Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/151

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
University of Bombay.

and skill and patience which improve their moral being all through life; it brings men, too, into contact with actual, inexorable facts, and so adds effectively to their knowledge of the world in which they are placed and of their own relations to it. But what I wish to insist on is this, that no man of science should allow his pursuits and aims to descend to the level of mere unmitigated money-getting; still less, if possible, should he be satisfied with a rule-of-thumb performance of mere journey-work. In the practice of his profession, if he has one, he should preserve a habit of referring details to general principles and of testing principles by details. He should establish link after link of connexion between those ideas which lie at the basis of his own craft, or his own line of investigation, and the general mass and movement of human thought. Thus from technical accomplishment he may advance to a true philosophy of his subject, and add his contribution to the final adjustment of human thoughts and human life to the realities of things.

A contrast very dishonouring to science and to studies such as this The practical vs. theoretical man. University favours is sometimes drawn The practical between what is called the practical man and the theoretical man. I trust none of our students will ever allow themselves to be drawn away by shallow criticism of this kind from an earnest pursuit of sound theory. It is this which must lie at the basis of a really competent practice. That eminent man of science, Sir W. Grove, has vigorously denounced the exaltation of the purely practical man as he is called. If there be one species of cant more destestable than another, it is that which eulogises what is called the practical man as contra-distinguished from the scientific. If by practical man is meant one who, having a mind well stored with scientific and general information, has his knowledge chastened and his theoretic temerity subdued by varied experience, nothing can be better; but if, as is commonly meant by the phrase, a practical man means one whose knowledge is derived from habits or traditional system, such a man has no resources to meet unusual circumstances; such a man has no plasticity; he kills a man according to rule, and consoles himself, like Moliere's doctor, by the reflection that 'a dead man is only a dead man, but that a deviation from received practice is an injury to the whole profession.' If a profession is to be advanced in usefulness, dignity and public appreciation, it must be nurtured by fresh and stimulating thought. Immobility is in these days a comparative retrogression, and the gentlemen who, after a training in science, betake themselves to one of the professional courses will, I trust, recognize and