Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

number and variety of observations are such that one can hardly avoid losing one's-self in the crowd.

I regret, for my part, that the author should have dealt so briefly with the phenomena which mark the transition from normal psychology to morbid psychology (dreams, magnetic sleep, etc.), and which he seemed in such favourable conditions for studying. But the want of comparative method is one of the defects of the book. Let us add to this the too frequent absence of the idea of progress, and the consequent neglect of the dynamic study of phenomena.

"The work of Mr. Alexander Bain gives us, in orderly arrangement, the facts brought to light by anatomists and physiologists during the last fifty years. It is not in itself a system of mental philosophy, properly so called, but a classified collection of materials for such a system, presented with that method and insight which scientific discipline generates, and accompanied with occasional passages of an analytical character. It is indeed that which it in the main it professes to be—a natural history of the mind. Were we to say that the researches of the naturalist who collects, and dissects, and describes species, bear the same relation to the researches of the comparative anatomist tracing out the laws of organization, which Mr. Bain's labours bear to the labours of the abstract psychologist, we should be going somewhat too far, for Mr. Bain's work is not wholly descriptive. Still, however, such an analogy conveys the best general conception of what he has done ; and serves most clearly to indicate its needfulness. ... Until recently mental science has been pursued much as physical science was pursued by the ancients : not by drawing conclusions from observations and experiments, but by drawing them from arbitrary a priori assumptions. This course, long since abandoned in the one case with immense advantage, is gradually being abandoned in the other ; and the treatment of psychology as a division of natural history shows that the abandonment will soon be complete. Estimated as a means to higher results, Mr. Bain's work is of great value.

We repeat, that as a natural history of the mind, we believe it to be the best yet produced. It is a most valuable collection of carefully elaborated materials. Perhaps we cannot better express our sense of its worth than by saying that to those who hereafter give to this branch of psychology a thoroughly scientific organization, Mr. Bain's book will be indispensable.'1

In addition to the great works which have served as a foundation for the preceding essay, Mr. Bain has published a book On the Study of Character, including an estimate of Phrenology (1861), with the object of reviving analytical studies upon human character, which seemed to have followed the decline of phrenology.'

After having passed in review the very few works devoted to the science of character before Gall (Theophrastus, La Bruyère, and Fourier), and after having devoted half the work to a detailed and impartial criticism of phrenological classifications, Mr. Bain explains his own ideas.

His method is identical with that indicated by Mr. Stuart Mill (vide page 103.) It consists in founding ethology upon psychology, in coming down from the general laws of human nature to individual varieties. He then proposes, as the basis of the study of character, the triple division of the mind into 'will, emotion, and intelligence.

ist, The source of volition, as we have seen, is in that spontaneous energy which has its physical seat in the muscles, but which depends still more upon the brain than the muscular system, and gives birth, when it is in its maximum to the character or energetic temperament.

2d, The emotional character is distinguished by the predominance of the affections, and of their external manifestations. We may cite as examples the Celtic races, and amongst individuals, Fox, Mirabeau, Alfieri, etc.

3d, A third type is that in which intelligence predominates.

We shall not follow Mr. Bain into his examination of the very numerous varieties of this and of the preceding types' ; seeing that his work is rather a sketch than a definitive exposition of ethology.

1 Spencer's Essays, edition 1863, vol. i. p. 121, 122 (Lewes).

MR. GEORGE H. LEWES.

MR. LEWES is a physiologist. But as all reflective spirits who please themselves with conceptions of entirety, find philosophy at the end of every science, so Mr. Lewes has found it there. He embarked early in search of it. It is twenty-four years since (in 1845) he addressed to the public rather than to the learned,' a Biographical History of Philosophy, with the avowed intention of disgusting them with metaphysical speculations. Twice revised, and partly re-written, this book has become a history of philosophy from Thales to Auguste Comte : an original work, especially dogmatic and critical, as we shall see. Mr. Lewes, a man of refined and elegant mind, who does not disdain anecdote and satire, lends variety and interest to every subject of which he treats. Although well acquainted with the philosophical and scientific literature of the Continent, and of France in particular, he plainly prefers the researches of the naturalist to those of the scholar.1

In philosophy, he declares himself a positivist. While Mr. Herbert Spencer and Mr. Mill are at variance with this school upon several important points, notably upon the classification of the sciences and method of psychology; while Mr. Bain has not made any avowal upon the subject,—the adhesion of Mr. Lewes is full and entire, not to be shaken, even enthusiastic, as we

shall see.

'I adhered to the Positive philosophy in 1845, and I adhere to it still,' says he, in a preface dated May 1867. "What I have

* Besides his History of Philosophy and his Physiology of Common Life, which we are about to mention, his works are :-Studies of Animal Life ; Studies on the Sea-shore ; Aristotle-A Chapter from the History of Science ; The Life of Goethe.

[ocr errors]

" in

attempted is not such a detailed exposition as would flatter the incurious indolence of men who love to talk confidently upon second-hand knowledge, but such general indications of the Positive philosophy as will enable the student to appreciate its drift and importance, and will guide him in the understanding of Comte's writings. I am often asked to recommend some brief account of the system,” by those who wish to profit by Comte's labours (or perhaps only to talk knowingly of them), yet shirk the labour of reading the works which they profess to consider of importance. My answer is, study the Philosophie Positive for yourself, study it patiently, give it the time and thought you would not grudge to a new science or a new language, and then, whether you accept or reject the system, you will find your mental horizon irrevocably enlarged. “But six stout volumes!” exclaims the hesitating aspirant. Well, yes, six volumes, requiring to be meditated as well as read: I admit that they.“ give pause this busy, bustling world of ours; but if you reflect how willingly six separate volumes of philosophy would be read in the course of the year, the undertaking seems less formidable.

. . And no one who considers the immense importance of a doctrine which will give unity to his life, would hesitate to pay a higher price than that of a year's study.' 1

This admiration is nowhere weakened, and the book finishes by a triumphal act of faith in the future. I do not know to what point this positivism is rigorously orthodox. When we see with what eagerness Mr. Lewes draws into his camp several contemporaries who are frequently at variance with the school, we may believe that he is very lenient on many points, and his positivism appears to me to be, above all, independent. This, however, it is not our place to decide.

As the psychological doctrines of Mr. Lewes, with which only we are now occupied, are not reduced to a system, we cannot pursue so methodical an exposition of them as in preceding instances. It appears to us that to reduce detached views to a rigorous order and a systematic connexion, would be to force the thought of the author, and to incur the risk of inexactness.

[blocks in formation]

We borrow our materials from the History of Philosophy (2 vols.) and from the Physiology of Common Life (2 vols.).

CHAPTER I.

THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY.

The History of Philosophy.-1. Characteristics of his History2. His philo

sophy—3. The Ancients: the Sophists, Plato, the Academicians ; of exterior perception-4. The Moderns : Descartes, Hobbes, Berkeley (Idealism and Realism), Cabanis, Gall; French Eclecticism.

I.

HISTORY may be written in many ways. The best, the only true way, consists in the minute examination of documents and of facts, and in a complete and conscientious exposition of them. The historian forgets himself in the presence of his work, and has no care except for truth. He imposes nothing, he proposes; and although it is impossible that the long sojourn in the midst of doctrines, and of the strife of systems, should have left his thoughts indifferent, he would aim at the appearance of impassiveness, in consequence of the impartiality of his judgment, and the sincerity of his studies. Ritter is amongst this number; his history of philosophy, scrupulous, loyal, to which polemics are unknown, is a safe guide in study.

Another manner, entirely opposed to the preceding one, consists in making history a pretext for conflict. The author is less occupied with the exposition of facts than he is with his method of warfare ; he thinks less of being exact than of being clever. Books of this kind, which are interesting, and often valuable, are evidently not histories.

In short, we seek for instruction, for lessons, from the history of philosophy; we derive morality from it; it is like a verification on a large scale in support of a thesis. Mr. Lewes's work appears to us to belong to this category. He has evidently no taste, or if we prefer so to put it, he has not the virtue necessary to face these formidable folios, these undigested texts of scholastic learning which the historian of philosophy ought to penetrate, however

R

« НазадПродовжити »