Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/864

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846
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

comes in fragments, and Mr. Arnold thinks there is something in human nature that desires "to relate these pieces of knowledge to our sense for conduct, to our sense for beauty." And again: "We feel, as we go on learning and knowing, the vast majority of mankind feel, the need of relating what we have learned and known to the sense we have in us for conduct, to the sense we have in us for beauty."

But, if Mr. Arnold had gone on to say and to the sense we have in us for truth, he would have struck an element in human nature more potent than any other for bringing the disjointed fragments of knowledge into harmony and unity. It is that use of the faculties which has led to the creation of knowledge which must be trusted to bring it into the most perfect relations. Mr. Arnold parts company with science in the name of the demands of human nature, but our first demand concerning human nature is that it shall be understood. Literature never explained it—could not explain it, because the study of principles and laws, and the decomposition of complex things into their elements, and finding out the truth, were not embraced in its method. In parting company with the students of science on such grounds, Mr. Arnold virtually concedes that they have a method of their own, though a method which he can not approve. He raises the issue of superiority, but he does not settle it. He expatiates on the utilities of literature, but he offers no proof that its past ascendency is still justified, because he seems to have no true or adequate conception of the claims of the scientific method. We point, on the other hand, to what science has done for mankind as evidence of the greater things it may yet be expected to do, and to the soundness, comprehensiveness, and thoroughness of the training which it enforces in proof of its superiority in the preparation of men for the intelligent discharge of their duties to themselves, to their families, to society, and to humanity.

 

 

THE MONTREAL SCIENTIFIC MEETING.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science held its annual meeting this year in Montreal, under the able presidency of Dr. J. W. Dawson, Principal of McGill College, and eminent as a geologist and paleontologist. The gathering was large, the various sections were strongly represented, and the labors of the scientific body every way successful. A large number of papers were registered, many of them important, and they were got well through with, notwithstanding the tendency to consume time in their discussion.

The American Association met at Montreal twenty-five years ago, and had an excellent convention at that time. But the changes of a quarter of a century have been marked. Strong men have passed away, and new men of no less promise have taken their places. Old scientific questions have taken on new aspects, and new questions have come to the front. The city whose hospitalities were so liberal in 1857 has become a much larger and more beautiful city in the interval, and the generous reception given to the large body of strangers shows that the prosperity of Montreal has not been at the expense of its liberal spirit and hospitable feeling. We print the excellent address of Professor Brush, given upon his retirement from the presidency of the Association. His theme was well chosen, and, if less ambitious than those frequently taken on these occasions, it was none the less instructive and important. Mineralogy is not one of the show sciences, that attract much popular attention, but it is a science of profound interest and great economic importance, and Professor Brush could not have chosen better than to give us this admirable account of its American progress.