« VorigeDoorgaan »
philosophy of man, like a flood of light, on the transatlantic world. This is indeed a blow almost devoid of alleviation. And yet hope deserts us not. To his own genius, we owe the discovery of the organ of Hope, and a beautiful exposition of its functions. As we bend over his early grave, a ray breaks forth even from that dark abode. America has celebrated his obsequies with public honours, and ranks him with the illustrious dead. Europe will sanction the reward. His philosophic page will live, and even pride and preju. dice will look into the philosophy, when the philosopher, whom they shunned when alive, is no more. Galileo, Newton, and Harvey, were all destined to teach from the tomb. So are Spurzheim and Gall; they, too, are among the great departed, “who though dead, yet speak,' and many a kindred genius will yet arise to listen to their voice. The minds already labouring in the great work, by them bequeathed, will be stimulated by the very thought that they are bereft of their leaders. A hand to grasp all the inheritance, may not be ; but there does live a prophet who will wear gracefully the mantle that has now descended upon him. May all of us, however humble each, make redoubled exertions—do that which our teacher would have urged us to do with his dying accents-promote, by all that in us lies, the cause for which he lived, and in which he died. His labours were as expansive as they were inde. fatigable—no scope was too great for him he had gone to add the new world to the old in one wide empire of truth. Alas! that America's first tribute to her illustrious guest should be a grave and a monument! Be her's the care and the custody of his honoured remains; the spirit of his genius is every where-his memory is the cherished legacy of the human race."
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL SCIENCE.
Much is said and wrote, at the present day, about the wonderful discoveries and improvements in the physical sciences. By new applications of principles, derived from this source, great and im. portant changes are effected in almost every department of society. All unite in praising and extolling the invaluable benefits of modern science. Its praises are heard, both in private and public, from the merest tyro to the greatest adept in learning, and are proclaimed to the world through the pages of the penny sheet up to the laboured quarterly. All this is well: but why should the discoveries and applications of mental science be omitted? what will be the record of history on this subject? what explanation or apology for this neglect can be given to posterity? The signs of the times are not to be misunderstood, as it respects mental science. The interest in the old school of philosophy, or, in other words, in metaphysics, is gradually dying away; as a system of mental philosophy, it has, comparatively, no practical value, neither are its principles susceptible of any useful applications. Therefore, no reference at the present day is scarcely ever made to it. Even the professorships in our colleges and literary institutions on this science are merely nominal ; their lectures and instructions on the subject amount to but little, and the interest taken in them by their pupils is still less. Society, as it respects this department of knowledge, is evidently passing through a transition state. The truth and importance of phrenology, as a system of mental philosophy, are beginning to be acknowledged and appreciated. its principles will ere long super. sede entirely the vague theories and groundless hypotheses of the metaphysicians. Nearly all young men who take an interest in such studies, are becoming the strong advocates of phrenology. Another generation will witness its complete triumph. Then will the priociples of mental science, in point of practical value and utility, challenge comparison with those of physical science.
These remarks are elicited by observing some strictures on the performance of a man whom we greatly respect, and whose writings have deeply interested us. The strictures referred to, appeared in the Congregational Observer, of August 22d, published at Hartford, Ct. and were upon the oration of Rev. Albert Barnes, “ On the Progress of Science," delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College. We make the following quotations from that paper:
“ The Oration of Mr. Barnes was greatly admired, and considered as fully sustaining his high reputation. We were greatly surprised, however, that no mention was made of the highest of all sciences, the sciences of being and of mind, and that no attempt was made to delineate their progress. We were the more surprised, inasmuch as the onward progress of these sciences can be distinctly traced, has been marked by the most obvious and beneficial results to mankind, and furnishes the historian with striking and interesting facts for the purposes of illustration.
“ If the design of Mr. Barnes were merely to speak of physical science, he should have said so at the outset, and not have given to mental science the implied dishonour of not being worthy to be called a science at all. We know very well that it receives this dishonour most abundantly from some hands, but we were hardly prepared to have it come from the hand of Mr. Barnes. The object of science, according to Bacon, is truth. It is, however, universal truth. Not simply nor supremely the laws of the planets and the laws of steam, but also, and of highest worth, truth in regard to man, as it lies hidden in the primary laws of man's inward self, and makes itself visible in literature, law, and religion. The use of truth is, not that it promotes the comfort of man's body, but, that it promotes man's well-being--as it furnishes the means of man's developement, and opens to him room for his continued activity-and so results in his highest perfection.
" This is a poor and pitiful representation of the practical uses of Baconian science, which illustrates it by its results in railroads, patent churns, and improved window glass, and which does not place first and foremost 'the forming of the soul of man,' and its high culture, as that is secured and advanced by the progress of science.
“ What wonderful thing is it, that a man should be able to say that within the same month he has been in Roine, and Paris, and St. Louis, if he be but a fool, a rake, or a fact.gatherer; that every physical comfort is multiplied, while man himself is uncultivated as to his fitness tor his duties here and his destiny hereafter.
“ Mr. Barves might perhaps say, that the science of mind does not properly come under the head of “modern science,” inasmuch as it has not been pursued with the spirit, nor partaken of the distinctive features which distinguish modern science, properly so called. But even if this was his view of the subject, yet what this science should be, and what it is to be, under the guidance of the Baconian method, is a most interesting topic, which deserved at least a passing notice.
“We honour the physical sciences in their place, but we must protest against the habit so common at this day, of making them to constitute all science-or even of giving them the highest place in the scale of universal science. The science of man stands first and foremost in the judgment, not merely of Plato, but also of Lord Bacon and Sir Humphry Davy, and it will yet assert its claims to supremacy, and gain for these claims their due honour from all whose judgment is deserving of reward."
Lectures on Moral Philosophy, delivered before the Philosophical
Association, at Edinburgh, in the winter session of 1835–36. By GEORGE COMBE. Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb. 1840. pp. 464. 8vo.
No sooner were the truths of phrenology originally disclosed to the enlightened and unprejudiced few who had the sagacity to under. stand, the judgment to appreciate, and the independence to receive them, and admit them to a place among the elements of science, than their unrivaled importance in the exposition and improvement of the morals of man was perceived and proclaimed. Nor has this belief undergone any other change than that of increase in strength, popu. larity, and extent. What was opinion at first, is conviction now. The direct and almost boundless utility of the science, in the culti. vation of the mind in all its departments, is no longer a problem presented for solution. It is a truism, the result of observation and experience. Teachers have proved and experienced its efficacy in schools and academies, parents its influence on their children and servants, and individuals in the discipline and improvement of themselves.
As far, however, as we are informed on the subject, Mr. Combe has been the first to avail himself of phrenology as the basis of a system of moral philosophy, expounded and inculcated in a course of public lectures. Nor will his fitness for the enterprise, inomentous as it is, be denied or held doubtful. Far otherwise. For talents, attainments, and aptitude of mind and manner for the project, he is inferior to no one-if he does not stand foremost. His equal, as a didactic writer or lecturer, it would be difficult to find; and his superior, hardly less difficult to imagine. Should any portion of this statement be gainsaid or questioned, we would deem it sufficient to point, in reply, to the volume whose title.page is prefixed to this article, confident that that would be abundantly competent to its verification and defence.
But it is not alone because Mr. Combe is distinguished as a philo. sopher, and highly accomplished as a writer and a lecturer, that he has imparted so much of interest and excellence to the work we are considering. It is because he has selected for that work, the foundation designed and prepared for it by nature, which neither time nor circumstance can conflict with or impair, and constructed it of materials correspondingly imperishable. In language, simpler and more to the purpose ; it is because, being himself a thorough-bred and profound phrenologist, he has founded his book on phrenological principles, composed it of positive facts and phrenological doctrines received as correct by the ablest judges, given to it the tone and tenor of a master, and breathed into it a bold phrenological spirit. Thus consisting of what would seem to be unassailable truth, we cannot, we say, perceive that, in its fundamental principles, it has any thing to dread from opposition or time. For the soundness, however, of all its details, we are as unwilling to become sponsors, as we are unprepared at present to reveal their defects.
We therefore leave them to time, the supreme ordeal for the trial of opinions, whose rectitude is unimpeachable, and from whose decision there is no appeal.
Though many men of great and well-deserved distinction and renown bave heretofore written and lectured on morals, and bestowed on their productions the lofty title of moral philosophy, we doubt exceedingly the justice of such title. More correctly would we speak, in expressing our entire persuasion of its injustice and misnomer. The labours of those writers and teachers, able and eminent as they were, did not eventuate in systems of philosophy. Far from it. Their products bore a much closer approximation to fiction and fable. Philosophy consists in a correct interpretation of the volume of nature, in the autograph of the Deity. In other words, it is a faithful exposition of nature as she is—not a mere fancy-piece of her, as her votaries, in their notions and hypotheses, choose to delineate her. And we do not hesitate to say, that, as far as we have examined them, in that light, which might be well called fabulous, are we compelled to regard every work on moral philosophy, that has issued from the pens of the members of the metaphysical schools of Plato and Aristotle. And to those schools belonged essentially all such writers, from the time of their establishment to the epoch of Dr. Gall.
In their notions of the very foundation of morals, have all metaphysical writers been mistaken. They have regarded them as the exclusive offspring of the human spirit, unconnected with, and unin. fluenced by, any thing partaking of organised matter. As soon would they have ascribed the existence, condition, or attributes of morals to the flexion of the fingers, or the expansion of the lungs, as to the functions of any of the subdivisions of the brain. And their fabric of philosophy being thus defective at the base, could be neither sound nor secure from that to its summit. It was essentially a building erected on the sand, to yield to the earliest assault of the flood. But we must not rest satisfied with the bare assertion, that all meta.