It strikes me that men who are accustomed to contemplate the active or passive extirpation of the weak, the unfortunate, and the superfluous; who justify that conduct on the ground that it has the sanction of the cosmic process, and is the only way of ensuring the progress of the race; who, if they are consistent, must rank medicine among the black arts and count the physician a mischievous preserver of the unfit; on whose matrimonial undertakings the principles of the stud have the chief influence; whose whole lives, therefore are an education in the noble art of suppressing natural affection and sympathy, are not likely to have any large stock of those commodities left.
Thomas Henry Huxley, ‘Evolution and Ethics’, in Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays, London, 1884, pp. 36-37
Let us understand, once for all, that the ethical progress of society depends, not on imitating the cosmic process, still less in running away from it, but in combating it.
Thomas Henry Huxley, ‘Evolution and Ethics’, in Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays, London, 1884, p. 83
Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is referable to what we call evil than we had before. Some day, I doubt not, we shall arrive at an understanding of the evolution of the aesthetic faculty; but all the understanding in the world will neither increase nor diminish the force of the intuition that this is beautiful and that is ugly.
Thomas Henry Huxley, ‘Evolution and Ethics’, in Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays, London, 1884, p. 80
I see no limit to the extent to which intelligence and will, guided by sound principles of investigation, and organized in common effort, may modify the conditions of existence, for a period longer than that now covered by history. And much may be done to change the nature of man himself. The intelligence which has converted the brother of the wolf into the faithful guardian of the flock ought to be able to do something towards curbing the instincts of savagery in civilized men.
Thomas Henry Huxley, ‘Evolution and Ethics’, in Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays, London, 1884, p. 85
[T]he plain duty of each and all of us is to try to make the little corner [of the world] he can influence somewhat less miserable and somewhat less ignorant than it was before he entered it.
Thomas Henry Huxley, ‘On the Physical Basis of Life’, in Fortnightly Review, vol. 5, no. 5 (February, 1869), p. 43