Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/September 1898/General Notices


In Dr. Oppenheim's book on The Development of the Child,[1] the subject is treated in a philosophical spirit. The author makes a serious study of the factors that contribute to the child's development and the formation of his character, and seeks to find how they may be most advantageously treated and cultivated so as to secure the best results. He makes much less account of heredity than do most authors—reducing it, in fact, to its lowest terms—and gives special predominance to the environment and nutrition. "There is not enough of conviction in the minds of parents and guardians," he says, "that the responsibility of their children's acts, good and bad, rests upon their older shoulders; that the final outcome of their children's lives depends almost entirely upon the influences, the nutrition, the environment which the authority of the parents and guardians provides." He begins by pointing out and presenting the differences in the constitution of the child and the adult, so as to show "that an infant's development is not a rigidly immovable process, that it progresses slowly and irregularly, and that during its course the child is in so unstable a condition that no strain should be put upon his faculties." The comparative importance of heredity and environment is next considered, with the result that we have already indicated. The methods of the primary school are sharply criticised, and the rule is prescribed that "every subject should, in its claim for a place in the curriculum, be judged by its adaptability to the child's growth," and hints are offered toward a better method. Reasons are adduced and enforced with illustrations from children's words, why religious instruction, as usually applied, is not adapted to the child's mind and can hardly convey correct ideas. In a similar spirit the author discusses The Value of the Child as a Witness in Suits at Law; The Development of the Child Criminal; The Genius and the Defective; and Institutional Life in the Development of the Child. In the final chapter, The Profession of Maternity, the importance is emphasized of making training for the duties of motherhood a predominant feature in the education of women.

The twelve essays constituting Prof. Josiah Royce's volume of Studies of Good and Evil[2] though seemingly varied in topic and as to the occasions on which they were first presented, represent together what the author calls a type of post-Kantian idealism. Their appeal is to those readers to whom studies of more familiar issues in the light of philosophical considerations are more enlightening than fundamental metaphysical arguments. Believing that the student should be relatively independent as to the manner in which he reaches his conclusions and as regards the kind of insight he seeks to impart to his readers. Professor Royce hopes that his papers may serve to indicate in what sense the philosophical theses he has to maintain possess a genuinely individual character. They are all, directly or indirectly, contributions to the comprehension of the ethical aspects of the universe, and are of various relations to technical philosophical issues. Four of them are essays in literary and philosophical criticism; one is directly concerned with the effect of the knowledge of good and evil upon the character of the individual man; one is a contribution to the metaphysical problem of evil in its most general sense; five, while dealing with metaphysical and psychological problems connected with the nature and relationships of our human type of consciousness, are somewhat more indirect contributions to the ethical interpretation of our place in the universe. One is a historical study of a concrete conflict between good and evil tendencies in early California life. The first paper. The Problem of Job, presents the author's theory of evil, The second is a psychological study of a personal experience of John Bunyan. The third paper, on Tennyson and Pessimism, bears on a theory of the relation between good and evil; and another general aspect of that relation is discussed in the fourth paper. These studies prepare the way for the metaphysical issue of the ethical interpretation of reality; and the problem of the general relation between natural law and the demands of ethics is stated in the fifth essay; while the sixth states the general case for an idealistic interpretation of the universe in its relations to self-consciousness. The question of what finite consciousness with all its burdens of good and evil may be and mean is treated in the seventh and eighth essays; and the discussion of consciousness is continued in the ninth. The last three papers concern more special issues, and relate to Meister Eckhart, the German mystic of the thirteenth century; the squatter riot of 1850 in Sacramento; and the late French philosophical critic, Jean Marie Guyau.

Mr. MacEwan's Essentials of Argumentation[3] is the outgrowth of a dozen years' experience with classes in an agricultural college. The time for literary training being limited in such an institution, a course had to be provided that would be most helpful to students who had net time to study all the niceties of literary expression, and could, at best, master only the elementary principles of rhetoric and make themselves familiar, in a general way, with the ordinary forms of prose composition. Their work would require proficiency in description, clear and sound reasoning, and the cogent presentation of what they would want others to accept as true. Adapting his course to this condition, the author made it largely one in argumentation, with the result of a more rapid development of the student's power of reflection and greater facility and accuracy of expression. The present book follows the plan of the course thus described. While adapting his work largely to the practical questions of the day, the author has inserted model examples of argument from every source, whether new or old, affording illustrations that would illustrate. Famous passages from Webster and Burke, from Shakespeare's oratory, and from Huxley's addresses are accompanied by minute analyses of their parts, qualities, and points; and a list of more than two hundred propositions for argument or debate, and a glossary of terms, are given.

La Industria Agricola is a new agricultural paper started at Caracas, Venezuela, with Señor Guillermo Delgado Palacios as editor. Of the thirty-two pages of the first number six are devoted to the exposition of the purposes of the magazine and the bearing of science on agriculture; five to the agricultural bureaus and societies of Venezuela; ten to the agricultural staples of the country, wheat, sugar cane, and corn; two to agricultural items from the United States; and the rest to industrial novelties and miscellaneous articles.

L'Intermediaire des Biologistes (The Biologists' Intermediary) is a useful semimonthly international organ of zoölogy, botany, physiology, and psychology, published in Paris under the editorial direction of MM. Alfred Binet and Victor Henri, with numerous colaborers of equal scientific standing, which has just completed its first year. The number before us has as its leading original articles papers on the sexuality of aphides, by E. G. Balbini, and on the Colorability of Living Protoplasm, by F. Henneguy; and these are followed by two pages seeking answers from correspondents, seven pages of answers to previous questions—the notes and query feature being one of the most prominent of the publication—and classified summaries of the biological contents of periodicals. Price, 12 francs ($2.50) a year.

The Philosophy of the Humanities includes three addresses delivered on separate occasions and to different bodies by Thomas Fitzhugh, professor of Latin in the University of Texas. They discuss the evolution of classic culture and its pedagogic treatment, and inquire into the philosophic basis of the humanities. The subjects are The Evolution of Culture, The Pedagogic Aspect of Culture Evolution; Organization of the Latin Humanities in College, and Organization of the Latin Humanities in Secondary Education. The author is a sturdy advocate of the study of Latin. (University of Chicago press.)

A Bibliography and Index of North American Geology, Palæontology, and Mineralogy for 1892 and 1893, compiled by Fred Boughton Weeks, and constituting Bulletin No. 130 of the United States Geological Survey, contains 1,121 titles. The index is complete and elaborate, classified by States and main subjects, and arranged alphabetically throughout. A list of publications examined is appended.

In the comparative study of L'Évolution régressive en Biologie et en Sociologie (Regressive Evolution in Biology and Sociology), the ground is taken by the authors (MM. Jean Demoor, Jean Massart, and Émile Vandervelde) that the word evolution does not in itself imply either progression or regression, but designates all transformations, whether favorable or unfavorable, and they have applied themselves to the study of the latter kind. They have conducted the results of their several special researches in the biological and social fields so as to show how the regressive feature is manifested in both, and that every transformation involves a loss as well as a gain; that "regression is not an accident of evolution, but is the inverse of progressive evolution, the necessary complement of all transformation, organic or social." When we study any transformation whatever we may hit upon, taking variations as they come, we find that as a consequence of it some parts of the structure become useless, and their gradual elimination ensues, as in the interest of the organization itself, considered as a whole. The working of this principle is considered in its various aspects in the worlds of organic life and society. (Paris: Félix Alcan, Bibliothèque Scientifique Internationale.)

The Bibliography of the Anthropology of Peru, published by George A. Dorsey in the Anthropological Series of the Papers of the Field Columbian Museum, Chicago, shows that the list of books and papers relating to the subject is a very considerable one and would of itself furnish a respectable library; yet the compiler does not pretend that it is exhaustive. He has only done his best with the material accessible to him. His aim has been, so far as possible, to cover the whole ground, and to include such works from the earliest times down to the present day as treat of the modern Indians and of the Peruvians of ancient times, and to include all known editions of the early Spanish authorities. Interest and value are added to his work by the short biographical sketches he furnishes of about fifty of the more important authors of the early Spanish times. Mr. Dorsey hopes to follow this work with an index by subjects and topics.

The eleventh volume of the Annals of the Argentine Meteorological Office (Anales de la Officina Meteorológica Argentina), Walter G. Davis, director, covers the observations of the year 1893. It includes elaborate tables similar to those which have characterized previous volumes of the Anales, with climatic details, at the stations of San Jorge (Cordoba), Isla de los Estados, Chos-Malal, Paramillo de Uspallata, on Potro Muerto; with, in addition, summaries of monthly observations from October, 1895, till December, 1896, at Isla de los Estados, and from May till August, 1896, at Chos-Malal. Twelve new stations were established during the year covered by the report. Voluntary observations of the principal meteorological elements were received from thirty-six points, and of rain from seventy-three. Reports of observations made six times a day were received from Concepcion, Paraguay. Stations have been established outside of the republic, near its frontiers, in cases where suitable points could not be found in the same latitudes within the national territory, whereby important data have been secured that would otherwise have been missed.

  1. The Development of the Child. By Nathan Oppenheim. New York: The Macmillan Company. Pp. 206. Price, $1.25.
  2. Studies of Good and Evil. A Series of Essays upon Problems of Philosophy and of Life. By Josiah Royce. N-w York: D. Appleton and Company. Pp. 384. Price, $1.50.
  3. The Essentials of Argumentation. By Elias J. MacEwan. Boston: D. C. Heath & Co. Pp. 412. Price, $1.12.