— Anatole France French writer 1844 - 1924
Context: "Upon the whole, humanity changes little. What has been shall be."
"No doubt," replied'Jean Boilly, " man, or that which we call man, changes little. We belong to a definite species. The evolution of the species is of necessity included in the definition of the species. It is impossible to conceive humanity subsequent to its transformation. A transformed species is a lost species. But what reason is there for us to believe that man is the end of the evolution of life upon the earth? Why suppose that his birth has exhausted the creative forces of nature, and that the universal mother of the flora and fauna should, after having shaped him, become for ever barren. A natural philosopher, who does not stand in fear of his own ideas, H. G. Wells, has said : 'Man is not final.' No indeed, man is neither the beginning nor the end of terrestrial life. Long before him, all over the globe, animated forces were multiplying in the depths of the sea, in the mud of the strand, in the forests, lakes, prairies, and tree-topped mountains. After him, new forms will go on taking shape. A future race, born perhaps of our own, but having perchance no bond of origin with us, will succeed us in the empire of the planet. These new spirits of the earth will ignore or despise us. The monuments of our arts, should they discover vestiges of them, will have no meaning for them. Rulers of the future, whose mind we can no more divine than the palaeopithekos of the Siwalik Mountains was able to forecast the trains of thought of Aristotle, Newton, and Poincaré."
Ch. VI, p. 238