Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/169

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165
CLASSIFICATION OF THE SCIENCES

THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE SCIENCES
By Dr. IRA WOODS HOWERTH
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

THE sciences are divided by Spencer, Karl Pearson and others into two great groups, the abstract sciences and the concrete sciences. The abstract sciences are those which deal with the modes under which the phenomenal world is perceived. They have to do entirely with the "relations of co-existence and sequence in their general or special forms."[1] Mathematics and logic are the two main branches of this division of the sciences.

It has been suggested by Comte, and insisted upon by Professor Lester F. Ward,[2] that mathematics and logic are not true sciences, but merely "forms" or conditions of science and aids to its study. We need not here concern ourselves with this question. Our interest is rather in the classification of those sciences which deal with phenomena themselves rather than with the modes under which they are perceived, that is, the concrete sciences.

The classification of the concrete sciences may proceed, of course, from any one of a number of bases, as the chronological order of their development, their logical relationships, the evolution of their subject matter, etc. Bacon's classification is based upon three assumed faculties of our understanding—memory, imagination and reason; and Comte's classification rests upon the order in which the subject matter of the various sciences has been evolved. The latter is the basis of the classification we are about to propose.

The first consideration, then, must be the order in which the great natural groups of phenomena have manifested themselves in creation, that is, in the great evolutionary process.

Evolution has been described as that view of the universe which assumes that a vast, uniform, uninterrupted process of development obtains throughout all nature; and that all natural phenomena without exception, from the motions of the heavenly bodies and the fall of a rolling stone to the growth of plants and the consciousness of men, obey one and the same great law of causation.[3] Science, to be sure, has

  1. Spencer, "The Classification of the Sciences," "Essays," Vol. III., p. 10.
  2. See Ward, "Dynamic Sociology," Vol. I., p. 106; also "Applied Sociology," p. 306.
  3. Haeckel, "Freedom in Science and Teaching," Chap. I. (Humboldt edition, p. 10).