"More than machinery, we need humanity."
“Indeed, what is the seduction of the flesh beside the seduction of science? Nothing; for the seduction of the flesh may well ruin a man, a people, a nation, an empire, but never all of humanity. The seduction of science, pushed to its last limits, can alone annihilate the world in a conflagration, in a general catastrophe.”
Please note: this the third (and final) part of the English translation of Eugene Huzar’s L’arbre de la science. While this section can be read independently, it is still advisable that you read this (rather short) book from the beginning.
Translator’s introduction: Recognizing that some of his claims about impending, techno-scientifically exacerbated, calamity would be met with mockery, Huzar devoted a significant portion of L’arbre de la science to cataloging techno-scientifically exacerbated calamities that had already occurred. To his readers, in the previously posted sections, Huzar sought to make the point that they did not need to imagine future disasters, they could look around them and see the crises already unfolding. What’s more, Huzar pushed his readers to consider how much more catastrophic future events would be as humanity’s prescience lacking scientific power increased. Having provided numerous examples drawn from real world events, in the final sections of L’arbre de la science, Huzar pivots back to his overarching thesis, and winds up revisiting the core idea that had animated his previous book—La fin du monde par la science. For Huzar, Eden is not a mythical place. Instead, Huzar considers Eden to be the representation of a human civilization that had reached the point of perfection, a scientifically advanced civilization that was in harmony with nature. Yet, that Eden was destroyed by the unquenchable thirst for more knowledge and power (eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge). Thus, for Huzar, the tale of Eden is a warning from a long-forgotten civilization, it is a tale that is meant to tell us that if we hubristically pursue knowledge without limits, our civilization shall eventually fall as well.
Writing in the middle of the nineteenth century, Huzar did not claim to know precisely what would bring about the fall he feared. Certainly, he gestured towards climate change, but he did not attempt to diagnose the specific scientific threat. Rather, the danger was in science itself—in a scientific attitude that refuses to acknowledge limits or potential risks. In these closing sections of L’arbre de la science it is clear that Huzar thought the worldof his day was once again getting close to Eden. Humanity had subjugated the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, humanity had harnessed the power of electricity, humanity had conquered space and time thanks to the telegraph and the railroad. Huzar further argues that these scientific advances hadtaken place alongside social advances that foregrounded equality and fairness, and he expressed the belief that the ease of communication would bring with it an end to warfare between nations. Yes, Huzar believed that through science and technology humanity was fast approaching a point where it could once again establish Eden; however, he remained certain that humanity would not be satisfied in Eden. It would still want more, it would still lust for more knowledge, and as a result it would destroy itself.
While one can hardly argue that L’arbre de la science is an uplifting book, Huzar ends this slim volume by pointing to a mix of palliative and curative means. Unfortunately, these ideas are mainly presented as outlines, he closes the book by noting that he will fully tackle these topics in his next book…a book which he never actually wrote. Nevertheless, his palliative means include some interesting proposals, such as the establishment of an international body to oversee scientific pursuits—to place a brake on scientific pursuits that might prove too dangerous. Yet, Huzar’s key point is that even the best palliative means can only postpone the inevitable, what will be necessary is to replace the hubristic pursuit of science with one that acknowledges limits. Science needs to remove its blindfold in order to see where it is going before it forges ahead.
Near the book’s end, Huzar notes “If you can prove to me that man’s reason will always be sufficient to foresee all the pitfalls that lie on the road from the finite to the infinite, then my book no longer makes sense, and I surrender.” Alas, more than one hundred and fifty years after it was initially published, Huzar’s book still makes a great deal of sense.
The tree of science explained by intuitive philosophy.
The Creation of the World.
The whole skeptical school of the eighteenth century laughed at the creation story as it is told by Moses; we are going to put Genesis next to the science of the nineteenth century, and we shall see who was right Moses or Voltaire.
The priests of antiquity have not invented mysteries and dogmas to mislead human reason, as fools and ignorant men say. They are testamentary depositories of great truths taught by revelation and whose sense has been lost. Tradition has given them ready-made ideas, and the intuition of science will explain them one day. Precepts and religious commandments, which seem to us the most absurd and the most abusive and which our reason cannot understand the meaning of, are easily explained today. Circumcision has its reason for being in hygiene; the same is true of the fast and pork meat being forbidden to the Jews. The sacrifice of the Mass teaches us sacrifice. Communion teaches us equality and fraternity. All the sacraments aim at the moral perfection of humanity; they are the vehicles through which humanity can one day attain Edenism, relative harmony, and perhaps a day at the city of God.
No, gentlemen philosophers and scholars, religion and philosophy will not always be in an eternal antinomy; the antinomy is only apparent; faith and reason are one; science, assisted by intuitive philosophy, will prove it one day. Faith is only the anticipated light of reason, but reason later verifies faith, the objective, and ascertains the fact a posteriori. To better understand this, let’s make a simple comparison. Faith is sight, reason is touching it. The sight is a distant touch, the hand is a close touch; but these two kinds of touching, so different, do not observe less of the reality of things, sight precedes touch, and touch recognizes sight.
The mystery is not supernatural; it is, on the contrary, a purely natural fact, but which our mind has not yet succeeded in explaining, because our faculties have not yet reached the degree of power necessary for their interpretation. Miracles and mysteries, as understood by religion, would be the contradiction of the living laws of the world, the reversal of unity, of order which resides entirely in the inexorability of living universal laws, by which subsists the universe. Let us renounce, therefore, forever preserving a supernatural significance to any word, and believe that under these mysterious veils lies a truth, an objective reality whose meaning may be precise and which may fall under the domain of pure reason.
What seemed incomprehensible in the forbidden fruit, in the temptation, in the tree of science, in Eden, in the fall, in the original sin, in a word will seem natural to us, when assisted by science, philosophy will break the mysterious veils that hide the truth.
Philosophers boldly tear off the sacred veils of the ancient tree of science, and the mystic cryptogram will show us the law of human activity of which it is the eternal legend.
The Creation of Man
But I say to you, and never forget these words, they are the history of human destiny, its true ontological formula and consequently the true formula of its activity.
Man is an insufficient reason in search of the absolute.
This definition is true for each of us, for each of us pursues happiness with tear-stained eyes and a panting, sweaty body, and our insufficient reason has never been able to give it to us. Society pursues absolute progress, and its insufficient reason will never give it any relative progress. Mankind pursues the absolute, the supreme good, from century to century, and its insufficient reason will give it only a relative Eden, a paradise for a day.
This definition has the qualities of a good definition because it can only be applied to the definite object that man is; in fact, it excludes God, who is an absolute reason, it excludes the animal which cannot be perfected by itself, as it is not endowed with reason. Read the story, and you will see that all the acts of humanity are marked by the seal of fallibility and the insufficiency of reason; the ruin of so many empires and the fall of so many civilizations is superabundant proof of this.
Study the human events, and you will see, as I have shown you by the example of deforestation, that they are marked by the seal of a lack of prescience and the foresight of an insufficient reason. Study liberty, I speak of internal liberty, and you will see that this liberty, this free examination, this free will is only the doubt of an insufficient reason.
Indeed, what is the etymology of the word liberte: this word comes from the word libertas, which comes from libra which means balance, equilibrium, words that are the moral answer to the words doubt, deliberation. Why does reason doubt, delibere? It is because it is an insufficient reason, not prescient, and which consequently cannot pronounce a priori on the value of the motives which must determine it.
He who knows no longer weighs motives, and he who no longer weighs motives is no longer free, for it is our doubt which constitutes our internal liberty; we weigh only because we still doubt. Insufficient reason, on the contrary, need not examine; she knows, she acts a priori.
We must now examine this balance in itself, that criterion of certainty which is called human reason; let’s see if it is right, if it has mathematical precision. If she is infallible, she will always look to the side of justice and truth that will always prevail. Is it so? Alas no! Experience alone can redefine the differences of reason, but this experience can only be acquired at our own expense, and the history of progress is only the recital of experiences made at the expense of successive generations in order to reach future progress.
What is insufficient reason? Let’s say it in a few words, it’s a scale that lacks mathematical precision. Can we hope for infinite progress with such an instrument? No, because if the errors of numbers which we commit on the quantities and the qualities, that is to say on the nature and on the relations of things, are not very serious still today, later these errors of figures will become very dangerous, when we submit to the tray of our insufficient reason deliberations such as these; Is it necessary to break the isthmus? Will the globe be disturbed yes or no? And other dangerous deliberations intended to affect the laws of equilibrium of the planet, such as that of Mr. Reynaud, to put us in communication with the central fires of the earth, to leave to the sun a power capable of disturbing it in its absolute dominion, and to cause, consequently, a revolution in the present order of winds and clouds, and other experiments of this nature which humanity must necessarily attempt in the future, which must ultimately change the face of the planetary world.
Let us now enter into the exegesis and explanation of the verses of Genesis.
Do not we see that today this prophecy is fulfilled for us, as it was fulfilled for the humanity that preceded us? Do we not dominate over the fish of the sea, by the instruments that industry put in our hands, by fishing? Do we not dominate birds and land animals by hunting? From another point of view, do we not already dominate many animals by our art of domesticating them? Have we not domesticated the sheep, the goat, the ox, the donkey, the camel? Well, did we not dominate animals by crossing species? Is not the mule a creation of all pieces of human invention? Do we not dominate the fish by multiplying them to infinity by this new art: fish farming? Are we not already consequently, more creative, more fertile than nature itself?
Man today dominates not only all animals, but all plants. Who does not know that the man has managed, by the marvelous art of the transplant to transform wild trees into civilized trees with delicious fruits? Who does not know that in Europe we manage to grow all the fruit trees of the Orient? Who does not know that we have made different species of flowers of all colors, of all shades, transforming single flowers into double flowers? As for me, I assure you I have seen a rose grafted on an orange tree by a gardener in Saint-Mande.
Man thus dominates today as he once dominated the vegetal and animal kingdom, and there is not a being of creation that he does not transform by his science and his industry.
Now, it was to this perfect domination of the organic and inorganic kingdom that humanity had come, of which Moses tells the story before entering Eden. But mankind had not been able to dominate only the entire mineral and organic kingdom, it had pushed its domination even further, for Genesis tells us, verse 28: fill the earth and subjugate it. This word subjugate is the deepest of this verse; man is the crowning point, the conclusion. He is the very consequence of what preceded, and, indeed, it was only after man had believed and multiplied that, after he had filled the world, he had dominion over the fishes, the birds, the animals, which, then master and sovereign lord of the earth, he completely dominated and subjugated.
In effect, do we not subjugate the earth when we pierce the mountains, when we fill the valleys, when we debase them, when we pierce the isthmus, when we take from the huge mountains 150 million metric quintals of coal, do we not subjugate the earth by our genius, when, through supremacy of space, we traverse its immense circumference in a few months?
Do we not subjugate the earth, when we like birds rise in the sky, by air navigation, at a height of 7,000 meters, as Gay-Lussac did, or when we descend into the bowels of the earth to a depth of more than 1,000 meters; when we play with lightning, like the Gods of old?
And you sun! King of our system, frightful enigma of the ancients, what have you done with all your prestige? From your ideal kingship, poor God of the Crown, formerly men reproduced on the stones of Thebes and Memphis the venerable and sacred features which they adored; today it is the man who is your God, and it is you who reproduce his features.
Constant fires of light, of caloric, your rays will be the fertile and inexhaustible breasts from which the man of the future will one day extract electricity for the world.
To subjugate the world, an immense word, is to subjugate matter; and, indeed, do we not solidify the gases that nature never knew how to solidify. Do we not volatilize solids that nature had never volatilized? Do we not, like God, create water in the chemistry labs? Do we not produce frightful artificial colds such as nature never knew how to produce before us? Do we not produce heat intensities equal to those of the sun itself by the electric battery? Do we not produce a light as strong as that of the sun by electricity? And, finally, do we not obtain by electricity a speed equal to that of thought itself: 70,000 leagues per second?
I say that man begins to subjugate the earth in accordance to Genesis; for he dominates it, shapes it, paints it, transforms it according to his will.
And on this scene where the virtuality of things had thrown him weak and naked, he raised himself up all powerful, the absolute king and, so to speak, God on earth.
The modern world, our epoch of civilization and science, is therefore almost identical to that which preceded the entrance of man into Eden. Now, if we call our epoch a period of science and civilization, what name shall we give to that which preceded the entrance of man into Eden? She can only have one, she will have only one in the future; the time of the ante-Edenian civilization. For two identical phenomena must necessarily have the same name.
Now it was only after humanity had multiplied enough to fill the earth, that it had dominated all the vegetable and animal existences, finally that it had arrived, according to the energetic expression of the Bible, to subjugate completely the earth, that the gates of Eden opened for her. It will also be, when we are able to completely subjugate the earth, that the gates of Eden open for us.
Nature is tamed and vanquished; man is in Eden, he enjoys a hundred beatitudes, the traveler has arrived, he rests or rather he seems to rest; he works more through contemplation than through the senses, for relative harmony now exists in the world.
Eden – The terrestrial paradise
What is the snake?
The snake is for us the figure of the scientific seduction that took hold of humanity when it was in Eden, that is to say in harmony, and which caused Eden to be lost. It is the symbol of the alluring mirage of an insufficient reason pursuing the absolute by science. It is up to us to beware of the seduction of science when we are in Eden.
The word snake comes indeed from serpere, crawling; it is the image of intelligence which seeks truth through darkness, it is the spirit of science which seeks to grow and to rise incessantly; and Greece understood it so well that whenever she wished to represent science in whatever form it was, one always saw in her sculptures the figure of the serpent. Thus she represents Aesculapius, the god of medicine, leaning against a tree trunk on which is wound a snake. This is how she represents Apollo, the god of the intellectual faculties, leaning against a tree trunk surrounded by a snake.
If S.M. Creuzer, instead of doing scholarship purely and simply as he did, went back to the primitive symbol, would he not find it surprising to see in all the scenes of cosmogonies, and in the religions of antiquity, the idea of the snake linked to that of the end of the world. Could it be otherwise? A world had perished by scientific seduction, the memory of the moral fault that had lost it has been transmitted under the figure of the tempting and destructive serpent. Now, as the scientific seduction has always seized each cycle when it arrives at the blooming of its strength and its power, it must always have the same consequences and consequently reproduce the same effects.
Let the archaeologists convince themselves, then, that the serpent was chosen as a figure of seduction only because it was without doubt the animal which exerted the greatest fascination on primitive men, that he was the most striking of evil by seduction. Let them also convince themselves that if the serpent is the symbol of seduction and evil, it is because evil occurs someday by seduction. Finally, if in all the scenes of theogonies relating to the end of the world we see the snake appear, as Creuzer remarks, it is because this end of the world or rather the end of a humanity, had arrived precisely by this seduction. By what seduction? The scientific seduction, the greatest seduction that has ever been able to seize humanity. Indeed, what is the seduction of the flesh beside the seduction of science? Nothing; for the seduction of the flesh may well ruin a man, a people, a nation, an empire, but never all of humanity. The seduction of science, pushed to its last limits, can alone annihilate the world in a conflagration, in a general catastrophe. Such, gentlemen archaeologists, is the true meaning of the serpent.
What was the tree of science?
The reader has too much sense to take the word of Moses literally; he will see in the tree of science the figure of the encyclopedic tree of human knowledge, the figure of the tree of experimental science.
What was the tree of life?
I will say on this tree a single word, reserving myself to give further explanations. The tree of life is the tree of faith, intuition, magnetism; it is therefore the tree of knowledge by intuition; it is the opposition, it is the antithesis of the tree of science, which is the tree of purely experimental science.
What was Eden?
What finally was this Eden, in which we see the serpent symbolizing scientific seduction, if not a learned civilization? Eden is a figure, an allegory; but this figure, this allegory, has a real objective meaning: Eden extended over all the earth, which was then only a continual and varied scene of voluptuousness until it was changed by the sin of Adam. Such is my opinion of Eden, for it seems to me the only rational one: in fact, each people, each religion, each counterpart claiming for it alone the terrestrial paradise, it must be admitted that it was on earth at the same time and all over. Eden is the sum of harmony, and that is why all peoples speak about it and claim it.
Let us not fall into this vulgar way, which is to curse and dishonor the century where we live (Victor Hugo). There has been much slander of this century. It has been taxed as unjust, selfish, immoral, corrupt; it has been made into a kind of iron age. We should have called it the Golden Age. Because ever since the last cataclysm, men have had so little moral grandeur, that never has humanity come closer to perfection than today
Formerly man could see suffering without emotion for his fellow; a few years ago, it was scattered about the public squares; see Damien the assassin of Louis XV.
Today, the death penalty is correctly inflicted on a couple, but torture has been suppressed; and tomorrow, thanks to the progress of civilization, the death penalty will be abolished.
It is given to our century to seek peace in the world, this dream of poets. The future will do the rest. Wars of religion have disappeared; the wars between the human races will disappear in their turn. Montesquieu already said of his time: nations do in peace more good and in war the least harm that is possible, without harming their real interests. What would he say today, when we have seen nowadays, in Crimea, the soldiers of two enemy camps treating each other reciprocally as brothers in the hospitals?
We believe with Oudot that relations between peoples will be directed more and more by charity and that their interests will identify more and more. We even believe with Eschbach that one day all the states of Europe will federate to guarantee each other their rights. We affirm that the idea of such a confederation can no longer be considered as chimerical, as that of the association of all humanity.
The laws take up their unity, the walls of nations are crumbling to dust. The languages of Babel find unity. All march towards unity: the conquests of the Romans, by subjecting numerous peoples to the unity of language, to a single authority, have multiplied the relations between these peoples; then the influence of Christianity, the extension of commerce, the discovery of the great means of communication, have brought men together in a thousand ways.
What better spectacle! What better proof of the future solidarity of the races, than these 12 million votes of acclamation from the whole world, at the first news of the disasters caused by the floods. When, at what time did you see such a happening in the world?
The great human caravan must therefore, as Reynaud said, arrive sooner or later, at the promised land. I add: and if in moral world, the world of souls, wanted to continue a homicidal struggle, it would be the physical world, the world of science that would force men to get along and to join hands. For the railroads and the electric telegraphs, these hyphens thrown between men, are a guarantee for the future fraternity of the peoples. Interest, religion, morality, philosophy, science, civilization, push men to a universal reconciliation.
We are, you say, more egoistic than our fathers and less charitable than formerly. And yet, when did you see the association practiced with as much zeal as at this time, when so many charitable institutions, workplaces, dispensaries, asylum rooms, crèches, associations to visit and relieve the poor, pension funds, civilian invalids, orphanages. The homeland watches today those who work and who suffer; it provides them with bread in their old age by pension funds; she cares, like a good mother, for all that are small and weak, for all that struggle incessantly against fatality, and seeks to make the struggle less painful for them. The worker who is surprised by fatality, receives like the soldier, his disability pay. Never, never never, has the respect of man been carried further! Never has the heart of man been more interested than today in the sufferings of his brothers! Workers! Formerly we were content to give you the degrading charity of private charity. Today it is in the name of justice and law that relief is given to you; you have acquired a right where you had only an often illusory hope! What will it be in the future? The law, which is only the manifestation of public conscience, is a providence for you; she is watching and watching more and more about everyone. At what age did the public conscience look with more solicitude on those who work and who suffer? I’m asking you. And when we see the realm of practical justice being realized every day in the world, it is absurd to tell us that we are more egoistic than our fathers.
Let’s move on to morality.
You tell us that men have never been more immoral, more corrupt than at our time. I ask you: can public opinion today tolerate kings displaying scandal like Henry III, Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Louis XV? In France since 89, have the sovereigns not given the example of the virtues of family? Is it not the same today in England? And the power, whatever name it takes, whether its name is President or King, is not up to the public opinion in terms of manners.
The governments therefore understood that times were changing, and so were morals, since they themselves became more moral. The reign of Du Barry and Pompadour is forever over; it cannot return the reign of public girls at the Royal Palace; prostitutes have been swept from the palace of kings and the palace of the people. By who? By public opinion, by the people themselves, who, less corrupt than before, can no longer endure vice, scandalously displayed on the throne or in the street.
Do you want to have the exact idea of the middle ages? Go and see at the Hotel de Cluny the gargoyle on the right, which advances a few feet down the street, and you will have an exact idea of the mores of the time; and then ask yourself if, in our century, it would be possible to carve such infamous things on public roads. What was the fruit of the tree of science?
Between the first chapter and the second chapter of Genesis, a number of incalculable centuries passed by which man pushed the experiment of science to its last limits. The man did not arrive in Eden until everything was submitted to his will. Edenism, this civilization in harmony was, as we have said above, the consequence of experience and the march of progress by humanity. When man arrived in the earthly paradise, he had acquired by science such dominion, such power of action on earth, that the work of God seemed to fade away from the work of man; Genesis also tells us: “God rested on the seventh day.”
It seems that God is resting on man, that he has finished in his image and likeness, the care of perfecting his work. The man, of pure effect that he was at the time of the creation, had become, so to speak, creative cause and organizer. He was no longer obliged to nature, it was nature that had become man’s duty. The seventh day, the apparent rest of God, is not far off for us men of the nineteenth century; for we have everywhere substituted our action for that of nature, that of God. God and nature have become conservative, if I may say so, since the sixth day, for us as for Adam, they have not created anything new on the earth, they have not made more than maintain what they had created.
Interrogate the science, it will tell you that Genesis has stopped at man; no new creatures have appeared on the globe since
And, on the other hand, by our liberty, by our science, we dominate more than God, more than nature over animals, since we have annihilated entire species. Still a few centuries ago, lions, tigers, wolves, all these animals have gone astray, they disappear more and more as man multiplies and fills the earth? We dominate as much as God, as much as nature over animals, since we multiply the fish, we destroy the forests, we break the isthmus, we pull the lightning from the sky. One day, as M. Reynaud and many other philosophers think, we will be able to exercise our sovereign action over the atmosphere and consequently to make rain and shine. Did not Proudhon believe that the seventh day of creation came for us when he wrote, a few years ago, “that if God were to fail in creation, man would take his place”. Have not many poets sung, after Beranger, that if the sun were to be extinguished, human industry would perhaps find a way to rekindle it. Without falling into these poetic or utopian exaggerations, it is certain that man, by science, tends more and more to substitute his work, his action for that of nature.
What will the work of man in Eden consist of? What will be the purpose of his activity: Cultivate and keep? Indeed, let us read verse 15 chapter 2: “God took the man and put him in the garden of delights, that he might cultivate and keep him.” I have already proved that the cultivating of the earth has become for man a work without fatigue and without difficulty, thanks to science and civilization. The difficulty for the man was not to cultivate the garden but to keep it or, to better reflect my thoughts, the difficulty for man was not to cultivate the harmony of Eden, but to maintain, to keep, to preserve that harmony.
The fall of Man
I, who is speaking to you at this moment, warn you not to let yourself be drawn in by the seduction of science, if you want to avoid the catastrophes that may be the consequence of it, I only do because science has quite advanced the power of man and his strength is great enough, his action on the planet strong enough, that I may fear some imprudence, some audacious attempts will compromise the harmony of natural laws.
The drama that took place in Eden, the scientific seduction that took hold of man, the fall that was the consequence, the fruit of the science that was the cause of it, prove to me that man had reached a degree of civilization unheard of; for, in order for scientific seduction to seize man, he must have been a scholar; so that this seduction could produce a catastrophe, that is to say that the earth was cursed, according to the expression of Genesis, it was necessary that the means that the science had put in the hands of the man, that energy, that the forces of which he could dispose were immense.
My system is based solely on reason and common sense. It does not make God responsible for the fault of mankind, but it puts the whole responsibility on the lack of prescience, the lack of foresight, the insufficiency of human reason in pursuit of the absolute. This system has also the merit of explaining Genesis without engaging God: indeed, reversibility, transmission of the fault of only one to all, everything is easily explained when we know that Adam is the whole of humanity; but if the whole of humanity has committed the fault, the whole of humanity must suffer the consequences; As the consequences of scientific seduction were a catastrophe in nature, it is easy to understand that, as a result of this catastrophe, the harmony of Eden, the harmony of civilization was lost, the earth was cursed, upset.
Let it be admitted that the whole of humanity disappeared in a cataclysm, or only a few men were saved, the consequence of the fall will always be the same; the civilization lost, it will be necessary to rebuild it; the earth is turned upside down and cursed, it will be necessary for us, by our sweat and our conquests, to subjugate it again and to reconstitute it in the harmony where it had happened when Adam’s scientific fault and the catastrophe were the consequence. So Adam’s fault is reversible on us, because we are severely victims of this fault, since we suffer the consequences of a nature upset by him.
I finished explaining the tree of purely experimental science; I have shown you that if this tree could realize Edenism in the past, that is to say, an apparent harmony, it could not, nevertheless, save humanity from a certain fall; my theory again denies neither progress nor future Edenism resulting from our purely experimental science. The experience can be so much; it will even be able to realize on earth this kind of artificial harmony that I call the Eden of the future. But what she will not be able to do is to avoid our fall; for a purely experimental science lives only from experience, and the more capital experiences we have, the more we will be near to falling.
If, then, the fall must follow closely after the harmony, what can be concluded?
It is because this artificial and factitious harmony will be only a discordance in the universal harmony, of which man will never have the tuning fork, as long as he has only his insufficient reason to give it to him. As a consequence, the evil will spread all the more in the world that it diminishes more apparently by the science. This law is the foundation of my theory of progress leading to our fall from Edenism, that is to say, to an absolute catastrophe bringing about its manifestation in an apparent order, in an apparent harmony. It is precisely when the cancer decreases most, apparently, under the scalpel of the stupid surgeon, that the disease works faster and that it kills the patient more surely.
At whatever height experimental science may one day reach, ignorance of the relations of forces and their interference will always be the gateway through which fatality will penetrate; it will be the defect of the cuirass by which humanity must one day receive its mortal wound.
Know it well, one day the vessel of civilization, launched at full steam on the infinite sea of progress, will come to break against the pitfall of fatality, a pitfall so deeply hidden in the forces of nature, that Man cannot, with his insufficient reason, and lack of prescience, neither suspect it nor avoid it; this day will be the last day of our human cycle, the last day of Eden for us.
I did not have the foolish pretense in writing this book to determine the efficient cause of the planetary catastrophe, for it is impossible for anyone to determine it; I only wanted to give some examples. If I lived two or three centuries from here, the hypotheses of this cause would appear to me more surely because humanity would have received new wounds from the new forces that it would have torn from nature. I could therefore more surely determine than today the future causes of the catastrophe. If the human mind cannot today assign the physical cause of the future fall, it can at least determine the moral cause from which fatality will one day be born. This moral cause, you know, is the insufficiency of human reason in the search for the absolute. All my book is based on this definition of man; prove to me, then, that mankind, century in, century out, does not pursue indefinite progress. If you can prove to me that man’s reason will always be sufficient to foresee all the pitfalls that lie on the road from the finite to the infinite, then my book no longer makes sense, and I surrender.
All evil calls out for a remedy; I have pointed out the evil, I am going to seek the remedy, that is to say, the means of combating it and of avoiding it if it is possible.
There are two kinds of ways:
The palliative means, as we know in medicine, are not intended to destroy the evil, but to delay it and diminish it. The curative means are intended to uproot, to completely destroy the evil.
What are the palliative means that I propose?
1st, Man in the future must not attempt capital and decisive experiments without having the assurance that they can in no way disturb the harmony of the laws of nature;
2nd, It will be necessary in the future to set up special schools for the purpose of determining and studying the laws which constitute the equilibrium of the globe;
3rd, It will also be necessary in the future to create a planetary aedile that regulates human labor, so that there is nothing decisive, no capital, such as the deforestation of a continent or the building of an isthmus, and so on, cannot take place without the authorization of the planetary aedile. This aedile will have its seat in one of the great cities of the world; it will be made up of the elite of science from around the world. Each aedile will be named by its fellow citizens.
The aediles will be the first magistrates in the world, and whenever a nation wishes to undertake one of those daring attempts that may disturb the harmony of the world, it will have to address the aediles, who may give or deny authorization because they will be there to see to the preservation of the harmony of the globe.
The nation which would violate the orders of the aediles would be banished from the nations, as having been guilty of a crime against mankind
Thus, if a people wants to deforest its forests, the aedile will not have to allow it. If a people wants to pierce an isthmus, it will still need the permission of the aedile; lastly, whenever a nation is to undertake one of those great things which may disturb the equilibrium of the planet, it must obtain the permission of the whole of humanity, represented by its aediles. Such must be the solidarity of man in the future. This planetary aedile which I propose to you, will appear to all those who will read me absurd, and yet it is already in our mores. Have we not in France, in small things, what I ask for the Globe? Is there not a principle inscribed in our codes which gives the owners the right to use, to enjoy the thing, but not to abuse it? Does a man have the right to set fire to his house? No. Why? Because a whole city could be a victim of this abuse of its property.
To watch over the harmony of the globe, to ensure that it is not disturbed, would be the objective of this first institution of the world. To this it will be objected that it is to break the individual liberty of the people; no, it is only to prevent the abuses of freedom from compromising the general harmony. But, it will be said to me, it is necessary to admit that all peoples are brothers; that the unity of the human race be established.
I answer; only the ignorant at this time can believe that the hatreds between the nations will be eternal. Every man of good sense, who at this moment has his eyes fixed on the facts that are going on around him, must be well aware of the truth that, within a few centuries, the unity of the human race will be constituted, the barriers which separate the nations will be broken by the railways; the electric wires suspended like lyres in space, will be the strings of harmony of the world of the future.
I do not come to say that today the planetary unity can be constituted; for no one at this moment can understand the usefulness of it. But I say that, a few centuries from here, we will feel the necessity of this great institution. Disasters caused in some parts of the world by industrial science delivered to all the exaggeration of an unbridled freedom, to an egotistical and fatal individuality, will make all understand the necessity.
The unity of the human race, which will begin to be realized, will facilitate the application of a planetary aedile as I reconcile it. One hundred thousand electric telegraphers will put all the points of the globe in communication in a few seconds with the main point, where will sit this aedile, and make the application of this system of the easiest. The aedile, like the spider in its web, will receive by these thousands of electric wires the requests for authorization which will have been addressed to it; it will send the answers as soon as the subjects of the application have been studied.
Know it, science will one day be the queen of the world, everything will disappear before it. Her responsibility will become colossal: she will be in charge of souls all over the world; it will be the greatest pontificate that has ever existed on earth. It is necessary therefore that this royalty of the spirit be constituted, so that nothing important can be done in the world without the world being warned.
From then on, human labor will no longer be delivered to the outburst of unbridled freedom, it will no longer be a random book to break the harmony of the globe, and to walk with one’s feet on the eternal laws of nature.
These are the palliative means that I propose.
All the palliative means that I have proposed to you so far will only be palliative, that is to say insufficient to avoid the final catastrophe. Whatever science we grant to this scholarly skill, it will still be unable to see all the pitfalls that will be found on the road, which leads to the infinite, if it is not prescient and intuitive. It is therefore the prescience that must be sought and achieved in the world; it is intuition that we must seek to resurrect. In this book I have not made war, nor has it been successful; but I am the implacable enemy of an ignorant, prescience lacking science, of a progress that goes on blind, without any criteria or compass, at random to turn the laws of the boat against their goal. I fear that man, who is now using a purely experimental science, not without some danger, will one day be a victim of it, when, later, he will play with the incalculable forces of nature.
I believe that, in the search for truth, it will one day be prudent not to grope forward, as we are walking today. I believe, finally, that the vessel of civilization, launched at full steam on the infinite sea of progress, must, if it wishes to escape the pitfalls of fatality and not sink body and possessions en route, arm itself with the compass of intuition.
So that the light of science is not an incendiary torch in our hands; it must be intuitive rather than purely experimental, as it is today. Here is all the thought of this book.
There were two trees in Eden, says the legend: the tree of science that caused the fall of man, and the tree of life. We have studied in this book the tree of purely experimental science. We looked for what its consequences were in the past, and what its consequences would be in the future. We will study, in a book that will be published shortly, the tree of life, the tree of intuition. This book, which will be the continuation of this one, will have for title: the Tree of life or Necessity of a new science.
[End of Part Three]
[This concludes the translation of this book]
The Tree of Science
The End of the World By Science