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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/319

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315
THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE

productions of the creative imagination, and therefore the study of its history, when properly conducted, should shed immediate light on the problem of determining the nature of the psychic condition of a people at any epoch, i. e., the character of the culture epoch, and of discovering the mechanism of the change from that epoch to the next.

II. But, supposing this to have been accomplished—which has not yet by any means been done—what good will result? Why should we care to gain an insight into the psychic development of a nation?

One immediate consequence of this sort of historical study would be the much-desired humanizing of science; for we should be compelled to recognize the various ways in which science has cooperated with the other phases of human activity in bringing us into our present condition. Still another fruitful consequence would be the gradual extinction of the pernicious notion that scientific conclusions are final—that the ipse dixit of science permanently settles all controversy. Other specific benefits might be mentioned: but in this case also all roads lead to Rome, since the central idea of all the reasons for the study of the sort of history that has just been defined is the idea of the analogy or correspondence which exists between the development of a nation and that of each individual of that nation. It is the idea expressed in the Gliedganzes of Froebel, in the parallelism between the ontogenetic and the phylogenetic series of Baldwin, etc. It is the idea expressed by Lamprecht when he says: "History in itself is nothing more than applied psychology."[1] According to this idea we must study the past evolution of science in a people or in a type of civilization in order to understand the evolution of science in the present individuals of that people or of that type of civilization: and conversely, the psychological study of the growth of scientific concepts in the individual sheds light on the scientific growth of the nation.

The meaning and the importance of this idea, not only to teachers of science but to teachers generally, have not yet become fully apparent. Some go so far as to ridicule it. Thus in a very able address on the "Order and Development of Studies suited to Each Stage," Superintendent Wm. E. Chancellor, of Washington, D. C., reaches the following conclusion:[2]

In this presentation, I have absolutely rejected two familiar theories; that the child must pass through the history of the race, and that he must be prepared directly for participation in the affairs of the modern world.... And I have said in terms as unequivocal as they are brief that, to my thinking, as I view the external world of reality and the real world of the soul, we shall find our solution in a genetic psychology that reveals the processes and stages, the functions and the interests, the motives and the ideals, and the principles of the soul as it journeys and sojourns from birth to death.
  1. "What is History?" p. 29.
  2. Report of the Department of Superintendence, 1907, p. 80.