Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/511

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opening fresh with the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and free to shape its course in full harmony with the enlightenment of the age. The spirit of the age and the progress of science, however, mean very little to the "weak foolishness" of the sort of Methodist theologians who have the institution in charge. They begin far behind the age, and are already old in bigotry and intolerance. They illustrate that hostility to science which belongs to low theological instincts, and now exhibit before the world the curious spectacle of an educational body into whose hands has fallen the wealth that the labors of scientific men have called into existence, and who use that wealth, not for the promotion and encouragement of scientific thought, but to hinder, defeat, and crush it.


In his masterly discourse on "Civilization and Science," the second installment of which is herewith printed, Prof. Du Bois-Reymond refers to the question as to how civilization is to be measured, or by what tests we are to determine the height to which humanity has attained at any given time. Some say that this standard is furnished by the plastic arts, others by religion, others by literature, others by forms of government, and others by the diffusion of education. It will no doubt be a long while before parties entertaining different views upon this subject come to agreement; meantime, we hold, with the German professor, that the best criterion of the position which a nation has gained in the scale of civilization is the contributions which its men of thought have made toward the understanding and the conquest of Nature, and the popular and public appreciation that has been reached regarding this kind of intellectual labor. How does the community regard a man who gives his life to the investigation of the principles and laws, of the order of things, in the midst of which he finds himself placed, under the impulse, first of all, of the desire to know the truth, and, secondarily, to secure those large and benign results which come from the understanding of the method of Nature? What is the feeling entertained toward this class of men? Are they held in high honor, and encouraged in their labors, or are they treated with indifference, neglect, or contempt?

The question here is one of the degree of intellectual appreciation of different objects, and the relative intensity of the national feelings by which these objects are secured. In complex modern societies there will, of course, be found men devoted to different ideals, and a certain amount of popular favor or regard will be accorded to them all. But which of them receives the highest consideration, and what are the predominant national passions? Prof. Du Bois-Reymond, in considering the history of science in relation to civilization, calls our attention to the growth of the utilitarian spirit, which is gradually substituting immediate, practical, wealth-yielding studies for the more elevated, disinterested, and ennobling intellectual pursuits which have been cherished in past times. He points out that there is a decline of interest in this loftier work, under adverse pressures, that are increasing in intensity in the existing age, until they threaten the perversion and degradation of civilization itself. This influence he recognizes as strengthening in Europe, but as so predominating in this country that it is now generally known by the term Americanization. It is not so much that Americans are inappreciative of the real claims of liberal culture, or of the interests and requirements of scientific study, as that they are so overwhelmingly absorbed in material utilities that the finer and purer inspirations of study are dampened, smothered,