One of the great changes which have come to American education has been the extension of scientific methods to many subjects formerly deemed essentially unscientific. For this change the influences which have come to us from Germany are largely responsible. Thirty years ago the mental philosophy which formed the staple of the work of the college president was thoroughly dogmatic, like his moral science and his political economy. It was a completed subject, having its base in speculation, and its growth by logical deductions, and no thought of experimental proof or of advancement by investigation was ever brought before the student.
Now psychology is in the best schools completely detached from metaphysics, and is an experimental science as much as physiology or embryology. By its side ethics and pedagogics are ranging themselves—the scientific study of children, and the study of the laws of right, by the same methods as those we use to test the laws of chemical affinity. Metaphysics, too, has ranged itself among the historical sciences, the study no longer of intuitive and absolute truth, but the critical investigation of the outlook of man on the universe, as shown through the history of the ages. The old metaphysical idea is passing away, soon to take its place with the science of the dark ages in which it rose.
History, too, is no longer a chronicle of kings and battles. It is the story of civilization, the science of human society and human institutions. The Germans have taught us that all knowledge is science, capable of being placed in orderly sequence, and of being increased by the method of systematic investigation.
The study of language now finds its culmination in the science of philology, the science of the growth of speech. Every branch of learning is now studied, or may be studied, inductively, and studied in the light of the conception of endless and orderly change, to which we give the name of evolution. This conception has come to be recognized as one underlying all human knowledge. Seasons return because conditions return, but the conditions in the world of life never return. The present we know, but we can know it thoroughly only in the light of the past. What has been must determine what is, and the present is bound to the past by unchanging law. All advance in knowledge implies a recognition of this fact. The study of science must be grounded in the conception of orderly change, or change in accordance with the laws of evolution.
It is, after all, the presence of scholars that makes the university. It is in such men that the University of Illinois has its existence. It is located neither in Champaign nor in Urbana; it is wherever its teachers may be, wherever its workers have gone. We have met to-day to dedicate its Science Hall. To the future