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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/798

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

our nationalities, and will even repress our patriotism, unless for the promotion of a friendly rivalry, so will we in our work, whether here and now or everywhere and always, have one end and one design—the promotion of the whole science and whole art of healing.

It may seem to be a denial of this declaration of unity that, after this general meeting, we shall separate into sections more numerous than in any former Congress. Let me speak of these sections to defend them; for some maintain that, even in such a division of studies as these may encourage, there is a mischievous dispersion of forces. The science of medicine, which used to be praised as one and indivisible, is broken up, they say, among specialists, who work in conflict rather than in concert, and with mutual distrust more than mutual help.

But let it be observed that the sections which we have instituted are only some of those which are already recognized in many countries, in separate societies, each of which has its own place and rules of self-government and its own literature. And the division has taken place naturally in the course of events which could not be hindered. For the partial separation of medicine, first from the other natural sciences, and now into sections of its own, has been due to the increase of knowledge being far greater than the increase of individual mental power.

I do not doubt that the average mental power constantly increases in the successive generations of all well-trained peoples; but it does not increase so fast as knowledge does, and thus in every science, as well as in our own, a small portion of the whole sum of knowledge has become as much as even a large mind can hold and duly cultivate. Many of us must, for practical life, have a fair acquaintance with many parts of our science, but none can hold it all; and for complete knowledge, or for research, or for safely thinking out beyond what is known, no one can hope for success unless by limiting himself within the few divisions of the science for which, by nature or by education, he is best fitted. Thus, our division into sections is only an instance of that division of labor which, in every prosperous nation, we see in every field of active life, and which is always justified by more work better done.

Moreover, it can not be said that in any of our sections there is not enough for a full, strong mind to do. If any one will doubt this, let him try his own strength in the discussions of several of them.

In truth, the fault of specialism is not in narrowness, but in the shallowness and the belief in self-sufficiency with which it is apt to be associated. If the field of any specialty in science be narrow, it can be dug deeply. In science, as in mining, a very narrow shaft, if only it be carried deep enough, may reach the richest stores of wealth and find use for all the appliances of scientific art. Not in medicine alone, but in every department of knowledge, some of the grandest results of research and of learning, broad and deep, are to be found