776. Are the state of nature and the law of nature the same thing?
“No, the state of nature is the original state. Civilization is incompatible with the state of nature, while the law of nature contributes to the progress of humankind.”
The state of nature is the first phase of the human race, and the starting point of its intellectual and moral development. Human beings, born imperfect and containing the seed of their betterment, are not destined to live in the state of nature forever, just as they do not remain in the state of infancy. The state of nature is brief, and human beings outgrow it through progress and civilization. On the contrary, natural law rules humankind as a whole. People improve as they understand this law more clearly, and mold their actions to adhere to it.
777. In the state of nature, people with fewer wants do not have many of the tribulations as human beings who are socially more advanced. What should we think of the opinion of those who regard the former state as being that of the most perfect happiness that can be obtained on Earth?
“What do you expect? That is the ignorant bliss of the brute. Such happiness is that of an animal, but there are people who know no better. Children are also happier than adults.”
778. Can humankind regress to the state of nature?
“No. Humankind must always progress, and cannot return to the state of infancy. If they progress because it is God has willed it. An assumption that people can revert to the primitive condition is to deny the law of progress.”