Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/560

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552

POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Scientific Literature.

THE FOUNDATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE.

Little doubt can exist longer that the coolness which marked the relationship between Science and Philosophy from about 1840 until within the last decade is passing away rapidly. Thanks partly to the development of experimental psychology, partly to the broader training given at our colleges, where science has won a recognized place in the undergraduate course, the younger men who specialize in philosophy possess some acquaintance with the scientific attitude and temper. To them, and to the professed votary of science, the new work, entitled 'Foundations of Knowledge,' by Professor Ormond, of Princeton (Macmillan), can not fail to present some attractive and some curious considerations. In witness of his sympathy with the modern outlook, and to a certain extent under pressure of its demands, the 'McCosh Professor,' of all people, has striven hard to adopt an experiential basis. He sees quite clearly that neither the hide-bound empiricism of the traditional English school, nor the vaulting a priori dialectic of Hegel and his English-speaking derivants, suffice to philosophical salvation at present. Accordingly, he has provided a sober, straightforward analysis of the implications hidden under such terms as Experience, Knowledge, Reality. This forms the First Part of his essay. Having thus expelled traditional subjects of contention, he proceeds to consider the various characteristic ways in which knowledge grows from a less to a more complex synthesis of things. In this connection, he deals with the same material upon which metaphysicians have racked their brains time out of mind—Space, Time, Quantity, Quality, Cause, Substance, taking the stage successively. And it must be said that, although Professor Ormond's style is a trifle heavy, he contrives to set forth some sensible, fresh and, moreover, plain conclusions. But, as has been hinted, these matters are ancient history with all philosophers, as with some scientific workers. And so, this Second Part of the work does not stop here. As many are aware, the ideas just mentioned may be called static; and the modern tendency—very strong in science, equally strong with the younger philosophical men—makes its presence felt in Professor Ormond's discussion of dynamic aspects of experience. The conception of a social mind, leading to the ideas of relationship, interdependence and unitary mental life expressing itself in individuals, has attracted his close attention. It can hardly be said that he has embraced all the conclusions to which such conceptions lead necessarily. He makes reservations, or rather, the habit of his mind and the influences of his education induce him to stop short midway in his progress. Consequently, it turns out, in the Third Part of the book, that human experience possesses a 'transcendent or superordinary element.' Here, it seems, philosophy finds its peculiar work, while science deals with the ordinary or relative. Even a superficial acquaintance with the history of thought reminds us that this is a very old idea; one, too, which, like other old ideas, has been petarded often. But Professor Ormond presents it in a fresh way, and in as reasonable fashion as it is capable of assuming. Not that he justifies it, for it cannot be justified, except by Deity. At the same time, through its instrumentality he calls attention to one aspect of knowledge that has been subject to neglect of late. From this brief