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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/508

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

selves, are abstracted from anthropomorphic fancies, which science forbids us to believe and nature compels us to employ.

We here touch the fringe of a series of problems with which inductive logic ought to deal; but which that most unsatisfactory branch of philosophy has systematically ignored. This is no fault of men of science. They are occupied in the task of making discoveries, not in that of analyzing the fundamental presuppositions which the very possibility of making discoveries implies. Neither is it the fault of transcendental metaphysicians. Their speculations flourish on a different level of thought: their interest in a philosophy of nature is lukewarm; and howsoever the questions in which they are chiefly concerned be answered, it is by no means certain that the answers will leave the humbler difficulties at which I have hinted either nearer to, or further from, a solution. But though men of science and idealists stand acquitted, the same can hardly be said of empirical philosophers. So far from solving the problem, they seem scarcely to have understood that there was a problem to be solved. Led astray by a misconception to which I have already referred; believing that science was concerned only with (so-called) 'phenomena,' that it had done all that it could be asked to do if it accounted for the sequence of our individual sensations, that it was concerned only with the 'laws of nature,' and not with the inner character of physical reality; disbelieving, indeed, that any such physical reality does in truth exist;—it has never felt called upon seriously to consider what are the actual methods by which science attains its results, and how those methods are to be justified. If any one, for example, will take up Mill's logic, with its 'sequences and coexistences between phenomena,' its 'method of difference,' its 'method of agreement,' and the rest: if he will then compare the actual doctrines of science with this version of the mode in which those doctrines have been arrived at, he will soon be convinced of the exceedingly thin intellectual fare which has so often been served out to us under the imposing title of inductive theory.

There is an added emphasis given to these reflections by a train of thought which has long interested me, though I acknowledge that it never seems to have interested any one else. Observe, then, that in order of logic sense perceptions supply the premises from which we draw all our knowledge of the physical world. It is they which tell us there is a physical world; it is on their authority that we learn its character. But in order of causation they are effects due (in part) to the constitution of our organs of sense. What we see depends not merely on what there is to be seen, but on our eyes. What we hear depends not merely on what there is to hear, but on our ears. Now, eyes and ears, and all the mechanism of perception, have, as we know, been evolved in us and our brute progenitors by the slow operation of