Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/503

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THE SCIENCE IN HISTORY 499

than in the cultivated. It is this close approximation to a type that gives the biologist encouragement in his investigation of the life of the lower organisms. As soon as he is compelled to acknowledge the entrance into his problem of individual volition, his hope of discovering laws or causal relations similar to those found by the chemist or physicist is limited just as is the case of the historian. In civilized nations the variations among men are multitudinous. Amidst such great dissimilarities can we talk of a generic man ? Is every one com- pounded of two parts, a personal and generic ?

There are times when the contrary theory seems justifiable, when one is willing to declare with Emerson :

Every true man is a cause, a country, an age: requires infinite space and number and time fully to accomplish his thought — and posterity seems to follow his steps as a procession. A man Csesar is born and for ages after we have a Roman Empire. Christ is born and millions of minds so grow and cleave to his genius, that he is confounded with the possible of man. An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man, as the Reformation of Luther — Methodism of Wesley. All history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons.

To outward seeming eminent men are the result of fortuitous vari- ation and are similar to the " sports " of the biologist, since the connec- tion between them and their origin remains even more obscure than slighter variations; and these "sports" of history are unquestionably the direct cause of changes in the community. Their peculiarities are preserved, permeate the whole mass of individuals and become in time part of the social tradition. The simile of the deep ocean of social psychic life and the waves of individual activities does not present the correct picture, for the waves subside and leave the depth of the ocean the same, while the influence of the individual does not disappear but lives on after his death, increasing the extent and variety of that environment out of which he came.

The limitations of the science of history are very real. The phe- nomena are hidden in the past from personal observation, are the most complex of all sciences, are unique in character and apparently the result of the will acts of individual men, whose motives are derived from mingled hereditary and environmental influences. At times the historian can by induction or deduction discover a sufficient cause of the phe- nomena, but more frequently he is obliged to acknowledge the impossi- bility of unravelling the tangled thread of causal relations amidst the purposive and arbitrary acts of millions of individuals. As historians must seek for the social forces in the souls of the individuals composing society, historical cause will always remain in the circle of probability and thus differ from the causes established by scientists in the physical and biological world.

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