Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/786

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

seen that there are wars of opinion and conflicts of ideas carried on in the intellectual world which have at least an equal interest with the narratives of military campaigns and the records of carnage on fields of battle.

 

 

It is but an act of justice to Dr. Deems, of this city, to state that he replied to the article of Mr. Boyd in the June Monthly, entitled "Science and the Logicians." We were compelled to decline publishing the reply to cut off a controversy that would have consumed more space than we can allow to such discussions.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

The Five Senses of Man. By Julius Bernstein, Professor of Physiology in the University of Halle. With Numerous Illustrations. No. XXI. of the "International Scientific Series." Pp. 304.

The work intrusted to the accomplished Professor of Physiology at Halle, Dr. Bernstein, has been admirably performed. Aware of the importance of his undertaking, and that his work would promptly reappear in all civilized countries, the author has taken his time, and produced a volume second to none in the series to which it belongs, and which will be valued as an able and permanent contribution to physiological literature. Many works have appeared upon this general subject, of varied merit, but they have generally been more anatomical than physiological, and have dealt rather with the mechanism of sensation than with its processes and philosophy. Prof. Wilson's book, published several years ago, was a pleasant piece of rhetorical work, but wholly inadequate as a scientific discussion of the subject, even at that time. Dr. Bernstein has taken up the problem of the senses of man from the latest point of view reached by physiology and psychology, and, while very full and clear in his description of the instruments and apparatus of sensation, the strength of his book and its more especial claim to attention will be found in the lucid analysis which he gives of what may be called the psychical aspect of sense-activity. He views the senses as the biological gateways where impressions from the external world pass into the organism, and are transformed, through the wonderful endowments of the nervous system, into consciousness in the mental sphere. This is unquestionably the profoundest mystery in the realm of life, and the ultimate how of this transformation will probably forever remain one of Nature's impenetrable secrets. But all ultimate explanations are beyond the grasp of science, which completes its work when it has analyzed and established the conditions of phenomena. No doubt it would be interesting to solve the ultimate problems of Nature, were such a thing possible to the human mind, but it is only of importance to find out that which is capable of being known. Even this field is inexhaustible, and whatever explanation may be reached we are never certain that a deeper explanation is not still attainable. In this matter of the nature and operation of the senses great progress has recently been made, and physics, chemistry, physiology, histology, and psychology, have all contributed their separate rays to the illumination of the subject. Many points are unsettled, and many perplexities and obscurities remain to be cleared up; but there has still been an immense amount of efficient and successful work of research that required to be digested by some master-hand so as to be available for the common reader who has no time to master elaborate scientific treatises. It was not an easy thing to find a man competent, interested, and willing to undertake this, task; but it fortunately fell into the right hands. Dr. Bernstein has proved himself to be not only possessed of the requisite knowledge, but to be an adept in the art of presenting it, as will be seen by the extract from his work given in the present number of the Monthly. He had a reputation as a clear and skillful writer, which the present volume will enhance; while the translation does him justice, and presents his exposition in an attractive English form. This volume is one that might be well adopted as a text-book for our schools.