Throughout Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics, I couldn’t help but notice a theme of interconnectedness or ‘oneness’ that showed up again and again.  Huxley cites a portion of Pope’s poem “Essay on Man” which adeptly sums up the connectivity of all things:

 “All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction which though cannot see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good;
And spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,
One truth is clear: whatever is is right”

 Huxley’s suggestion that all things are simply the transitory forms of parcels of cosmic substance and share the trait of impermanence really resonated with me.  Most religion seems to draw on similar concepts of oneness, sharedness, and interconnectivity, whether through Nirvana (the realization that all dualities are illusory), karma (the enduring rewards/repercussion of one’s actions), or original sin (a shared inheritance of all descendants of Adam and Eve).   

At the conclusion of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, Edward Prendick blurs the line between himself, other humans, and the Beast People he has left behind.  He lives in fear that humans are all Beast People: “I could not persuade myself that the men and women I met were not also another Beast People, animals half wrought into the outward image of human souls…”  While Prendick tries to reassure himself that the people he sees are “altogether different from the Beast Folk,” he recognizes traits of the company he shared on the island in himself: “I was almost as queer to men as I had been to the Beast People.  I may have caught something of the natural wildness of my companions” and later “And even it seemed that I too was… an animal tormented….”

Just like Jack’s beanstalk – according to Huxley, composed of “a large and various fabric of root, stem, leaves, flowers, and fruit” each holding an “energy which, in harmony with that resident in all the others, incessantly works toward the maintenance of the whole” – our world is composed of a myriad of lives that are intended to work with one another for the advancement of the whole.    

Perhaps, this reoccurring theme of ‘oneness’ indicates that we have already underestimated the similarities we share to our animal counterparts  – the pain they feel, the suffering they endure, the “richness of their relationships” – but I can’t help but think that this also means that the secrets to human medical conundrums can be found within animals, within plants, within our environment, and likely through purposeful experimentation.  

– V2009

~ by v2009 on February 5, 2009.

One Response to “Interconnectedness”

  1. I was interested in the same idea, but what I find most interesting about the ethical move is that it comes straight out of Darwin. That moment where Darwin imagines an unbroken chain of all living beings if there were no natural selection seems to be as exhilarating to Huxley as it was to me.

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