Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/528

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

defective, and requires scientific culture to correct it. He says: "In proportion as the range of science extends, its system and organization must be improved, and it must inevitably come about that individual students will find themselves. compelled to go through a stricter course of training than grammar is in a position to supply. What strikes me in my own experience of students who pass from our classical schools to scientific and medical studies is, first, a certain laxity in the application of strictly universal laws. The grammatical rules, in which they have been exercised, are for the most part followed by long lists of exceptions; accordingly, they are not in the habit of relying implicitly on the certainty of a legitimate deduction from a strictly universal law. Secondly, I find them for the most part too much inclined to trust authority, even in cases where they might form an independent judgment."

Of such criticisms the literature of modern education is full, so that we may say that the traditional culture is now indicted before the world for breaking down at precisely that point in which it has claimed the greatest strength. That the old method of study disciplined the mind was nothing; the question is, What kind of discipline did it afford? All prolonged mental effort in any direction gives power and fixes habit, but the effect may be so narrowing and perverting that the discipline becomes an evil in proportion to its thoroughness. The need and value of scientific studies, as a correction of classical discipline, are now generally admitted; but, before any such correction can be intelligently or effectually made, it is necessary to know what sort of discipline the study of science confers. Science is a comprehensive term; it means various groups of sciences which exercise the intellect in widely different ways. A discipline may be scientific, and still be partial and deficient. We were, therefore, in need of a thorough analysis of the subject, and a statement of what the several sciences are competent to do in the training of the mental faculties. This want has now been supplied by Mr. Spencer.

Obviously the first thing here wanted is a classification of the sciences, and it is equally evident that such an application of it as is here contemplated would become a test of its validity. In a true classification, objects are grouped together which are most alike in characters, and only those sciences which are most similar will call forth like mental activities in their pursuit. Mr. Spencer divides the sciences into three groups: Abstract sciences; Abstract-concrete sciences; and Concrete sciences.

Abstract science is the science of pure relation, with no reference to the nature of the things related. The abstract sciences are logic and mathematics, and they deal with the abstract relations under which all phenomena are presented.

Mr. Spencer holds that space and time, the forms of phenomena, "are contrasted absolutely with the existences disclosed to us in space and time; and that the sciences which deal exclusively with space and time are separated by the profoundest of all distinctions from the sciences which deal with the existences that space and time contain. Space is the abstract of all relations of coexistence; time is the abstract of all relations of sequence. And, dealing, as they do, entirely with the relations of coexistence and sequence in their general or special forms, logic and mathematics form a class of the sciences more widely different from the rest than any of the rest can be from one another." These sciences are, therefore, better suited than any other to establish in the mind "unshakable beliefs in necessities of relation;" and Mr. Spen-