Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/867

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LITERARY NOTICES.

the interplay between intelligence and conscience was made very clear; plainly did it appear that without knowledge, and much knowledge, without a judgment trained to nice discrimination, the desire to do right and justice in these days of complex social life must be vain. In this department summaries of experience in reform were added by men who have devoted their lives to seeing the Indian righted, the wretched in cities relieved, the prisoner born to new hope and purpose.




LITERARY NOTICES.

Justice: Being Part IV of the Principles of Ethics. By Herbert Spencer. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1891. Pp. 291.

The appearance of a new volume of the Synthetic Philosophy after a long enforced interval of rest on the part of its author is an event which merits the hearty congratulation, not only of the avowed disciples of Mr. Spencer in America — a goodly and growing number of our most intelligent thinkers — but also of all friends of scientific and liberal thought.

It is now twelve years since the publication of the Data of Ethics. As was then announced, this volume was issued in advance of the regular order of publication, under the pressure of premonitions of failing health. Similar considerations have impelled Mr. Spencer to leave unfinished the concluding sections of The Principles of Sociology and intervening parts of The Principles of Morality, in order to apply himself to the exposition of the law of Justice, which we have his explicit warrant for regarding as the consummate fruit of his patient study and discriminating thought. The noble volumes which have preceded it are all subsidiary to the practical application of the principles of Justice to the pressing problems of our societary life.

Viewed from the standpoint of the philosophical evolutionist, nothing surely could be more timely than the appearance of this work. The past decade has been an era of crude and rash speculation upon social and political problems. In America, no less than in England, we have need to listen to the voice of one who looks neither to the inventions of a closet-philosophy nor to the chance-suggestions of the political empiricist, but to the eternal laws of Nature for wise counsel and enlightenment upon these vast issues. We have recently listened to enthusiasts who expect to abolish poverty and reform society by the simple panacea of the single tax; we have seen a political party spring into an ephemeral existence based upon the success of a visionary novel — the effort of a professional story-writer to imagine a society constructed on principles as foreign as possible to those illustrated in the existing social order. Another political organization promises to abolish crime and regenerate human nature by the simple expedient of prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic drinks; and anarchistic agitators would abolish the evils of society by the short and easy method of abolishing society itself. It is refreshing to turn from this array of absurdly inadequate panaceas to the wise and conservative counsels of Mr. Spencer, whose more than seventy years, with whatsoever burdens of physical infirmity they may have afflicted him, have detracted nothing from his logical acumen, his clarity of thought, or lucidity of diction. The first six chapters of the present volume were published in The Nineteenth Century and The Popular Science Monthly in the spring of last year, and their tenor will readily be recalled by the readers of these periodicals. Defining the highest conduct as "that which conduces to the greatest length, breadth, and completeness of life," Mr. Spencer shows that we must seek for the germs of morality in the animal world. He goes further, and shows that human morality is based upon laws which are as universal as life itself, and are active and potent in the development of all living things. The reference to these underlying biological principles runs all through the present volume, and differentiates the treatment of its topics from that of his earlier work, Social Statics, which aimed to cover much of the same ground. Social Statics, however, was not the product of Mr. Spencer's mature thought. He has long been conscious of its imperfections. In the successive volumes of his Synthetic Philosophy he has substituted an exclusively natural or evolu-