Aristocracy & Evolution / A Study of the Rights, the Origin, and the Social Functions / of the Wealthier Classes
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Of the various questions involved in the general argument of the work, many would, if they were to be examined exhaustively, demand entire treatises to themselves rather than chapters. This is specially true of such questions as the nature of men’s congenital inequalities, the effects of different classes of motive in producing different classes of action, and the effects of equal education on unequal talents and temperaments. But the practical bearings of an argument are more readily grasped when its various parts are set forth with comparative brevity, than they are when the attention claimed for each is minute enough to do it justice as a separate subject of inquiry; and it has appeared to me that in the present condition of opinion, prevalent social fallacies may be more easily combated by putting the case against them in a form which will render it intelligible to everybody, and by leaving many points to be elaborated, if necessary, elsewhere.
I may also add that the conclusions here arrived at, with whatever completeness they might have been explained, elaborated, and defended, would not, in my opinion, do more than partially answer the questions to which they refer. This volume aims only at establishing what are the social rights and social functions, in progressive communities, of the few. The entire question of their duties and proper liabilities, whether imposed on them by themselves or by the State, has been left untouched. This side of the question I hope to deal with hereafter. It is enough to observe here that it is impossible to define the duties of the few, of the rich, of the powerful, of the highly gifted, and to secure that these duties shall be performed by them, unless we first understand the extent of the functions which they inevitably perform, and admit frankly the indefeasible character of their rights.