24. With inferior beings in creation, with those in whom the moral sense does not exist, where instinct has not been replaced by intelligence, the struggle would have for incentive only the satisfaction of a material necessity. Now, one of the most imperious physical needs is that of food. They struggle, then, only to sustain life; that is to say, to seize prey, or to defend themselves from attack, for they cannot be actuated by a more elevated object. It is in this first period that the soul is elaborated and tried by the vicissitudes of life.
There is a period of transition where man is scarcely distinguishable from the brute. In the first periods of his existence animal instincts rules; and the battle has still for its incentive the satisfaction of material wants. Later, the animal instinct and moral sentiment are counterbalanced. Then struggles are no more simply for nourishment, but for the satisfaction of ambition, pride, and love of dominion; it is still necessary to destroy. But, accordingly as moral sense gains ascendancy, moral sensibility becomes developed; the desire to destroy diminishes, at length it becomes effaced and odious to him. Man has a horror of blood.
However, a struggle is always necessary to the development of the spirit. After having arrived at a point which appears to us the culminating one, he is still far from being perfect. It is only at the price of activity that he acquires knowledge by experience, and as he is despoiled of the last vestiges of animality; but then the effort, no longer brutal and bloody as it formerly was, becomes purely intellectual. Man struggles against difficulties, but no more with beings of his own species.*
* Without prejudging the consequences that one could take from this principle, we simply wanted to show, with this explanation, that the destruction of living beings, one by another, does not, by any means, lessen the divine wisdom, and that everything follows a sequence within the laws of nature. However, this chain is completely void if we disregard the spiritual principle. Our constant regarding of matter alone leads us to a multitude of unanswered questions.
The materialistic doctrines bring within them the seeds of their own destruction. For once they are faced with their own antagonism of mankind’s aspirations of universality and its moral consequences; they will be seen as agents of dissolution, causing them to be repelled by society. Secondly, they face their reluctance to comprehend one’s needs to become familiar with all that is brought forth by progress. Intellectual development leads man to search for answers. Well, as little as he may reflect, it will not take him long to recognize the inability of materialism to explain everything. One would question if a doctrine that upholds man’s most vital questions as enigmas could ever prevail, considering that it does not satisfy the heart, reason, or intelligence. The progress of ideas will defeat materialism, just as it has already destroyed fanaticism.