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No man can write well on any subject of which he has not had a living experience; and it must always be regarded as a misfortune when persons of a prosaic and utilitarian habit of mind feci themselves called upon to put forth judicial utterances on a matter which they can only know at second-hand, or, more properly speaking, labour under a natural capacity of comprehending. When prosaic and matter-of-fact persons meddle with the ideal, they either write nonsense, or very inadequate, very frigid, and altogether soulless sense. In contrast with Mac Vicar and Shairp, in whose pages the Three Graces, the true, the good, and the beautiful, in native sisterhood twine their sacred dance together before the divine source of all good, 'tis sad to see the Scottish philosophy in one of its latest phases reverting to the mere tabulation of uuinspired groups, without any reference to the one great source, which alone is able to impart to these groups the unity and the significance which they undoubtedly possess. When such a writer as Professor Bain in his work "On the Emotions and the Will," discourses on ideal beauty, admirable as is the talent of various kinds which the book displays, one always feels as in a church where the walls are curiously decorated with sacred paintings, but where, in turning round, the spectator finds the pedestal in the centre of the shrine without the goddess. Always and everywhere, and in all matters, as Aratus says in the prefatory lines to his book on astronomy, we mortals are in need of Jove—iravra Bt Ai6e Kt\p{)/it9a 7ravrtc—but specially in the contemplation of the beauty and grandeur of the universe, which, if it is not felt indeed to be a temple to worship in, must dwindle down into a toyshop to amuse children, or a farce for fools to laugh at.

John Stuart Blackie.


Katttre and Thought: An Introduction to a Natural
PkiloMophy. By St. Gboros Biivabt. Loudon:
Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. 1832.

A BOOK from Mr. Mivart, which gives his latest views on all the more important philosophical problems of the time, cannot fail to be of interest, not only on account of the intellectual attainments and dialectic subtlety of the author himself, but also because we feel that his utterances represent the collective wisdom of the school of theological thinking to which he belongs.

Mr. Mivart, as is well known, is an evolutionist to the extent of believing in the transmutation of species, but agrees with Wallace and disagrees with Darwin in holding that an exception to the otherwise general law of evolution must be made in the case of the human species; at any rate, so far as the human mind is concerned. His present work is mainly devoted to a repetition and extension of his previously published arguments on this topic.

So far as mere style is concerned, we are doubtful whether theauthor has chosen a good model. He has thrown the work into theform of a dialogue between two friends, whom he names Maxwell* and Frankland, the former holding the views which are held by Mr. Mivart himself, and the latter being represented as io a state of mental perplexity due to his study of agnostic teaching, from which perplexity, however, he is eventually redeemed by the course of instruction which he receives in his conversation with Maxwell. We say that we are doubtful whether the dialogue form was a good one for Mr. Mivart to choose; for nowadays, at all events, when artistic ability has developed so largely in the direction of novelwriting, this form ought not to be chosen as the vehicle of philosophical discussion, unless the writer happens to possess some measure of dramatic power; otherwise his dialogue is sure to sound unnatural, even if it does not, as in the present instance, unintentionally trea


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pass upon the domain of comedy. In addition to all his intellectual troubles, poor Frankland is in love, and his Emily is the ward of an obstinate old guardian, who will not entertain the idea of an engagement. Such being the state of matters, Emily presents the remarkable peculiarity of suddenly and unexpectedly making her appearance during the course of the dialogues, not only with a most perturbing influence upon Frankland, but with an almost providential appropriateness to the arguments which are at that moment being advanced by Maxwell. One instance will suffice to show what we mean.

"Frankland. I shall be disposed to agree with you if, in our next discussion, you can dispose of my idealistic objections—my scepticism, that is, as to our real knowledge of the external world as anything external to us and independent of our existence. You see, in order to—

"Maxwell. What is the matter, Frankland? Why, you tremble like an aspen !—are you ill?

"Frankland. My dear fellow, there is Emily and her mother—those ladies in black at the door of the Burlington Hotel!" &c.

No doubt—for the moment, at all events—the sudden appearance of the ladies in black must have dispelled Frankland's sceptical doubts as to the reality of the external world much more effectually than could any of the dry logic which was being supplied by Maxwell; but it is equally certain that it does so at the cost of an exceedingly ludicrous effect upon the reader.

But, quitting all considerations of form, and coming to the matter which Mr. Mivart has presented in his work, we shall briefly run through, and as briefly comment upon, all the more important points.

The first dialogue is concerned with the " Inner World." Here the object of the writer is to show that the attitude of scepticism is un reason able, and his argument, briefly put, is as follows. First, he shows that the " explicit recognition" of a feeling or state of consciousness is posterior to the "explicit recognition" of the self which is the subject of such feeling or state. And thus far we are quite prepared to go with him, if it is remembered that by " explicit recognition" of a feeling he means, not the feeling itself, but the knowledge of having the feeling, and the consequent power of thinking about it as a feeling. Next, he shows that if we have no scepticism concerning the existence of our own feelings and, a fortiori, concerning the existence of our own selves, it follows that we must further accept memory as "generally trustworthy." For, "if we can trust the analysis of our direct perception of our present activity into 'self and 'states/ we may trust the analysis of our direct perception of our past activity into 'self and 'states' also. If yon trust neither the one nor the other, then you cannot logically make one single affirmation, or even, as I said before, coherently think." Thus far, also, we agree with the writer, and, for the sake of con« venience, we further accept his classification of sceptics into active and passive—or those who profess to doubt the plainest truths, such as that of their own existence, and therefore logically exclude themselves from arguing at all, seeing that to argue would be to imply belief in the very things which are verbally denied; and those whose scepticism is "a simple negative or passive absence of all conviction." It is, therefore, only with the latter class that argument can be concerned.

These preliminary considerations having been put, Mr. Mivart goes on to vindicate the process of reasoning as a trustworthy process "—i.e., " that if certain propositions be taken for granted, we can from them deduce other propositions, so that there may be proof in the middle, if not at the ultimate, foundation of an argument." This, of course, leads him to consider the difficulty with reference to the syllogism—namely, that the conclusion is already contained in the major premiss. He allows that it is so, but adopts the view that the conclusion, "in bringing out into distinctness what was before latent (in the major premiss) is a process of inference." We shall not occupy space in discussing this side topic with Mr. Mivart; it is enough to say that we do not deem " the act of memory," to which the major premiss ministers after the manner of a note-book, to have anything to do with the process of inference; this process, we think with Mill ("Logic," i. 209-29), has already taken place in the mind before the enunciation of the major premiss.*

The process of reasoning having been vindicated as a trustworthy process—and to this we have no objection—Mr. Mivart goes on to argue that, nevertheless, the highest certainty does not attach to truth whicb is inferred, but to truth which is self-evident. And here we come to what we deem the most important part of the first dialogue. His view may be briefly conveyed by the following quotation :—

"Most of our knowledge is gained, as you say, by inference, and it is on this account that we have come to associate the 'inferred' with the 'not blind,' and to think that everything we believe without proof must be believed by us blindly; and, on the other hand, that we do not believe blindly that which comes to us as the result of a reasoning process. But surely if it is not blind to believe what is evident to us by means of something else, it must be much less blind to believe that which is directly evident in and by itself."

From this it follows that the highest criterion of truth is the self-evidence of a proposition, or, which in the last resort is the same thing, the principle of contradiction. And we agree with Mr. Mivart in thinking that thus far the "passive sceptic" is logically bound to go. But we do not follow him so readily when he proceeds to argue that this criterion of truth, or certainty—i.e., that of selfevidence—is in radical opposition to the " universal postulate" of Mr. Spencer—i.e., that of the "inconceivability of an opposite." On the contrary, it has always seemed to us that the two cases are so nearly similar as to be practically identical. If we cannot conceive the opposite of a proposition, the proposition is self-evidently true, and its truth is rendered apparent by the principle of contradiction.

* In Hit own words:—" All inference is from particular to particulars; general propositions are merely registers of such inferences already made, and short formulae for making more; the major premiss of a syllogism, consequently, is a formula of this description ; and the conclusion is not an inference drawn from the formula, but an inference drawn arcording to the formula; the real logical antecedent, or premise, being the particular facts from which the general proposition was collected by induction."

We may allow to Mr. Mivart that Mr. Spencer's wording of his universal postulate is not so precise as it might be, inasmuch as it fails to distinguish between the inconceivable and the unimaginable, and also between two different categories of the inconceivable— namely, cases where we clearly see that a thing is impossible, and cases where we merely fail to see that a thing is possible. "Thus we do see clearly that it is impossible for a square to be round; on the other hand, we do not see how it is possible for the universe to be finite, but this by no means compels us to think it is infinite." But if Mr. Spencer's formula be understood as applying only to the truly inconceivable, and then only to the active perception of the impossible (as distinguished from a passive inability to perceive the possible), we cannot see, as we have said, that it differs in any respect of logic from the older formula, or that which is known as the principle of contradiction.

We now come to the most ambitious part of this discussion. The writer undertakes to show that if we disregard the question raised bv idealism, and so allow that the world exists independently of our perceptions of it, he can prove the doctrine of the relativity of knowledge to be a delusion and a snare, "that we do know objective reality, and are enabled to test and correct apparent subjective evidence thereby." Briefly stated, his proof here is that Nature is replete with "objective qualities and conditions which correspond with our thoughts." These he terms, by a somewhat unhappy metaphor, "objective concepts;" they are that in the objective world which corresponds to abstract ideas in the subjective. Hence his argument is: "Not only the discovery of Neptune, but the prediction of every eclipse, shows the objective character of selfevident truths, and that the axiomatic certainties which the mind perceives, are objective qualities of things (objective concepts) no less than truths evident to the mind."

So far well ,• but how this is to dispose of the doctrine of the relativity of knowledge we do not at all perceive. For this doctrine does not deny the general order of Nature, or that the world is a cosmos as distinguished from a chaos; it only denies that we can

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