. They are filled with nerves, and brains, and bloodvessels; they love life, and bleed, and struggle, and cry out when their veins are opened, just as human beings do; they have the same general form and structure of body, their bodies are composed of the same organs busied with the same functions; and they are descended from the same ancestors and have been developed in the same world through the operation of the same great laws as we ourselves have.
    • "The Psychology of Altruism", p. 302
  • We think of our acts toward non-human peoples, when we think of them at all, entirely from the human point of view. We never take the time to put ourselves in the places of our victims. We never take the trouble to get over into their world, and realise what is happening over there as a result of our doings toward them. It is so much more comfortable not to do so—so much more comfortable to be blind and deaf and insane.
    • "The Psychology of Altruism", p. 304
  • If human beings could only realise what the hare suffers, or the stag, when it is pursued by dogs, horses, and men bent on taking its life, or what the fish feels when it is thrust through and flung into suffocating gases, no one of them, not even the most recreant, could find pleasure in such work.
    • "The Psychology of Altruism", p. 308–309
  • If human beings could only realise what it means to live in a world and associate day after day with other beings more intelligent and powerful than themselves, and yet be regarded by these more intelligent individuals simply as merchandise to be bought and sold, or as targets to be shot at, they would hide their guilty heads in shame and horror.
    • "The Psychology of Altruism", p. 309
  • But when that is the question, when will it be? In what distant time will the Golden Dream of our prophetic hours come to this poor darkened larva of a world? Ages upon ages after our little existences have gone out, and the detritus of our wasted bodies has wandered long in the labyrinths of the sod or been sown by aimless gusts over our native hills.
    • "The Psychology of Altruism", p. 314
  • It is about as profound to suppose that the earth and its contents, and the suns, stars, and systems of space, were all made for a single species inhabitating an obscure ball located in a remote quarter of the universe as it is to suppose that the gigantic body of the elephant was made for the wisp of hair on the tip of its tail. Man is not the end, he is but an incident, of the infinite elaborations of Time and Space.
    • "Anthropocentric Ethics", p. 319
  • The doctrine of organic evolution, which forever established the common genesis of all animals, sealed the doom of anthropocentricism. Whatever the inhabitants of this world were or were thought to be before the publication of 'The Origin of Species,' they never could be anything since then but a family. The doctrine of evolution is probably the most important revelation that has come to the world since the illuminations of Galileo and Copernicus. The authors of the Copernican theory enlarged and corrected human understanding by disclosing to man the comparative littleness of his world—by discovering that the earth, which had up to that time been supposed to be the centre and capital of cosmos, is in reality a satellite of the sun. This heliocentric discovery was hard on human conceit, for it was the first broad hint man had thus far received of his true dimensions. The doctrine of evolution has had, and is having, and is destined to continue to have, a similarly correcting effect on the naturally narrow conceptions of men.
    • "Ethical Implications of Evolution", pp. 319–320
  • [W]hile the biology of evolution is scarcely any longer questioned, the psychology and ethics of the Darwinian revelation, though following from the same premises, and almost as inevitably, are yet to be generally realised.
    • "Ethical Implications of Evolution", p. 321
  • The doctrine of Universal Kinship is not a new doctrine, born from the more brilliant loins of modern understanding. It is as old almost as human philosophy. It was taught by Buddha twenty-four hundred years ago. And the teachings of this divine soul, spreading over the plains and peninsulas of Asia, have made unnumbered millions mild. It was taught also by Pythagoras and all his school of philosophers, and rigidly practised in their daily lives. Plutarch, one of the grandest characters of antiquity, wrote several essays in advocacy of it. In these essays, as well as in many passages of his writings generally, he demonstrates that he was far ahead of his contemporaries in the breadth and intensity of his moral nature, and in advance even of all except a very few of those living to-day, 2,000 years after him. Shelley among the poets of modern times, and Tolstoy in these latter days, are others among the eminent adherents of this holy cause.
    • "Ethical Implications of Evolution", pp. 322–323
  • Wherever Buddhism prevails, there will be found in greater or less purity, as one of the cardinal principles of its founder, the doctrine of the sacredness of all Sentient Life.
    • "Ethical Implications of Evolution", p. 323
  • A central truth of the Darwinian philosophy is the unity and consanguinity of all organic life. And during the next century or two the ethical corollary of this truth is going to receive unprecedented recognition in all departments of human thought.
    • "Ethical Implications of Evolution", p. 323
  • All beings are ends; no creatures are means. All beings have not equal rights, neither have all men; but all have rights. The Life Process is the Endnot man, nor any other animal temporarily privileged to weave a world's philosophy. Non-human beings were not made for human beings any more than human beings were made for non-human beings. Just as the sidereal spheres were once supposed by the childish mind of man to be unsubstantial satellites of the earth, but are known by man's riper understanding to be worlds with missions and materialities of their own, and of such magnitude and number as to render terrestrial insignificance frightful, so the billions that dwell in the seas, fields, and atmospheres of the earth were in like manner imagined by the illiterate children of the race to be the mere trinkets of men, but are now known by all who can interpret the new revelation to be beings with substantially the same origin, the same natures, structures, and occupations, and the same general rights to life and happiness, as we ourselves.
    • "Conclusion", p. 324
  • In their phenomena of life the inhabitants of the earth display endless variety. They swim in the waters, soar in the skies, squeeze among the rocks, clamber among the trees, scamper over the plains, and glide among the grounds and grasses. Some are born for a summer, some for a century, and some flutter their little lives out in a day. They are black, white, blue, golden, all the colours of the spectrum. Some are wise and some are simple; some are large and some are microscopic; some live in castles and some in bluebells; some roam over continents and seas, and some doze their little day-dream away on a single dancing leaf. But they are all the children of a commion mother and the co-tenants of a common world. Why they are here in this world rather than some place else; why the world in which they find themselves is so full of the undesirable; and whether it would not have been better if the ball on which they ride and riot had been in the beginning sterilised, are problems too deep and baffling for the most of them. But since they are here, and since they are too proud or too superstitious to die, and are surrounded by such cold and wolfish immensities, what would seem more proper than for them to be kind to each other, and helpful, and dwell together as loving and forbearing members of One Great Family?
    • "Conclusion", pp. 324–325
  • Act toward others as you would act toward a part of your own self.
    • "Conclusion", p. 327
  • Look upon and treat others as you do your own hands, your own eyes, your very heart and soul—with infinite care and compassion—as suffering and enjoying members of the same Great Being with yourself. This is the spirit of the ideal universe—the spirit of your own being. It is this alone that can redeem this world, and give to it the peace and harmony for which it longs.
    • "Conclusion", p. 327
  • Yes, do as you would be done by—and not to the dark man and the white woman alone, but to the sorrel horse and the gray squirrel as well; not to creatures of your own anatomy only, but to all creatures. You cannot go high enough nor low enough nor far enough to find those whose bowed and broken beings will not rise up at the coming of the kindly heart, or whose souls will not shrink and darken at the touch of inhumanity. Live and let live. Do more. Live and help live. Do to beings below you as you would be done by beings above you. Pity the tortoise, the katydid, the wild-bird, and the ox. Poor, undeveloped, untaught creatures! Into their dim and lowly lives strays of sunshine little enough, though the fell hand of man be never against them. They are our fellow-mortals. They came out of the same mysterious womb of the past, are passing through the same dream, and are destined to the same melancholy end, as we ourselves. Let us be kind and merciful to them.
    • "Conclusion", pp. 327–328
  • Let us be true to our ideals, true to the spirit of Universal Compassion—whether we walk with the lone worm wandering in the twilight of consciousness, the feathered forms of the fields and forests, the kine of the meadows, the simple savage on the banks of the gladed river, the political blanks whom men call wives, or the outcasts of human industry.
    • "Conclusion", p. 328
  • Oh this poor world, this poor, suffering, ignorant, fear-filled world! How can men be blind or deranged enough to think it is a good world? How can they be cold and satanic enough to be unmoved by the groans and anguish, the writhing and tears, that come up from its unparalleled afflictions?
    • "Conclusion", p. 328
  • [T]he world is growing better. And in the Future—in the long, long ages to come—it will be redeemed! The Same spirit of sympathy and fraternity that broke the black man's manacles and is to-day melting the white woman's chains will to-morrow emancipate the working man and the ox; and, as the ages bloom and the great wheels of the centuries grind on, the same spirit shall banish Selfishness from the earth, and convert the planet finally into one unbroken and unparalleled spectacle of Peace, Justice, and Solidarity.
    • "Conclusion", pp. 328–329

The New Ethics (1907)[edit]

The inhabitants of the earth are bound to each other by the ties and obligations of a common kinship. Man is simply one of a series of sentients, differing in degree, but not in kind, from the beings below, above, and around him.

Full text online at the Internet Archive, Chicago: Samuel A. Bloch., 1909.

  • The most hopeless chains are those of which we are unconscious. The darkest slavery is that which binds the human brain.

The Nature of Opinion[edit]

  • New ideas make their way into the world by generations of elbowing. They make themselves known to the eminences first, and from these upper places they spread laboriously to the lowlands. One can hardly help thinking, as he looks back over the evolution of human thought and sees the persecution and blindness through which the race has made its way, that very few human beings possess as adults that degree of sagacity that ought rightfully to have accompanied them into the world.
    • pp. 13–14

The Thesis of the New Ethics[edit]

  • The inhabitants of the earth are bound to each other by the ties and obligations of a common kinship. Man is simply one of a series of sentients, differing in degree, but not in kind, from the beings below, above, and around him.
    • p. 15
  • The Great Lawact towards others as you would act toward a part of your own self—is a law not applicable to Aryans only, but to all men; and not to men only, but to all beings. There is the same obligation to act toward a German, a Japanese, or a Filipino, as one acts toward a part of his own organism, as there is to act in this way toward Americans or Englishmen; and, furthermore, there is the same reason for acting in this manner toward horses, cats, dogs, birds, fishes, and insects, as there is in acting so toward men.
    • p. 15
  • The philosophies of this world have all been framed by, and from the standpoint of, a single species, and they are still managed and maintained in the interests of this species.
    • p. 16
  • The ideal conception of social obligation is bigger than family and friends, bigger than the city and State in which one happens to be born and raised, bigger than species, bigger even than the particular world of which one is a tenant. There are no aliens anywhere, not even in hell, to the being who is as big morally as he ought to be—only brothers. The universal heart goes out in tenderness beyond all boundaries of form and colour and architecture and accident of birth—into every place where quivers a living soul. The Great Law is for the healing and consolation of all. Moral obligation is as extensive as the power to feel.
    • pp. 16–17
  • The thesis of the New Ethics is the ethical corollary of the doctrine of evolution. It is simply the expansion of ethics to suit the biological revelations of Charles Darwin. The present ethical conception is based on the pre-Darwinian belief that all other species of animals and all worlds were produced for the exclusive benefit of the human species. It is anthropocentric. It originated among primitive peoples. It has come all the way down through the centuries, not because of its beauty or its fitness for immortality among ideas, but because of the excellent opportunities each generation has had of inoculating each succeeding generation with anything it has had a mind to.
    • p. 19
  • But you are not overlooked by yourself, are you? nor by the other flies that wheel with you in your mazy circlings? I know how precious you are to yourself, though you cannot tell me in words, by the interest you take in yourself and the anxiety you have for your life. I know you are the most real and important being in the world—the centre of this universe, where we are all, like you, pulling and hauling for importance.
    • p. 26
  • I feel like saying over and over and over, what I have said many times before, that we do not know the world of living, longing, suffering, enjoying life in the midst of which we have evolved. The inhabitants of our own fields and dooryards are strangers to us. We are so little, and proud, and selfish, we never think it worth while to stop and look into their faces and get acquainted with them. It never occurs to us what a great favour it would be to them if we would actually get over into their places occasionally and realise what tragedies are constantly being enacted in their lives as a result of our insensate natures. We treat them with no consideration or respect because we have no understanding of them; and we do not understand them because we do not care anything at all about the matter. We are too busy tossing bouquets at ourselves to have much time or thought left for anybody else. We have grown up in the belief that all those who have a different shape from what we have were intended, not for life and happiness and immortality, as we were, but for death and wretchedness and chymification, and we are too dull-minded and selfish to make any change now.
    • p. 37

Human Attitude Toward Others[edit]

  • They preach that it is the ideal relation of associated beings for each to act toward the others in the way in which he himself would like to have others act toward him. This ideal of social rectitude was discovered two or three thousand years ago, and has been taught by the sages of the species ever since. But in the application of this rule human beings restrict it hypocritically to the members of their own species. No non-human is innocent enough, or is sufficiently sensitive, intelligent, or beautiful, to be exempt from the most frightful wrongs, if by these wrongs human comfort, curiosity, or pastime are in any way whatever catered to.
  • Our own happiness, and that of our species, are assumed to be so pre-eminent that we sacrifice without hesitancy the most sacred interests of others, in order that our own may be carefully provided for.
  • Look at the scenes to be met with in our great cities! They are sufficient to horrify any being susceptible enough to the sufferings of others to be rated as one-fifth civilized. An army of butchers standing in blood ankle-deep and plunging great knives into writhing, shrieking living beings; helpless swine swinging by their hinders with their blood gushing from their slashed jugulars; unsuspecting oxen with trustful eyes looking up at the deadly pole-ax, and a moment later lying aquiver under its relentless thud; an atmosphere in perpetual churn with the groans and screams of the dying; streets thronged with unprocessioned funerals; dead bodies dangling from sale hooks or sprawling on chopping blocks; men and women going about praying and preaching, and sitting down two or three times a day and pouncing on the uncoffined remains of some poor creature cut down for them by the callous hands of hired cutthroats—such are the sights in all our streets and stockyards, and such are the crimes inflicted day after day by Christian cannibals on the defenseless dumb ones of this world.
  • Oh this killing, killing, killing—this awful, never-stopping, never-ending, world-wide butchery! What a world! 'Ideal'?—and 'perfect'?—and 'all-wise'? Certainly—to tigers, and highwaymen, and people who are sound asleep; but to everybody else it is simply monstrous.
  • A being who can look without weeping on the heart-rending facts that fill the cities of our so-called civilisation has a psychology granitic enough to gaze unmoved on a hellful of roasting souls.
  • Men and women who hold shares in the responsibility for the common crimes of our civilisation would do better to stop giving money for missionaries and begin on themselves; for they commit every day of their lives greater crimes and more of them than the so-called 'heathens' they are trying to 'convert' ever dream of. The gods pity this world if we have got to go on for ever as we have in the past—a globeful of lip-virtuous felons!
  • The question that arises in the mind of the ordinary man when a change in the arrangements of the world is suggested to him is not what will be the effect of the change on the universe, but what will be its effect on him—on that remarkable atom of the universe so zealously partitioned off from the rest by his own skin.
  • Man has been so long accustomed to the undisputed privilege of spoliation, and has so long and so brilliantly imagined himself to be all there is in the world, that a proposition denying this privilege, however fair the proposition may be from an impartial point of view, is promptly classified as the allegation of a zany, and is supposed to be conclusively disposed of when it is shown to be capable of interfering with human convenience or pleasure.
  • Why should we think so everlastingly of the effects of our crimes on ourselves? Why should we not lavish an occasional thought on our victims? Because we are partial instead of impartial; because we are narrow and selfish in our feelings and understanding instead of broad and altruistic; because we are a lot of fervid barbarians without any realisation of our true dimensions, and revelling in the unchallenged conceit that we are the whole thing in this world.
  • Nearly every act of conduct has at least two distinct sides or aspects, depending on the point of view from which the act is inspected. If an act affects its author only, then it is to be looked at and judged from his standpoint alone. Whether it is good or bad, proper or improper, depends upon its effects, immediate and remote, which it has on him. But not many acts are of this kind : we are so closely and in so many ways related to each other. Nearly always there are, somewhere in space or time, one or more other interests that are affected by an act in addition to the author's interest, and this implies that there are one or more other points of view from which the act may be judged.
  • The beings of this world have been evolved. They have all been formed according to the same general plan, and filled with similar susceptibilities. No being or set of beings is so distinctive, or special, or so pre-eminently important, as to be entitled, according to any impartial system of ethics, to consider its own convenience and welfare to the exclusion of the convenience and welfare of every one else. The highwayman may plead in extenuation of his crimes that they are short cuts to prosperity which he cannot very well get along without; but the wayfarer, however lowly or peculiar, would certainly have the right to reply, in any locality outside a community of highway-men, that these things are to him short cuts to ruin which he cannot very well get along with.
  • Every crime almost is a good thing, looked at from the exclusive standpoint of the criminal. If it were not so, it would never be committed. But from the standpoint of the one on whom the crime falls it is likely to be a very different thing—how different depends on the degree of diversity of the interests involved. The only rational method of judging conduct, and the only method that should ever be employed by beings pretending to be logical or civilised, is to balance the effects which the act on trial has on the different interests involved, and then render a verdict from the standpoint of this balance, which is the standpoint of the universe.
  • Oh, this primitive, just-born, brutal ball! How long—oh! how long—how many suffering centuries and centuries, before the simple laws of social well-being, which men have at such expense worked out for themselves, will extend their benedictions consistently over the pain-plagued races of universal life?
  • If justice is such a precious and necessary thing to men, is it not reasonable to suppose that it would be highly acceptable to other like constituted beings? One of the peculiarities that has always characterised men's pursuit of justice has been the ferocity with which each class of human beings have contended that things should be levelled down as far as themselves, and the corresponding complacency with which they have allowed the process to stop there. Our fortitude in enduring misery is never so great, never so triumphant and serene, never rises to those supreme heights where the soul seems to assume complete sovereignty over sense, as when that misery falls on others.

Silent Martyrs of Civilization[edit]

  • The horse, the mule, the camel, and the ox have pretty nearly made man what he is. They have contributed to human welfare and achievement to an extent that can never be estimated. They are the bone and sinew of civilization—the plodding, faithful, indispensable allies of man in almost everything he undertakes, whether of war or peace, pomp or pleasure.
  • Civilization is not exclusively a human thing. It is a joint product — ^the result of the combined labors and sacrifices of many races of mammals and birds. And no one of these races has the right to take more than its share of the blessings of civilization nor to shift upon others more than their portion of life's ills.
  • I wish I could say something that would move you — something that would make you miserable the rest of your days in pity for these poor, helpless, doomed things—something that would make you feel in some measure the pitiable lot, the awful, needless sufferings, of these silent martyrs of our civilization.
  • Can you realize what it means to be in life-long subjection to a being who has almost no thought or care for you and no understanding of your real nature and sufferings—to be alive and sensitive and filled with desires, and yet treated always as if you were a mere inanimate lump—to be even without the power to plead for compassion, and yet be in such utter bondage as to be at the absolute mercy of every brutal whim of your overling?
  • Man treats those co-operating with him in the labor of life as mere means to his own selfish purposes. He feeds and shelters them for the same reason that the capitalist feeds and shelters the poor human beings who serve him—simply to make them last as long as possible. There is no equity in the matter—no brotherhood—no thought of the Golden Rule. They are to him simply lemons—things to be squeezed, nothing more. And when he has extracted from them every benefit he is able to extract, he casts them out, as the money-hog does his worn-out workmen, to rot.
  • This is the ideal:
    Man takes these races from the plains, where they are exposed to hunger and thirst and cold, harassed by enemies, and victimized by their own child-like intelligence. He associates them with himself. He gives them security, shelter, regular food, intellectual surroundings, and a home. They give to him in return the benefits of their superior strength and speed, bearing man and his burdens, wielding his great machines for him, and supplementing in a thousand ways the inadequate powers of their mentor.
  • In the ideal state, man treats the races of beings affiliated with him, not as objects of pillage, but as beings with rights and feelings and capabilities of happiness and misery, like himself.
  • In short, man, when he acts ideally, treats these beings at all times as associates, not as slaves or machines, as his best friends and most faithful and valuable allies.
  • The Great Law of Love—the abstaining from that which we do not like when done to ourselves—Reciprocity—is the only relation to exist among associated beings of any kind.
  • Oh, men! You who are struggling and longing for that which is denied you and that which belongs to you—the right to live, to be free, and to enjoy your legitimate share of the only world you have access to—will you not open your hearts to this plea—this plea for beings whose lot, like yours, is a bitter one, and whose miseries spring from the same cruel sources as your own miseries? You know what it is to be despoiled, to be stung by cruel overlings, to be misunderstood, to tug and sweat day after day until your poor goaded bodies are ready to drop from weariness. You know what it means to be bossed and held up and walked on, to be insulted and despised by the very beings who rob you, to have the last drops wrung from your ravished lives by the brutal hands of pompous usurpers. Will you be indifferent to granting to others those blessings which you know from your own sad and empty existences are all that make life really worth living? Shake off your own chains! Be free! Take your inalienable rights! Is this not your world as much as anybody's? Be men, not doormats! Light the red hell of revolution, if need be! For what is life if it is but the accursed privilege of wearing yourselves out in the service of cannibals, of man-eating millionaires, of monsters who eat you up alive, you and your wives and children? But don't forget to grant to your poor broken co-sufferers in harness the same blessed measure you claim for yourselves.

The Cost of a Skin[edit]

  • Suppose we human beings were hunted with traps by a race of giants loo feet high, very ingenious, and absolutely without conscience so far as their treatment of us was concerned. Suppose that, in spite of all our vigilance, we were continually falling into these traps, which were hidden all about us, and compelled in order to escape to eat off our own arms or legs. Suppose that even then one out of every five of us was so ill-starred as to be caught a second time, and ended up, after hours or days of unspeakable agony, by having his head smashed into a jelly by a big club. Suppose we were absolutely helpless in the matter, and that our victimisers had no higher purpose in inflicting these fiendish outrages than to get a scalp or a jawbone to dangle about their demoniacal necks. Suppose, finally, in order to complete the analogy, that these people imagined themselves to be highly civilised and enlightened. What sort of an opinion do you think we would have in the course of ages as to the real character of these people and of their fitness to be the models and superintendents of a planet?
  • Cotton is to-day by far the most important textile used by mankind, and wool is next. And we may expect that this sartorial reform, already so far advanced, will go on, and that the more enlightened generations of the future, for both moral and economic reasons, will clothe themselves entirely in fabrics of bloodless origin.
  • Furs just as warm and beautiful as murderous sealskin may be made of plush; and vegetal silk as fine and lustrous as ever was spun by the oak-eating babes of Polyphemus can be made of wood. Vegetal leather has been manufactured in London with the polish and durability of calfskin. And when the demand becomes strong enough to turn human attention profitably to the task, foot-wear just as comely and lasting, and more sanitary and comfortable, will be made at even less cost from plant products.

What Shall We Eat?[edit]

  • [T]he belief that the bodies of other beings take a necessary part in human alimentation is more than a tradition: it is a convenience. For if human beings can hold on to the feeling that the flesh and blood of their fellows are in some way necessary to them, they are comparatively immune from those disturbances which the most cowed conscience is at times disposed to stir up.
  • From the standpoint of economy alone, the diet of the fields and orchards ought to appeal successfully to every one possessed of undoubted sanity. One acre devoted to wheat will support ten times as many men as one devoted to grazing. If men would take the beautiful products of the soil fresh from Nature's hand, instead of sitting down and devouring, in the form of the accumulated residuum or ruminants^ an acre at a meal, the problems o human poverty and over-population would be immensely simplified.
  • [S]ince vegetal fat is identical chemically with animal fat, and vegetal protein with animal protein, since these substances are found abundantly in non-flesh products, and since the only other food substances used by man (starch and sugar) are not found except in plants and plant products, it may be asserted positively that from the standpoint of food-supply there is no reason why man should prey when he eats. The plant world contains all of the compounds necessary for human alimentation, it contains them abundantly, it contains them in forms of the highest delicacy and the greatest variety and economy, and it contains them in a much more prime condition than they are found in the diseased tissues of our mistreated servants.

Is Man a Plant-Eater?[edit]

  • The carnivorous life is denounced by the tenderer and more enlightened elements of mankind, and so those under indictment begin to rake and scrape to see what they can turn up in vindication of their beloved and imperilled rapacities. They find, happily, that Nature is 'red in tooth and claw,' that man has 'canine teeth,' and that human beings are without the five stomachs of the ruminantia. Of course, man is a carnivorous animal; couldn't be anything else if he wanted to be; would probably peter out if he attempted it; and it is not necessary to try to be anything else, anyway, if he could be, for he is in harmony with the all-wise and perfectly lovely regime of bloody Nature already. Mighty slim pegs on which to suspend a life of crime, considering that their substance is purely imaginary! But sufficient for those who have made up their minds beforehand to be satisfied with whatever there is.
  • When one sees, the variety and abundance of beautiful and bloodless fruits that gorge the markets of civilisation and considers the amount of art available for cooking and compounding this abundance, and considers, too, what might be still further accomplished in the production and preparation of foods by scientific attention to the matter, it seems so strange, so sad, and so frightful, that man, elected by the accidents of evolution to be the model and schoolmaster of the world, and adapted so signally to a guiltless diet, should continue to perpetrate in the daylight of the twentieth century the barbarous, blood-sucking atrocities of the reptile.

The Food of the Future[edit]

  • A carnivorous animal is not an ideal animal, and never can be. The life of a carnivorous animal is a perpetual onslaught. Every meal is a murder. Eating is not the harmless activity it is to one who sits down to fruit and grains. The carnivore must kill somebody, or have somebody else do it for him, in order to eat. It cannot be otherwise. And an animal whose life is one unbroken succession of such necessities, whose stomach is the grave of hundreds and thousands, and even of tens of thousands, of his fellow-beings, may be meritorious in other respects — may preach the Golden Rule, decry war, give money to the missionary, and rail at the rich — but so long as he continues to fill himself every few hours with the blood and vitals of others, he is not only not an ideal animal, but has in reality no just claims on life. Flesh is a painful form of nutrition for any organism, but it is especially so for man, because it is unnecessary, and because man makes so many pretensions and occupies a position in the world of such exceptional responsibility.
  • Flesh foods are coming to be recognised more and more by physicians, teachers, writers, and progressive and scientific people generally, as being not only unnecessary and immoral, but as actually inhibitory of the highest efficiency and well-being in man himself. The meat fetish is nothing but an idol, a delusion pure and simple, which has been foisted upon us, like so many other delusions, by tradition, and the time is not far distant when it will be recognised as such by all who really think.
  • No being will do his most luminous and exalted thinking with his stomach a morgue.

The Perils of Over-population[edit]

  • The question is not. Shall man be master of the earth? but. What sort of a master shall he be? Shall he be cruel and selfish, bigoted and imperialistic, thinking only of himself and sacrificing the interests of others to his own heartless purposes? or shall he be the responsible administrator of the universe, presiding over the affairs of the earth honourably and equitably, with a mind single to the good of all? Shall he be a savage despot or a schoolmaster? a feared and hated monster, or a wise, patient, and affectionate father? Since he has become the manager of the planet, shall he manage it as he would wish it to be managed if he were a subordinate and some other race had succeeded to the superintendency, or shall he cut loose from all moral obligations, ignore the promptings of his better self, and run things absolutely in the interest of himself? Which shall it be—the great law of love or the savage law of might?
    • pp. 149–150
  • Many races, owing to the manner in which life has been evolved, are by nature criminal, just like a lot of individual men and women. Their existence is a continual menace to the peace and well-being of the world. The fullness of their lives is dependent upon the emptiness and destruction of others. The mosquito and the tiger, the rattle-snake and the 'sportsman,' are criminals of this kind. The same thing is true of predatory animals generally.
    • p. 151
  • The function of punishment is to do good, to improve the universe, to add to the sum total of happiness. And punishment which does not do this is not justified. It is a crime in itself. The penal acts of society should be judged just as other acts of conduct are judged—by their utilities.
    • p. 152
  • The great trouble is that individuals and races in their treatment of each other are not guided by the same high standards of impartiality as an individual organism in dealing with his own organs and parts. Life is not one. It lacks unity of feeling and purpose. And as long as it lacks this oneness it will lack justice.
    • p. 153
  • Men are not zoophilists (being-lovers). Not many of them are philanthropists (man-lovers). They are barbarians. And the wrongs inflicted by them on non-human beings are for the most part inflicted simply because they feel like it. Human nature is so constructed that men get pleasure out of doing the most monstrous deeds. It is worse than this. Human nature is so constructed that it contains elements which demand exercise, demand motor expression, and in whose expression the most lamentable and appalling effects are produced.
    • p. 154
  • If man acted unkindly toward non-human beings only when he had to do so in order to avoid harm to himself—if he were as economical in his injuries to others as he would be if he had to endure them himself—the violence which to-day marks his dominion of the planet would be reduced to a mere vestige of what it is.
    • p. 155
  • It is impossible for me to express my loathing and horror of the practice men have of killing things for pastime so-called 'hunting,' or 'sport.' No one but a barbarian can engage in such pursuits, or can look upon them or know of them without pain and indignation. It makes me want to fight and cry whenever I think of them. And when I see men engaged in such execrable activities (the crippling, killing, and terrifying of whole communities of innocent and happy beings, shooting them down in cold blood, and with hellish enthusiasm), my feeling is that I must stop them at all hazards. And there have been times, when I have come upon men engaged in these fiendish doings, when I would have shot them down if I had been armed, the enormity of their crimes has come over me with such vividness and power.
    • pp. 157–158
  • Vacation days may be much more beautifully spent communing with the transcendent spirit of Nature than in the butchery and terrorisation of her simple-hearted children.
    • p. 158
  • Man is not advised to sit down and fold his hands and roll his eyes piously toward the traditional source of good, and allow himself to be eaten up by tigers and ticks. And no one who reads honestly what has gone before can come to any such conclusion. Anything can be misrepresented if the one who attempts it is ingenious and determined enough. It is recognised that this is not an ideal world, and that it is impossible for any being to act among the evil as he would be able to act among the good. It is simply insisted that man shall ignore the urgings of his lower nature and do the best he can in the circumstances. Men do not and cannot act ideally toward their fellow-men, but they think they act nobly when they do the best they can. And, oh, if man would only try to be just to his fellow-races, what a different world he could make of it! If one is disposed to be wayward, it is astonishing what an array of excuses even the simpleton can scrape up in defence of himself. But if one is resolved on that higher life, ever held up to us by the better elements of our nature, it is also surprising how successful one can be, even among adverse conditions.
    • pp. 161–162

The Survival of the Strenuous[edit]

  • Nature is the universe, including ourselves. And are we not all the time tinkering at the universe, especially the garden patch that is next to us—the earth? Every time we dig a ditch or plant a field, dam a river or build a town, form a government or gut a mountain, slay a forest or form a new resolution, or do anything else almost, do we not change and reform Nature, make it over again and make it more acceptable than it was before? Have we not been working hard for thousands of years, and do our poor hearts not almost faint sometimes when we think how far, far away the millennium still is after all our efforts, and how long our little graves will have been forgotten when that blessed time gets here?
    • p. 164
  • Take the donkey. The donkey brays. But wouldn't it have been more satisfactory to all those who have ears to hear and sensoriums to look after if the donkey had been provided with a laryngeal apparatus that would enable it to express the overflow of its yearnings in song? Would it have been better or would it have been worse if the liver-fluke had been left out of the world—that parasitic flat-worm residing in the bile-sac of the sheep, and causing sometimes as many as 3,000,000 sheep to perish miserably in a year in Great Britain alone? Couldn't we get along without tapeworms, and rattlesnakes, and fleas, and the appetite for alcohol? How about weeds, and diseases, and slush, and microbes, and famines, and fogs, and floods, and hurricanes, and earthquakes, and mosquitoes, and dust, and fools, and near-fools, and death?
    • p. 166
  • Of all the silly notions foisted upon us by a know-nothing past, the notion that Nature is immaculate and ideal, perfect and all-wise, certainly takes the cake for downright absurdity. Men attempt to whitewash every old barbarity almost by appealing to what they call 'Nature,' as if whatever Nature is or does is all right, whether it is or not. Whenever these individuals get into a tight place in a discussion, or feel that they would like to allow their not very athletic reasoning faculties a rest, away they go to Nature (or the Bible); then everything is settled so far as they are concerned. They can always find something in the infinite diversity of Nature to suit every case especially if they have a knack for ignoring: essentials and are handy in the use of allegory.
    • pp. 166–167
  • [W]e are a part of Nature, we human beings, just as truly a part of the universe of things as the insect or the sea. And are we not as much entitled to be considered in the selection of a model as the part 'red in tooth and claw'? At the feet of the tiger is a good place to study the dentition of the cat family, but it is a poor place to learn ethics.
    • p. 167
  • In the ideal universe the life and happiness of no being are contingent on the suffering and death of any other, and the fact that in this world of ours life and happiness have been and are to-day so commonly maintained by the infliction of misery and death by some beings on others is the most painful fact that ever entered an enlightened mind.
    • p. 167
  • The defect in this argument is that it assumes that the basis of ethics is life, whereas ethics is concerned, not with life, but with consciousness. The question ever asked by ethics is not, Does the thing live? but. Does it feel? It is impossible to do right and wrong to that which is incapable of sentient experience. Ethics arises with consciousness and is coextensive with it. We have no ethical relation to the clod, the molecule, or the scale sloughed off from our skin on the back of our hand, because the clod, the molecule, and the scale have no feeling, no soul, no anything rendering them capable of being affected by us. And the same thing is true of the cabbage, and the onion, and of plants generally. The fact that a thing is an organism, that it has organisation, has in itself no more ethical significance than the fact that it has symmetry, or redness, or weight.
    • p. 169

Flashlights on Human Progress[edit]

  • The world we inhabit is not an ideal world, except to the ninny. It is not such a world as we would pick out if we were choosing, unless the assortment from which we were to make the selection were a pretty hard batch. It is so full of inconveniences in the first place—so much so that it seems sometimes that it must have been whittled out in some idle hour, without any idea that it would ever be used for anything, and then, when organic beings came into existence, it was given to them as a place to grow up and fight it out in, because there wasn't any other place for them to go. Then, again, it is inhabited by a lot of species that have acquired their natures through an apprenticeship of crime and militancy extending bade millions of years into the past.
    • p. 177
  • Socialism is inevitable. It is right. It is in the line of least resistance. It is on the way to the highlands—on the way to Real Civilisation, not the starched, hypocritical, supposititious, so-called kind palmed off by pietists and pickpockets, such as we are called upon to contemplate and endure around us to-day, but a civilisation based on the shining and imperishable foundations of Brotherhood and Mutual Love.
    • p. 198
  • No man has a right to a million dollars. If so where did he get the right? Not from Nature nor reason, but from man-made legislatures—from the same immaculate source from which he got the right a little while ago to cut the blood out of the backs of poor helpless Africans with hippopotamus whips. No man has a right to monopolise the world to the extent of a million dollars. It is more than one man's share—much more. We are brothers. The world belongs to all of us, not to any one class. A million dollars in one hand means over-appropriation—plunder, too often scaped with fiendish unconcern from the bleeding palms of the poor. Every millionaire or multi-millionaire that wallows in golden mud-puddles compels hundreds of other men to go through life deprived of their birthright. I would be ashamed to be rich, and I would be ashamed to know that I had my share of the world and the shares of hundreds or thousands of my fellow-men besides. If there is one thing that ought to be plain, even to simpletons, it is the fact that the privilege of being born carries with it the right to an inalienable equity in the world in which we at birth find ourselves. It is not true, however prevalently it may be practised, that men acquire the right to own and hold and use the earth, and to exclude others from its use, by being born with the power or opportunity to get possession of it.
    • p. 199


  • It ought to be perfectly clear by this time that the popularity and unpopularity of propositions in no way coincide with their truth and falsity. It makes no difference how true a proposition may be or how unreservedly it may finally be accepted by mankind, there is always a period in its early life when it is stoned and misunderstood. It has been so throughout the ages of the past; it is true to-day; and it will continue to be true as long as disparities in heroism and originality exist among men.
    • p. 211
  • There are not ten men on the continent of America at this moment who will not, two hundred years from now, be considered as 'back numbers.'
    • p. 215
  • Oh, the hope of the centuries and the centuries and centuries to come! It seems sometimes that I can almost see the shining spires of that Celestial Civilisation that man is to build in the ages to come on this earth—that Civilisation that will jewel the land masses of this planet in that sublime time when Science has wrought the miracles of a million years, and Man, no longer the savage he now is, breathes Justice and Brotherhood to every being that feels.
    • p. 215

Ethics and Education (1912)[edit]

We are all One. There are no "others." There is only One. That One is The Sentient World. The Self includes all that feels.

Full text online at the Internet Archive, London: G. Bell & Sons Ltd., 1912.

  • We know more about human heredity to-day than we did loo years ago. Human nature is not an unstained page. We come into the world with more than blank minds and helpless bodies. We come bringing with us machines, natures, which must be radically changed if we ever become more than mere fractions of men and women. Nearly all the woes of the world arise either from ignorance of the ways we should go or from hereditary waywardnesses which we bring into the world with us. It is as truly the function of the school to correct these inherent defects in our acting machinery and to put sign-boards in the mind telling which ways to go and which ways to avoid as it is to tutor the understanding or guide the growing body.

The Importance of Ethical Culture[edit]

  • If it could be brought about that all the billions of beings who inhabit this sphere would refrain from all acts which would in any way mar the happiness of others, that moment the earth would be transformed. We have thousands of theories as to how to make the world better, and we struggle day and night to understand and control the great natural forces about us; but if we could only get inside of ourselves once and set ourselves to working right, the biggest step toward the Millennium would be taken.
    • p. 6

The Call of the Past[edit]

  • Human institutions are inventions. They are devices to aid in the promotion of human welfare. They should be judged by the same standards of utility as agricultural implements and everything else. Whenever they can be made over to advantage, they should be made over. And whenever they can be rendered useless by something better to take their place, they should be sent without sighs or lamentations to the junkpile. Nothing is too sacred to he improved.
    • pp. 9–10

Physical Anxiety[edit]

  • Health is the universe to one who is without it. It is the foundation of all human values. Yet we grow up in utter ignorance of its laws. How often we hear the lament at forty, "If I had only known at fourteen what I know now, I never would have had to suffer what I am suffering." We toil over the axioms of Euclid, and the idioms of deceased languages, and strain after dates and the names of capitals and the idiocies of orthography, as if our very lives depended upon them. But we give hardly a single serious thought to those conditions of physical well-being on which the whole universe rests.
    • p. 17

Ethical Anxiety[edit]

  • Ethical culture should do for human character what physical culture should do for the body. It should produce a race of kind, honest, courageous, public-spirited, and justice-loving men and women. It is all so perfectly plain. Men are moral invalids. They come into the world bearing the curse of their animal origin. They are unfit for a life of love and co-operation. The defects of human character are as well known and as well understood as the defects of the human body. They are the cause of more unhappiness to mankind than any other one thing. They can be corrected by the application of the same remedies that have proved so efficacious in the case of mental and physical defects. The school should be the mental, physical, and moral infirmary of society.
    • p. 38–39
  • Man is but a single sector in the great circle of sentient life. The human species is one among a million or two of species inhabiting the earth. The beings below and around us have had the same origin as we have. They have the same general architecture of both body and mind, and are footballed by the same antithetical impulses of pleasure and pain. Whatever the beings of this world have been in the past, they can never again be anything but a family. Universal ethics is a corollary of universal kinship. Moral obligation is as boundless as feeling.
    • p. 42
  • These wider relations and obligations implied by evolution should be included in every program designed for the amelioration of the world. To ignore them is to classify ourselves as incompetents. No one but an inferior can any longer maintain that kindness, justice, sympathy, love, honesty, humanity, and charity are not as good for dogs, horses, and fishes as they are for men; or that cruelty, hatred, and inhumanity are not he same damning things wherever they fall on living souls.
    • pp. 42–43

Contents of Ethics[edit]

  • The inhabitants of the earth are all alike in one particular—they are all striving to experience pleasure and to avoid pain. Early in the evolution of living beings, these two opposite forms of experience were hit upon as the determinants of conduct; and the plan worked so well that it has been continued ever since. It is an excellent scheme in a world where simple survival is the main thing. It promotes earnestness. But it is inconvenient, to say the least. And it ought to be changed if there could ever be found a way to do it.
    • p. 52
  • The inextricable way pleasure and pain are mixed up with each other in this world is a mournful fact to beings who are all the time striving for pleasure alone. In the ideal world there is no pain, no misery. There is nothing but happiness. But in our world pain seems to have been the original feeling, the first one to appear in the evolution of sentiency. Pleasure is a sort of after-thought, a secondary attribute of consciousness which developed later as an aid to pain in keeping living beings straight. Pain is a whip, a penalty. Pleasure is a reward or bribe. Pain is a curse. We are all the time trying to minimize and escape it. In an ideal world the inhabitants never have any impulses that drive them to improper acts. All their impulses are good. Every act is proper and right. Ideal beings need only to live and act in order to be happy. We are not ideal beings. Our world happens to be one affording almost unlimited opportunities for improvement.
    • pp. 52–53
  • Those things, thoughts, beings, acts, and instincts which help us to the pleasurable experiences of life we call good, and those which deprive us of pleasure or which bring upon us painful experiences we call bad. This is the supreme standard—Utility. Is the thing, thought, being, act, or impulse useful? Does it lead directly or indirectly to happiness and well-being? If it does, it is right, proper, and good. If it does not, it is wrong, improper, and bad.
    • p. 53
  • The well being of others is on an average as important as our own, and should as a general thing be appraised at the same value. If a certain amount of happiness is scheduled to fall to the lot of the earth, it makes absolutely no difference whether it falls on me, or on you, or on somebody a thousand miles away. It would serve the ends of absolute ethics quite as well if it fell on an insect or a horse as if it fell on a man. The only important thing from the standpoint of universal good is that the pleasure be experienced. It is not important what particular individual or species is the beneficiary. It might even go to another world, and be just as satisfactory to a universal well-wisher, who looked at Cosmos from the serene altitudes of pure reason, without any prejudices whatever one way or another in the matter. This is the ideal. It is a long, long way from our natures. But only in so far as we approximate this ideal do we rise above those imperfections of our being which have been ground out by the methods that have operated in the development of life on earth.
    • pp. 54–55
  • The end of conduct is not the happiness and welfare of oneself, or of one's family, or one's town, or one's country, or even of one's race, but the welfare and happiness of all beings, including oneself, the welfare of the world, of the universe, including the generations to come as well as the beings of the present.
    • pp. 54–55
  • Ethics is the most vital and important of all sciences. It has both its theoretical and applied aspects. Its mission is nothing less than the establishment of harmony among the inhabitants of the earth and the transformation of world-wide contention into peace and happiness.
    • pp. 56–57

The Larger Self[edit]

  • Act toward others as you would act toward a part of your own self is, it seems to me, the plainest and truest and the most comprehensive and useful rule of conduct ever formulated on this earth. It is the expression of balanced egoism and altruism. It is the soul of sympathy and oneness. It may be called the Law of the Larger Self. It is the extension of the regard which we have for ourselves to those below, above, and around us. It is simply the law of the individual organism widened to apply to the Sentient Organism. It is the message which is destined in time to come to redeem this world from the primal curse of selfishness. It is the dream which has been dreamed by the great teachers of the past independently of each other, merely by observing the actions of men and thinking what rule if followed would cure the wrongs and sufferings of this world.
    • pp. 58–59
  • We are all One. There are no "others." There is only One. That One is The Sentient World. The Self includes all that feels. "Others," so-called, have come from the same great womb as we have, have grown up in the same world conditions, and been freighted with like susceptibilities. Each of us is a cell in the gigantic Organism of Life. The parts come and go, but the Great Being is immortal.
    • p. 59
  • The Law of the Larger Self means Universal Mutualism. It means a widening and promotion of the ambitions. It means a transfer of emphasis from a Part to the Whole. Instead of striving for the happiness and well-being of a Fraction, we strive for the happiness and well-being of All.
    • p. 59

Causes of Immorality[edit]

  • The ignorance of similarity is still more manifest in man's relations to the non-human inhabitants of the earth. These beings are worse than foreigners. They are mere "animals." And down to comparatively recent times they were supposed by everybody to have come upon the earth in an entirely different way, and for an entirely different purpose, from man. They were supposed to be mere machines, without any endowments of feeling or intelligence, which were placed here on earth by the universal architect to serve as conveniences for his masterpiece and favourite. Many of these non-human beings are so remote from human beings in language, appearance, interests, and ways of life, as to be nothing but "wild animals." These "wild things" have, of course, no rights whatever in the eyes of men.
    • p. 71

Survivals of the Wild[edit]

  • [M]an also was once a wild animal. And it is impossible to understand the things men do—many of them are so horrible and idiotic—unless we take into account the fact that this agricultural and town-building being whom we see when we look in a mirror was once a literal beast of the field, clothed in natural hair, without mercy, modesty, matrimony, or religion, living on roots, fruits, honey, and birds' eggs, and contending doubtfully with other animals about him for life.
    • p. 107

The Biology of Child Nature[edit]

  • Civilisation is not an appeal to nature. It is a revolt against nature—against nature as it has been represented in man in the past. It is supernatural. Civilization is an attempt to subordinate and control those primitive impulses which have reigned in human nature in the less gracious and less rational times gone by—impulses which we have ourselves to-day to a considerable extent inherited.
    • p. 135
  • In a sense—in the truest sense, indeed—everything that exists is natural. And in this sense civilization is as natural as savagery—only there is not so much of it in the world, as yet. It is just as natural to be kind, and just, and altruistic as it is to be cruel, tyrannical, and selfish. But kindness, justice, and altruism are not so common as their negatives, as yet. The task that is before us is to make them so—to make them more so, indeed—to make cruelty, selfishness, and tyranny historical, and to make sympathy, reason, love, peace, altruism, and co-operation the reigning facts of our world.
    • p. 135

The World to Be[edit]

  • The earth has been headquarters for bigots from time immemorial. I suspect that if we had information from the stars and were able to judge the spheres of space comparatively, we would find that the earth is head and shoulders above every other world within the sweep of the telescope in the enormous output of its assurance.
    • p. 124
  • The doctrine of anthropocentricism has now vanished from intelligent minds, and is in the act of vanishing from unintelligent minds. It is destined to continue to fade until there is not a particle of it left. It is rank imposture. It is too silly and childish even for simpletons. Man is not a being apart. He is not a favorite of the gods, nor the subject of celestial anxiety. Nothing revolves about him or exists for him. Like all the other inhabitants of this world, he is a mere by-product of the play of cosmic forces—forces which grind on without eyes, without anxiety, and without end.
    • p. 143
  • The Doctrine of Evolution is the greatest discovery ever made by the human mind. We are in the act of understanding it now, and hence are not able to appraise it at its true value. But v)^hen time has passed and we are able to look upon it historically and to realize its full significance, it will be recognized as being incomparably more epoch-making even than the prodigious contributions of Newton and Copernicus. It is more than a theory. It is a new point of view. It has necessitated an entirely new revaluation of everything in the universe.
    • p. 144
  • The next hundred years will witness the greatest improvement in moral practice and understanding this world has ever seen. Nothing to compare with it has ever taken place in the evolution of ethics. The twentieth century is going to be a humanitarian century. The twenty-first century will dawn on a very different condition of things from that which we see around us to-day. Men are going to be Brothers, as certainly as the stars rise in the east. The marching and counter-marching going on in the industrial world to-day will end in a new order of society based on Mutualism, in which there will be not only division of labour but division of the products of labour as well. And along with the recognition of human brotherhood will come, is bound to come, the corollary recognition of the brotherhood of all those that feel.
    • p. 147
  • Sometimes, in our littleness, we boast of the progress we have made, and of the knowledge, culture, and art which we as a race to-day display. But, O, it is the vanity of Adolescence. What will the knowledge, culture, and art of to-day amount to fifty or a hundred thousand years from now?—or a million years from now? Nothing! This sphere, with its clinging tenantry, will still be here then and will still be making its annual journeys round the sun, as now. But, O, what mighty and ineffable changes! The things of to-day will be so rude and childish and so far away that they will not even be considered.
    • p. 149
  • Out of the years of the past comes a message from one who towered among us a generation ago—a message voicing in all its fervency the prayer and hope of Humanity: "Young man, young woman, join yourself in your youth with some unpopular cause and grow up loyal in its service."
    • p. 149
  • This is a wintry world. Low temperatures prevail in the hearts of men. Altruism is scarce. Gaunt but blessed hands stretch up to us everywhere for bread. They are the holy hands of Truth.
    • p. 150
  • Let us be alive. Let us be liquid. Let us be Young. The Old atrophy, because they cease to flow. Let us be loyal for ever to those heavenly banners that flutter everywhere in the airs of this age—the banners of those who strive for a Better World.
    • p. 150

Ethical Culture[edit]

  • "Wild animals" merely strangers to us—beings who live apart from and independent of us. They suffer and enjoy the same as we do. They have their own ends and justifications of life.
    • p. 157

"Discovering Darwin", Proceedings of the International Anti-Vivisection and Animal Protection Congress, held at Washington, D.C. December 8th to 11th, 1913[edit]

Full text online at the Internet Archive, New York: The Tudor Press, 1913.

  • Men are like May-flies. The most of them see things only during the brief breath of a day. The ages of history and biology are unknown and unconsidered. No wonder the universe is misunderstood. The human mind is without longitude. Even a cannonball, photographed with an exposure of one-five-thousandth of a second, seems suspended in mid-air.
    • p. 152
  • [A]nyone who has ever associated with dogs or monkeys long enough and intimately enough to really know them knows that they compare very favorably with human beings in the powers of feeling.
    • p. 155
  • Away with the fiction that human life has a value and sanctity all its own! It is a product of human conceit pure and simple. It has absolutely no foundation in fact. Even humanitarians, many of them, are not more than a third emancipated from the anthropocentric notion, for they continue to make meals out of the very beings they preach kindness towards. Kreophagy is the most direct and terrible of all the forms of inhumanity. It is sustained solely by the weight of numbers, as were cannibalism and human slavery. It hasn't a single logical leg to stand on. Indeed, it is so intrinsically horrible that if meat-eaters were the exception instead of the rule, they would, it seems to me, be almost hunted from the earth, like lions and tigers and other despoilers of the Universe Beautiful.
    • p. 155
  • Men have had the same origin as other animals; they have the same general architecture of body and mind; and they have the same destiny. And they stand on the same general level of ethical claim and obligation.
    • p. 156
  • The trouble with all ethical systems of this world has been their partiality. They have been arranged with undue regard for those who invented them. And this defect vitiates the prevailing systems to-day as it has vitiated the systems that have been produced in times gone by.
    • p. 156
  • The same general moral code applies to every being that feels. In a general way, whatever is right to human beings is right also to non-human beings; and whatever is wrong to human beings is wrong to non-human beings. There are disparities everywhere—disparities in ethical standing, just as there are disparities in usefulness and feeling-power. But there are no greater disparities between men and other animals than there are between different individuals or varieties of the human species. I do not say nor do I believe that a guinea-pig has the same rights to life and to the satisfaction of its desires as an Englishman has. Neither has an Eskimo. But I do say that an ethical system that treats guinea pigs and non-humans generally with the ethical indifference that they receive to-day is a product of human provincialism pure and simple and is destined to become as obsolete as human slavery with the blooming of the ages.
    • p. 156
  • Science has many things to answer for that it is not guilty of. Many things are done in the name of "science" because those who do them are ashamed to acknowledge their real motives. Roosevelt shot monkeys and antelopes in Africa in the name of "science," but his real motives are known to have been much lower.
    • p. 157
  • If I were making a world and could arrange it as I wanted to, only humanitarians would be allowed to practice vivisection. Only those would be allowed to practice it who would be as economical in inflicting pain on others as they would be in inflicting it on themselves. Vivisection in the hands of those without sympathy, in the hands of those who are still in the mists of anthropocentrism, will always be abused, will always be, what it is to-day, largely a pastime and a hobby.
    • p. 158

The Law of Biogenesis (1914)[edit]

Full text online at the HathiTrust Digital Library, Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1914.

  • No wonder the child loves the camp-fire. The camp-fire was the ancestor of the hearth—the first bright spot in that dark world out of which our forefathers groped their way so long ago.

Savage Survivals (1916)[edit]

Imitation will not always be stronger than reason, but it is today.

Full text online at the Internet Archive, Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1916.

Domesticated and Wild Animals[edit]

  • These races of beings which man has associated with himself are living beings. They eat and drink and breathe, they suffer and enjoy, reproduce their kind and love their young, much as human beings do. They have been taken from their natural surroundings and forced to adopt ways of living that are often cruel, or even horrible. There is nothing much more certain than that men and women of the far future will recognize their kinship with these races, and will treat them in an entirely different way from what we do.
    • "Summary and Conclusion", p. 37

Wild Survivals in Domesticated Animals[edit]

  • Mother love is not a human invention. It has been inherited. It is older than the Rocky Mountains. Mother love in man came from the same source as the backbone in man from pre-human forms. Mother love among men is the same thing exactly as mother love among birds and quadrupeds. The mother monkey loves her child with almost the same tenderness as the human mother. When a monkey child dies, the mother carries the little corpse around with her for clays, refuses to eat, and sits often in silence and grief. Mother birds will risk their very lives for their young. So will mother bears, and lions, and whales, and the females of many other species.
    • "Mother Love", p. 61
  • As time passes and society assumes more and move the care of the young, it is probable that the love of parents for their own children will grow weaker. Parents will develop a feeling of regard for children as a whole, and will not have that feeling of partiality which they today have so much, for their own children. Society is in many ways better fitted to look after its young than are individual parents. Society today carries on the education of the child, providing school houses, teachers, and in some cases even books and meals. All of these things were formerly done by parents themselves, that is, in a "private" rather than in a "public" way. And future times will no doubt see still further advances along these same lines.
    • "Mother Love", p. 64
  • Young sheep and goats leap and gambol in their play. I have noticed young goats that were being led along the streets keep up an occasional jumping as they went along, leaping first one way then another, sometimes straight up into the air, as if they were worked by some unseen spring that went off suddenly inside of them. How strange such conduct must have seemed to the pre-Darwinians. But to the evolutionists it is as plain as day.
    • "The School of Nature", p. 67

Savage Survivals in Higher Peoples (Continued)[edit]

  • Human beings are not children of the sun. They are children of the jungle. We have in our natures many things that we would be a great deal better off without instincts and ways of acting which we would never have included in ourselves in the world if we had had the privilege of choosing just what was to go into our natures. These instincts and ways of acting are vestigial. They were useful to our ancestors, but owing to changes in surroundings they are not useful to us.
    • "Vestigial Instincts in Man", pp. 127–128
  • The animal kingdom has been reared in a gory cradle.
    • "The Fighting Instinct", p. 138
  • Progress is not natural. We are geared to go round and round. The reformer should not expect too much. We are only as far along as we are. It is the nature of granite to be hard. And it is the nature of man to be mechanical.
    • "The Imitative Instinct", p. 158
  • Imitation will not always be stronger than reason, but it is today.
    • "The Imitative Instinct", p. 158
  • [O]ur bodies do not generate energy in sufficient abundance for us to regard labor as a blessing. We don't work, as a rule, because we would rather work than not. We work because we would rather work than starve. Labor is a sort of necessary evil. We endure it because it is not so bad as some other things we would have to undergo if we didn't work. To labor as men do in producing civilization in producing the food, houses, machinery, and luxuries of modern peoples is not natural in the present stage of development of the human machine. It is a strained and artificial expenditure. This is shown by our fondness for holidays, by our constant search for labor-saving machines, and by the fact that we are all the time looking forward to a Golden Age in our lives when we can lead a life of leisure. We generally classify toil with trouble and tears with the evil things of life, not with the good things. The Happy Places that men dream of for themselves after death are invariably places where there is not much work to do.
    • "The Instinct of Indolence", p. 159
  • Humanitarianism is the name commonly given to that higher humanity which embraces the whole animal kingdom, or as much of it as gives evidence of feeling. Humanitarianism is the final goal of human sympathy. Starting with the tribe (or the family, or even the individual), the instinct of sympathy has spread from tribe to confederacy, from confederacy to nation, from nation to race, and from race to species. It is constantly growing and deepening among the sub-divisions of the human species and is as constantly extending to the non-human populations of the earth. It is destined finally to reach the remotest shores of the Great Ocean of Feeling. Wherever there are bodies that bleed and souls that mourn, there human sympathy should go, angel-like, with its sweetness and healing down even to those lowly and overlooked but suffering-and-enjoying civilizations beneath our feet, in the grasses and grounds and the crystal deeps.
    • "Some Newer Instincts", pp. 182–183
  • Our competitive system of industry is a vestigial institution. It is a survival from the militant ages of the past. It is a form of warfare. It is unsuited to a world of co-operation and division of labor. Higher men are beings of sympathy. They have the natures to put themselves in the places of others. Their ideal is the Golden Rule. But our system of industry compels us to fight each other. It is a heart-hardener. It is a system of cannibalism. Instead of instilling the feeling of brotherhood, it compels us to eat each other. It will pass away. It is already far advanced in its transition to a system based on sympathy and systematic co-operation.
    • "Vestigial Customs and Institutions, pp. 190–191
  • Everywhere we turn we find evidence that the "civilization," so-called, of higher peoples is a made-over something, and that the antecedent thing from which it has been derived is the "civilization" of the savage. In this derived "civilization" we find everywhere features of the old, antecedent, and disappearing order of things customs, laws, beliefs, languages, ideals, and institutions which are now no longer functional, but which survive in a more or less dwindling condition in obedience to the same laws as those which perpetuate the vermiform appendix and the hairy covering of our bodies and the hunting and fighting instincts of our natures. It is of vast advantage to us to be able to recognize these vestigial features, in order that we may more skilfully disentangle ourselves from them and at the same time definitely turn our backs on them in our efforts to advance toward a Better World.
    • "Vestigial Customs and Institutions, p. 191

Quotes about Moore[edit]

  • [The Universal Kinship] has furnished me several days of deep pleasure and satisfaction; it has compelled my gratitude at the same time, since it saves me the labor of stating my own long-cherished opinions and reflections and resentments by doing it lucidly and fervently and irascibly for me.
  • I do not know of any book [The Universal Kinship] dealing with evolution that I have read with such keen interest. Mr. Moore has a broad grasp and shows masterly knowledge of the subject. And withal the interest never flags. The book reads like a novel. One is constantly keyed up and expectant. Mr. Moore is to be congratulated upon the magnificent way in which he has made alive the dull, heavy processes of the big books. And, then, there is his style. He uses splendid virile English and shows a fine appreciation of the values of words. He uses always the right word.
  • It is impossible for me to express my appreciation of your masterly work [The Universal Kinship]. It is simply great, and every socialist and student of sociology should read it.
  • [The Universal Kinship] leaves me in a glow of enthusiasm and hope. It seems like the embodiment of years of almost despairing effort and pain of all of us who have felt these things. That which we have been thinking and feeling—some in one direction and some in another, some in fuller understanding and breadth, others in little flashes of insight here and there—all seems gathered together, expressed, and given form and color and life in your wonderful book.
  • It is not too much to say that all that should be said, all that can be said, all that any one of us thinks he would like to say, is said in this book [The Universal Kinship] [...] nothing that I have ever yet read has so brought home to me the whole question of my relationship to and personal responsibility for the subhuman creation.
    • F. A. Cox, "The Universal Kinship"
  • This man, our brother, never purposely killed a living thing until he put the pistol to his head. Poor dead dreamer, you are not the first or last mortal to learn the truth [...] I have dreamed my dreams, had my illusions and wakened from my sleep. Why do I not follow him? I do not end it all because the love of life and the shrinking fear of death in all living things stays my hand and my courage fails.
    • Clarence Darrow, "The Address Delivered at the Funeral Service of John Howard Moore", The Athena, Park Ridge, Ill.
  • John Howard Moore wrote and worked with feverish haste, and he believed that the blind and heartless world would listen to his words and mend its ways. But humanity went on trading and dickering, lying and cheating, marrying and dying, and never heard his voice. One day he opened his eyes and knew his work was in vain, and feeling the weight of the universal sorrow on his soul, he took his life. The coroner's jury determined that "he died from his own hand, while suffering under a temporary fit of insanity." I tell you he died from his own hand while suffering under a temporary fit of sanity [...] Poor, dead dreamer! You are not the first or last mortal to learn the truth. Other men have awakened from the mad and blissful dream of saving mankind from itself. I, too, have dreamed my dreams, had my illusions, and wakened from my sleep [...] Among all who are gathered here there is but one whom we can felicitate on this event, and that one is our friend who lies peaceful and all unconscious of the world. If any word of mine could call back his troubled soul, I should feel myself guiltier far than I would to cause a brother's death.
    • Clarence Darrow, "The Address Delivered at the Funeral Service of John Howard Moore", The Athena, Park Ridge, Ill.
  • Indeed, all his works are replete with the sublimest thoughts and inspirations, and the least that we, as Comrades, can do as proof of our mission to spread "enlightenment is first, to acquaint ourselves with Professor Moore's books, and secondly, to pass the knowledge on to others. Thus his efforts shall not have been in vain.
  • Perhaps the most able of all vindications of humane principles is that contained in Mr. Howard Moore's The Universal Kinship, published by the League in 1906. It was through a notice which I wrote in the Humanitarian of an earlier book of his, Better-World Philosophy, that the League first came into association with him; and I remember with shame that when that "sociological synthesis," as its sub-title proclaimed it to be, first came into my hands, I nearly left it unread, suspecting it to be but the latest of the many wearisome ethical treatises that are a scourge to the reviewer, to whom the very word "sociology" or "synthesis" is a terror. But fortunately I read the book, and quickly discovered its merits; and from that time, till his death in 1916, Howard Moore was one of the truest and tenderest of our friends, himself prone to despondency and, as his books show, with a touch of pessimism, yet never failing in his support and encouragement of others and of all humanitarian effort. "What on earth would we Unusuals do, in this lonely dream of life," so he wrote in one of his letters, "if it were not for the sympathy and friendship of the Few?"
  • In The Universal Kinship, Howard Moore left to humanitarians a treasure which it will be their own fault if they do not value as it deserves. There is a tendency to forget that it is to modern evolutionary science that the ethic of humaneness owes its strongest corroboration. The physical basis of the humane philosophy rests on the biological fact that kinship is universal. Starting from this admitted truth, Moore showed, with much wealth of argument and epigram, that the supposed psychical gulf between human and non-human has no more existence, apart from the imagination of man. than the physical gulf which has now been bridged by science. The purpose of our movement was admirably stated by him: "to put science and humanitarianism in place of tradition and savagery." It was with that aim in view that our League of Humaneness had been formed.
  • I have a theory that we judge best of the reality of friendships in absence; and if this be true, I cannot have been mistaken as to the warmth of my feelings for Howard Moore, for I never saw him in person, though we corresponded regularly for years, and I have still a big packet of his letters which show him to have been no less lovable as a man than he was brilliant as a writer.
  • I have long thought that Moore's chief book, The Universal Kinship, the gist of which is clearly expressed in the title, is the best ever written in the humanitarian cause.
  • At times Moore strikes contemporary ethicists as rather ridiculous, arguing, for instance, against meat-eating even by wild animals. It is likely that Moore's ardent vegetarianism contributed to this attitude.
    • Roderick Nash, The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics (1989), p. 54
  • No country is without popular heroes. America has at least one. Like young Lochinvar he "has come out of the West." He is in Chicago at present. His name is J. Howard Moore [...] He became a hero by a book. It happened this way. One day the Illinois Legislature passed a bill compelling teachers to instruct their pupils in morals, thirty minutes a week. Forthwith there was a panic. Ladies' hearts fluttered and men's lips dropped naughty words. Nobody in Illinois knew how to teach morals. Nobody? Just one. J. Howard Moore.
    • R. H. Tierney, S. J., America; A Catholic Review of the Week, Vol. 10, Iss. 4, 1 Nov. 1913, p. 78

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