Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/144

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he will gain thereby an idea of some general law. To remedy the frequent inexactness of beginners, it is advised that continual use should be made of balances, weights, rulers, and protractors, and definite quantities always required. The mathematics involved are the four fundamental rules of arithmetic, fractions, ratio, and percentage, and the problems for study are sufficiently varied, being taken from seven departments of science.

The method is good, but several of the subjects appear beyond the grasp of a pupil in percentage. While interest may be aroused in the colors of insects, the constituents of fruits, or the process of evaporation, it is hardly possible that the ratio of the area lying south of the mean annual isotherm of 50º Fahr. to that lying south of the mean annual isotherm of 40º Fahr., or calculations of rainfall and drainage, should be more comprehensible or attractive to the average boy than questions in taxation and insurance.

Plato and Platonism. By Walter Pater. London and New York: Macmillan &. Co. Pp. 256. Price, $1.75.

However materialistic the mood of the reader may be, these lectures are apt to take him unawares and hold him for a time completely under their spell. He wanders amid the groves of the Academy and listens to Socratic dialogue until he becomes somewhat hypnotized and is prepared to meet the Just and the Beautiful face to face. Not that Mr. Pater inculcates the possibility of any such actual vision. He pronounces the theory of the many and the one difficult doctrine and acknowledges that, with all allowance for poetical expression, the universals to which Plato would introduce us are very much like living beings.

In order to form a just or historic estimate of Platonism, the conditions of its genesis and growth must be examined. Mr. Pater projects for us in vivid outline the Greek intellectual life preceding Socrates. The philosophy of Plato was a protest against the doctrine of Heraclitus. His dogma of universal change, πάντα ῤέι, is not unlike the modern idea of development and evolution, but to Plato it was in the highest degree repugnant. Recognizing the tendency to vary, he considered it an evil to be corrected, and sought in the nature of man, in culture, in society, for an unalterable κόσμος. In the Republic he shows how this order may be established in a community.

Personally, Plato is depicted not as a rigid philosopher wrapped in speculations, but as a keenly impressionable nature with every sense sharpened to the external world. This gives "an impassioned glow to his conceptions," and endows his writing with the fineness of Thackeray.

According to modern views, two radically divergent tendencies are discoverable in Platonism. First, the theory of ideas, that the highest knowledge is intuitive and absolute. Secondly, the dialectic method, the endless question and answer, the weighing of every minute grain of evidence. Mr. Pater considers that we owe not only this method, "a habit of tentative thinking and suspended judgment," to Plato, but that it is straight from his lips that the language came in which the mind has ever since been discoursing with itself.

In conclusion, if we doubt Plato's immutable ideas, we may still seek for the ideals he pictures. If we reject his communistic theories, we can accept his classification of the orders of men, the intellectual, the executive and the productive. We may even strive to realize his dictum that those who come to office should not be lovers of it! As for his contention with the Sophists, that is a question of to-day. Which is essential, matter or form? Should the artist and writer know and feel the truth himself, or only know what others think about it? If we believe the former, we may go to the Phædrus for inspiration.

Governments and Politicians, Ancient and Modern. By Charles Marcotte. Chicago: Charles Marcotte, 175 Monroe Street. Pp. 478. Price, $2.

The merits of this work are anything but inconsiderable when viewed from the standpoint of a measurable reforming medium. More. The author's sincerity and thoroughness of purpose manifestly inheres between the lines on every page. We leave it, however, to the judgment of others to say whether the "Constitution" of this country—as alleged—is responsible for the existence of "professional" and "unscrupulous"