Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/287

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CIVILIZATION AND SCIENCE.

experiment, nor even observe, should now, by their teaching and by their ideas, produce a race in whom these faculties were to go on steadily and incessantly developing—a race bearing to the authors of its intellectual culture the same relation as subsists between a brood of ducks and the hen that has hatched them out? To what cause, then, do modern civilized peoples owe the victorious outburst of the instinct of causality which among the ancients found no adequate or methodical expression, or was satisfied with futile reasons? Must we say that among the Kelts and Germans, who soon vied with the Latin peoples in their ardor to share in this newly-awakened intellectual activity, this instinct was naturally stronger than among the Greeks and Romans? And was, perhaps, Keltic or Germanic blood mingled with Tuscan in the veins of the youth who, during mass, discovered the isochronism of the pendulum oscillations in Buschetto's cathedral?

The greater seclusion and introspection of northern life, the quiet and leisure of the monasteries, the exigencies of a ruder climate, are cited as conditions that would naturally dispose the modern civilized nations toward investigation of Nature and the manufacturing arts. But if we trace backward the course of modern science, we at last find many clews leading into the laboratories of the alchemists and the observatories of the astrologers; and here, as we know, we meet with Arabian philosophy as a new element of culture.

While beneath the sign of the Cross the night of barbarism was settled down on the Western world, in the East, under the green standard of the Prophet, an original form of civilization had been developed, which not only preserved what had been won by the classical peoples in mathematics, astronomy, and medicine, but even itself made no mean acquisitions in those sciences. Through the crusaders and the Spanish Moors, this civilization had in many ways reacted on Europe, and it is natural for us to seek here for the source of those new ideas which the mind of the Western nations, reawakened by the writings of the ancients, could not have drawn from those writings. The question arises, "Whence did the Arabs derive their stronger instinct of causality, as compared with the Greeks and Romans?" Was that intelligent race specially gifted for observation and investigation of facts? Such a supposition conflicts with all we know of Semitic habits of thought, which incline more toward the exercise of dialectical subtilty, fanciful imagining, and speculative meditation.

But for the momentary ascendency of natural science under the influence of Islam, as also for its development in the Christian West so soon as the ban of the scholastic philosophy had been broken, a profounder reason can with some probability be assigned, and one which covers both of these cases. This reason, it is true, is ultimately based on an ethno-psychological peculiarity of the Semitic race. That race, not only directly, through the labors of its Arabic branch, had a part in the creation of modern science, but indirectly, too, the Semites were