« PreviousContinue »
Notices of New Publications.
The following is Mr. Petzholdt's summary: Population of Saxony, 1,836,433; number of libraries exceeding 10,000 vols., 8; aggregate population of the cities containing these libraries, 188,666; aggregate number of volumes in all the libraries, 554,000; average number of vols. in each library, 69,250; No. of vols. to every 100 of the pop. of cities containing libraries, 301. Dresden, with 89,327 inhabitants has the Royal Library, 300,000 vols. and 2800 MSS., founded in the middle of the 16th century, and two other libraries of 12,000 and 10,000 vols. Leipsic, with 60,205 pop., has the city library, 80,000 vols. and 2000 MSS., founded 1677, and the university library, 110,000 vols., founded in 1543. The other cities containing libraries are Freiberg, Zittau and Zwickau.
NOTICES OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
1. STEWART'S MORAL PHILOSOPHY.1
"In this treatise Mr. Stewart has rather presented the opinions of others, than come forth in propria persona with any sustained pleading of his own; and, as in most of his other performances, instead of grappling with the question, he presents us with the literature of the question made of history therefore, rather than of argument, and altogether composing but the outline of what had been said or reasoned by other men, yet accompanied with a very few slight yet elegant touches from his own hand. We by no means agree with those who think of this interesting personage, that, considering the few substantive additions he made to philosophy, he therefore as a philosopher had gained an unfair reputation. It is true, he has not added much to the treasures of science; yet in virtue of a certain halo which by the glow of his eloquence and the purity and nobleness of his sentiments he threw around the cause, he abundantly sustained the honors of it. It reminds us of what is often realized in the higher walks of society, when certain men vastly inferior to others, both in family and in fortune, do, in virtue of a certain lofty bearing, in which they are upheld by the consciousness of a grace and a dig
The Philosophy of the Active and Moral Powers of Man. By Dugald Stewart, F. R. SS. Lond. and Ed. Revised, with Omissions and Additions, by James Walker, D.D., Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy in Harvard College.
nity that natively belong to them, not usurp the highest place in fashion, but have that place most readily awarded to them by the spontaneous consent and testimony of all. It was thus with Stewart in the world of letters. His rank and reputation were not owing either to the number or importance of the discoveries achieved by him. But he had what many discoverers have not. He had the sustained and lofty spirit of a high toned Academic, and never did any child, whether of science or poetry, breathe in an atmosphere more purely ethereal. The je ne scais quoi of manner does not wield a more fascinating power in the circles of fashion, than did the indescribable charm of his rare and elevated genius over our literary circles; and when we consider the homage of reverence and regard which he drew from general society, we cannot but wish that many successors may arise in his own likeness - who might build up an aristocracy of learning, that shall infuse a finer element into the system of life, than any which has ever been distilled upon it from the vulgar aristocracies of wealth and of power." Chalmers' Natural Theology, Book 1, Ch. iv. Note.
So spake the Edinburgh theologian in regard to the Edinburgh philosopher. We think that the merits of Stewart have been undervalued by Chalmers even. It has been fashionable to say, that Stewart entered into the mansion which Reid had left, repainted its walls, and ornamented them with foreign pictures, but erected no edifice of his own. He was so modest that he chose to express his best thoughts in the language of his predecessors, but had he uttered them without this grateful acknowledgment of their previous recognition, he would not have been charged with a defect in originality of genius. If some other philosophers who have escaped this charge, had been equally punctilious with Stewart in quoting the authorities to which they were indebted, and in selecting the choicest expressions of others for the adorning of their own thoughts, they would forfeit their claims to the originality which is now ascribed to them. One distinction between Brown and Stewart is this: the former strives to make the impression that he differs from his predecessors, and the latter that he agrees with them; yet if Brown had been characterized by the grateful temper of Stewart, and if Stewart had possessed the daring and impulsiveness of Brown, he who is now justly extolled as an inventive philosopher would appear to be, after all, indebted to others for his inventions even, and he who is now unjustly stigmatised as a copyist would be regarded as an acute and discriminating thinker.
We are happy to perceive that a new edition of Stewart's Philosophy of the Active and Moral Powers has been published in this country, and that it has been enriched by its accomplished editor with so many valuable illustrations and notes. By some changes in the rhetorical structure
Bowen's Lowell Lectures.
of the work, especially by the introduction of sub-sections, it is now admirably adapted as a text-book to the use of students in our colleges. Its influence upon the spirit of the youthful scholar cannot fail to be healthful, and it will abundantly repay the oft-repeated study of preachers and politicians.
2. BOWEN'S LOWELL LECTURES.1
We are glad that these Lectures have been given to the public. We deem them well worthy of a permanent place in the Philosophy and Literature of our country. The subjects of which they treat are among the most interesting and important which can occupy the human mind. Although of an abstract nature, and above the ordinary range of thought and speculation, they are brought, by the clearness and simplicity with which they are unfolded, within the comprehension of a wide class of readers. The language, too, is not only clear, but remarkably free and flexible, adapting itself, with the utmost facility, to all the shades of thought. And the Philosophy which runs through the whole, is everywhere so gracefully allied to the sentiments of our moral and religious natures, and flows on withal amid such an exuberance of charming illustration and beautiful imagery, that we are delighted with the volume and lose all consciousness of fatigue in following its pages. Instead of toiling, with weary limb, along the worn and dusty highways of Scottish metaphysics, or climbing, with uncertain step, the giddy heights of German transcendentalism, we find ourselves floating down a gentle stream whose banks are adorned on either side by cultivated fields, smiling meadows, and the cheerful habitations of men.
But while it is scarcely possible to speak in too high praise of these Lectures, as a clear and graceful exposition of the philosophical system of the author, the system itself is, we think, open to objections. The grand dogma upon which it rests, and which determines throughout its character, is the immediate, unceasing, personal agency of the Deity in every part of the material universe. Matter has no inherent efficiency. It is the mere passive recipient of impressions made upon it by a power without itself. Cohesion, gravity, chemical affinity, electric and magnetic attraction and repulsion are only different modes of the Divine agency. Physical events are not connected with one another by the relation of cause and effect, but simply that of antecedent and consequent. There is a fixed or
"Lowell Lectures on the Application of Metaphysical and Ethical Science to the Evidences of Religion: delivered before the Lowell Institute in Boston, in the Winters of 1848-49, by Francis Bowen. Boston: Charles C. Little & James Brown 1849" [This Notice is communicated by a Correspondent.-EDS.]
VOL. VII. No. 25.
der of succession, and nothing more. The idea of secondary causes in nature, upon which these events depend, and by which the order of their succession is determined, is illusory. They are nowhere to be found. They do not exist. God is the immediate and sole cause of the innumerable changes which are every moment occurring throughout the whole of his physical creation. Nay, each one of these changes is, separately and independently, evolved by a special volition of the Deity. When a lighted coal is applied to gunpowder, it is not the coal or anything conveyed by it, but the immediate agency of God that determines the explosion. Neither is it the gunpowder that explodes. That is mere passive matter, capable of being acted upon, but not of itself acting. The display of power connected with it, is due to the co-existing portion of the Divine substance; for, recognizing apparently the axiom of the old philosophers, that nothing can act except where it is, Mr. Bowen includes in his fundamental hypothesis, not merely the virtual but the substantial ubiquity of the Almighty. The plant is not produced from the seed; neither is it dependent, at any one stage of its development, upon what it was at a preceding stage; but its condition, each moment, is determined by the immediate and sole agency of the Deity. It is not the food which we take that nourishes and strengthens us that has no such power; that is merely the antecedent to a higher manifestation of the Divine energy, through the several parts of our corporeal frames. There is no such thing as physical causation. All power has its origin in mind — in the personal agency of spiritual beings. Indeed, our only notion of it is derived from what we are conscious of in our own voluntary acts.
The reasons assigned for adopting this view of the nature of causation and the character of the material universe are, mainly, the following. 1. In no case whatever are we able to perceive any actual connection among physical events. All that our senses make known to us, or that we learn from the investigations of science, is the order of their succession. 2. We cannot predicate attraction and repulsion of matter. They necessarily imply the exercise of power; and this, so far as our knowledge extends, is always personal. 3. The reference of physical events to secondary causes is incompatible with the idea of God's moral government and superintending Providence; nay, when legitimately carried out, the doctrine necessarily leads to materialism, atheism, and Spinozism.
The first of these considerations is, we think, insufficient to justify the inference which is drawn from it. It is true that we do not, in any case, perceive the tie which binds together two successive events, as the contact of the lighted coal and the explosion of the gunpowder. This circumstance, however, affords no reason for doubting the reality of its existence. We do not perceive it, because it is not an object of sense because we
Bowen's Lowell Lectures.
have no faculties for directly apprehending it. all its forms and under all its manifestations. own personal acts, from which Mr. Bowen supposes we originally derive the idea of causation, all that we really perceive or have any knowledge of, is order of succession. The motion follows the volition; but how, or why, we know not. The connection between the two is as perfectly hidden from us as in any other case of antecedent and consequent. Until some other reason therefore, besides our inability to perceive it, shall be assigned for denying to material bodies the power of causation, we think men generally will continue to ascribe it to them - will continue to believe that the plant is actually produced from the seed, and that food is of real efficacy in nourishing and strengthening our bodies.
Neither are we prepared to admit that attraction and repulsion, the two great forces to which all the phenomena of the outward world are immediately referable, cannot be attributes of matter. Why can they not? What do we know of matter inconsistent with such a supposition? Nay, what do we know of it, except through these very manifestations? What other means have we of inferring its existence even? Shall we deny to it the very attributes, the only attributes, by which it makes itself known to us ? If we suppose it to exist at all, why should we not ascribe to it powers adequate to the production of the phenomena exhibited? Mr. Bowen would indeed distinguish the geometrical properties of matter, and its vis inertiae, or passive resistance to change from rest to motion and from motion to rest, from the active forces which everywhere pervade it, and upon which all its changes are immediately dependent. The former he ascribes to the matter itself; the latter, to the direct agency of the Deity. But the distinction, however just it would at first appear, is without foundation in nature. In the actual constitution of matter, we find the two classes of properties connected with one another in such a manner that it is impossible to separate them. The one class grow out of the other. The form of bodies is immediately dependent upon the attractive and repulsive forces of their component atoms, and varies just as these vary. Their vis inertiae is always in exact proportion to their weight or specific gravity; and were the invisible chains which bind them to the earth and to one another to be suddenly dissolved, there can be little doubt that it would wholly disappear.
Nor, lastly, are we able to perceive that the doctrine of secondary causes is less compatible with the idea of the moral government and superintending providence of God, than the reference of all physical events to his immediate agency. So far as we see, the difficulties, if they deserve to be called such, are precisely the same, on either supposition. It is the fixed order of sequence among these events that would seem to impair their
This is true of power in Even in the case of our