Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/574

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deavoring to set forth. "The fear of the Lord," says an admirable proverb, "is the beginning of wisdom"; and the first lesson in culture is the correction of that error to which, as Bacon has pointed out, all untutored minds are prone, of supposing in nature a greater simplicity than really exists.

Now, the contribution which science brings to culture is this:

1. It imparts actual knowledge of the condition and constitution of the external world.
2. It trains the observing and reasoning faculties.
3. It imparts a knowledge of its own methods, and by so doing gives the mind a new consciousness of its powers; for the methods of science are simply the labor-saving methods of the mind itself.

We see, therefore, its relation to culture. That wholeness of the mind of which we have spoken is manifestly incompatible with gross ignorance and error in regard to the source whence all sense-impressions flow. It is not culture to be floundering amid hopelessly erroneous hypotheses, nor to see things only with the untrained eye of sense instead of with the inward eye of instructed reason. Culture—intellectual wholeness—requires that we should see the world as those see it who have studied its phenomena and laws; not that we should know all that each specialist knows—a manifest impossibility—but that we should in a general way know what report has been brought from each great field of inquiry. So in the days of Columbus culture did not require that each man should visit the new continent for himself; but culture did require that each should know that a new continent had been discovered, and what its general features were, so far as it had been explored. The man of culture to-day should be able to speak of the world as it is now known to be, not as it was supposed to be fifty, or a hundred, or two hundred years ago. Secondly, science trains the observing and reasoning faculties. The habit of direct observation of Nature is one of the most important that any human being can acquire. By bringing the observer into direct contact with Nature, it gives a healthy concreteness to his conceptions. He who misses this training in early life will not be likely to make good the deficiency in later years. Many men, who have naturally good reasoning powers, find themselves condemned to more or less of intellectual sterility, simply because what we may call the fact-grasping faculty has never been developed in them. If they had materials to work with, they could do good work; but they have not the materials, and do not seem to know how to gather them. They live in a too attenuated air: like the ancestral ghosts whom Myrtle Hazard saw in her dream, they call for "breath! breath!"—the breath that no living soul need lack who will but go to Nature for a supply. It may be said, indeed, that a logical faculty without a strong sense for the concrete is a source of danger to its possessor, leading him afar on the seas of speculation, with no guide but a few charts and his own dead-reckoning. He who can observe Nature, on the other hand, is like the mariner who can "take the sun," and know his exact position from day to day. Many of the intellectual evils of the present time spring from the too wide-spread use of intellectual faculties untrained by the study of Nature, and therefore unchecked by any due sense of the complexities which the problems of life present. Science teaches caution; it teaches the paramount importance of verification, and creates not only a distrust of, but a certain lack of interest in, conclusions that have not been reached by proper methods, and which do not admit of verification. Scientific men, in general, it will be observed, are not revolutionary in their opinions; they work on patiently, and hate nothing so