Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/192

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deliberately and willfully confine themselves to their special branch, boasting of their independence, and boldly despising what lies beyond their borders. Their scorn is especially expressed toward philosophy; not merely against this or that philosophy, but against philosophy itself, against the seeking for universal knowledge—knowledge of the whole.

This spirit of specialism is the danger. It tends to impede the pursuit of theory; for it is still true that science originally looked not to this or that particular, but to the whole, its nature and its significance. When science ceases to give an answer to these questions, general interest will be turned away from it. Men will then regard research with similar feelings to those with which they look at a sport, in which great exertions are made for a purpose of no value in itself. Is not this feeling sometimes manifested now, even though it is not expressed in words? What means the dissatisfaction with the present shape of our intellectual life, especially with our science, which can not achieve a whole, but wearies itself to exhaustion in endless collection and endless analysis—the indignation against the haughtiness with which the specialist rejects the assistance and even the sympathy and inquiry of the layman, the dilettante? In fact, narrowness readily goes with limitation, and conceit with narrowness—that special conceit which thinks itself superior to all because it can see no one in its field besides itself.

Just this spirit of specialism is now dangerous to university teaching, paralyzing the teacher's work and the interest of the learner. At the bottom it is the philosophical in every science that inspires to instructive participation. Man has an innate disposition to propagate his convictions, his view of the world, and his faith. That is the Eros which inspired Socrates to seek intercourse with his pupils. The Eros is wanting to the specialist, along with the philosophical disposition and the love of teaching. To impose a duty of teaching upon him seems to him like a robbery of his precious time. This feeling is responded to by a decline in interest on the part of his hearer. The attraction that draws him is again the philosophical, the humanly significant I)art of the teaching. Detail and virtuosity and exactness can not take the place of this.

Further, the more the teaching is specialized the less does it give the student what he most needs—a comprehensive survey of the whole of a field of knowledge. Take history: Instead of a lecture on universal history, or the history of the German people, five or ten lectures upon as many fragments or single sides of the subject. Excellent and thorough as they may be in themselves, they afford the beginner less than the others. He most needs the leading direction-lines for the comprehension of the whole, and