The edifice of human civilisation is really just an extension of nature–man takes simple matter and converts it into buildings, machines, factories, industrial plants and all the other artefacts of the modern world. What enables him to do this is the fact that all matter has been invested by nature with certain constant properties. Once man has discovered these natural properties, he is able to use them to his own advantage. These properties make up the character of a substance; they are absolutely predictable–everything in nature can be relied upon to act in a certain way. All the advances of human civilisation are the result of this predictability. Any change in the properties of basic matter, or unpredictability in its character, would reduce the whole of human civilisation to ruins.
If we want to build a bridge across a river, we can use steel because we know we can rely on the strength of steel to hold up the bridge; if steel turned out to be as soft as wax, the whole construction would crash into the water. For construction of buildings we use bricks and cement, which we are sure will solidify into a firm structure; if stones and cement were like a pile of sand, these buildings would collapse. We know that when a magnetic field and motion come together, the resultant movement of electrons will produce electricity; if this did not happen, the world would suddenly be plunged into darkness.
Such occurrences would mean that had these things lost their specific character, the building of civilisation would then become impossible. Just as the things which contribute to human civilisation have to display certain properties for civilisation to flourish, so too the individuals who constitute human society have to do what is expected of them for society to run smoothly. They too have to maintain a certain character. The worth of all material objects is dependent upon their reliability in performing the functions that are expected of them. In the same way, a man’s worth depends on his ability to maintain a consistent character under all conditions. There are certain attributes that constitute a human character; only if one displays these attributes can one be counted as a true human being.