« EelmineJätka »
moral is only applicable to those transition stages of struggle, more or less pronounced, between the altruistic and the selfish feelings; •when the altruistic and the selfish coincide (owing to habit in the individual or higher development in the race), there is no longer any place left for moral intention. The action, previously moral, has become the mere following of a well-formed instinct, to disobey ■which would be productive of pain, and therefore opposed to selfinterest.
We have no space to do more than merely thus to trace the outlines of our views on this subject; but before leaving it we may answer one question which naturally arises—namely, whether in the future of our race evolution shall determine the gradual obliteration of formal morality in favour of material, so that mankind generally shall in this respect come to resemble ants and bees. This, we answer, is not a necessary or even a probable outlook, because with evolving intelligence the circumstances of, and the cases presented to, moral judgment must pari passu become more complex and refined; consequently, room will thus always be allowed for the occurrence of formal morality in the higher and higher phases of mental evolution.
The concluding dialogue is entitled "Causes and Consequents," and is mainly devoted to the question of Theism. In this chapter the most novel feature which we observe is that of systematic plagiarism. Plagiarism in sundry forms and degrees is no doubt of sufficiently common occurrence; but it is usually confined to ideas or, at most, short sentences. In this dialogue, however, whole paragraphs and pages are copied almost verbatim from another book, without quotation marks or acknowledgment of any kind. The book in question forms a member of Trubner's " Philosophical Series," and is called " A Candid Examination of Theism/' by " Physicus." 1878.
We shall only wait to mention one other point. Speaking of tolerance, and quoting as usual from "Physicus," Mr. Mivart makes Frankland observe: "I believe, for my part, that, the degree of apparent probability in Theism may legitimately vary with the
character of the mind which contemplates it Even in those
persons who try to be as impartial as possible, the inherent structures of their minds greatly affect their judgment."
Whereupon Maxwell answers :—
"Men talk glibly about impartiality, as if it were a thing easily obtainable. But who can be impartial, even in investigating a question touching his father's honour? In considering the question whether our highest ideal really exists or is but a dream, whether all our noblest hopes and purest aspirations are well grounded or but delusions, no consistent thinker—no rightly-constituted mind—appreciating the importance of the problem could dare to be im- . partial, unless he would dare to be voluntarily and deliberately as impious as absurd."
Now, this appears to us a very remarkable view, and one the
distinct expression of which towards the close of his latest work gives us much insight into many other parts of Mr. Mivart's writings. He holds with reference to the investigation of such questions, not only that it is difficult to be impartial, but that one ought not to try to be impartial—that we ought to favour the pros and suppress the cons, and generally endeavour to hoodwink our faculties of thought, in order to arrive at a desired conclusion. But if any man deems this to be his duty with reference to this particular class of questions, why should he pretend to inquire into them at all? It is certain that under the circumstance of such a premeditated and intentional bias, any such inquiry must be but a pretence, and therefore, from an ethical as well as from a rational point of view, had much better be left alone. Moreover, if the honour of one's father is in question, and the question stands to be investigated, painful as the investigation may be, it is merely one's duty at least to try to investigate it impartially; to do otherwise would be by implication to doubt the very honour which we desire to uphold. And similarly with the question of Theism. It appears to us much more "impious" to doubt the morality of God so far as to suppose that He desires us to seek for Him with our faculty of reason purposely blindfold, than it does to hope that this faculty may have been given by Him to help us in our search. For otherwise, in whatever degree we harbour the supposition that impartiality in the use of reason with reference to the question of Theism is obnoxious to the Deity, in that degree are we virtually imputing to the Deity a mendacious character; for we are virtually assuming that the evidence of His existence which He has given in Nature is not conformable to the faculty of reason which He has given to Man.
George J. Romanes.
CAIRO: THE OLD IN THE NEW.
THE scientific life of Alexandria was not dead in the seventh century, and many a Greek book may have been sent from there to Fostat. But who opened the understanding of the untutored sons of the desert to this finest bloom of a highly cultured intellectual life? It was not the Greeks, for the Greeks regarded the intruders with implacable hostility, and their art and religion very soou disappeared from the Nile altogether; it was the Greek-trained Copts who performed the task; and it is plain from a deeper investigation into the various branches of knowledge studied by the Arabs and into the scientific lore of the Egyptians, that the teachers must have ■communicated to the pupils not only Greek science but many other things besides, which had survived among them from the venerable learning of their own nation. The scholar Jabja ben Bitrik, who translated Greek works into Arabic for Mamun, expressly asserts that he searched every temple in order to bring the mysteries of the philosophers to the light. At 'Ain Schems (this cannot be Ba'albek, but must be the Egyptian Heliopolis) he took into his counsels a dervish of great insight and learning.
At Memphis stood the temple of Imhotep, to which the Greeks gave the name of their own Asklepios (^Esculapius). Here was found the medical papyrus preserved in the Berlin Museum, and it is stated in the great handbook of Egyptian medicine, the Ebers papyrus of 110 large pages, now in Leipzig, that the collection of prescriptions which it contains came from Sais and Heliopolis. It was this last town that contained the "great halls" which had from mythical times been used for clinical purposes by a celebrated faculty of medicine. The Egyptians were the most famous of all physicians in antiquity, and the Greeks and Romans under the Ptolemies availed
themselves of their skill. It is well known how highly the younger Pliny esteemed his Egyptian doctor, and how he tried to procure for him the rights of Roman citizenship. In the pseudo-Hippocratic writings there are many prescriptions of such a singular character (as, for example, how to know whether a pregnant woman will boar a son or a daughter, &c.) that they must all have been invented in one place, and they were known in exactly the same form to the ancient Egyptians of the thirteenth century B.c. The Ebers papyrus contains a particularly interesting section devoted to the functions of the heart, and from this papyrus, which was written, at latest, in the sixteenth century B.c, it appears that the priestly physicians of the time of the Pharaohs recognized the heart as the centre of the circulatory system, and referred the beating of the pulse to its motions. Now no one who knows that Hippocrates was ignorant of these things, and that it was at Alexandria that Herophilus of Chalkedon noted the rhythm of the pulse in the various diseases, and first brought out its connection with the heart, can resist the conclusion that Herophilus really learnt the fact from the priestly physicians of the Nile, who had occupied themselves long before his time with the physiology of the human body. So, too, Erasistratus of Kios followed in the steps of Egyptian masters in his investigations into the ramification of the nerves. An entire section of the Ebers papyrus is dedicated to this matter, and a comparison of it with the writings of Galen and Dioskorides shows that both these men borrowed much from Egyptian medicine. Surgery certainly owes to Egyptian physicians its doctrine of ligaments, and its art of putting them on. Our greatest operators make no secret of the admiration with which they are filled at the skilful methods practised under the Pharaohs in the wrapping of mummies. I have seen embalmed bodies that were wrapped in linen bandages more than 400 metres long. The medical works of the Alexandrians did not remain unknown to the Arabs, but they studied at the same time the writings of the Egyptian physicians. The proof of this is found in an anonymous Arabic MS. discovered by L. Stern in the Library of Cairo. This MS., and especially the last thirty chapters of it, which were written by a certain Abn Sahl Isa ibn Jahja, contain some receipts which may be regarded as translations of certain prescriptions that appear in the Ebers papyrus, and, moreover, the author refers constantly to a book of Hermes—i.e. Tot, the ancient Egyptian god of science, whom the Ebers papyrus describes as the "leader of the physicians."
The origin of the word Chemistry has been the subject of much disputation. It used to be derived from the Greek chymos (fluidity), but great difficulties beset this etymology; and it has certainly nothing to do with the Arabic word of similar sound, chema (secret), for it was already in use in the fourth century (Zosimos). The only remaining view is that chemistry means simply Egyptian science, for Egypt was by its own inhabitants in the remotest times, and among the Copts down till after the foundation of Fostat, called in the Memphite dialect, Chemi, Chame, and Chame (pronounced chami). This word chame means in Coptic black, and that explains why chemistry was at a later period called the " black art."
If we look over ancient Egypt, we find in all the heathen temples laboratories on whose walls receipt after receipt was chiselled, and papyri in which drugs are mentioned in various combinations in order to be made up as specifics for the cure of disease. The weights and measures of the substances to be mixed are indicated, aud these seem often so minute that their discrimination must have been impossible without the help of fine instruments. One of the hieroglyphics referring to the metals has a representation of a crucible. The Egyptians were early acquainted witb the art of gilding, and they made metallic dyes and other colouring materials which still survive after thousands of years. Theophrastus mentions their blue, of which many evidences have come down to us. Costly paste diamonds were made on the Nile, and various metals—copper and tin (bronze), gold and silver (the hieroglyphic asem)—were skilfully alloyed.
Great chemical knowledge is presupposed in the following process, which, according to Pliny, the Egyptian dyers practised. They first treated the web with certain liquids, and then dipped it in a pot of boiling dye. When they drew it out the stuff was variously coloured, though only one colour had been put into the pot. The earliest indications of this science, nay, even the legends that treat of its origin, point to Egypt. Firmicus Maternus uses the word chemistry in his astrological works (336 A.d.), and expresses the wish to impart what the divine ancients had learnt from the sanctuaries of Egypt. It is said, though the statement is certainly disputable, that after an insurrection of the Egyptians in 296 A.n., Diocletian caused this book to be destroyed, because it described the art of producing silver and gold by chemical processes, and so gave them the means of raising new rebellions. Among the Copts the chemical science of their forefathers continued to be actively prosecuted.
Proofs of this are not wanting, for there is preserved at Leyden a papyrus which contains a long series of chemical receipts in the Greek language, but in a style corresponding so much to that of the ancient Egyptian MSS., that this MS. must necessarily be considered as a translation of receipts dating from the age of the Pharaohs. Among them are found receipts for assaying, hardening and colouring gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, &c. The Arabs learnt what was known to the Copts about these things, and when they developed it further they produced that science which is known among us still as " Chemistry"—i.e., the Egyptian science. Alchemy is nothing else than chemy, with the Arabic article al.