Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/429

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
415
LITERARY NOTICES.

the present age was a tendency to idiocy, which he defined as a condition in which mere sensations dominate and suppress mental activity: or, in other words, a life of excessive objectivity and defective subjectivity—insanity, according to him, being the exactly opposite condition. If The Nation is right in its diagnosis of present day tendencies, Comte was not very far wrong; and as that journal is certainly right in part, the question arises, What are we going to do about it? The first thing to do is clearly to recognize the nature and proportions of the evil. Illustrations in books and papers are useful when they either serve an aesthetic purpose or convey information of value which could not otherwise be as effectively conveyed. In scientific works they are, of course, indispensable. On the other hand, they do harm and not good when they minister to simple intellectual indolence, or help to gratify an aimless and idle curiosity. We are inclined to think that in children's books, even good illustrations (from an artistic point of view) may have the specific disadvantageous result of checking the exercise of imagination. The mind in childhood can make its own pictures, and will do so if nobody steps in with a picture ready made. With pictures illustrating every phase and turn of a story, there is little left for imagination to do and the faculty is apt to remain undeveloped for want of exercise. And an undeveloped imagination means an undeveloped, or at least ill-developed, individuality. There has been, we believe, a great deal of misunderstanding on this point in the past. It has been assumed that the more pictures children could be shown the more their minds would be stimulated; but, for the reason stated we believe this to be a great mistake. We can not further discuss the subject to-day, but it is manifestly one of much importance for old and young. Idiocy, or anything approaching to it, is not a condition of mind to be lightly cultivated.

 

 

THE "SAVAGERY" OF BELIEVING IN GHOSTS.

It is a good rule that a scientific writer, before castigating the expressions of another, should acquire a right comprehension of what is meant by them. The Popular Science News seems to have forgotten this rule. Referring to our article in the March number on The Everlasting Ghost, that periodical says that, just like "any superstitious savage," we had assumed that the appearances described by the Rev. Mr. Haweis as having developed themselves on certain photographic plates were "ghost photographs." If our contemporary had read the papers in the case more carefully—Mr. Haweis's article, for instance, or even only the heading of it, or had even read our article with closer attention to its bearing—it would have observed that the precise thing we were ridiculing was the assumption that the appearances on the plate were "ghost photographs," and would then have been able to direct its shafts toward the right quarter. We do not underrate the value of research in this domain, or in any part of the field of unexplained phenomena styled psychical: but we do condemn the spirit that enters upon the investigation occupied with the idea that a certain thing—as, for example, the ghosts in this case—is to be found. The savagery in the present instance, if there be any, appears to be illustrated in the uncontrolled impulsiveness that prompted an attack where there was no offense.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Education from a National Standpoint. By Alfred Fouillée. International Education Series. Vol. XXIII. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 332. Price, $1.50.

Vive la république!—the welfare of the nation—is the keynote of this book. Educators who would have a complete and well-balanced understanding of their own field should not omit to study the relation of edu-