Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/520

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is mechanical, and that thought, as exercised by us, has its correlative in the physics of the brain, I think the position of the 'materialist' is stated, as far as that position is a tenable one. I think the materialist will be able finally to maintain this position against all attacks, but I do not think, in the present condition of the human mind, that he can pass beyond this position. I do not think he is entitled to say that his molecular groupings and his molecular motions explain every thing. In reality, they explain nothing. The utmost he can affirm is the association of two classes of phenomena, of whose real bond of union he is in absolute ignorance. The problem of the connection of body and soul is as insoluble in its modern form as it was in the prescientific ages."

And so it turns out that he who has been buried under a mountain of execration for using science to drag the world into the abyss of materialism, is precisely the man who has demonstrated that no possible extension of science can ever lead one step toward that dread abyss. He has taught us that if science could attain perfection and predict the movements of all the atoms of Nature for thousands of years to come, as it now predicts eclipses, it would not be one whit nearer the solution or explanation of the mystery of the relation of mind and matter than it was in its infancy.

Referring to the admission in the foregoing passage, that "we cannot see any nexus between cerebral action and thought, or discover why a movement of the brain should lead to mental exercise," Dr. McCosh says, "But this was never intended to mean much." What right has Dr. McCosh to assume that Prof. Tyndall means less or other than what he says? His words are certainly not obscure, and we think they are weighty with meaning; so weighty, that it is only by an imputation of insincerity or equivocation that their effect can be escaped. Had they been generally heeded, or had Prof. Tyndall's reviewers been candid enough to make them widely known, we should have heard a great deal less vituperation of the Belfast address.




It is well known that the ground taken in this periodical in regard to the scope and influence of science is, that both as a mental method, and by the actual knowledge it furnishes, it is destined in the future to exert a growing and powerful control over public questions which have hitherto been but little, if at all, affected by it. The frantic efforts made by many to keep science in its old physical grooves, and prevent its "encroachments" upon departments of thought thus far dealt with by non-scientific methods, are doomed to certain failure. An excellent exemplification of this tendency is now furnished by the woman question. It has latterly come into prominence in various aspects as a practical reform, and the most radical and momentous changes are demanded, both in the view to be taken of the feminine nature and capacities, and in the social and public regulations to which women have been amenable in the past. The promoters of this alleged reform are generally philanthropists, sentimentalists, and politicians, who, starting from existing and acknowledged evils in society by which women suffer, rush on to the advocacy of sweeping changes, as if society had but to swallow their panaceas, and its evils would disappear. That there is a scientific side of the subject of the greatest importance, these people never seem, to suspect. It is observable that into the literature of the movement science has, thus far, hardly intruded, and little disposition is evinced to seek its assistance. We cannot, however, expect that people will be very eager to turn their backs upon their own methods of thought; and our professed reformers have their own well-settled methods. In the present case, certain political assumptions are made, and certain beliefs postulated, regarding feminine character, and from these a reformatory policy is deduced and