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THE PHYSICAL BASIS OF ETHICS,
POPULAR LECTURES AND DISCUSSIONS
BROOKLYN ETHICAL ASSOCIATION
CHARLES H. KERR & COMPANY
The lesson which this volume of lectures and discussions is intended to teach is one of great practical importance, both to the individual and to society at large. If heeded, it will correct, we believe, many of the false tendencies in modern life, the outcome of which is disastrous to social and personal well-being under the exigent conditions of our latter day civilization.
The Eighteenth Century closed with a pæan to Liberty which sounded the death-knell of chattel slavery and absolute monarchies, and fulfilled the promise of the Reformation by assuring to all men the right of free thought and private judgment. The Nineteenth Century, under the inspiration of the doctrine of evolution, warns men that this freedom is only the means to a higher end-a means which if rightly used will lead to that fullness of life, in the individual and in society, which is the ideal goal of the evolutionary process, but which if misused or abused will, with equal certainty, lead to degeneration and decay.
Ethics in practice is the supreme product of human evolution; and the moral life means not merely "necessitation to an end which is unwillingly adopted," but voluntary obedience to Cosmic as well as Sociological Law. Evolution sees an objective unity in the cosmic order of the starry heavens and those orderly activities which constitute morality in the soul of man. It points an objective as well as a subjective test of the rightness of our actions, and no longer delivers man over to the blind guidance of an exclusively subjective monitor-the"Mystic Ought"-which renders unattainable an intelligent consensus as to the true end of human endeavor.
Following the previous volumes on "Evolution," "Sociology," "Evolution in Science, Philosophy and
Art," "Man and the State," and "Factors in American Civilization," this volume carries evolutionary principles into the field of individual life and character, and shows their application to the practical problems of hygiene, sociology, religion and applied ethics. The writers are for the most part masters of the topics assigned them for treatment, and we confidently commend their work to thoughtful and intelligent readers who would know the last word of the evolutionist upon the most vital of all the questions of the time.