Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/573

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

of Congress and of the State Legislatures and their accompanying lobbyists, who devote themselves to the regulation of social affairs, well-instructed men who have availed themselves of what there is of social science, or are they not as a class distinguished by their ignorance and contempt of the subject? Not much knowledge is required to make laws; much to make them wisely and intelligently. Laws of every sort for the control of society are blindly enacted, amended, repealed, or left to become dead letters, while only so much of legislation gets executed as happens to conform to the actual state of general intelligence. Such hap-hazard, ill adapted action does not give a very exalted idea of "mind as a social factor."

 

 

THE RELATION OF SCIENCE TO CULTURE.

Culture may, we think, be properly described as that knowledge or training which is essential to, at least, a provisional completeness of human nature. To secure such provisional completeness all the lines of a normal human activity must be more or less occupied, all the permanent faculties and capacities of the normal human intellect must have a certain exercise and development, and so be made channels of happiness and of usefulness to the individual. Viewing the matter in this light, we see that while this or that special piece of knowledge may not be necessary to culture, each 'branch of knowledge and of thought must bring some contribution to it. Culture implies understanding, appreciation, and some power of action. To have a mind wholly unexercised in some important region or regions of knowledge, and therefore wholly incapable of appreciating what may thence be drawn for the general nourishment of thought and advancement of civilization, is to have a culture so far incomplete; and an incomplete culture is, according to our present definition, the negation of culture. It may be that in the case of no human being is our idea of culture fully realized; still, for all that, the idea may be a good one. Manifestly, the aim of culture is to give such perfection to human nature as it is capable of—to develop not one set of faculties only, but all faculties; and so far it is correct to speak of (realized) culture as "a provisional completeness of human nature."

It may, perhaps, be objected by some that the definition of culture here given is calculated to lend aid and comfort to that spirit of dilettanteism which has proved itself so serious an impediment in the past to the progress of true knowledge. Under the pretext, it will be said, of aiming at some kind of completeness of intellectual outfit, many will be found contenting themselves with mere surface knowledge, and shirking all the hard work inseparable from a proper grounding in any one branch of study. To this we can only reply that the requirements of our definition would not really be met by such a course as this, and that nothing would be easier than to expose the charlatan who, not only knew nothing well, but had no proper measure of his own ignorance. A large part of culture, as we here understand it, consists in having some due appreciation of the extent and importance of those fields of knowledge which we have not been able to make our own. We recognize the man of culture not less by his diffidence in regard to those things he has not mastered, and upon which he does not venture even to have an opinion, than by the confidence and precision with which he moves in subjects that he has more or less made his own. Show us the man who, on the strength of a little general reading, will express opinions right and left, or who argues deductively, with reckless confidence, from a few general principles settled in his own mind, and we shall show you one who has never risen to the conception of culture which we are here en-