Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/822

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to leave the mind dazed and discouraged, partly because the suggestions made for the conquest of these obstacles, though easily formulated in theory are difficult and sometimes impossible in practice, and partly because the general if not expressed tendency of our analysis is (it may be said) in the direction of that Pyrrhonic skepticism which "doomed men to perpetual darkness." To the former objection I have only to reply that it is one to which all discussions of the principles and problems of conduct are necessarily open. "If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces."[1] None the less, to state as lucidly as we can what were good to do under certain circumstances is properly regarded as part of the business of ethics. The other point is touched upon by Bacon himself in words which it would be impertinent to seek to better: "It will also be thought that by forbidding men to pronounce and set down principles as established until they have duly arrived through the intermediate steps at the highest generalities, I maintain a sort of suspension of the judgment, and bring it to what the Greeks call acatalepsia—a denial of the capacity of the mind to comprehend truth. But in reality that which I meditate and propound is not acatalepsia, but eucatalepsia; not denial of the capacity to understand, but provision for understanding truly; for I do not take away authority from the senses, but supply them with helps; I do not slight the understanding, but govern it. And better surely it is that we should know all that we need to know, and yet think our knowledge imperfect, than that we should think our knowledge perfect, and yet not know anything we need to know."



EXCEPT with persons having specially favorable surroundings, I believe that the vast majority of parents have a feeling of dread at the thought of putting their children to the study of mathematics. They know that the child must learn something about it in order to pass his examinations; but with this knowledge goes an apprehension of loading his mind with those ideas which are so complicated and hard to acquire, and we put off the dreaded moment of setting him to work as late as possible.

While I believe it is wise to spare the child all useless overwork, I am persuaded also that the best way of sparing him is not to

  1. This quotation is not from Bacon.