Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/127

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PROFESSOR BROOKS'S PHILOSOPHY

an appeal must always be made to experimentally obtained fact in order to discover those constants which are actually found and used in the equations of applied mechanics (vide the gravitational constant). It is the failure to make this distinction between theoretical and applied mechanics, with a resulting misinterpretation on both sides, that has conditioned psychologically the tenets of those two schools, namely, the vitalistic and the mechanistic, between which there has been so much discussion of recent years. In his attitude toward mechanism the adherent of each school has in mind a different thing, with the consequence that there is no genuine joining of issue so far as the fundamental problem is concerned, while there may be and, I think, really is a genuine agreement in regard to it. Thus, in opposing the view that the organism is a mechanism, the vitalist tacitly means that it is not a mechanism in the sense of pure, theoretical mechanics, i. e., of the "geometry of motion," as a deductive system; and in this he is right. But he really also always admits, at least tacitly, that the organism is a mechanism in the second sense, i. e., that, although it has properties which can not be deduced from those of its parts, the former nevertheless result from or are determined by the latter.[1] On the other hand, the mechanist, in opposing vitalism, first fails to make clear that his own position is that the organism is a mechanism in the second sense, and, secondly, wrongly considers the vitalist to be opposing this second view, whereas he is really opposing only the first, the purely theoretical, deductive, mechanistic position.

This solution of the problem is, in fact, recognized by Professor Brooks, and the development of its consequences forms the chief part of his philosophical position, as will be seen subsequently, but it is a solution which, as demanding that the actual properties of nature at any level of synthesis must be found by observation and experiment, both allows that the organic realm has certain properties which the inorganic world has not, and yet that these should be interpreted and treated mechanistically in the second sense. Most intimately connected with this whole question are a number of other philosophical considerations to which Professor Brooks gives much attention. It is from these that he arrives at that which is really his ultimate philosophical position, although, it must be admitted, this is not a very complex or sophisticated one. For Professor Brooks, although he cites and quotes from such sophisticated thinkers as, e. g., Plato, Berkeley and Kant,, is predominantly (he is not always consistent) a realist, first "naïve," and then "critical." Thus, although he dedicates his "Foundations" to Berkeley, and quotes him oftener than any other philosopher, he never seems quite to grasp this philosopher's subjective idealism. And

  1. Cf. Driesch in various places in such volumes as "Naturbegriffe und Natururteile" and "The Science and Philosophy of the Organism."