Popular Science Monthly/Volume 60/February 1902/Scientific Literature

Scientific Literature.


The 'Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology,' edited by Professor J. Mark Baldwin and published by the Macmillans, is a work of magnitude and importance. Only one of the three volumes has as yet been issued, but it suffices to give a correct impression of the character, range and quality of the undertaking. It falls between a dictionary and an encyclopedia, and in rather an eclectic fashion, some of the articles treating a small topic concisely while others fill many pages. In a first attempt of this character, with assistant editors and contributors scattered all over the world, it was obviously impossible to secure complete uniformity, and the frequency with which the editor's initials occur indicates that he realized the need of securing a unitary point of view. It is evident, however, that there is less agreement as to the fact and theory among philosophers and psychologists than is the ease in other sciences. All the more credit must for this very reason be given to editor, contributors and publishers for producing what will for many years be the standard reference work in philosophy and psychology.

The French excel in the production of year-books, and 'L'année psychologique,' of which the seventh volume has recently been issued, is one of the best of them. The preparation must involve great labor on the part of the editor, M. Binet, for the researches, filling 558 pages, come chiefly from his laboratory at the Sorbonne, and the reviews, filling about 150 pages, are nearly all written by his own hand. The bibliography, containing 2,627 titles, is, however, reprinted from that of the 'Psychological Review,' and we fail to find reference to this fact. As there is no psychological journal in France, this work is essential to those who wish to follow the progress of experimental psychology in that country.

M. Pièrre Janet's 'Etat mental des hystériques' was translated into English by the late Mrs. Hiram Corson and is now published by the Putnams. The book appeared in French some nine years ago, and the need of the present English version is not quite obvious. It was sufficiently accessible to scientific men in the original, and it is to be feared that if the thousand copies which American publishers regard as the minimum sale that warrants acceptance are distributed, they will fall chiefly into the hands of those whom the translator call 'hystericals.' M. Janet has made some careful observations, and in his explanations lays great stress on subconsciousness, split-off ideas and the like. The French have done so much more work in these directions than others that we should perhaps accept their theories. But conservative scientific and medical men prefer to wait.

'Intuitive Suggestions,' by Mr. J. W. Thomas, bears the respected imprint of Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co., and opens the question as to whether publishers accept any responsibility for their books, beyond the financial one. The author places on his title-page the text: 'And God said. Let there be light; and there was light.' We fear not, if the reference is to the contents of the book. The author expects London business men to soar 'above the smoke and din to seek their homes in the country,' not in flying machines but by 'levitation.'