Page:Science and Citizenship.djvu/52

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

Science and Citizenship

The popular distinction between State and Church may be regarded as a particular case of the wider popular distinction between the Law and the Gospel; and this again is a particular case of the larger scientific generalisation of Temporal and Spiritual Powers. There are, of course, practical advantages which prompt the popular mind to extend its widening circles of general concepts, which again are further refined and developed by science. The general concept is to a mere collection of facts what regimentation is to a mob of men. It enables one to neglect individual eccentricities and predict the collective behaviour of the group, whether the group consists of items called facts or items called men. The inducement to widen the generalisation is, that the larger its scope the broader are the limits of prediction. The assumption made is that the process of generalisation is a gradual one, and that the steps from the concrete facts up to the largest generalisation are all traceable without a break. In other words, a generalisation must be of a kind which in science is called verifiable—that is to say, the prediction based upon it must refer to a course of future events, which must either happen or not happen at a given place and within a given and finite time. And this proviso of verifiability gives a definiteness and fixity to scientific generalisations, which is often absent from those alike of the popular mind or of the poetic imagination.