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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ing of acceptance, and that the criticisms of theologians and other amateurs, however well meant, are apt to be beside the mark.

 

 

AGNOSTICISM.

Prof. Max Müller contributes to the Nineteenth Century for last December an article the title of which is, Why I am not an Agnostic. Just what the true definition of agnosticism may be we should not care to venture an opinion; but what interests us chiefly in Prof. Müller's article is the extreme similarity between the position he takes up and that of Mr. Herbert Spencer as set forth in First Principles. "If," he says, "we have to recognize in every single object of our phenomenal knowledge a something or a power which manifests itself in it, and which we know, and can only know, through its phenomenal manifestations, we have also to acknowledge a power which manifests itself in the whole universe. . . . That it is, we know; what it is by itself, that is out of relation to us, of course we can not know; but we do know that without it the manifest or phenomenal universe would be impossible." This is the Spencerian philosophy exactly, and is also the philosophy, we do not doubt, of a large portion of the thinking world of to-day. Mr. Spencer has never professed himself an agnostic. Apart from the objections urged by Prof. Müller, he would probably consider the term one of far too uncertain meaning to serve for a definition of any views which he may hold, whether of a positive or of a negative character.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Woman's Share in Primitive Culture. By Otis Tufton Mason. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 295. Price, $1.75.

This is the first volume of an anthropological series under the editorial direction of Prof. Frederick Starr, of the University of Chicago; the works of which, intended to be of popular interest, will be in every case written by authorities who will keep scientific accuracy in the foreground. The present essay sets forth woman's share in the culture of the world by her works, and shows that her achievements have been in the past worthy of honor and imitation and have laid the foundation for arts of which all are now justly proud. The idea is rejected in the very beginning that women are treated with systematic cruelty or are degraded, in any nation, however savage; for "it is not reasonable to suppose that any species or variety of animals would survive in which the helpless maternal half is subjected to outrageous cruelty as a rule," and the taste and skill women show in the arts that fall to their province are against such a supposition. On the other hand, a division of duties generally prevails, which, though it may not accord with the artificial, conventional system of European society, is usually adapted to the circumstances of the tribe, and is not inequitable. In the list of spheres of work, woman is introduced first as the food-bringer, finding supplies in the stores of Nature, taking care of them and preparing them for consumption. In this field she set agoing a multiplicity of industries in prehistoric times, and became of necessity an inventor of experiments, tools, and processes. Next she appears as a weaver, making baskets and the native cloth and mats, and spinning, netting, braiding, sewing, and embroidering, and for each of these tasks having again to find material and to invent and fashion suit able tools. Having to deal with the game killed by the man and to apply all the material to the best use, she becomes a skin-dresser. A bewildering list is given of the animals whose skins native American women knew how to dress; and, "if aught in the heavens above or on the earth beneath, or in the waters, wore a skin, savage women were found on examination to have had a name for it, and to have succeeded in turning it into its primitive use for human clothing, and to have invented new uses undreamed of by its original owner." Here, again, were new tools to be invented. "Women were the first ceramic artisans, and developed all the technique, the forms, and the uses of pottery." In this work and in her textile fabrics woman has had opportunity to de-