Littell's Living Age/Volume 133/Issue 1722/Miscellany

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In the current number of Mind, Mr. G. H. Lewes gives briefly what seems to be one of the chief positions taken by him in his new volume "The Physical Basis of Mind." He finds that according to usage the word "consciousness" is equivalent to sentience or feeling; that it is also used in a special sense as signifying that we not only feel, but feel or are conscious that we feel. Now Mr. Lewes holds that every neural process implies sensibility, indeed is feeling or consciousness in the general sense of that term; accordingly consciousness, sentience — these neural processes may be said to have "various modes and degrees, such as perception, ideation, emotion, volition, which may be conscious, subconscious, or unconscious." In the last sentence the word "unconscious" describes a mode or degree of sentience which has not given rise to consciousness in the special sense, and Mr. Lewes contends that the word "unconscious" ought to be confined to this usage, that in strictness we should not speak of unconsciousness outside the sphere of sentience. He then proceeds to argue that to describe a neural process as a mere series of physical changes is to say that "organic processes suddenly cease to be organic and become purely physical by a slight change in their relative position in the consensus." The matter of fact of which Mr. Lewes has to persuade his readers is, that "the reflex mechanism necessarily involves sensibility," that a neural process is a feeling.

In a recent communication to the Belgian Academy, M. van Monckhoven describes some improvements in the photographic reproduction of ultra-violet spectra of gases. He employs two large Geissler tubes placed parallel and communicating together by a capillary tube at right angles to them. The spectroscope consists of three 60° prisms of Iceland spar, cut so that the bisector plane of each of their dihedral angles is parallel to the optic axis of the crystal. With such prisms the ordinary and extraordinary spectra do not encroach on one another. The axis of the capillary tube is then made to coincide exactly with that of the collimator of the spectroscope, and the intensity of the light which can be utilized during passage of the current from a Ruhmkorff coil, is found to be very much greater than if the tube were placed, as usual, perpendicularly to the axis of the apparatus. The author recommends using a plate of quartz in place of one of the large tubes of glass, so as to prevent too great absorption of rays of high refrangibility. To give an idea of the exactness with which even the most refrangible bright lines are reproduced, M. van Monckhoven presented three plates representing the solar spectrum, the bright lines of hydrogen combined with those of aluminium (of which the electrodes were formed), and the bright lines of a solar protuberance.

The foundation of a permanent station for help to wrecked vessels on Novaya Zemlya is now in way of execution. We hope that the station will also be used for taking regular meteorological observations. An Eskimo family, which has already wintered for two years on the island, will remain there permanently, and be supplied by the Russian government with all necessaries. Nature.