Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/109

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY



FEBRUARY, 1911



THE DISCIPLINARY VALUE OF GEOGRAPHY
By Professor W. M. DAVIS
HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Part I. The Science of Geographical Investigation

Educational Values.—Any study that is worthy of a place in a university must have a value of its own, must stand in a serviceable relation to other subjects, and must offer a serious mental discipline for those who follow it. The modem treatment of geography by explanatory instead of by empirical methods, and in view of an evolutionary instead of a teleological philosophy, satisfies all these requirements. That geography has a value of its own is sufficiently indicated by the abundance of useful and interesting material that an otherwise well-prepared student may acquire from it, and from no other source. That it stands in a serviceable relation to other subjects is proved by the fundamental position that it occupies with respect to biology and history, as well as to commerce and diplomacy. That it provides a serious mental discipline will, it is hoped, be apparent to any one who cares to read the following pages. A discussion of the science of geographical investigation, here presented with particular respect to the study of land forms, but equally applicable to other divisions of the subject, will show that geography, like various other sciences, gives abundant exercise to various mental faculties, such as observation, invention, deduction, comparison and judgment; while a consideration of the art of geographical presentation will show that geography, like other sciences, encourages the development of various styles of composition, such as narrative, inductive, analytical, systematic and regional, each of which is particularly well adapted to the exposition of certain geographical problems.

The Student and the World.—It has been well remarked by an experienced university professor, that an advanced student would profit