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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/106

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tion bearing on the increase or diffusion of knowledge is still as cordially welcome and as appropriately delivered before our Society as in the former time. It was frequently observed by the older members that among the benefits which they derived from our meetings none was greater than the opportunity of each to learn from the lips of a competent associate the conclusions formed in lines of research otherwise unfamiliar to the listener. Thus the mental horizon of each was broadened and the capacity for wider generalization and more philosophic views was duly enlarged.

As, by the operation of the causes already alluded to, the membership of the society has come to be devoted to fewer lines of research, it has still been possible to preserve our reputation for catholicity in science and its beneficial consequences, by calling from time to time on those eminent in particular branches, who may not be members of our body, to favor us with some account of the researches to which they are devoted, or of the present state of opinion as to the progress actually made.

To-night is one of those occasions; and I feel that I am only voicing the unuttered sentiments of all our members when I express our cordial appreciation of the courtesy our guests have shown us in their willingness to contribute to our program.

In considering the general subject of the evening, I was led to look up the definitions of science and law, as such, in the oldest available dictionaries of our language. The earliest noted is that of Phillips, in 1720, who tells us that science is 'knowledge founded upon or gained by certain clear and self-evident principles,' and Bailey, in 1737, holds it to be 'a framed system of any branch of knowledge comprehending the doctrine, reason or theory of the thing, without any immediate application of it to any uses or offices of life.' A study of other and subsequent definitions shows that the early lexicographers at least regarded science as a theoretical system divorced from practice.

Law, on the other hand, appears to have been regarded chiefly as a rule or measure imposed by some external authority on the subject of it. While the words used in defining these entities may have a modern meaning injected into them, it is practically certain that the minds which framed these definitions possessed no such comprehension of them.

For oar purposes science is: exact knowledge of facts and their inter-relations, and, by an extension common to the language, the methods used in attaining this knowledge and the systematic statement of it when attained are included under the same name.

No better definition of law than that of Blackstone appears anywhere. He calls 'A rule of action.' We now amplify this definition by discriminating under the single name two classes of law, namely,