23. Regarding humanity at the lowest rung of the intellectual ladder with the most undeveloped savages, one wonders if this is not the starting-point of the human soul.
According to the opinion of some spiritualist philosophers, the intelligent principle, distinct from the material, is individualized and elaborated by passing through the different degrees of animal life. It is there that the soul tries life and first develops its faculties by exercise; this would be, so to say, its time of incubation. Arrived at the degree of development comporting with this state, it receives special faculties, which constitute the human soul; there would thus be a spiritual affiliation, as there is a corporeal one.
This system, founded upon the grand law of unity, which presides in all creation, has much to commend it. It is agreeable to the justice and goodness of the Creator. It gives an issue, an object, a destiny to animals which are no more disinherited beings, but find in the future reserved to them a compensation for their sufferings. That which constitutes spiritual man is not his origin, but the special attributes with which he is endowed at his entrance into humanity, attributes which transform and make of him a distinct being, as the delicious fruit is distinct from the bitter root whence it sprang. Because he had passed through the experience of animality, man would be no less a man. He would be no more an animal than the fruit is a root, as the wise man not the fetus by which he has made his debut into the world.
But this system raises numerous questions, for which there is no more an opportunity of discussing whys and wherefores than of examining the different hypothesis which have been made on this subject. Without then searching again for the origin of the soul, and the vicissitudes through which it has been able to pass, we take it at entrance into humanity, at the point where, endowed with moral sense and free will, it commences to realize the responsibility of its acts.