Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/38

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28
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

plot against the order of the state, or leads him to adopt extreme views in politics and religion. On the contrary, I believe that the importance and value of scientific training must be recognized by every unprejudiced observer in the sound, tolerant, temperate bearing which scientifically educated members of society maintain with reference to questions of public life ; which is evident both in itself and as compared with the bearing of men in other conditions. Nothing promotes free, independent thought in men, so well as the sense of obligation to the demands of the generality, so much as the knowledge of the great diversity with unity and the all-prevailing order that rule in Nature. Against the demands of priestly rule and anarchical lawlessness, natural science asks for freedom of movement and orderly subjection, insisting that both are necessary conditions. It must be conceded that neither the order of the theologians nor that of the Jesuits, notwithstanding the nature of both in principle inclines to the conservative rule, affords relatively so few representatives of extreme or radical tendencies as that of the naturalists. The time certainly can not be far distant when the natural sciences shall be given a very different position from that they now hold in general education. Only they can, in the future, furnish the basis, which is becoming more needed as the significance of our public life increases, for the removal of unnatural contradictions in the thoughts of men, for the bringing on of sound, practical, and likewise ideal—I might say, normal—views on the fundamental questions -of human society and human life; after exclusive theological and philosophical instruction in these matters has been abrogated.

What an amount of contention, strife, misunderstanding, and hostility among men might have been extinguished or prevented by a more general knowledge of the relative importance of natural processes and laws! Yet the great majority—and of "educated" men, too—even in Germany, die without having obtained more than a vague knowledge of the structure and functions of their own bodies, and that only serving to the preservation of bodily health. And this deficiency is associated through life with the erroneous and cruel doctrine that there is an impassable gap between man and the rest of Nature; while the best force of instruction is wasted upon fruitless philosophical speculations that contradict the most incontestable principles of natural science. Still these zealots demand for their faith the right to stand at the head of the schools and of the state. Should it not be the task of the state to provide for the filling up of the gulf which is thus kept open amid the most fundamental ideas of men, by means of an education conducted on a scientific basis? But the state unwittingly fosters these contradictions of spirit and fritters away its resources, when it leaves its most important representatives, the jurists, who, by the practical nature of their calling and the many-sided character of their relationships, should have the broadest fundamental