In this way, the old controversies about the participation of animals in natural law come to an end; for it is clear that, being deprived of understanding and freedom, they cannot recognize this law; but participating in a certain way in our nature by the sensitivity with which they are endowed, we must think that they must also participate in natural law and that man has some kind of obligations towards them. It seems to be, in fact, that if I am obliged not to do any harm to my fellow men, it is less because of their condition of being reasonable than because of their quality of being sensitive, a quality that, being common to animal and man, must at least give it. to the former the right not to be uselessly mistreated by him.
This very study of the original man, of his true needs and of the fundamental principles of his duties, is the only adequate means that can be used to resolve that multitude of difficulties that arise on the origin of moral inequality, on the true foundations of the political body, on the reciprocal rights of its members and on a thousand other similar questions, as important as poorly clarified.
Looking at human society with a calm and disinterested gaze, it seems at first to present only the violence of the strong and the oppression of the weak. The spirit revolts against the harshness of some or deplores the blindness of others; and since there is nothing of so little stability among men as those external relations called weakness or power, wealth or poverty, produced more frequently by chance than by wisdom, human institutions seem, at first glance, founded on heaps of shifting sand. ; only by examining them closely, after having removed the dust and sand that surround the building, will one notice the indestructible base on which it stands and learn to respect its foundations. However; Without a serious study of man, his natural faculties and his successive developments, he will never be able to make that differentiation and distinguish in the current state of things what the divine will has done and what human art has tried to do. .
The political and moral investigations to which the important question I am examining gives rise are useful in any case, and the hypothetical history of governments is an instructive lesson for man by all accounts.