Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/363

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349
"NATURALISM AND AGNOSTICISM."

the appearance of the moon, and there are various reasons for thinking that the planet can not be a suitable abode for living beings, at least for beings resembling the inhabitants of the earth. Uranus and Neptune are too far away to present any attraction for amateur observation.

 

PROFESSOR WARD ON "NATURALISM AND AGNOSTICISM."
By HERBERT SPENCER.

IN a recent advertisement. Professor Ward's work entitled as above was characterized as "one of the most important contributions to philosophy made in our time in England," and this was joined with the prophecy that it "may even do something to restore to philosophy the prominent place it once occupied in English thought." Along with laudatory expressions, I have observed in some notices reprobation of the manner adopted by Professor Ward in his attack upon my views—I might almost say upon me; and one of the reviewers gives examples of the words he uses—"ridiculous," "absurd," "blunder," "nonsense," "amazing fallacy," "our oracle."

When, some time ago, I glanced at one of the volumes, I came upon a passage which at once stamped the book by displaying the attitude of the writer; but, being then otherwise occupied, I decided not to disturb myself by reading more. Now, however, partly by the reviews I have seen, and partly by the comments of a friend, I have been shown that I can not let the book pass without remark. The assumption that a critic states rightly the doctrine he criticises is so generally made, that in the absence of proof to the contrary his criticisms are almost certain to be regarded as valid. And when the critic is a Cambridge Professor and an Honorary LL. D., the assumption will be thought fully warranted.

Let me set out by quoting some passages disclosing the kind of feeling by which Professor Ward's criticisms are influenced, if not prompted. In his preface he says:—

"When at length Naturalism, is forced to take account of the facts of life and mind, we find the strain on the mechanical theory is more than it will bear. Mr. Spencer has blandly to confess that 'two volumes' of his Synthetic Philosophy are missing, the volumes that should connect inorganic with biological, evolution."

Respecting the first of these sentences, I have only to remark that I have said (as in First Principles, § 62) and repeatedly im-