Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/385

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

of utilitarian aims, English science has flourished under the stimulus of a pressure from the practical arts which has powerfully influenced the direction of investigation; the problems being given by art are accepted by science for solution. The eminence of England in commerce, navigation, manufactures, and locomotion, has impressed itself upon English science, which, while recognizing its true work to be the increase of original knowledge and new discoveries, will yet not lose sight of the great practical results to be attained through such discoveries, German science, on the other hand, still influenced by the spirit of its barren philosophies, vehemently protests against this alliance with the practical and the useful. It is never done denouncing the sordid, bread-and-butter philosophy of the English, In exemplification of this feeling, a passage is given from an address of Lieutenant Weyprecht on arctic explorations, in which he says: "Originally it was the wish for material gain in the shape of fur and fish-oil that prompted arctic exploration. Later on, this cause was replaced by the ambition of geographical discoveries, such as are easily understood by the general public. The running after this sort of fame gradually assumed such proportions that arctic exploration became a sort of international steeple-chase toward the north-pole, a system opposed to true scientific discoveries. Topographical geography must be subordinated, in arctic regions, to physical geography. Geographical discovery derives its value only from scientific discoveries connected with it. The exploration of the great and unknown latitudes near the poles of our globe must be continued without regard to the expenditure of money and of life which it demands. But its ulterior aim must be higher than the mere sketching, and christening in different languages, of islands, bays, and promontories buried in ice, and the mere reaching of higher latitudes than those reached by our predecessors. One reason of the indifferent results of previous expeditions is, that they have been unconnected with each other. The progress of meteorology consists in comparison, and every success it has obtained, such as the laws of storms, the theory of winds, etc., is the result of simultaneous observations. The aim of future arctic explorers must be to make simultaneous observations, extending over the period of a whole year, with identical instruments and according to identical rules. In the first place, they will have to consider natural philosophy and meteorology, botany, zoology, and geology, and only in the second place the discovery of geographical details. I do not intend in what I said to depreciate the merits of my arctic predecessors, whose sacrifices few can appreciate better than I do. In giving utterance for the first time to these opinions, which I have taken time in forming, I complain against myself, and I condemn the greater part of the results of my own arduous labors."

Germany is again contrasted with England in the completeness with which science is separated from religion, a result we should hardly have expected among a people so prone to philosophical speculation. Their scientists pursue their investigations, with but very small regard to the bearings they may have upon theological beliefs. The writer whom we have quoted gives an illustration of this in a lecture delivered at the Gratz meeting by Prof. Benedict on the history of Clime with regard to ethnology and anthropology. "He touched upon delicate ground, asserting that every action is based less on liberty than on compulsion; that our acts are governed by natural laws, and not by theological opinions; and that punishment may act as a corrective of perverted human nature, but is chiefly the outflow of the desire of society to avenge wrongs inflicted upon it. The best prevention of crime depends upon the in-