How can we contribute to the spiritual progress of our children and our children's children? Our first duty is to put no obstacle in the way of this progress. It is far from certain whether the development of the spirit in living forms is inevitable. We are totally ignorant of the nature of the factors which made the volume of the brain of certain mammals quadruple itself in some millions of years and which emancipated our ancestors from the automatism of animal instinct. Neither do we know under what influence man raised himself from the mental state of Pithecanthropus or Sinan-thropus to that of Leonardo da Vinci, Pascal or Napoleon. Is it within man's power to arrest this evolution? How does the artificiality of modern life react on the anatomical and functional progress of the species? At the moment we can give no answer to these questions. It is wise, however, to ask ourselves whether the suppression of natural ways of life does not offer an insuperable obstacle to the evolutionary forces of spirit. Perhaps the spontaneous rise of consciousness in the race may come to an end through our own fault. What rule of conduct must we adopt to avoid this disaster? At the moment we can only contribute to our mental progress by eugenics and by improving the environment. The knowledge and practice of eugenics are strictly obligatory. Eugenism is an indispensable virtue if we are to save Western civilization. It does not indeed raise the spiritual level of the elite but it increases the number of those who attain this level. There is no better way of promoting the greatness of a nation than by increasing the number of its more highly gifted citizens.
The second way of helping the mental strength of our descendants to accrue is to procure for everyone conditions of life which permit the highest development of his affective and intellectual possibilities. For a child to develop to its utmost, it needs a certain stability of life. The family must be rooted once more in the soil. Everyone should be able to have a house, however small, and make himself a garden. Everyone who already has a farm should beautify it. He should adorn it with flowers, pave the road which leads to it, destroy the briars which choke the hedges, break up the boulders which hinder the passage of the plow, and plant trees whose branches will shade his great-grandchildren. Finally, the works of art, the old houses, the splendid buildings and cathedrals in which the soul of our forefathers expressed itself must be piously preserved. We should also set ourselves against the profanation of the rivers, the tranquil hills and the forests which were the cradle of our ancestors. But our most sacred duty is to bring about a revolution in teaching which will make the school, instead of a dreary factory for certificates and diplomas, a center of moral, intellectual, esthetic and religious education.
Neither eugenics nor the improvement of the milieu will make the spirit rise higher than the level it shows in the most highly gifted among modern men. The progress of hygiene has not made us live longer but merely increased the average duration of life. To increase the intelligence of the race, we should have to find the secret of speeding up the natural march of evolution. Mind has not grown proportionately to the complexity of the problems to be solved. But such a growth is not impossible. We have two methods at our disposition to produce human beings mentally superior to all those who have hitherto existed on the earth. The first is the improvement of the individual; the second, that of the race.
Perhaps the moment has come for scientists to see whether it is possible to modify the quality of the brain matter and of the endocrine glands in such a way as to improve the mind. Perhaps one day we shall be able to make great men just as bees make queens. Of course such acquired qualities could not be hereditarily transmitted. As to the race, up to the present we know no means of making it progress artificially in the way it has progressed naturally in the course of evolution. All the mutations experimentally produced in animals have been regressive. We have, in fact, no knowledge whatsoever of the factors which have determined the rise of mind in the animal series. From now on, we ought to engage our greatest biologists in research on the secret factors of evolution; in other words, in the bold enterprise of increasing the strength and quality of mind in civilized man.