Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/430

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

the infinite universe or upon a part of it, everywhere he finds besides the hard struggle for existence the true, the beautiful and the good everywhere he finds his church in glorious nature herself. Still, it will correspond with the particular needs of many persons to have beautiful temples and churches to which to retire, and these they should have.

We have examined Haeckel's philosophy and have pointed out its inconsistency and inadequateness. It violates the fundamental requirements of scientific hypothesis; it is not consistent with itself, and it does not explain the facts.-It is so full of contradictions that its opponents will have no difficulty in citing passages from the 'World Kiddles' convicting the author of almost any philosophical heresy under the sun, while its defenders will be equally successful in proving by means of other quotations that the charges are unfounded. There is a great deal of truth in what von Hartmann says with respect to Haeckel's philosophy in his 'Geschichte der Metaphysik':

Haeckel is therefore an ontological pluralist, since he conceives nature as a plurality of separate substances (atoms); a metaphysical dualist, since he assumes two metaphysical principles (force and matter) in every single substance; a phenomenal dualist, since he recognizes two different fields of phenomena (external mechanical occurrence and internal sensation and will); a hylozoist, since he ascribes life and soul to every part of matter; a philosopher of identity, since he regards one and the same kind of substances as the ground of both fields of phenomena; a cosmonomic monist, since he denies the teleological uniformity in nature and admits only causal law; and a mechanist, since he regards all causal processes as mechanical processes of material particles.[1]

The fact is Haeckel's philosophy is no system at all, but a conglomeration of different systems; a metaphysical pot-pourri, a thing of shreds and patches. Perhaps this is one of the reasons of its popularity—Wer vieles bringt wird jedem etwas bringen!

Haeckel's 'World Biddies' proves conclusively that no man can neglect philosophy with impunity, and justifies the existence of a discipline like philosophy. Men will philosophize, even natural scientists—that is plain—and so long as they continue to do that, it is essential that they do it well. And they can not do it well without being trained to the work. It is just as impossible for a man to ignore the history of philosophy and to attempt to originate a system without regard to the race's experiences in system-building stretching over a period of 2,500 years or more, as it is for him to accomplish anything in physics or biology without profiting by the intellectual labors of the past and present in these fields. The man who tries to construct a system of philosophy in absolute independence of the work of his predecessors can not hope to rise very far beyond the crude theories of the beginnings of civilization. Haeckel, of course, is not wholly unac-

  1. Vol. II., p. 456.