Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/570

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



ture of our warrant for asserting it. Beyond pointing out here a cracked brick, and there a coin set askew, he merely makes a futile attempt to show that the foundation is not natural rock, but concrete. From his objections I may, indeed, derive much satisfaction. That a competent critic, obviously anxious to do all the mischief he can, and not over-scrupulous about the means he uses, has done so little, may be taken as evidence that the fabric of conclusions attacked will not be readily overthrown.




IF there is to-day a fact demonstrated by reason reflexly contemplating itself no less than by attentive observation of the entire development of human knowledge, it is the close interdependence of all natural forces and operations—a solidarity so firmly knit that it is impossible to study any one point of detail without reference to the sum total of the phenomena. The sciences, long kept apart from one another, now all tend to come together, to fuse into one another, for the explication of facts. It is the exigencies of the science of man that, above all, have determined this irresistible attraction, this systematic confluence of branches of knowledge the most diverse toward one centre, where they attain their full value and their full significance. Man brings together within himself, as Buffon says, all the powers of Nature: he is the centre to which all things are referred—a world in miniature; no amount of analysis can come amiss, if we are to resolve the endless complexity of this so multiple being; and we need all the light we can get, in order to illumine the darkness that surrounds this mysterious creature. If, as Leibnitz thinks, one single monad—an imperceptible atom—is a mirror of the total beauty of the universe, how much more truly may this be said of that singular and diversified assemblage of monads, man! Surely it would ill become us to disparage the psychologist, whose study has been to get at a knowledge of man solely by observation of the phenomena of consciousness; or the physiologist, who has attempted to find an explication solely in organic phenomena. Both of these have, with much toil, broken the ground and prepared a field where investigation may henceforth bear fruit; but, precisely because the soil is now ready, it is to be hoped that the controversies and antagonisms of the past will give way to a good understanding, more conducive to a true knowledge of man's nature; and that inquiry, instead of diverging