Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/400

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exists to-day—the product of nearly two and a half centuries of work by some of the finest mathematical intellects—contains no more than the data from which they started? I think we may leave such an attitude to those who do not grasp that the highest aim of science is not the presentation of facts, but the regulating of a world of conceptions, by aid of which we can mentally describe those facts. From the data themselves we have to determine whether this "statuting of mind" is legitimate within the limits of our observations. "Analysis can not get more out of the data than is already in them," cries the biologist. On the contrary, having added to the data mind, the combination provides a great deal that had no previous existence. Even Huxley could write:

Mathematics may be compared to a mill of exquisite workmanship, which grinds your stuff to any degree of fineness, but nevertheless what you get out depends on what you put in; and as the grandest mill in the world will not extract wheat-flour from peascods, so pages of formulae will not get a definite result out of loose data.

On the contrary, I assert that our modern mathematical methods reach a perfectly definite result when applied to such data; they measure the deviation, the differentiation of pease-meal from wheat-flour; that is to say, they determine quantitatively the exact degree of looseness in the data themselves. Is it fear of discovering the exact degree of looseness in their own data, which leads some votaries of descriptive science to belittle metrical investigations?

Nay, I do not hesitate to assert that any branch of science, until it reaches its third or metrical stage of development, is incomplete and fails to provide the highest mental training possible. There are few departments of scientific investigation which provide so thoroughly for discipline in all the three branches of science, the ideological, the observational, and the metrical, as biology; this is particularly true of its applications to man. What better training in ideology than a study of the theory of the state from Plato, through Aristotle and Hobbes till we reach, in Comte, the view that the science of society is impossible without biology? What fitter training in observation than the biologist provides, when he teaches us experimentally the facts of inheritance and the influences of environment? What more precise exercise for the mind than the actuarial appreciation of these biological factors "as agencies which improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations"?

Here, I firmly believe, is in broad outline the scheme necessary to form a school of statecraft. The mind must be led through each of the ascending stages of science—till it is able to measure accurately and to describe in fitting words those fundamental biological factors on which the progression and the debasement of human societies alike depend.

But you may ask me if I am not painting a science of the future;