Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/664

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646
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

happen to like. It recently tried to fasten the imputation of materialism upon Mr. Douglas Spalding, on account of his psychological views; but that gentleman repelled the charge, and, apparently in much confusion over the subject, the Spectator now formally asks, "What is modern materialism?"—a question which it might better have settled, for its own guidance, some time ago. And the answer which the Spectator gives to its own question is certainly extraordinary. In the first place, it informs us what materialism is not; and, strange to stay, it declares that a belief in the materiality of the soul—that its qualities are physical, visible, or tangible, instead of spiritual—is not materialism. The editor says: "It is not properly, we think, materialism to believe, as some very eminent thinkers, and some very eminent and (in their day) orthodox ecclesiastics have believed, that the soul of man is a physical entity, existing only at some particular point of space." On the other hand, the Spectator affirms that the pure idealist, who goes so far as to deny the existence of matter, and to resolve all things into immaterial or spiritual agencies, may yet be a materialist. Hence, according to this oracle, he who believes in nothing but matter need not be a materialist; and he who believes in nothing but spirit may still be liable to the reproach of materialism. But, if materialism has nothing to do with the question of matter and spirit, in what does it consist? Why, according to the Spectator, it consists in believing that the universe unfolds from a lower into a higher state, and "that the higher order of phenomena are strictly dependent on the lower." Nor does it make any difference if the universe is held to have been caused and to be governed by a Creative Spirit; if that government proceeds by the method of a gradual unfolding from the lower to the higher, he who believes it is a materialist. And so, in the last exigency of polemics, an obnoxious term is wrenched from its strict and long-sanctioned significance to be used simply as a vehicle of opprobrium. The Spectator would have been equally honest and less absurd if it had compressed its article into two lines as follows: "What is modern materialism? A dirty label to be plastered upon the evolutionists."

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Prehistoric Races of the United States of America. By J. W. Foster, LL.D. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co., 1873, pp. 415, price $5.00.

In briefly referring last month to the sudden and lamented death of Dr. Foster, we mentioned that he had just completed a new work on the prehistoric American races. A careful examination of the book has satisfied us that it is one of the most interesting and important contributions to American archæology that have yet appeared, and will take rank with the leading treatises upon the general subject by European archaeologists. We had thought of making some extracts from the volume, but it is so full of interest, from beginning to end, as to make selection perplexing, and were it not for the restraints of copyright we should be tempted to run the whole work through The Popular Science Monthly, as it contains just that kind of information, in clear, compressed, and intelligible form, which is adapted to the mass of readers. Although drawing upon various authentic sources for his facts, Dr. Foster was very far from being a mere compiler. He had an enthusiastic interest in the question, and pursued it by direct observation and extensive original inquiries. The author explains how he was attracted to the investigation, in the opening passage of his preface. He says: "In early manhood, when, for the first time, I gazed upon the works of that mysterious people known as the mound-builders, my mind received a class of impressions which subsequent years have failed to efface. These works are in the vicinity of Newark, Ohio; and, although not the most stupendous, are the most elaborate in the whole series. It was a bright summer's morning,