5. There is another doctrine that repudiates the qualification of “Materialist,” because it admits the existence of a principle distinct from matter; we allude to that which asserts that each individual soul is to be absorbed in the Universal Whole. According to this doctrine, all human beings assimilate, at birth, a particle of this principle, which constitutes their souls and gives them life, intelligence and feeling. At death, their souls return to the common source, and are merged in infinity as a drop of water is merged in the ocean.
This doctrine is, undoubtedly, an improvement over that of pure and simple Materialism, in as much as it admits something more than matter; but its consequences are precisely the same. Whether individuals, after death, are dissolved into nothingness, or plunged into a general reservoir, is all one, as far as they themselves are concerned; for if, in the one case, they are annihilated, in the other, they lose their individuality, which is, for them, exactly the same thing as though they ceased to exist: in either case, all social relations are destroyed forever. What is essential for every human being is the preservation of the essential self; without that, what does it matter to them whether they exist, or do not exist? In either case, for them, the future is nil, and the present life is the only thing of any importance to them. As regards its moral consequences, this doctrine is, therefore, just as pernicious, just as devoid of hope, just as powerful a stimulus to selfishness, as materialism properly so called.