Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/304

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296
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

PEARSON'S GRAMMAR OF SCIENCE.
ANNOTATIONS ON THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS.

By C. S. PEIRCE.

IF any follower of Dr. Pearson thinks that in the observations I am about to make I am not sufficiently respectful to his master, I can assure him that without a high opinion of his powers I should not have taken the trouble to make these annotations, and without a higher opinion still, I should not have used the bluntness which becomes the impersonal discussions of mathematicians.

An introductory chapter of ethical content sounds the dominant note of the book. The author opens with the declaration that our conduct ought to be regulated by the Darwinian theory. Since that theory is an attempt to show how natural causes tend to impart to stocks of animals and plants characters which, in the long run, promote reproduction and thus insure the continuance of those stocks, it would seem that making Darwinism the guide of conduct ought to mean that the continuance of the race is to be taken as the summum bonum, and 'Multiplicamini' as the epitome of the moral law. Professor Pearson, however, understands the matter a little differently, expressing himself thus: "The sole reason [for encouraging] any form of human activity . . . lies in this: [its] existence tends to promote the welfare of human society, to increase social happiness, or to strengthen social stability. In the spirit of the age we are bound to question the value of science; to ask in what way it increases the happiness of mankind or promotes social efficiency."

The second of these two statements omits the phrase, 'the welfare of human society,' which conveys no definite meaning; and we may, therefore, regard it as a mere diluent, adding nothing to the essence of what is laid down. Strict adhesion to Darwinian principles would preclude the admission of the 'happiness of mankind' as an ultimate aim. For on those principles everything is directed to the continuance of the stock, and the individual is utterly of no account, except in so far as he is an agent of reproduction. Now there is no other happiness of mankind than the happiness of individual men. We must, therefore, regard this clause as logically deleterious to the purity of the doctrine. As to 'social stability,' we all know very well what ideas this phrase is intended to convey to English apprehensions; and it must be admitted that Darwinism, generalized in due measure, may apply to English