Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/645

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627
LITERARY NOTICES.

us to go into this inquiry, but the case was so well stated, the other day, in relation to Mr. Mill, in the editorial columns of the New York Times, that we cannot do better than to quote a passage or two from the article. The writer says:

"Much as Mr. Mill had labored in the field of modern metaphysics, he was by no means so familiar with the modes of reasoning of modern science. Had he been more so, he could never have indulged in his irreverent and almost flippant objections to the perfection and the ends of the workings of Nature. Nor would he have been so confident of the tendencies in Nature toward pain and degeneracy. The truth is, to the modern natural philosopher Nature is by no means so simple a machinery, or collection of guided forces, as it was to the investigator even twenty years since. Darwinism has changed all that. The simplest results in natural phenomena are plainly the effects and balancings of countless forces and forms of life, perhaps through millions of ages. The aspect and features, for instance, of a summer field—its flowers, insects, shrubbery, and animals, the soil and rocks and contour, the very hue of the flowers and the color of the insects—every simple phenomenon in it is the result and final balance of struggling forms of life and opposing forces, which must have been working under a guiding hand to produce this effect for 'eons of eons.' The philosopher who should say that this did not show contrivance, or the perfection he expected, or that this complicated machinery suffered from jars, friction, and defects, would now, in the judgment of the most skeptical scientific men, be like a savage criticising the machinery of a steam-engine or the operations of a Babbage counting-machine. The matter is too complicated for any human observer to form any intelligent opinion upon. He neither sees the beginning nor the end. He is not certain that he can trace out a few threads of the intertwined web, even for a short distance. His best theory, that of 'the survival of the fittest,' is only a negative theory. It shows why forms of life are destroyed, but never 'the origin of species.' The only thing which a philosophical observer can do with any reason is to observe, during the short space of human history, the drift of things. Now, modern science, whether it be correctly based or not, is singularly opposed to Mr. Mill's pessimism in this.

"According to Darwinism, at least (which Mr. Mill certainly would recognize as a good working hypothesis), there is nothing in the universe existing or created for pain alone. Every instrument of destruction or torture—the claws of the tiger, the sting of the hornet, the venom of the rattlesnake, the teeth of the shark, the beak of the hawk—are not designed, or have not arisen, to give pain without purpose. They are all originally means of defense, or means of gaining sustenance, or weapons of attack in the struggle for food, or variations of harmless organs. Pain is incidental to them. And pain, in the Darwinian theory, is never an object per se, except as it tends to improve the subject. We are not now defending this theory of the universe; we only urge that modern science, on which Mr. Mill so confidently rests, does not present us with a universe where pain is the apparent object of creation, or where it has no useful ends.

"Moreover, Mr. Mill would be surprised to find that under the Darwinian hypothesis there is no degeneracy of the world, no drift toward the worst. Nature, to the Darwinian, is by no means so black as the elder and younger Mills paint her. According to the development hypothesis, there is an eternal progressive movement through the whole universe toward higher forms of life; in other words, modern science believes in necessary and ever-continuing advance. But a current toward the Best, a plan of the Cosmos which points toward perfection, a drift in the direction of what is complete, a movement like that of the stars of heaven, continuing slowly but surely through countless millions of ages, toward one centre of the universe—the perfectly Good—is surely one of the grandest of all indications in natural theology of a benevolent and perfect Creator. And for an observer, who has but a moment's time for observation, to criticise the movement because it is slow, reaches the height of irreverence and conceit."

The Elements of the Psychology of Cognition. By Robert Jardine, B. D., D. E. Sc. Macmillan & Co. 289 pp. Price, $2.

This volume has nothing marked about it that calls for attention. It belongs to a class, already numerous, which purport to be introductions to the study of the human mind. It is metaphysical in its method, and old in its inculcations. While the author designs it "principally for the use of students" who are beginning their philosophical studies, he confesses to another purpose, as follows: "The writer is ready