Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/863

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845
EDITOR'S TABLE.

nature, life, and man, as they are represented in literature. To incorporate the scientific method with the method of literature is impossible; to subordinate it to that method is to destroy it. That which is obtained from books alone, without an acquaintance with phenomena, is not true science but sham science. Scientific culture is a training and a grounding in the scientific method, a mental habit of observing, analyzing, and comparing the actual facts, and the advantages of this method can only be gained by a distinctly recognized, independent, and systematic culture.

How different and how contrasted the literary and scientific methods really are, becomes again apparent when we observe the feelings to which they respectively give rise. Mr. Arnold continually refers in his article to two elements of human nature to be satisfied by culture, the sense for beauty and the sense for conduct; but he nowhere speaks of the sense for truth, and this, obviously because truth, as an object of feeling, does not enter into the literary ideal. It was, in fact, because literature as a method had never cared for truth, and had no interest in the search for it, that the need for science arose to repair the omission; and science has only advanced as the feeling for truth has been developed and deepened. To the man of letters, devoted to the beautiful, the fine in art, and the pleasing in life, the scientific passion for truth is unintelligible and very naturally repugnant. The annals of literature are full of the aversion of its cultivators to science and all that belongs to it. The last example is given by Mr. Boyesen, who talked much with the poet Longfellow, and has printed some of his chronicles in the "Christian Union." He says of Mr. Longfellow: "The scientific questions which agitate the intellectual atmosphere of the century also left him cold; and if they were touched upon in his presence he soon showed by the vagueness of his answers that the topic was not congenial to him. His thoughts moved in a purely literary sphere, and I believe I do him no injustice if I say that life interested him primarily in its relation to literature. He was of opinion that Goethe made a mistake in devoting so much of his energy to scientific pursuits, and that his later works (particularly 'Elective Affinities' and his second part of 'Faust') were much injured by the influence of his scientific theories." This dislike of science means nothing more than intense devotion to an ideal that is foreign to science. But, on the other hand, the scientific ideal gives rise to emotions of its own, of equal if not even greater intensity. The history of science has proved that the love of truth is one of the strongest passions of human nature. It has abundantly proved that men will forego all the lower and common enjoyments of life, when that becomes necessary, to promote the attainment of truth. So powerful may this feeling become that the customary selfish pleasures and ambitions of men seem trivial and contemptible in comparison; and who will say that this love of truth, which is the inspiration of the scientific method, is not the noblest impulse that can animate the mind of man?

But, when half through his address, Mr. Arnold does find an issue between literature and science. He says: "But it is proposed to make the training in natural science the main part of education, for the great majority of mankind at any rate. And here, I confess, I part company with the friends of physical science, with whom, up to this point, I have been agreeing. . . . At present it seems to me that those who are for giving to natural knowledge, as they call it, the chief place in the education of the majority of mankind, leave one important thing out of their account, the constitution of human nature." Knowledge, he admits, is interesting, and much of it important, but it