The suggestion has been heard that if all acts are Egoistic this term has no distinctive meaning.
The same thing has often been said as to “matter” when the Materialist has affirmed that there is no ” spirit, “-no opp osi te of matter. Matter then becomes synonymous simply with existence.
The Materialist replies that he is content with the conclusion that there is no alleged existence unrelated to other and known existence; none exempt from manifestation according to a regular order or subject to the inherent law of its being, to speak according to appearances.
There is a regular order of succession of phenomena. The Spiritual theory asserts a break in what is popularly called “the reign of natural law,” Materialism denies such assertion and exists as a distinctive ism to deny and disprove it. This statement will indicate in part what is the proper reply when it is charged that Egoism is almost meaningless if it embraces all acts. It was believed that a man acted disinterestedly. Closer examination finds the motive and the form of their interest.
Thus a parallel to the progress made from the time when men believed in miracles to the time when they have learned enough of natural law to expel the former belief.
By referring to the definition already given of Egoism it will be seen that it covers a theory as well as facts. If every act of every animal were perfectly Egoistic, nevertheless the demands of intelligence would not be satisfied without understanding the phenomena, which are explained according to natural law as react ions of individual will to motives presented in circumstances .
To act Egoistic ally is universal, but to be in part ignorant of the fact seems to be also nearly universal. T he theory of Egoism has its opposite in the theory of Altruism, evidently joined to Spiritu alism by ignoring and denying the necessary sequence in phenomena. (I make no allusion to modern Spiritualism, which professes to be Materialistic. )
But beyond this it can be firmly said that until the Egoistic theory is understood and has had its full influence upon character, those irrational actions will continue which are the fruit of error, illusion, fascination, fixed ideas, rendering the individual practically not an Ego,-not in the possession of his faculties,-hence there will be, as there are, actions not properly Egoistic, but insane, though not generally so understood.
Thus the Egoistic theory has a practical purpose. The half ins ane,-that is to say all worshipers, religiou s, political or personal,-are to come to consciousness of their individuality and become wholly sane. As to submissive actions performed simply under fear or hope, their Egoistic character is quite ckar.