Popular Science Monthly/Volume 17/October 1880/Literary Notices

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Popular Science Monthly Volume 17 October 1880  (1880) 
Literary Notices

The Brain as an Organ of Mind. By H. Charlton Bastian, M.D., F.R.S. D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 708. Price, $2.50.

Dr. Bastian's new book is one of great value and importance. The knowledge it gives is universal in its claims, and of moment to everybody. It should be forthwith introduced as a manual into all colleges, high schools, and normal schools in the country. Not to be made a matter of ordinary mechanical recitations, but that its subject may arrest attention and rouse interest, and be lodged in the minds of students in connection with observations and experiments that will give reality to the knowledge acquired.

As often illustrated in the pages of this magazine, we know nothing of mind except as an organic manifestation. Throughout the entire scale of animate nature, intelligence is an endowment of a nervous mechanism; and the gradations of intelligence correspond to and depend upon gradations in the structure of the nervous system. The laws of mind have their basis in this material substratum, and mental operations are conditioned upon physiological processes. The wonderful apparatus of sensation, distributed over the periphery of the body and relating the individual to all that is outward, and the still more wonderful organ of consciousness and mental power—the great cerebral center—are material structures, and the psychical effects which they produce are accompaniments of material molecular change. We think, and feel, and remember, and imagine, and carry on all the processes of reasoning through the corporeal activities of the brain as the great center of nervous operations. We are born high or low in the intellectual grade according to the properties of this mechanism; and these properties are variable in an almost infinite degree. We get the benefit of a perfected stock through generations of cultivation, or we inherit incapacity through generations of neglect, the results in both cases being embodied in the nervous organism. It is therefore impossible to get at the science of mind so as to grasp the laws of mental growth, or rationally to carry on the work of mental cultivation without a knowledge of the vital mechanism by which all mind is displayed. No book, therefore, can be fitter for collegiate study or as a guide in the work of education than a well-prepared treatise on the physiological basis of intelligence. There are many valuable publications upon this subject, but we have seen none among them that promises to be so satisfactory as a text-book as Dr. Bastian's work on "The Brain as an Organ of Mind."

We have often discussed this subject, but its great importance, and the disposition to ignore it, nay, the actual dread of it on the part of many well-meaning people, make it necessary that there should be no relaxation in the efforts to diffuse correct ideas concerning it. For thousands of years the mind has been regarded as an entity belonging to an immaterial sphere, in some mysterious way brought into relation with the material order, but still so separated from it, and so far above it, that mental problems must be studied alone, and only by their own peculiar methods. This is the metaphysical point of view which was universally pursued before science arose, and is still the prevailing method of regarding mental phenomena. But it is a partial method, dealing only with one side of the subject, and lacking the foundation that is necessary to give scientific clearness and validity to the study of mind. Modern science has. given a new extension to mental studies, but it has at the same time greatly complicated them, and introduced a factor requiring laborious and progressive elucidation; and the consequence is, that many prefer the older and easier method, regardless of the character of the results. Multitudes also shrink with a kind of horror from the association of anything material with so pure and spiritual a study as that of mind. Said an eminent spiritual-minded teacher to the writer, "I hate that word 'organization' worse than any other in the language." It is needless to say that this attitude of mind is as far as possible from scientific, and has not truth for its object. Yet the prejudice is powerful, both in paralyzing the minds of individuals and in hindering educational improvement. All the colleges and high schools in the country make loud professions of the thoroughness of their work, and they are every one occupied in dealing with the human brain; but, if there has ever been a book on the brain introduced into one of them for systematic study, we have never heard of it, and we have not been unheedful of the subject. Years are given to the most unspeakable rubbish—to subjects of study so vacant of all use that their continuance is becoming an open scandal; while a knowledge of the laws of the great organ of thought, that "institution of God" which gives law to the mental world, is passed by as unworthy of any serious attention. If the graduates from our colleges, normal schools, academies, and high schools, as they come forth, diploma in hand, were questioned as to the structure, powers, and organic relations of the brain they profess to have been cultivating, would it not be found that their ignorance is quite as great as that of those who have never had the advantage of a higher education? The subject has been too long and too grossly neglected, and we are glad of the appearance of Dr. Bastian's book, as it will take away all excuse for further neglect on the score that there is no suitable manual of the subject adapted to general use. We can give no detailed account of this work within the limits of a notice, and only desire to convey a general idea of its method of treating the subject. There are three modes of arriving at a knowledge of the laws of mind: In the first place, each man has a source of this knowledge within himself. lie carries on the mental operations in his own consciousness, and can observe and analyze them there according to his practice and skill in introspection. This source of acquaintance with mental operations is immediate and direct, and of the highest authority for the individual; but it is incomplete and liable greatly to mislead from this cause. This is known as the subjective field of inquiry. But it is possible to know something about the minds of other people in a different way. We know by experience that mind has its outward expressions, and these expressions in others, which are of the most varied kind, become indications to us of their mental states. In the same manner we acquire a knowledge of the mental activities and 'capacities of the lower animals, which manifest in various degrees the endowment of intelligence. What we observe without, in this way, constitutes the sphere of objective psychology. But there is another capital source of a knowledge of mind, which comes from investigating the organic structures and functions by which it is manifested in all its grades and forms. We here study the brain and nervous system, tracing its evolution from the lowest germ to the highest development, and tracing the growth of the brain of man from its embryonic rudiments to the mature and perfected structure. This branch of the study of the mind is marked off from the others by applying to it the term neurology. The following diagram, from Dr. Bastian's chapter entitled "The Scope of Mind," is designed to show how all these departments of study require to be combined in order to produce a true science of mind:


PSM V17 D867 Elements of the science of the mind.png


Our author does not attempt in this volume to give us a complete exposition of mental science. He has, indeed, to deal with subjective psychology and with objective psychology, but he treats these aspects of mental study in relation to the third great mental division, the organic conditions which are the latest results of scientific investigation. From this point of view, the whole subject assumes a new interest, and becomes far more practical than by the previous partial modes of examination. Dr. Bastian has done all that it was possible to do to bring his topic within the range of popular apprehension. Much of his volume will be read with pleasure and profit by all classes; but much of it also requires study and a mastery of its indispensable technicalities. The work can not be put to its proper and highest use unless the objects of which it treats are to a certain extent made real to the mind of the student. Diagrams, of which there are a great profusion, and finely executed, are helps, but they can not be put in the place of the objects they represent without a sacrifice of the first condition of true scientific knowledge—the bringing of the mind into contact with the real things. But there is happily no serious impediment to this manner of study. The brains and nervous parts of animals are to be had anywhere in abundance and in great variety. It is by no means expected that the reader or student will be able to verify the whole course of illustration in this volume, nor is it at all necessary. But it is necessary that he should become acquainted with the rudiments of the exposition by direct observation, so that he will have clear and precise ideas in relation to its subject matter, such as will conduce to a genuine understanding of the general subject. We commend this work especially to teachers, and venture to affirm that if they will form classes in it, not with a view to the slavish acquisition of its contents, but to master portions of it so that the rest may be read intelligently, it will prove invaluable both as a means and an end of education.

Dr. Bastian's book was written as a contribution to the "International Scientific Series"; but, as the author found it impossible to do justice to the subject within the limits prescribed for those works, his volume has been separately issued in this country.

Degeneration: A Chapter in Darwinism. By Professor E. Ray Lankester, F. R. S. London: Macmillan & Co. 1880. Pp. 15. Price, 75 cents.

Natural selection may have operated to produce present organic forms in three different ways. Organisms may have been elaborated in structure with a growth in variety and complexity of the conditions to which they were subjected; they may have remained for a long period without any change, when the conditions have been immobile; or, the conditions having become simpler, they may have lost in structure. In accounting for present forms, naturalists have given little heed to the last of these processes, but have endeavored to explain nearly all cases (except those of the parasites, which are generally recognized as degenerate forms) on the basis of the first two processes. In the discourse before the British Association, which forms this volume, Professor Lankester takes issue with this view, and argues in support of the thesis that degeneration is an important process in organic evolution. He contends that many problems are helped to a solution by this hypothesis, which without it are hopelessly obscure, and that the evidence in its favor is of a high order. His argument is based upon the evidence furnished by the changes through which the egg passes in its development into the young creature. As is well known, the forms through which it passes are those that belonged to its ancestors, and these are reached in the order, there is good reason to believe, in which they were acquired by these ancestors. This "recapitulative development" is often very imperfect, many characteristics are obscured or obliterated, but none appear that did not at some time belong to the creature's progenitors. Where these changes are distinct, then, the pedigree of an organism can be traced by them with certainty. A number of cases of degeneration are cited by Professor Lankester, the two most important being the ship's barnacle and the ascidian phallusia. In the case of the barnacle, the egg gives rise to an actively swimming nauplius, which after a time fastens its head to a piece of wood and adopts an immobile life. It then loses its organs of touch and sight and power of locomotion its legs being used simply to bring any floating particles of food to its mouth. A more remarkable case of loss of structure is that of the ascidian phallusia, one of a class of sea-animals found incrusting rocks, etc., on the sea-bottom, the individuals being often joined together, forming a plant-like mass. The individual is a tough, leathery mass, shaped somewhat like a bottle, with an opening at each end, through which water continually passes, and possessed of little internal structure. Most of the young of ascidians differ widely from their parents, that of the phallusia the most markedly. The egg of this gives rise to a tadpole which bears a close resemblance in outward form and internal structure to the tadpole of the common frog, both possessing the four distinctive structures of the vertebrata. But, while the tadpole of the frog ascends in the scale of organization, that of the ascidian descends to a form in which its origin is unrecognizable. Without the recapitulative development in this case of the ascidian, Professor Lankester avers that no naturalist would have suspected that it belonged to the vertebrata, and, as this recapitulation is so frequently wanting, and when it exists is often shorn of its "most important part," it is not safe to set limits to the possible occurrence of degeneration. Many forms now supposed to be improvements upon their ancestors may, upon further investigation, be shown to be degenerate. The conditions that he thinks predispose to degeneration are parasitism, fixity or immobility, vegetative nutrition, and excessive reduction of size; and when, therefore, organisms are characterized by these habits or peculiarities, degeneration may be suspected. While Professor Lankester's discussion is confined to zoology, he recognizes the bearing of the hypothesis upon evolution in general—upon man and the arts perfected by him. The general conclusion he reaches is, that while the former universal belief that man and other creatures had degenerated from a previous perfect condition is untrue, the contrary opinion, that development has been a continuous progress from lower forms, is also untrue. The truth lies between the two; there have been both progress and retrogression, and both movements will probably take place in the future as in the past. The constant cultivation of those things that make for progress will alone secure any race from the possibility of degeneration. Full illustrations accompany the text to afford a ready comparison of the forms pointed out. Notes on the relation of the doctrine of development to the theological doctrine of a soul, and on some further cases of degeneration, are appended to the text.

The Obelisk and Freemasonry, according to the Discoveries of Belzoni and Commander Gorringe. By John A. Weisse, M. D. With Illustrations and with the Hieroglyphics of the American and English Obelisks, and Translations into English, by Dr. S. Birch. New York: J. W. Bouton, 706 Broadway. 1880. Pp. 178. Price, 2.00.

The newspapers last spring reported that stones bearing masonic emblems had been discovered in the foundations of the Egyptian obelisk that has since been brought to this city. A description of the emblems by Grand-Master Zola, of the Grand Lodge of Egypt, and a letter from Consul Farman, at Alexandria, confirming the fact that discoveries had been made, were also published. Dr. Weisse, who fully believes in the antiquity of masonry, was presented by Mrs. Belzoni, widow of the celebrated Egyptian traveler, in 1850, with manuscripts, drawings, etc., assuming to show that an institution similar to freemasonry existed in Egypt before pyramids and obelisks. All of these evidences, with other matter and illustrations bearing upon the same point, have been combined in this work, which is curious and interesting if not historical and scientific.

Annual Report upon the Surveys of Northern and Northwestern Lakes and the Mississippi River, in Charge of C. B. Comstock, Major of Engineers, etc.; being Appendix MM of the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers for 1879. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 80.

The report shows progress in the triangulation of Lake Erie, the triangulation connecting Lake Erie with Lake Michigan, the erection of stations for the triangulation running south from Chicago, and water-level observations on the lakes. Progress has also been made on the survey of the Mississippi River. The longitudes and latitudes of Louisiana, Missouri, Rock Island, Illinois, and Red Wing, Minnesota, have been determined. Several of the coast charts of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and charts of the Mississippi south of Memphis, have been completed. Among the important facts noticed is the observation of sand-waves in the Mississippi at Helena, which in water from thirteen to thirty feet deep are moving down the river at an average rate of eighteen feet a day. They had an average length, counting from crest to crest, of about three hundred and thirty feet, an extreme length of about five hundred feet, and an average height of about five feet and an extreme height of eight feet from valley to crest. The existence of sand waves of so large dimensions, and moving with such a velocity, does not seem to have been observed before on the lower Mississippi.

The Microscopist's Annual for 1879, No. 1. New York: The Industrial Publication Company. 1880. Pp. 48. Price, 25 cents.

The object of this publication is to keep ' microscopists informed of what is going on that is of particular interest to them. It contains a list of microscopical societies in the United States and of a few foreign societies, and the names, alphabetically arranged, of manufacturers and dealers in microscopes, objects, apparatus, etc., in the United States and Europe, with other practical information.

The North American Entomologist. July, 1879, to April, 1880. A. R. Grote, Editor. Buffalo, N. Y.: Reinecke, Zesch & Baltz. Monthly. Pp. 8. Price, $2.00 a year.

This magazine was begun with the purpose of presenting original articles of value both to the specialist and the agriculturist on the subject of North American insects and notices of current entomological literature. The articles in the ten numbers before us show the results of careful research, present new facts, and are many of them well illustrated.

Heveenoid: The Rubber of the Future. By Henry A. Mott, Jr., Ph. D., etc. New York: Trow's Printing Company. Pp. 13.

Heveenoid is India-rubber combined with camphor and vulcanized by sulphur. It was invented by Henry Gerner, and is offered as a new product to supplant the common soft and hard vulcanized India-rubber, over which it is claimed to possess many points of superiority. These points are set forth, and the process of manufacture is described, in the pamphlet.

The Oriental and Biblical Journal. Edited by Rev. Stephen D. Peet. Chicago: Jameson & Morse. 1880. Pp. 52. Quarterly. Price, $2.50 a year.

The object of this magazine is to give the results of the latest researches in all the Oriental lands and in the countries of classical history. It is intended also to embrace many subjects of a more general character, such as the manners and customs of all nations, their traditions, mythologies, religious notions, language, and literature. In the present number, Professor T. O. Paine describes two Osirids of ancient Egypt owned by persons in the United States; and, in an article on "The Antiquity of Sacred Writings in the Valley of the Euphrates," Mr. O. D. Miller seeks to prove that the materials of the Book of Genesis were derived through Abraham from the same originals whence the oldest Chaldean writings came.

The Thousand Islands of the River St. Lawrence; with Descriptions of their Scenery, as given by Travelers from Different Countries, at Various Periods, and Historical Notices of Events with which they are associated. Edited by Franklyn B. Hough. Syracuse, N. Y.: Davis, Bardeen & Co. 1879. Pp. 307. Price, $1.25.

The title gives as clear an idea of the character of this book as can be gained from a fuller description. The historical sketch is ample and satisfactory. The travelers' descriptions date from Charlevoix, in 1721, are favorable and unfavorable, and are quoted from a host of authors of various nationalities. They are followed by a chapter on the poetical associations, and by notices of the camp-meeting parks, geology, names, and other features of the islands.

Diagram of the Progress of the Anthracite Coal-Trade of Pennsylvania, with Statistical Tables, etc. By the Messrs. Sheafer, Engineers of Mines, Pottsville, Pa. Chart.

This diagram is designed to accompany a paper which was read before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at its meeting for 1879. It shows the gradual development of the trade, and the dates of the opening of new avenues to the market. An accompanying diagram shows the estimated quantity of anthracite coal in the three several coal-fields of Pennsylvania, and the relative amount of waste and quantity mined. Another cut represents a cross-section in the southern anthracite coal-field of Pennsylvania. The tables show a variety of facts bearing on the subject, in Pennsylvania, the United States, and the world.

American Health Primers.—The Summer and its Diseases. By James C. Wilson, M. D. Winter and its Dangers. By Hamilton Osgood, M. D. The Throat and the Voice. By J. Solis Cohen, M. D. Brain-work and Overwork. By Dr. H. C. Wood. Philadelphia: Presley Blakiston. 1879 and 1880. Pp. 126 to 160. Price, 50 cents each.

These primers are prepared for the purpose of diffusing as widely and cheaply as possible a knowledge of the elementary facts of preventive medicine and the bearings and applications of the latest and best researches in medical and hygienic science, and of teaching people how to take care of themselves, their children, etc. They are written from an American point of view, with especial reference to our climate, sanitary legislation, and modes of life. The whole series is under the general supervision of Dr. W. W. Keen. The first volume, whose title is given above, considers each of the common special diseases of summer, and the means of preventing and curing them, and has a chapter on the skin in summer and its maladies. The second work enforces the need of suitable clothing, care in bathing, ample provision of pure fresh air, and out-of-door exercise in winter. In the third volume, the structure, care, and several diseases of the throat are treated of in separate chapters, and a second part is devoted to the voice and its cultivation. In the last primer of the list are discussed the subjects of the "Causes of Nervous Trouble," "Work," "Rest in Labor," "Rest in Recreation" and "Rest in Sleep."

Memoirs of the Science Department, University of Tokio, Japan. Vol. II. On Mining and Mines in Japan. By C. Netto, M. E., Professor of Mining and Metallurgy, University of Tokio. Published by the University, Tokio. 2539 (1879). Pp. 56, with Plates.

This work comprises the substance of a lecture which was delivered before a German society, and has been translated into English to make it more accessible to Japanese students. The useful minerals in Japan, ranked nearly according to their importance, are coal, copper, silver, gold, iron, kaolin, petroleum, sulphur, lead, antimony, tin, cobalt, quicksilver, marble, jasper, agate, amber, graphite. The processes of mining and reducing the ores are described, after which is given a summary of the Japanese mining law, and a review of the measures that have been adopted or are contemplated by the Government for the encouragement of mining. Modern methods are shown to have been adopted in several of the mines, and their introduction has been attended with increase of production. The Government at present carries on a number of mines, into which it has introduced modern model works, partly for the sake of setting a good example to private owners. It is its policy, however, to surrender its establishments when they have become well organized, to be worked by private citizens. Six large plates give representations of the tools used by the Japanese in mining.

The American Journal of Philology. Edited by Basil Gildersleeve, Professor of Greek in Johns Hopkins University. Vol. I., No. 2. May, 1880. Baltimore: the Editor. New York and London: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 126. Four numbers a year. Subscription price, $3.00.

This journal is open to original contributions in all departments of philology, gives condensed reports of current philological work, summaries of the chief articles in the principal philological journals of Europe, and keeps watch over the fragmentary and occasional literature to which the isolated American scholar seldom has full access. The present number has an article on "Recent Investigations of Grimm's Law," by H. C. G. Brandt; three articles on Greek and Latin subjects, by F. D. Allen, C. D. Morris, and M. W. Humphreys; and two on French subjects, by B. F. O'Connor and Samuel Garner.

First Annual Report of the Department of Statistics and Geology of the State of Indiana, 1879, to the Governor. Indianapolis: Douglass & Carlon. Pp. 515.

This report embraces ninety-nine tables of agricultural, mercantile, manufacturing, financial, and other statistics, by counties and townships. The report of the Indiana State Health Commission, which is embodied with the general report, embraces papers on "Health in the Schoolroom," by President Moss, of the State University; "Topography and Climate," by Professor Campbell, of Wabash College; "Decomposing Organic Matter, Sewage, and Drainage," by Dr. G. W. Burton; "The Influence of Popular Customs, Habits, and Heredity, on Public Health and Morals," by Dr. J. W. Hervey; and "The Influence of Geology upon Local Diseases," by E. T. Cox, late State Geologist.

Macmillan & Co. have in press, for publication in the early fall, a book which is likely to be of value to the medical profession, and of advantage to the general public; it is entitled "Food for Invalids," and is written by Dr. J. Milner Fothergill, of London, and Dr. H. C. Wood, of Philadelphia.

Henry George's "Progress and Poverty" has been translated into German by F. Gutschon, and will be shortly published by Stude, of Berlin.



Report to the Trustees of the "James Lick Trust" of Observations made on Mount Hamilton, with reference to the Location of Lick Observatory. By S. W. Burnham. Illustrated. Chicago: Knight & Leonard. 1880. Pp. 32.

Quarterly Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Statistics relative to Imports and Exports, Immigration, and Navigation of the United States, for the Three Months ending March 31, 1880. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1880. Pp. 190.

Adirondack Survey: Report on Iron Deposits, etc. By George Chahoon. Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. 1880. Pp. 16.

Electricity: Elementary Guide-Book for Practical Experiments and Self-Study. By Professor Curt W. Meyer. With Illustrations. New York. 1880. Pp. 25. 25 cents.

The Claims of Science, for its own Sake, upon the Medical Profession. Address, by Professor John W. Mallet, M. D., of the University of Virginia. Baltimore: J. W. Borst & Co. 1880. Pp. 28.

Medical Science in Conflict with Materialism. By Eugene Grissom, M. D., LL.D. Wilmington, N. C.: Jackson & Bell. 1880. Pp. 31.

Notes on the Flowering of Saxifraga Sarmentosa. By Professor J. E. Todd. Reprint from "American Naturalist." Illustrated. Pp. 6.

Ophthalmic Operations, with Remarks on After-Treatment, By A. Sibley Campbell, M. D. Augusta, Ga. Pp. 35.

The Laterite of the Indian Peninsula. By W. J. McGee. Reprint from "The Geological Magazine." Pp. 4.

Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the. Chicago Astronomical Society, with Report of the Director of the Dearborn Observatory. Illustrated. Chicago: Knight & Leonard. 1880. Pp. 16.

Review of Stratigraphical Geology of Eastern Ohio. By Professor Edward Orton. Columbus: Nevins & Myers. 1880. Pp. 33.

American Natural Cement. By F. O. Norton. Illustrated. Pp. 18.

Circulars of Information of the Bureau of Education. No. 2. 1880. Washington: Government Printing-office. 1880. Pp. 111.

Introduction to the Study of Mortuary Customs among the North American Indians. By Dr. H. C. Yarrow. Washington: Government Printing-Office. 1880. Pp. 114.

What to do First in Accidents or Poisoning. By Charles W. Dalles. M. D. Illustrated. Philadelphia: Presley Blakiston. 1880. Pp. 70. 50 cents.

The Skin in Health and Disease. By L. Duncan Bulkley, M. D. Philadelphia: Presley Blakiston. 1680. Pp. 148. 50 cents.

Manual of Hydraulic Mining for the Use of the Practical Miner. By T. F. Van Wagener, E. M. New York: D. Van Nostrand. 1880. Pp. 93.

The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel: External Evidences. By Ezra Abbott, D. D., LL.D. Boston: George H. Ellis. 1880. Pp. 104. 75 cents.

Qualitative Chemical Analysis: a Guide in the Practical Study of Chemistry and in the Work of Analysis. By Silas H. Douglas, M. A., M. D., and Albert B. Prescott, M. D., F. C. S. With a Study of Oxidation and Reduction by Otis Coe Johnson, M. A. New York: D. Van Nostrand. 1880. Pp. 305.

Deep-Sea Sounding and Dredging: a Description and Discussion of the Methods and Appliances used on Board the Coast and Geodetic Survey Steamer "Blake." By Charles D. Sigsbee, Lieutenant Commander, U. S. N. Illustrated. Washington: Government Printing-office. 1880. Pp. 200.