Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/575

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557
SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

the need for vivisection will in time wholly pass away, the truths which it is adapted to teach having in the main been acquired. There will then remain as the result of temporary suffering a body of knowledge available for the prevention of suffering, not only in the human race, but among the lower animals as well. What may be called the metaphysics of the subject is difficult to deal with, and we can not follow our Toronto contemporary on that ground. In a practical matter like this we feel that it is safer and better to trust the instincts of humane men; and among those who have approved of a limited and careful use of vivisection are to be found many whose humanity and sensibility no one would doubt. Science and humanity go hand in hand for the simple reason that science is human. In matters of this kind we are therefore disposed to trust the scientific spirit as being essentially a spirit of mercy and benevolence, a minister of good to mankind, and not to mankind only, but to the lower tribes of life as well.

 


Scientific Literature.
SPECIAL BOOKS.

Early in 1895 the reading and thinking world was given something like a galvanic shock by the appearance of Nordau's book on Degeneration. It represented much of the genius of the later nineteenth century—genius that has produced many of the most widely admired works of art and literature—as being a variety of wholesale derangement that was developing in a considerable part of the race. Such a diagnosis could hardly pass unchallenged. The magazinists hastened to answer Nordau. An anonymous English writer put forth a volume controverting his position, and a fellow-countryman of Nordau, Dr. William Hirsch has so modified a work that he had under way as to make it also a reply.[1] Dr. Hirsch's book is first an examination, in the light of the latest advances made in neurology, of the much debated question. How closely is genius related to insanity? After briefly defining the limits of insanity he examines the psychology of genius and then compares the diseased with the supernormal mind. He holds that—

Genius in different departments is referable to the most diverse psychical conditions. Psychical faculties and characters which in one case constitute the essence of genius, in another case are inconsistent with the action of genius. In short, definite psychical characters common to all genius are not to be found. One would seek in vain any common psychological explanation of the greatness of a Paganini and a Bismarck, of a Mozart and a Napoleon.

While he refrains from fitting a definition to either genius or insanity, he does not hesitate to compare the two. He takes up the chief symptoms which other authors have found in both men of genius and the insane. Among these are hallucinations, melancholy, the lively fancy of

  1. Genius and Degeneration. By Dr. William Hirsch. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 333, 8vo. Price, $3.50.