Popular Science Monthly/Volume 7/October 1875/Literary Notices

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LITERARY NOTICES.

Problems of Life and Mind. By George Henry Lewes. First Series, Vol. II. Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co., pp. 487. Price, $3.

The "problems" discussed by Mr. Lewes in the two volumes which constitute his first series are six in number. Of these, the first, "Limitations of Knowledge," was considered in the preceding volume; the rest are considered in the volume before us. The author's purpose in this series is "to lay down the foundations of a creed, by exhibiting the method which determines all successful inquiry, and by specifying certain general results reached on that method." Thoroughly imbued with the scientific spirit, Mr. Lewes applies to metaphysical discussions the same methods which have in modern times given such brilliant results in the field of natural science. The problems which he discusses arc among the most intricate which have worried the mind of man from the dawn of reason. They have been the object of profound study ever since philosophy first had a place in human thought; men have viewed them from every side, and attempted their solution in every conceivable way, but still they remain in all their pristine obscurity. The scientific method of investigation has at last been brought to bear upon these problems, and already we seem to be gaining some headway, under the guidance of Spencer, Bain, Lewes, and their fellows.

The first problem discussed in the volume before us is that of Certitude. The author's one test of truth, or of certitude, is the principle of equivalence. When two terms have the same import, i. e., are equivalent they may be predicated of one another; and all errors, both in reasoning and conduct, arise from assuming equivalence in terms where it does not exist. Mathematical truths are exact, necessary, only when the terms in which they are stated are equivalent; mathematical propositions become inexact, or contingent, whenever they are applied to cases involving conditions not included in the terms. The objection might be made that this reduces truth to an identical proposition—"a thing is itself." Yet, in propounding any truth, what more does one intend than to express what the facts are; and what is a statement of facts more than the assertion that they are what they are? When the two terms of a proposition can be thus shown to be equivalent, the proposition is a truth, and we possess certitude of it. Mr. Lewes shows that this principle of equivalence is the same as the Universal Postulate of Herbert Spencer, of which it is merely the positive statement. Our author's principle is, "Truth is the equivalence of its terms." He states Spencer's principle as follows: "Whenever a subject and predicate are so united that the one term is incapable of appearing to thought without the other, the proposition is necessary; and its negative being unthinkable, the proposition itself must be true." Our author further shows that the three scholastic principles, Identity, Contradiction, and Ratio Sufficiens, are all reducible to the principle of equivalence.

In discussing his second [third] problem, "From the Known to the Unknown," the author analyzes the process of the growth of knowledge; the operation called by logicians Judgment; the process of Ratiocination; Induction, Deduction, and Reduction. He points out the capital error of the subjective or speculative method of advancing from the known to the unknown, as distinguished from the objective or scientific method. The metaphysical thinker imposes his conceptions on phenomena, instead of observing them-; he trusts the validity of inferences he has not tested. The scientific thinker, on the contrary, is, or ought to be, on his guard against unverified deduction, and treats it as a tentative process. The process called by the author Reduction serves in the hands of the scientific investigator as a check, a test, of his Inductions and deductions. Deduction and induction extend knowledge by generalizing acquired results, but reduction criticises these results—retraces their formation step by step, and thus gives to inference a firm basis on sensation. Thus checked and tested at every step, induction and deduction become very serviceable instruments for the discovery of truth. Without such checks and tests their results are simply illusory.

But space fails us to follow the author in his discussion of the remaining three problems, "Matter and Force," "Force and Cause," and "The Absolute in the Correlations of Feeling and Motion." This work of Mr. Lewes is undoubtedly entitled to rank among the highest intellectual efforts of the age.

Printing for the Blind. Report of a Committee of the Social Science Association, at the General Session in Detroit, Michigan, May, 1875. Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers.

This report would have been more satisfactory had it been prepared by some person familiar with the education of the blind. Some of its statements are so remarkable that we are unwilling to accept them until they have been indorsed by those actually engaged in the work of teaching the blind. In it we are informed that the blind acquire knowledge through reading "painfully," that "they study geography, algebra, and geometry under heavy disadvantages;" that "composition is for them very difficult because of the time and labor required for the mechanical operation of writing;" that "even the best-equipped asylums {sic) are but scantily provided with the most indispensable tools for studying geography and arithmetic." All this is contrary to the generally-received opinions in reference to the education of the blind. We have heard that blind children of tender years learn to read quickly and easily with their fingers; and that they enjoy "Robinson Crusoe" and the "Old Curiosity-Shop," for example, as much as any children. We had supposed, too, that in the study of mathematics the blind possessed some advantages. We had supposed that the art of composition was the hardest to teach to deaf-mutes, and that eminent blind writers as well as blind mathematicians were numerous. There is no other appliance for instructing children, whether sighted or blind, in geography, so complete as dissected relief-maps. We doubt whether in all the schools of New York such maps are to be found except in the two schools for the blind. Was it elsewhere than in a school for the blind that Mr. Ruggles conceived the ideas of his inventions for facilitating the education of the blind? For this report recommends the founding of an institution to devise and construct such appliances entirely separate from any school for the blind. And its authors find indorsement for this scheme in a resolution adopted by the Association of Teachers for the Blind, which, as we read it, simply declares that that Association had found it impossible to work with Mr. Ruggles. This report presents but one side of the case. We shall wait to hear the other side, that of the teachers of the blind, before we decide upon the subject.

Report of the Astronomer Royal to the Board of Visitors of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Read at the Annual Visitation of the Royal Observatory, June 5, 1875.

In 1835 the present Astronomer Royal (then Director of the Observatory of the University of Cambridge, England) was called to fill the most important astronomical post in the world, namely, the directorship of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. Since that time he has regularly presented to the Board of Visitors of the Royal Observatory an annual report, and of these the fortieth lies before us. In many respects it is like its predecessors; it gives, as they have done, full, even minute accounts of the present condition of the "Buildings and Grounds," of the "Movable Property," of the "Manuscripts," of the "Library," of the "Astronomical Instruments" (in detail), of the "Astronomical Observations" (also in great but necessary detail), of "Spectroscopic and Photographic Observations," of the state of the "Reduction of Astronomical Observations," and of the "Reduction of Photographic and Spectroscopic Observations," of the "Printing" of all the results, of "Magnetic and Meteorological Observations," of the "Chronometers, Time Signals, and Regulation of External Clocks," of the "Personal Establishment," of "Extraneous Work;" and it closes, as its predecessors have done, with a few concise "Remarks" which this year are more interesting and important even than in preceding years.

In other Reports it has been the custom of the Astronomer Royal to draw whatever lessons seemed proper from the work of the past years for the guidance of the observatory in the future, and this has been done in the most concise manner. In this Report the doings of the Observatory in the past and its work for the years to come are spoken of with more freedom and fullness; with so much freedom as to lead some of Mr. Airy's critics in England to speak of it with a kind of fierce joy as his "Valedictory," although nothing is said in it of his retirement. It is impossible to read it without intense interest and without exclaiming, "What a memorable valedictory it would make!"

For forty years the present Astronomer Royal has been the active head of the Greenwich Observatory, and he has been in the most active way concerned in many scientific councils; as he says, "there is not a single assistant of a single instrument in use of those which formed the establishment in 1835," and yet in all these years he has kept steadily one main object in view, and as far as one man can attain it he has attained it. He has gained, with the success of his astronomical plans, the entire and thorough respect and esteem of the scientific world in general, and he may now lay down, if he will, the duties which he has borne so long, sure of the honor and admiration of two generations of his contemporaries.

He points out in this Report, as he has insisted in other Reports, that the Greenwich Observatory was expressly built for promoting methods for determining the longitude at sea, and he shows how the work of Flamsteed, Halley, Bradley, Maskelyne, and Pond (his illustrious predecessors) has been more or less steadily devoted to this object. By none of these, however, has this end been so unremittingly followed as by Airy himself. All the main instruments which the observatory at present possesses, with the exception of the equatorial, may be truly said to have been designed by him with principal reference to the determination of the elements upon which a knowledge of the motion of the moon depends. "Elaborate Star Catalogues" have been formed and immediately published, which are deduced in a uniform manner from the observations, which were made in a uniform way. One steady plan has been followed from 1835 until now, by which results of the very highest value have been attained. The whole astronomical work has been done in one way, and that a wise one; it has been all reduced in one way, probably the best one, and it has been promptly published. This alone would lead to great success. But this is not all: the masses of observations of the moon and major planets which had accumulated from 1750 to 1835 have been carefully taken up, separated, sifted, and discussed upon a predetermined and elaborate plan, and immediately made available to theoretical astronomers. "The lunar reductions are probably the greatest single work ever undertaken in astronomy," so Airy himself says, and he is right beyond a doubt. The needs of astronomy and navigation have been constantly kept in view; the subject of the laws of magnetism in iron ships has been carefully studied, and methods for the correction of ships' compasses have been devised, which are used throughout the world; regular magnetic observations have been maintained; time-signals are sent all over the kingdom daily, and time-balls are dropped from points such that outgoing ships may see them plainly, and thus regulate their chronometers to Greenwich time on the eve of their departure for sea, and multitudes of chronometers have been tested, purchased, rated, and distributed to seagoing vessels and to scientific expeditions. Meteorological phenomena have been scrupulously registered by approved methods.

Extended experiments on the attraction of mountain-masses were made by Maskelyne, and Airy's Haston-Colliery pendulum experiment is too well known to require more than a mention. Constant assistance has been given to the Government in the training of observers for the transit of Venus, for boundary and other surveys, and for comparison and determination of standards of length, and in many other ways, which the Astronomer Royal does not recount in this Report, but which are well known. His own researches on the theories of the moon and planets, and on scores of allied topics, have made the observatory known throughout the world.

True to the traditions which have brought Greenwich its great success, the Astronomer Royal reiterates in this Report the importance of holding fast to "the fundamental idea—" that of meridional observations; and he indicates that if the force of the observatory must be reduced, that reduction should take place in the photographic and spectroscopic work. He says truly that "the [Royal] Observatory is not the place for new physical investigations," but that it is "well adapted for following out any which... have been reduced to laws susceptible of verification by daily observation." He lays down once more and very plainly the principles which have guided him in his long series of useful and honorable labors, and it is well worth the while of all who are interested in astronomy to read this concise expression of them.

We see a new example of how much useful and valuable work may be done in science by the mere force of persistent effort in the right direction, and this is a lesson which America needs to take well to heart. By virtue of attention to it, Greenwich can claim that what Delambre said years ago is now doubly true—that if by some great revolution the sciences had perished, while the collection of Greenwich observations alone, with a few methods of calculation, had survived the general wreck, there would still remain sufficient materials for reconstructing the whole edifice of astronomical science.

A Summer in Norway. With Notes on the Industries, Habits, Customs, and Peculiarities of the People, the History and Institutions of the Country, its Climate, Topography, and Productions. Also an Account of the Red Deer, Reindeer, and Elk. By John Dean Caton, LL. D., ex-Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois. Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co., 1875. Price, $2.50.

We follow with interest the traveler who describes countries and peoples not familiar to us. For this reason we are pleased with Judge Caton's volume, which presents to us a series of pictures, sometimes vividly drawn, of scenery and life on the coast of Norway. His route was from Aalesund, a seaport town in Southern Norway, to Hammerfest, which is more than four degrees within the Arctic Circle, and is the most northerly town in Europe. He also gives an interesting account of a visit to North Cape, made by some traveling companions.

The journey of Judge Caton and his party was by steamers, and nearly all the way among the rocky islands which line the coast. That which seems to have most impressed the party was the perpetual presence of daylight. Day after day the midnight came, but no darkness. This, which was at first pleasing from its novelty, became excessively wearisome before the journey was ended.

The steamer made frequent stops along the coast, but nowhere came alongside the docks to discharge and receive passengers and freight. All this must be done by small boats. The author thought that the most stupid thing he saw in Norway.

Fishing is the principal business of the coast inhabitants the principal season for cod being in February and March. The rocks were in many places covered with these fish drying for market, or else piled in stacks after being dried. The journey was made in midsummer, and the melting snows fed innumerable streams which were tumbling over the rocks. The scenery was everywhere beautiful and grand.

At Hammerfest no ice forms in tidewater during winter, and steamers continue their trips from Christiania to Tromsöe near Hammerfest as in summer. Snow, however, falls on-the ground quite to the coast, and in great quantity on the mountains. This modification of ocean and coast climate is due to the Gulf Stream.

The author speaks in high terms of the manners, habits, and morals of the Norwegians, but less favorably of the Lapps as respects their culture and refinement. Their morals, however, are good. Those from the mountain districts are rich in their flocks of reindeer. Of these he saw immense droves, but they did not relish the odor of Americans, and he could best approach them against the wind. A chapter is devoted to this animal, and we are promised a volume by Judge Caton on the American and European deer and their domestication.

The Sanitary Journal. Edited by Edward Platter, M. D. Toronto: Dudley & Burns. Monthly. $2.00 per annum.

This is a new venture in the periodical field, having commenced its career a few months ago. Both in its editorial and its selected matter it gives evidence of being conducted with ability. It is to be hoped that the enterprise will be so sustained by the Canadian public, that the editor may be enabled to make good his promise of enlarging the Journal at the beginning of next year.

On the Composition of the Ground Atmosphere, together with some examinations of the Air in Smoking-Cars. By Prof. Wm. Ripley Nichols, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Prof. Nichols presents in this paper the results of interesting investigations of the quantity and properties of air contained in the soil under a great variety of circumstances; and especially in respect to changes produced in it by processes of organic decay in the soil at considerable depths. The paper, which is of much value, is embodied in the "Sixth Annual Report of the Massachusetts State Board of Health."

Navigation in Theory and Practice. By Henry Evers, LL. D. 263 pages, 12mo. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1875. Price $1.50.

This book is one of the volumes of an English advanced science series of popular text-books, republished in this country. The work is intended to give the student a clear insight into the theory and practice of navigation. It has been the aim of the writer to make the subject as easy and practical as possible, by presenting the definitions, illustrations, etc., in every variety of aspect. The book comprises thirteen chapters, treating successively and in detail the following subjects: "Definitions and Preliminary Illustrations," "The Compass and its Declination," "The Log, Log-line, and Log-glass," "Plane Sailing," "Traverse Sailing," "Current Sailing," "The Day's Work," "Parallel Sailing," "Middle Latitude Sailing," "Mercator's Sailing," "Great Circle Sailing," "Sailing to Windward or plying to Windward," "Oblique and Current Sailings," and to each chapter are appended numerous examples, illustrations, and exercises.

Contributions to the Theory of Solubility. By Isidor Walz, Ph. D. Philadelphia: Collins, 1875.

This paper is a reprint from the American Chemist for February, 1875, in which the author attempts to trace some relations between the solubility of substances, their specific volume, and chemical constitution.

Solution he defines to be the penetration of the molecules of one or more substances into the intra-molecular spaces of another substance. Under this definition are given five distinct classes of solubility, thus: of solids in liquids, of liquids in liquids, of gases in liquids, of solids in solids, including alloys, and of gases in solids, as diffusion of gases through metals. The subject is carefully treated, and is presented in a perspicuous and agreeable manner.

Harvard University. Bulletin of the Bussey Institution, Jamaica Plain, Boston, Part IV. Cambridge: Press of John Wilson & Son, 1875.

Of the six articles which compose the present number, four are especially important as giving the results of original search. Three of these are by F. H. Storer, Professor of Agricultural Chemistry, and are of direct and practical value. One is a "Record of Trials of Various Fertilizers upon the Plainfield of Bussey Institution," another is a "Report on some Analyses of Salt-Marsh Hay and Bog-Hay," and the third one is on the "Fodder Value of Apples." In this last one Prof. Storer says that, while apples contain a very small percentage of nitrogenous matter, they are not to be over-looked as a food for cattle and swine, and should be used with peas, beans, oil-cake, or other highly-nitrogenized food.

An able article is contributed by Prof. Farlow on "Potato Rot," which is illustrated, and one by Prof. Slade on "The Importance of the Study of Applied Zoölogy to the Practical Agriculturist."

Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, 1874. Preliminary Report on the Mineralogy of Pennsylvania. By F. A. Genth. With an Appendix on the Hydrocarbon Compounds, by Samuel P. Sadtler. Harrisburg: Published by the Board of Commissioners for the Second Geological Survey, 1875.

This report by Prof. Genth, to be followed by a thorough work on the mineralogy of the State, is an excellent hand-book of the minerals of Pennsylvania, and of their localities. Most of the minerals of the State are fully and clearly described, and their analyses, many of which are new, are given. The system of classification adopted is that of Prof Dana, and the report, although submitted as a preliminary one, is indispensable to every student of the mineralogy of Pennsylvania. The report contains a topographical map of the State, and its general thoroughness is shown in its elaborate index.

 

 
PUBLICATIONS RECEIVED.

The Better Way: an Appeal to Men. By A. E. Newton. New York: Wood & Holbrook. Pp. 48.

Primer of Political Economy. By A. B. Mason and J. J. Lalor. Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co. Pp. 67. Price, 75 cents.

Views and Interviews on Journalism. By Charles F. Wingate. New York: F. B. Patterson. Pp. 3/2.

Geological Survey of Indiana, 1874. By E. T. Cox. Pp. 287. Four Maps.

German Classics. Die Piccolomini; edited by J. M. Hart. New York: Putnams. Pp. 250. Price, $1.25.

Contributions to the Laboratory of the Missouri State University. By P. Schweitzer, Ph.D. Pp. 38.

Notes on Certain Explosive Agents. By W. N. Hill, S. B. Boston: John Allen. Pp. 71. Price, $1.00.

Accidents, Emergencies, and Poisons. Pp. 126. Also, Care of the Sick. Pp. 72. Published for free distribution by the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York,

Preventive Medicine. An Address. By Charles C. F. Gay, M.D. Pp. 12.

The Clinical Thermoscope. By E. Seguin, M.D. Pp. 8. New York: Putnams.

Pseudomorphs of Chlorite after Garnet. By R. Pumpelly. With a Plate. Pp. 4.

Affairs at Red Cloud Agency. By Prof. O. C. Marsh. Pp. 38.

Proceedings at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Free Religious Association. Boston: Cochrane & Sampson. Pp. 79. Price 35 cents.

Bacteria. By L. A. Stimson, M. D. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 34.

Examination of Gases from the Meteorite of February 12, 1875. By A. W Wright. Pp. 6.

Report on Trichinosis. By G. Sutton, M.D. Pp. 23.

Catalogue of American, British, German, and French Periodicals. New York: E. Steiger, 22 Frankfort Street. Pp. 16.

On a Fœtal Manatee and Cetacean. By Prof. B. G. Wilder. Pp. 11.

The Age of Ice in Britain. By Prof. Geikie. Pp. 32. Also, Insects of the Forest. By A. S. Packard, Jr. Pp. 32. Boston: Estes & Lauriat. Price, 25 cents each.