Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/287

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LITERARY NOTICES.

tainable by direct effort; it must itself be sought through means. The means of progress, which therefore become the second proximate end, must consist in the. proper kind of action, but such action is only less difficult of direct attainment than is progress itself. Here, again, the necessary means must be adopted to secure the end.

The higher forms of action, such as seriously affect the condition of society, are chiefly the result of the ideas or opinions entertained. In a general sense, then, opinion may be regarded as the means to action, and hence as the third proximate end. But direct attempts to influence opinion are also practically futile; means must be employed here, as before.

Ideas and opinions rest upon the data in possession of the mind. Such data, to conduce to the several proximate ends, and through these to the ultimate end of well being, or happiness, must be in harmony with reality. In other words, the data of opinion must consist in knowledge. Knowledge, therefore, is the fourth proximate end, the attainment of which will carry with it that of all the less remote ones, and also that of the ultimate end. Now, knowledge may be attained by the direct effort of the individual; but the mind is most receptive of it during the plastic period of youth, before an appreciation of its value can have been acquired sufficient to insure the effort to obtain it. To leave it to enforce itself, therefore, is virtually to fail of its attainment, so that this also is to be secured only through means.

The means to knowledge is instruction or education. This is defined as "the universal distribution of the most important extant knowledge." As an end, education can be easily secured by direct effort, even of society in its collective capacity. It differs from all the other ends in requiring no further means for its accomplishment than the mere mechanical appliances. Education, therefore, constitutes the most remote proximate end, and the initial means to the attainment of all the less remote ends, and also of the ultimate end of the general welfare. All these ends may, therefore, be wholly neglected and left to take care of themselves, and the entire energy of society may be concentrated upon this most remote end, or initial means, to the highest social progress.

The second volume of Mr. Ward's work opens with a chapter treating chiefly of man's relation to the universe, which he insists must be more clearly conceived before any further progress can be made in philosophy, and it ends with a statement of the definitions and theorems of dynamic sociology. The remaining six chapters are devoted to the detailed consideration of the six theorems, one being given to each of the great ends, in the order in which we have noticed them. The work, therefore, closes with a radical discussion of the claims of education as above defined, as the supreme essential condition to further and higher social progress.

No idea can be given in such a brief notice as this of the number of important subjects of great public interest at the present time that are traversed by Mr. Ward in these solid volumes. The work is more constructive than critical, but it deals throughout with live topics and urgent public problems. The author takes radical issue with his philosophic predecessors, and arrives at new results for which he claims the sanction of science and reason. As the reader will perhaps have inferred, the drift of his reasoning is toward a great extension of coercive agency and government control in the work of social progress. His work is, in fact, a vigorous and systematic assault upon the doctrine of laissez faire, and the policy of leaving things to spontaneous influences and the self-regulation of private enterprise. It is, perhaps, the strongest defense yet made of the enlargement of state functions for the direction of social affairs. The task was an ambitious one, but the manner of its execution proves that it was not presumptuous.

The merits of Mr. Ward's work are unquestionably such as to entitle it to the serious attention of students; but, aside from its intrinsic claims, its logic is so strongly in the direction of predominant American tendencies, that it is sure to be welcomed by many as a representative exposition of American policy and thought. It appeals strongly to different classes of thinkers. Boldly coping with the ripened systems of the Old World, it will commend itself to many