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LITERARY NOTICES.

supposed that society was made up of children, savages, and individuals, and that according to the natures and attributes of these units would be the character of the societies formed of them. But this it seems is a case in which the properties of a whole are not dependent upon the properties of its parts. Verily it would be an extraordinary "social science" that should arise by omitting the study of man as an individual, and interpreting society by the ideals of its literary prophets.

 

LITERARY NOTICES.
 
SPENCER'S SYNTHETIC PHILOSOPHY:

The Data of Ethics. By Herbert Spencer. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 288. Price, $1.50.

This little book is the first part of the treatise on morality that will close Spencer's "System of Philosophy." As explained in his preface, it is the result of long preparation, and is published not in the order he at first designed. He says: "I have been led thus to deviate from the order originally set down by the fear that persistence in conforming to it might result in leaving the final work of the series unexecuted. Hints repeated of late years with increasing frequency and distinctness have shown me that health may permanently fail even if life does not end before I reach the last part of the task I have marked out for myself. This last part of the task it is to which I regard all of the preceding parts as subsidiary. Written as far back as 1842, my first essay, consisting of letters on 'The Proper Sphere of Government,' vaguely indicated what I conceive to be certain general principles of right and wrong in political conduct; and, from that time onward, my ultimate purpose, lying behind all proximate purposes, has been that of finding for the principles of right and wrong in conduct at large a scientific basis. To leave this purpose unfulfilled, after making so extensive a preparation for fulfilling it, would be a failure, the probability of which I do not like to contemplate; and I am anxious to preclude it, if not wholly, still partially. Hence the step I now take. Though this first division of the work, terminating the 'Synthetic Philosophy,' can not of course contain the specific conclusions to be set forth in the entire work, yet it implies them in such wise that definitely to formulate them requires nothing beyond logical deduction."

But few will deny the importance of the work which Mr. Spencer has so long had in view for, of all fields of thought, the ethical is in the most chaotic condition. Some find the grounds of morality in the Ten Commandments, and others in the rules of the New Testament. The fear of hell is appealed to as a motive to right conduct, and the divine intuitions of conscience are claimed as guides to duty. As faith in the supernatural declines, many are left without any authoritative moral guidance, while some fall back on a prudential utility, and others upon the interdicts of public law. These theoretical discords are accompanied by varying standards of right and wrong in different states and periods of society, while everywhere are seen the most glaring discrepancies between professed moral precepts and actual moral practice.

Meantime, in other fields of thought, science is the great reconciler of conflicting opinions. By the establishment of comprehensive principles that command universal assent, it is constantly bringing men into better agreement; and it has thus become an authority that is enforcing the submission of the human mind with steadily increasing power. Moral phenomena, like mental and physical phenomena, are obedient to principles of order, and are thus amenable to scientific method; science, therefore, must traverse the ethical field in its legitimate progress; and there is no reason to doubt that it will perform the same benign office of illumination and guidance here, that it has performed in the other great spheres of its application.

But, if this is true, it may well be asked why science has not long since accomplished so desirable a work. It is because centuries of preparation were required to develop the preliminary sciences and perfect the method of inquiry; and because it is a task of such difficulty that but few men could be expected to combine the scientific qualifications, the patient, untiring industry,