A Treatise of Human Nature
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JUST as the leaves of our deciduous plants fade away in autumn, and in winter perish, so do our science books have their autumn and their winter. The publisher's spring-time brings forth an array of fresh books, but none are more welcome than some of the older and familiar forms revitalised and newly adapted to the change of environment. The reviewer has therefore a pleasing task in introducing the new editions of the above-named books to readers of NATURE, and this the more because each book is a familiar friend to chemists the world over.
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By Sir Edward Thorpe. Assisted by Eminent Contributors. Based on these two claims, Hume attacks metaphysical systems used to prove the existence of God, the soul, divine creation, and other such ideas. Since we have no experience of any of these things and cannot receive a direct impression of them, we have no real reason to believe that they are true. Hume systematically applies the idea that ideas and facts come from experience in order to analyze the concepts of space, time, and mathematics. If we have no experience of a concept, such as the size of the universe, that concept cannot be meaningful.
Hume insists that neither our ideas nor our impressions are infinitely divisible. If we continued to try to break them down ad infinitum, we would eventually arrive at a level too small for us to perceive or grasp conceptually. Since we have no experience of infinite divisibility, the idea that things or ideas are infinitely divisible is meaningless.
Mathematics, however, is a system of pure relations of ideas, and so it retains its value even though we cannot directly experience its phenomena. Many of its principles do not hold in matters of fact, but it is the only realm of knowledge in which perfect certainty is possible anyway. If any of these simple ideas is still difficult to understand, we must isolate it and reenact the impression that gave rise to it. Henceforth all essential studies in these branches of knowledge will have to take full account of the theories and criticisms expounded by Dr.
The publication of a standard book on economics raises again an important question, viz. To answer this question we have to keep in mind that the citizens, in their capacity as voters, are called upon to determine ultimately all issues of economic policies. The fact that the masses are ignorant of physics and do not know anything substantial about electricity does not obstruct the endeavors of experts who utilize the teachings of science for the satisfaction of the wants of the consumers.
From various points of view, one may deplore the intellectual insufficiency and indolence of the multitude.
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But their ignorance regarding the achievements of the natural sciences does not endanger our spiritual and material welfare. It is quite different in the field of economics. The fact that the majority of our contemporaries, the masses of semi-barbarians led by self-styled intellectuals, entirely ignore everything that economics has brought forward, is the main political problem of our age. There is no use in deceiving ourselves.
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American public opinion rejects the market economy, the capitalistic free-enterprise system that provided the nation with the highest standard of living ever attained. Full government control of all activities of the individual is virtually the goal of both national parties. The individual is to be deprived of his moral, political, and economic responsibility and autonomy, and to be converted into a pawn in the schemes of a supreme authority aiming at a "national" purpose.
His "affluence" is to be cut down for the benefit of what is called the "public sector," i. Hosts of authors, writers, and professors are busy denouncing alleged shortcomings of capitalism and exalting the virtues of "planning. If we want to avoid the destruction of Western civilization and the relapse into primitive wretchedness, we must change the mentality of our fellow citizens.
We must make them realize what they owe to the much vilified "economic freedom," the system of free enterprise and capitalism. The intellectuals and those who call themselves educated must use their superior cognitive faculties and power of reasoning for the refutation of erroneous ideas about social, political and economic problems and for the dissemination of a correct grasp of the operation of the market economy.
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They must start by familiarizing themselves with all the issues involved in order to teach those who are blinded by ignorance and emotions. They must learn in order to acquire the ability to enlighten the misguided many. It is a fateful error on the part of our most valuable contemporaries to believe that economics can be left to specialists in the same way in which various fields of technology can be safely left to those who have chosen to make any one of them their vocation.
The issues of society's economic organization are every citizen's business. To master them to the best of one's ability is the duty of everyone. Now such a book as Man, Economy, and State offers to every intelligent man an opportunity to obtain reliable information concerning the great controversies and conflicts of our age. It is certainly not easy reading and asks for the utmost exertion of one's attention. But there are no shortcuts to wisdom.