Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/132

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the Popular Science Monthly for June, 1890, Mr. Huxley expressly states that the term "Agnostic" was not suggested by the passage to which Mr. Hutton refers, but came into his mind "as a fit antithesis to 'Gnostic' — the 'Gnostics' being those ancient heretics who professed to know most about those very things of which I am quite sure I know nothing." As the use of the term in theological discussion has become universal, it is interesting to know how Prof. Huxley came to introduce it

J. T. Gorman.

Opelika, Ala., September 14, 1895.




Editor's Table.


THE PRESENT POSITION OF ANTHROPOLOGY.

AMONG the scientific addresses of the present year we are disposed to assign a high place in point of interest and general merit to that on The Aims of Anthropology, delivered at the August meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by the retiring president, Prof. Brinton, and reprinted in this number of the Monthly. Like others who have advocated the claims of that science, the professor almost overwhelms us with the enumeration of all its tributary streams of knowledge; but more successfully than most, he enables us to keep in view the unity of aim in anthropological study. He makes us feel that it is concerned not with unrelated or but slightly related details in regard to man, but with man himself, as a great organic fact, as the crowning product of creation, whom to know is for each of us in the truest sense self-knowledge. "Hearken unto me," said the prophet of old, "all ye that love righteousness! Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and the hole of the pit whence ye are digged." It is in the same spirit, we imagine, that Dr. Brinton asks us to look into our origins, and into whatever else can throw light upon what we really are. As regards the origin of man, science, he asserts, has now established beyond cavil that, far from having fallen from some original high estate and forfeited a pristine paradise, the earliest man was also "the lowest, the most ignorant, the most brutish, naked, homeless, half speechless." Such as he was, however, he had within him that which made possible for him a progress denied to all other animal races, that secured for him long since the mastery of the planet, and that holds out to him the prospect of a future civilization far in advance of anything he has heretofore enjoyed.

The most vitalizing discovery that has been made within recent years, in its bearings upon anthropology. Dr. Brinton considers to be that of the psychical unity of mankind, "the parallelism of his development everywhere and in all times; nay, more, the nigh absolute uniformity of his thoughts and actions when in the same degree of development, no matter where he is or in what epoch living." Seeing that savage tribes represent a stage of human culture which has left traces in ourselves, but the perfect manifestation of which will soon have passed away forever, he calls earnestly for a prolonged and profound study of such savage races as still exist, though none of them are in his opinion quite low enough to represent fully primitive man. He also strongly recommends the study