Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/575

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ter VII, on "Writing," takes up the subject of picture-writing, and the formation of alphabets.

Chapters VIII, IX, X, and XI, deal with the origin and development of the "Arts of Life," as shown in the construction of weapons, tools, machines, dwellings, clothing, in the means of navigation, in cookery and domestic processes, glass-and metal-working, money, and the operations of commerce.

Chapter XII delineates the origin and history of the "Arts of Pleasure," poetry, music, dancing, drama, painting, sculpture, and games; and Chapter XIII is an excellent monograph on the origin and growth of "Science."

In Chapter XIV, under the title of "The Spirit World," the religions of the lower races are taken up, and a description is given of the origin and influence of primitive ideas of souls, a future life, demons, gods, and worship. Chapter XV treats of "History and Mythology"; and Chapter XVI, which is the last, and entitled "Society," discusses the social stages, the family, property, justice, social ranks, and the growth of government.

It will be seen, from this brief synoptical view of the contents of his volume, that Mr. Tylor covers broad ground, but it will be found that the treatment of his topics is remarkably full and satisfactory. We cordially recommend his book to all students who desire to make a systematic study of man a part of their education, and we may add that the ordinary reader will find it full of interest and instruction.

Illusions: A Psychological Study. By James Sully. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 372. International Scientific Series No. XXXIV. Price, $1.50.

The author of this work is now well known to the scholarly world by his original and comprehensive treatises on "Sensation and Intuition," and on "Pessimism," He is entirely familiar with modern philosophical problems, and has given critical attention to the bearings of science upon the class of questions that has interested him.

In the present volume he has taken up the subject of "Illusions" from a new point of view. Hitherto illusions have been commonly regarded as of the nature of mental aberrations or hallucinations, excluding the idea of sane intelligence. Illusions from this standpoint are allied to insanity, and their study is considered as belonging to the professional alienist or the physician occupied with mental derangements. There is, of course, abundant ground for this treatment of the subject, but Mr. Sully assumes that the subject has a far wider aspect, and can by no means be properly confined to the domain of pathology.

The author considers, on the other hand, that the liability to illusion is natural, and that it is but a part of that capacity for error which belongs essentially to rational human nature. All men err, some more habitually and more widely than others; but there are errors of illusion that belong to the normal operation of the human faculties, the study of which is quite as much related to the physiology as to the pathology of mind. It is therefore a legitimate problem of the psychologist who analyzes the conditions of sound and healthy mental action.

From this point of view the author remarks: "In the present volume an attempt will be made to work out the psychological side of the subject; that is to say, illusions will be viewed in their relation to the process of just and accurate perception. In the carrying out of this plan our principal attention will be given to the manifestations of the illusory impulse in normal life. At the same time, though no special acquaintance with the pathology of the subject will be laid claim to, frequent references will be be made to the illusions of the insane. Indeed, it will be found that the two groups of phenomena—the illusions of the normal and of the abnormal condition—are so similar, and pass into one another by such insensible gradations, that it is impossible to discuss the one apart from the other. The view of illusion which will be adopted in this work is that it constitutes a kind of border-land between perfectly sane and vigorous mental life and dementia."

Thus regarded, the study of illusions becomes properly a branch of logic; that is, it involves fundamentally the discrimination of that which is true from that which is false. The author at the outset makes a