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SHORTER NOTICES 207 acter of judgments of conscience and.prudence, the stress on the act of existing in the subject or· suppositum and its importance for any understanding of the free existent's liberty. And yet, vital though it may be, the act of existing is never divorced from or opposed to intelligence : it is, indeed, the very root of intelligibility. Such an existentialism leaves intelligence, both speculative and practical, intact. The two works, then, provide an historical and philosophical review of most of the main existential positions. In so doing they prove to be handy guides through a very difficult area of speculation. In both cases the translations are quite good, a job made doubly difficult by the necessity for creating adequate English terminology to convey ideas newly fashioned or long forgotten. Expressing Heidegger in English is a thankless task at best, and it is difficult to couch the metaphysical nuances of Thomistic thought in our own tongue. Considerable success has, however, been achieved in the present instances. SHORTER NOTICES Philosophy for the Future: The Quest of Modern Materialism. Edited by Rov Woon SELLARS, V. J. McGILL, and MARVIN FARBER. New York: Macmillan Co. [Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada]. 1949. Pp. xiv, 657: ($9.00) This book is a phenomenon of raJther rare occurrence in philosophy nowadays-a defence of metaphysical materialism. I-t argues that no other doctrine is compatible with the existing scientific accormrt: of man and the cosmos, and that future developments in the sciences will continue to validate a materialistic Weltanschauung. Twenty-seven scientists and philosophers have collaborated to produce the book, each one contributing an essay on some aspect of ~the main theme. Almost half the essays are devoted ·to a review of current trends in the physical and social sciences, since these are held to provide :the evidence on which materialism rests. An editorial foreword outlines the philosophical position implied thereby. The form of materialism advocated professes to be "more subtle and adequate" than anything in the classical tradition of Democritus, Hobbes, and LaMettrie. No attempt is made to explain phenomena mechanistically by reducing them to the motion of atoms or bodies obeying rigid laws. MaJtter is treated in genetic terms as that which is invDlved in a continual evolution, where from time rt:o time new patterns and processes emerge. These patterns of matter are organized in a hierarchy of "levels"-inorganic, organic, psychical-each with its distinctive and irreducible characteristics. Man as an evolutionary emergent is not a creature whose m3Jterial body houses an irmnaterial soul. He is a "psychobiological individual," profoundly affected by- ---- ~ ~~--- - - --- - .- ,.. ------ - - -----208 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY·the social and bistoricalenvironment of his time. The values he seeks do not have some transcendental source, but spring from ·his unique nature as a human being. Thus, apart from "the higher reaches of the phylogenetic scale," the universe is devoid of both value and purpose. Ymthis fact, suggested with overwhelming force by scientific evidence, does not destroy man's capacity to mould the world closer to his heart's desire. Nor does it prevent him from obtaining an ever deeper knowledge of its struoture. The chief doctrine auacked throughout the book is "idealism''-,a term applied rather indiscriminately to a wide variety of positions. Under this heading, pragmatism, positivism, and existe:p.tialism come in for par.ticularly hostile criticism. The influence of Marxism is evident here. A number of well-known members of that school are in- . eluded among the contributors, ·though dialectical materialism as such is kept on the periphery of :the discussion. Since the volume is offered as a serious .philosophical work, it will be judged by professional ra·ther than popular standards. Such an appraisal must lead to the conclusion thaJt: while many of •the essays are forceful and suggestive, the work as a whole is deficient in careful analysis. This can be seen in the case of such basic ideas as "matter," "levels," "emergence," etc. A precise formulation of what these ideas mean for "modern materialism" is never given; and long-standing diffi.culti·es are too quickly passed over. The reader may well wonder whether the plausibility of the general doctrine does not vary...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 207-208
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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