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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/866

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

matter, a somewhat different thing. What the author has to say, however, he says well, and the whole chapter constitutes an interesting exposition of modern views in regard to the material universe. It is a mistake to say, as he does on page 48, that "it was Bode's law which led Leverrier and Adams to assign a position to an unknown planet from the anomalous movements of Uranus." Bode's law simply assigns approximately the distance from the sun and from one another of the planets of our system, but says nothing as to the position in its orbit which a given planet shall occupy at a given time; and in searching for the undiscovered planet its position in its orbit and not its distance from the sun was the point to be determined. The chapter is concluded with a verse from Omar Khayam:

"Shall any gazer see with mortal eyes,
Or any searcher know by mortal mind?
Veil after veil will lift but there must be
Veil after veil behind."

So far, therefore, as the genesis of matter is concerned, the Persian poet of nearly a thousand years ago expresses the thought of the "genetic" philosopher of to-day.

In Chapter II, on The Genesis of Life, the author frankly and fully accepts the doctrine of evolution. "At present," he says, page 63, "there is probably no biologist of importance who does not accept organic evolution as a real process of Nature, although there are various degrees of conviction as to the sufficiency of the explanation of the causes which have been operative in the natural history of descent." As between the conflicting views of Weisman and Spencer, Mr. Hill rather inclines to the side of Spencer, but we do not judge that he speaks as a biologist, or that he has mastered all the arguments on either side of the question; at the same time the discussion, considering the limits within which it is confined, is ably done and will be useful to the general reader. Under the head of The Genesis of Consciousness, again, we have an interesting review of modern speculation respecting the conditions of consciousness, but no really distinctive view as to its origin. The author states his conclusion to be that "while psychic elements are manifested to us directly only through consciousness, they exist as its preconditions; and, therefore, are not to be denied existence beyond the sphere of consciousness." Goethe had said as much in his celebrated aphorism that Nature "sleeps in the stone, dreams in the animal, and wakes in man." Schopenhauer too, makes Will, which is decidedly a psychic element, pervade the whole universe. "Unless every analogy of Nature is violated," observes the author, "what we call the 'soul' had its being long before it came to consciousness"; and holding this view it is not to be wondered at that he looks with decided favor on the doctrine of metempsychosis.

The remaining chapters of the book deal with the Genesis of Feeling, of Thought, of Will, of Art, of Morality, of Religion, and of Science. All are characterized by liberality of thought and are interesting in a high degree. There is excellent matter in all these chapters, particularly in those on Will, Morality, and Religion. The author denies that pleasure is Nature's end, asserting that it is merely Nature's means toward higher ends, a view which we think has much to commend it. On the subject of the connection or relation between (physical) energy and will he takes up much the same position as Schopenhauer. "By what right," he asks, "is the objective series elevated to the dignity of a causative order and the subjective series regarded as inconsequential?" As regards the development of morality, he seems to accept Herbert Spencer's analysis as far as it goes, but finds it too abstract, too merely schematic, if we may use the expression. His own. statement of the matter is that "the evolution of morality is the gradual formation of a moral consciousness through the perception of what is due in the relations of social life." Sin he defines as "the persistence upon the human plane of tendencies which belong to the animal plane, and which should therefore have been subjected to the law of reason. From the moral point of view," he adds, "to be carnally-minded is death." In the chapter on the Genesis of Religion the author holds that, while Mr. Spencer's theory which assigns the origin of all religion to ancestor worship will explain much in the way of religious ceremonial the world over, it will not explain everything, and particularly will not explain the origin of the religious sentiment.