Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/638

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

organized creatures, living and extinct, was yet nothing less than a delightful entertainment. His vast audience of three thousand people were held spellbound and so closely occupied with the interest of the discussion that the attempt at cheering was repressed as an interruption. Something, however, was due in this remarkable effect to the interest of the theme, and the rapid liberalization of public opinion that has latterly taken place; for fifteen years ago it would neither have been possible to get such a multitude together to listen to the uncompromising defense of evolutionary doctrines, nor could Prof. Morse have kept such a crowd in control even if they could have been got together.

 

 

BAIN ON EDUCATION.

The readers of the Monthly will hardly need any reminder as to the importance of carefully perusing the first article in our present number, concluded from last month, on "Education as a Science," Every art, when science comes to be applied to it, undergoes something like a revolution, as the principles which control it are gradually working out into such clearness that they can be followed in practice. And however important this fact may be in relation to the industrial arts, it becomes of infinitely greater moment when the object to be attained is the cultivation of the human mind. It is difficult to exaggerate the benefits which must follow the establishment of scientific principles for regulating the work of education, and every valuable contribution to this end is entitled to the most serious and sympathetic consideration.

Hitherto the dictators of educational method have been metaphysicians. Having taken possession of the province of mind, they have claimed to be law-givers in all that pertains to its management. But their method is vicious and misleading, from its incompleteness and want of a secure scientific basis. It has neglected the corporeal side of human nature. As mind is never manifested except by and through a material substratum, no analysis of it, no statement of its modes and conditions of working, can be scientifically grounded, or true to Nature, or full and trustworthy in its elements, that does not take into constant and essential account the organic concomitants of intellect and feeling, or the bodily organism. By doing this, mental science has not only been widened and deepened, but placed upon a positive foundation. Prof. Bain is a pioneer, and an eminent authority, in this great reform of mental philosophy. His principal works upon the human mind, "The Senses and the Intellect," and "The Emotions and the Will," are comprehensive expositions of mental science from this point of view, and have thoroughly prepared their author for treating the applications of scientific psychology to the practical business of culture. Indeed, no better vindication of this method of treating the subject of mind can be furnished than that which the reader will gather from his last essay on the conditions of mental acquisition in the paper herewith published. The vagueness of metaphysics here disappears, and the various forms of mental effort are graded, not with reference to abstract considerations, but with reference to the variable vigor and unequal plastic power of the corporeal system. The most important questions of practical education can only be resolved from this point of view, and from this point of view they are capable of being resolved in a way to command the confidence of teachers, and guide the operations of the school-room. Prof. Bain, is expected to pursue the subject in future into the details of educational practice, and the readers of the Monthly will probably hear from him again before very long.