The first part of this book contains a great many minor criticisms, and besides them a few axiom-like expressions, such as "the tendency of motion is to go on moving at the same rate." Similarly one might say the weight of a ton of coal is very heavy.

In Part II, Mr. Guthrie spends many chapters and much argument on Mr. Spencer's non-usage of the term force in the formula, and his free usage of the term in the elaboration of the formula. We think Mr. Guthrie would have no further trouble if he were to regard force as a generic term, and also as a generalization. Matter is force in its statical aspect; motion is force in its dynamical aspect; it would be out of place, therefore, to use the word in the formula. The "force" employed in the first few chapters on "The Knowable " represents the power anterior to matter and motion, for however far the mind goes in its search for ultimates, it is bound to think of something beyond, call it cause, God, or force, as one pleases. The context clearly shows that Mr. Spencer uses the word force to express what is beyond.

Mr. Guthrie puts some strange questions, such as "Does the scope of philosophy include times anterior to and subsequent to the existence of organized conscious beings? If so, did force exist before, and will it exist after such a period?" Again: "What are forces?" (p. 85) "Is heat a force?" (p. 92.) These questions are repeated in different forms, for what purpose it is difficult to see. They surely cannot be asked for information.

The philosophy under discussion does not pretend to explain all the changes from the first atoms to the greatest genius. It cannot show the transformation from the homogeneous to the organic, from the organic to consciousness. Because of this limitation the critic regards it as a failure. Mr. Spencer, of course, acknowledges these things to be mysteries; whereupon Mr. Guthrie declares that "really this is most puzzling!" Of course, they are mysteries, and must be, for reasons already stated. The formula of evolution cannot account for the nature of things. Nor is it possible for science to do so. The theories of gravitation, light, heat, as modes of motion, did not explain all the phenomena which were due to these forces as soon as they were announced. The function of philosophy is to interpret the universe, and as the instruments of investigation become more perfect, the interpretation will naturally be more comprehensive. But Mr. Guthrie seems to think that the function of philosophy is omniscience. "But if we do not know all the effects of force in the cosmos, then philosophy is impossible," he observes.

Mr. Guthrie requests special attention to his criticism on "The Composition of Mind." He affirms that "Mr. Spencer shows the parallelisms which exist between the evolution of mind and the evolution of matter. But it is a parallelism only and cannot be included in the terms of the formula of evolution." He makes the same criticism in another form, when he asks: "What is the concomitant force with integration of society, thought, language,

science, industry and art?" If the critic will reperuse the chapter on "The Integration of Correspondences" (Vol. IV), and the few following chapters, he will find an explanation of what he deems. an insurmountable difficulty. At the opening of the chapter just alluded to, Mr. Spencer says: "We have to note how, out of coördination there grows up integration. The coördinated elements of any stimulus, or of any act, eyer tend towards union; and eventually become distinguishable from one another only by analysis. Further, the connection between stimulus and act also becomes constantly closer; so that at last they seem two sides of the same change." We observe, that thought is an attribute of the human being, and evolution of thought means the evolution of the human being in the direction of thought. This is true of all the products of mind, such as language, music, art, etc., etc. Thus it happens, as Mr. Spencer says, that out of savages unable to count up to the number of their fingers, and speaking a language containing only nouns and verbs, arise at length our Newtons and our Shakspeares." This is an example of evolution to which its formula has been applied.


As Mr. Guthrie well says, the problem of philosophy remains unsolved, that is, we do not know what life or mind is; but it would be illogical to conclude from that, that Mr. Spencer's work is a failure. An hypothesis which comprehends the vastness of nature, which seeks to reconcile all the facts of existence and relate them, as does evolution, must command the respectful attention of every investigator of truth.

12° pp. 444.

Studies in Theism. By BORDEN P. BowNE.
New York: Phillips & Hunt; Cincinnati: Hitchcock &


PROFESSOR BOWNE's Studies in Theism is a rather discursive contribution to the subject of teleology, or final causes. While avowedly aiming to show the futility of the attempt to construct the universe without the theistic postulate, the real object of the author's present effort is to controvert what he is pleased to call "the vulgar conception of Darwinism and Evolution, which gets the living from that which is nothing but the dead, and man from that which is nothing but the brute" (p. 164). The author deals with the highest problems of philosophy-teleological problems with such confidence in the sufficiency of rational principles to support his position that he deigns not to seek the aids of Revelation and the intuitional faculty. He writes like one who has thought out the problem of final causes for himself -certainly to his own satisfaction-leaving nothing to be done by those who are to succeed him. Like" Pepin " in Theophrastus Such, his paragraphs are imbued with the air of a mind "too

penetrating to accept any other man's ideas, and too equally competent in all directions to seclude his power in any other form of creation, but rather fitted to hang over them all as a lamp of guidance to the stumblers below."

The author's studies are too abstract to be of interest to the average reader, for whom he professes to write, and too popular to be of service to the student of philosophy. His thought is bright and his conceptions, for the most part, are clear; and yet his definitions of abstract terms are often lacking in precision, and his conclusions frequently vitiated by being overdrawn. Take, for example, the author's characterization of the position of those who accept the hypothesis of evolution: "They explain nothing," he says, "they assume everything, and merely describe to us the successive phases of the first assumption. The great cycle rolls on forever, manifesting all the varied phenomena of the living and the lifeless, of life and death. We can do nothing but watch its successive phases and record them. This is the only position which the anti-teleologist can take which shall be in harmony both with the phenomena and with the necessary principles of mechanical science" (p. 170). While we have no purpose of controverting the author, we must pause to express our surprise that any one with finite faculties should assume to be able to do more than this.



[ocr errors]

The animus of the author is frequently disclosed in passages like the following: "The universe is set to developing minds, and to stocking them with proper notions about itself; and although it does this under the law of necessity, and under every possible obligation to tell the truth, it proceeds to give a garbled account of itself, and makes no account of the truth whatever. We must reckon this among the many mysteries which the evolutionists have bequeathed to the world" (p. 58). Such statements, and such writing, may do for extemporaneous speech, before a popular audience, but they can hardly be counted among the excellencies of candid discussion, or classed with the results of profound studies. One is tempted to ask, on what more rational hypothesis could one account for the egg becoming a chicken, or the embryo a man, than on that of evolution? The author vigorously combats the proposition that the present is an outcome of the past. "The higher is never deduced from the lower," he asserts; "but both lower and higher are but the several phases of the basal fact thus assumed" (p. 168). Nevertheless, such a statement does not debar him from evolving as good evolution doctrine as the evolutionists themselves, as for example, the following: Every thing which is to mount above itself must have in itself the tendency to, and provision for, that higher plane. When, then, nature manifested nothing but mechanical or chemical phenomena, it was not merely mechanical and chemical, but more, and was already on the way to the realization of that When nature could show nothing higher than the brute,


[ocr errors]

nature was not merely brute, but more, and the advent of that more into explicit reality was approaching. Without this assumption no scheme of development is for a moment tenable. Every new increment would be a creation, and something would arise from nothing " (p. 169). Certainly.

We have said the author's definitions of abstract terms were often lacking precision. As an exemple, we cite his definition of knowledge-which shows a want of clearness of conception, and upon his own statement, would justify us in declaring him in this instance devoid of knowledge, since he is wanting in "certainty of conception"-viz.: "Knowledge is the certainty that our conceptions correspond to the fact or truth" (p. 23). "Certainty of conception" is certainly the first requisite of knowledge; but we submit that it is rather a condition essential to knowledge than knowledge itself. One may possess the requisite certainty of conception, and still be ignorant, never having brought his faculties into use. The definition of Dr. Whewell is preferable to this, though even his is defective, viz.: "True knowledge is the interpretation of nature; and therefore it requires both the interpreting mind and nature for its subject; both the document and the ingenuity to read it aright."-History of the Inductive Sciences. Vol. I, p. 43.—“ Interpreting nature" implies something done; it is incorrect as a definition of knowledge, for the reason that knowledge is a substantive, implying something possessed by the mind, rather than an act of the mind. What is that something? Manifestly, understanding, or a conception of the proper relation of things. From this point of view, truth and knowledge are nearly synonymous.

It is impossible, for want of space, to follow the author step by step through his long argument from the molecule and its interactions, up to God and his attributes. That the existence of an Omnipresent and Designing Principle-God-should be reached by his argument at last was inevitable from its beginning, notwithstanding his admission that "the theist does not claim to demonstrate the existence of God, but only that the problem of the world and life cannot be solved without God" (p. 4). The author is quite correct in regarding the prevailing agnosticism as speculative rather than a conclusion based on psychological studies. The result of one's thought on the subject of final causes is largely determined by one's habit of mind, early bias, the school one has been trained in, and the philosophical opinions of one's favorite authors. There is a peculiar fascination in the demonstrable which few are able to resist; and when we add to that the preposterous dogmatism with which the inane arguments of theologians have been presented, followed with dire anathemas on such as could not, or would not, accept them, it is no wonder that the rational sense of mankind turns away from them as from "disagreeable conclusions."

Man's Moral Nature. By RICHARD MAURICE BUCKE, M. D. 12° pp. 200. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1879.

THE essay on the basis of Man's Moral Nature is anomalous in some respects. Its subject is one of absorbing interest to most people; and our interest in the treatment of it was enhanced by the fact that the author of the essay was presumably a doctor of medicine, and therefore possessed of qualifications which peculiarly fitted him for his task. Of all men, surely those whose business it is to measure and weigh brains, hunt up the ganglionic centres, and trace their connections with the physical and mental functions, are best entitled to speak with authority concerning the physical basis of the moral nature. The reader will judge of our surprise, therefore, when we turned over the pages of the essay under notice! The author writes on this beautiful and prolific subject, like one who has just awakened from a Rip Van Winkle sleep. He appears to be ignorant of the labors and demonstrations of physiologists of the last quarter of a century, and writes of things well known to the physiologist of the day as if they were guesses of his own. Had he written them in tolerable English, we should feel constrained to regard the author as an exceptional genius, and excuse the infliction of his book on a longsuffering and forbearing public. But since he writes in disregard of the Queen's English and violates the proprieties of literary taste, we shall not excuse him. The public has rights in this matter which are entitled to respect. No one should spread before the public the wild vagaries of his brain without having some reasonable assurance of their utility. In the present instance the author, according to his own modest assertion, rolls the heavy burden of his thought upon the public, for the sole purpose of easing his own "ganglionic centres." He confesses that he is in doubt as to its value. Indeed, he disclaims all responsibility for it. The thought which the book embodies, he says "grew in me, but I had nothing to do with it-I had absolutely no control over it. It has grown into this book as independently of my volition as the oak is independent of the will of the soil." What the "will" of the soil is we do not know and shall not hazard a guess. But we do know and feel that no one should foist a book on the public, dealing with an important subject, without a due sense of personal responsibility. It is idle for a sane person to disclaim responsibility for his ideas; and if one really feels none for them, it is incumbent upon him that he does not allow himself to become a filter through which the half-digested "stuff" of others may find its way to the public.

« VorigeDoorgaan »