Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/772
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
yield agreement or results that have compelled the general acceptance of thinkers. Its problems were too complex, subtile, and exalted, to be effectually dealt with before men had been trained to the work of investigation on the subordinate planes of natural phenomena. The lower before the higher, the simple before the complex, must be the law of movement where not only truths of the highest order are to be reached, but the methods by which they are to be arrived at have also to be discovered. There was needed a long and severe apprenticeship of science in the work of unraveling phenomena before the realm of mind could be entered with any confidence of its conquest. And it was not only necessary to learn by scientific practice the difficult art of investigation, but the solution of mental problems was vitally dependent upon a species of knowledge which ordinary science alone could disclose. Of mind, as a phenomenon to be investigated, we know nothing whatever, except as a manifestation of organic life. It is conditioned by organic laws, and there can be no competent mental science that does not recognize this truth. Mind, moreover, is exhibited, with a thousand modifications, through all the grades of animate being, and these diversities must be regarded by any true science of the subject. The psychical natures of the quadruped, the bird, the fish, the insect, may not be so dignified as that of man, and may afford less inspiring themes for declamation, but, in a scientific point of view, they are of equal interest, and their investigation is imperative. It could not be otherwise, therefore, than that mental philosophy should be profoundly affected both by that drill in research and that extension of knowledge which have resulted from the last three centuries of scientific progress. The new phase which the subject has consequently assumed is known as the Modern Psychology or the New Psychology, and this has given rise to a school of thought, the most eminent representatives of which are Englishmen. With a few exceptions, and those of hardly the highest mark, Germany clings to the old methods. France is behind the age in every thing, our own country is crippling along after European traditions, and it is left to England to pioneer the world in the work of psychological development.
Prof. Ribot's book is the tribute of a candid and unprejudiced foreigner to the greatness of the English school of scientific psychology, and it is an admirable analysis of the contributions of the representative English writers upon this subject. An enthusiastic student of philosophy himself, and thoroughly imbued with the scientific spirit, Prof. Ribot brings eminent qualifications to his task, and grasps the subject with the power of a master, while his work has a judicial fairness in the estimate of men that is favored by his foreign point of view. He writes, moreover, with a point and clearness that are quite unusual in treating this class of subjects. Prof. Ribot gives us in this volume a lucid account of the systems of Hartley, James Mill, Herbert Spencer, Alexander Bain, George H. Lewes, Samuel Bailey, and John Stuart Mill, and his work altogether affords the best delineation we have of the positions and grounds of the New Psychological School that has come forward into such prominence in the present generation.
Prof. Ribot prefixes to his volume an admirable and instructive introductory chapter on the relations of philosophy, science, and metaphysics, and the gradual growth and present position of scientific psychology. In his section considering the several definitions of it, he remarks as follows concerning one of them:
"We are told that psychology is the science of the human soul. That is a very narrow and incomplete idea of it. Is biology ever defined as the science of human life? Has physiology ever believed, even in its infancy, that its only object was man? Have they not considered, on the contrary, that every thing which has organized and manifested life belongs to them––the infusoria, as well as man? Now, unless we admit the Cartesian opinion of animal machines—which has no longer, to my knowledge, an adherent—we must acknowledge that animals have their sensations, their sentiments, their desires, their pleasures, their pains, their character, just like ourselves; that there is a collection of psychological facts which one has no right to subtract from the science. Who has studied