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A Series of Discussions.
ETC., ETC., ETC.
A NOTICE OF SRINCY'S NEW SYSTEM OR PULLOSOFER". ;
WORKS BY HERBERT SPENCER.
PUBLISHED BY D. APPLETON & co.
Miscellaneous Writings. EDUCATION-INTELLECTUAL, MORAL, AND PHYSICAL.
1 vol., 12mo. 283 pages. Cloth. ILLUSTRATIONS OF UNIVERSAL PROGRESS. 1 vol., large
12mo. 470 pages. Cloth. ESSAYS-MORAL, POLITICAL, AND ASTHETIC. 1 vol.,
large 12mo. 418 pages. SOCIAL STATICS; or, the Conditions Essential to Human Happi
ness Specified, and the first of them Developed. 1 vol., large 12mo. *623
pages. THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE SCIENCES : to which is added
Reasons for Dissenting from the Philosophy of M. Comte. A pamphlet of 50 pages. Fine paper.
System of Philosophy. FIRST PRINCIPLES, IN Two Parts—I. The Unknowable; II.
Laws of the Knowable. 1 vol., large 12mo. 508 pages. Cloth. PRINCIPLES OF BIOLOGY. Vol. I. large 12mo. 475 pages.
Vol. II, large 12mo. 566 pages.
: : : Khåredfceording to Act of Congresspin the year 1864,
' 'BrD: APPLETON S 20.,...:
Soutbern District of New York.
The author of the following work, Mr. Herbert Spencer, of England, has entered upon the publication of a new philosophical system, so original and comprehensive as to deserve the attention of all earnest inquirers. He proposes nothing less than to unfold such a complete philosophy of Nature, physical, organic, mental and social, as Science has now for the first time made possible, and which, if successfully executed, will constitute a momentous step in the progress of thought.
His system is designed to embrace five works; each a distinct treatise, but all closely connected in plan, and treating of the following subjects in the order presented: 1st, First Principles ; 2d, Principles of Biology; 3d, Principles of Psychology; 4th, Principles of Sociology; 5th, Principles of Morality. The opening work of the series-First Principles—though somewhat of an introductory character, is an independent and completed
argument. It consists of two parts: first, “The Unknowable," and second, “The Laws of the Knowable.” Unattractive as these titles may seem, they indicate a discussion of great originality and transcendent interest.
When public consideration is invited to a system of philosophy 80 extended as to comprehend the entire scheme of nature and humanity, and so bold as to deal with them in the ripest spirit of science, it is natural that many should ask at the outset how the author stands related to the problem of Religion. Mr. Spencer finds this the preliminary question of his philosophy, and engages with it at the threshold of his undertaking. Before attempting to work out a philosophical scheme, he sees that it is at first necessary to find how far Philosophy can go and where she must stop—the necessary limits of human knowledge, or the circle which bounds all rational and legitimate investigation; and this opens at once the profound and imminent question of the spheres and relation of Religion and Science.
Mr. Spencer is a leading representative of that school of thinkers which holds that, as man is finite, he can grasp and know only the finite ;—that by the inexorable conditions of thought all real knowledge is relative and phenomenal, and hence that we cannot go behind phenomena to find the ultimate causes and solve the ultimate mystery of being. In such assertions as that “God cannot by any searching be found out;" that" a God understood would be no God at all;" and that “ to think God is as we think Him to be is blasphemy," we see the recognition of this idea of the inscrutableness of the Absolute Cause. The doctrine itself is neither new nor limited to a few exceptional thinkers. It is widely affirmed by enlightened science, and pervades nearly all the cultivated theology of the present day. Sir William Hamilton and Dr. Mansel are among its recent and ablest er. pounders. “With the exception,” says Sir William Hamilton, * of a few late absolutist theorizers in Germany, this is perhaps
VEW SYSTEM OF PHILOSOPHY.
the trutn of all others wost harmoniously reëchoed by every philosopher of every school;” and among these he names Protagoras, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Melanchthon, Scaliger, Bacon, Spinoza, Newton, and Kant.
But though Mr. Spencer accepts this doctrine, he has not left it where he found it. The world is indebted to him for having advanced the argument to a higher and grander conclusion—a conclusion which changes the philosophical aspect of the whole question, and involves the profoundest consequences. Hamilton and Mansel bring us, by their inexorable logic, to the result that we can neither know nor copreive the Infinite, and that every attempt to do so involves us in contradiction and absurdity ; but having reached this vast negation, their logic and philosophy break down. Accepting their conclusions as far as they go, Mr. Spencer maintains the utter incompleteness of their reasoning, and, pushing the inquiry still farther, he demonstrates that though we cannot grasp the Infinite in thought, we can realize it In consciousness. He shows that though by the laws of thinking we are rigorously prevented from forming a conception of that Incomprehensible, Omnipotent Power by which we are acted upon in all phenomena, yet we are, by the laws of thought, equally prevented from ridding ourselves of the consciousness of this Power. He proves that this consciousness of a Supreme Cause is aot negative, but positive—that it is indestructible, and has a higher certainty than any other belief whatever. The Unknowable, then, in the view of Mr. Spencer, is not a mere term of negation, nor a word employed only to express our ignorance, but it means that Infinite Reality, that Supreme but Inscrutable Cause, of which the universe is but a manifestation, and which has an ever-present disclosure in human consciousness.
Having thus found an indestructible basis in human nnture for the religious sentiment, Mr. Spencer next shows that all religions rest upon this foundation, and contain a fundamental verity