Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/429

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styled "a bore" by all whose opinions have been adopted quite irrespective of evidence? Is it not pronounced "narrow" to hesitate in accepting wide conclusions without a keen appreciation of their data?

The distaste for accuracy, and the impatience at any restriction of the divine right of judging without evidence, will disappear with the advance of knowledge; and with this advance will also disappear certain mistaken pretensions of scientific men too ready to step beyond their own domain. It is this which causes the distaste of artists, men of letters, and moralists; and their opposition to the spread of scientific teaching. They do not oppose knowledge in the abstract, nor any particular knowledge; what they resist is the idea that the conclusions reached in one department of inquiry are to dictate conclusions in another. The artist is quite willing to accept the chemist's methodized experience of chemical facts, but refuses to listen to the chemist theorizing about art. The moralist will accept from the physicist equations of light, and from the anatomist relations of structure; but reserves to himself the right of deciding on a moral question.

One must admit that in the inarticulate resistance of sentiment and common-sense against certain applications of scientific doctrines there is often a justification. For example, there are mechanical laws and equations which admirably explain the facts of motion, yet sentiment is shocked at the attempt to explain Nature on mechanical principles only, and is sustained by common-sense, which sees other facts besides facts of motion, and sees that Nature is not mechanical only. Again, when the stored-up wealth of sentiments laboriously evolved in civilized life is set aside in favor of some analogy drawn from observed processes in the inorganic world, when the moral impulse to cherish the weak and sickly is condemned because Nature (which is not moral) cherishes the strong and pitilessly destroys the weak, common-sense protests, and the protest helps to intensify the popular distrust of science. Yet, in truth, the wiser heads among men of science are equally alive to the mistake of such applications.

What is to be understood by Science? It means, first, a general Method, or Logic of Search, applicable to all departments of knowledge; and, secondly, a doctrine, or body of truths and hypotheses, embracing the results of search. In this second acceptation there are the particular sciences—such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, etc.—which are the special applications of the general method to special departments of knowledge; and although there is an interdependence of these sciences, each is restricted to its own class of facts, none can legislate for the others. But because the various branches of knowledge have been very unequally reduced to the exactness and orderliness of science, those which have been most successfully reduced have acquired the almost exclusive title; so that science is generally regarded as something apart—the peculiar study of a particular class.