Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/430

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or less open to these objections, do they really stand against the English school of to-day, and has the German school met them in any adequate or systematic way? History is, of course, important; but scholars may dig in history to the end of time to no purpose if they can not reduce their results to organized knowledge. We have the living facts all before us and all around us, open to immediate observation, to be directly studied in their actual relations, and, until the positive and palpable realities of experience are first mastered and reduced to valid method, it is useless to go back into distant ages to study these same phenomena in the vague representations of a history written in utter ignorance of the bare fact of the existence of such a subject as political economy. As well turn the anatomist away from his actual dissections to get help from history by the study of old Arabian treatises, or cutting up Egyptian mummies. History is important; but it is of very subordinate importance, and must be preceded by the scientific investigation of actual facts and laws wherever these are accessible to study. German erudition may add to the rubbish-heaps of chaotic lore regarding the economic life of ancient peoples; but the question remains how German scholars are grappling with the problems of present economic experience. We fail to find evidence that they are making much headway in this direction. Can it be that they have fled to history, "in order to ally themselves with the great reformers in politics, in jurisprudence, and in theology," because of incompetence to deal with this vast subject as it stands in our modern civilization by the strictly scientific method? Whatever view we may take of the extent of the law of evolution, it is at any rate the key of human progress and of social history. Has the historical school recognized it? On the contrary, we must look to England for the thinkers who have made this vast step in the advance of historical method. The monumental work, which complies with all Dr. Ely's requirements, which consists wholly of systematized data and abstains entirely from theory, which considers economical facts in connection with all the other elements of society, which classifies the comprehensive results of investigation with the simple view of drawing scientific conclusions, and which is, moreover, grounded upon the principle of historical development, is an English enterprise—a system of descriptive sociology representing the elements of society in seventy-two communities, past and present, civilized and uncivilized, and treating of civilizations extinct, decayed, and still flourishing. But this valuable contribution to comparative sociology, though prepared with immense labor from his own point of view, and making an epoch in the progress of social science, is not even referred to in Dr. Ely's monograph.

Practical Essays. By Alexander Bain, LL. D. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 338. Price, $1.50.

Those who are familiar with the intellectual individuality of Professor Bain and the range of his studies will be prepared to form some idea of the scope and character of this volume of essays, which is in great part a reprint of articles first contributed to reviews. But the title of the volume indicates a characteristic which might not readily be inferred from the quality of Professor Bain's previous works, many of which are scientific and speculative, while the papers which make up this book are of an eminently practical kind. There is much novelty and originality in many of the suggestions made, but the topics selected, and their mode of treatment, will be found useful and helpful to a large number of readers. The first two essays, on "Common Errors of the Mind," are especially of this practical character, and derive interest from the thorough psychological preparation of the writer. The next two essays have an educational bearing; the one on "Competitive Examinations," and the other on the "Classical Controversy." The fifth article is of particular practical interest to students as delineating the mode of treating philosophical questions in debating societies. Dr. Bain considers "The University Ideal" in his sixth article; and the seventh, which is perhaps the most interesting of all, is a chapter omitted from the author's "Science of Education," and is mainly devoted to the methods of self-education by means of books. This essay abounds in instructive suggestions. The eighth article is on "Sectarian Creeds and Subscription to Articles."