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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/322

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

have been determined. The importance of this function of the critical faculty in scientific work is too often overlooked; for it is not always so agreeable to remember that criticism is as fundamental a necessity for creative work as is imagination. Since this interplay between the imaginative and the critical faculties is not so well known as the scientific method, we may say that a problem is solved scientifically when its solution has been obtained by the scientific method.

It is important to notice that this definition of science as problem-solving shifts the emphasis in the scientific work from classified knowledge, which is the result of the process, to the process itself, by which the result is obtained. It must also be noted that this definition is more comprehensive than that of classified knowledge, since it may include the operations of a savage in learning to fish and hunt, as well as work by this method in subjects not ordinarily considered parts of science, like classical philology, higher criticism, philosophy and even commerce and politics—not to mention theology.

This third point may now be summarized as follows: The thing whose history is to be studied under the title of history of science is not classified knowledge, the finished product; but it is problem-solving by the scientific method, that active creative process which involves the properly coordinated use of both the imaginative and the critical faculties.

IV. When we attempt to interpret the history of science in the light of the principles just explained, we are bewildered by the complexity and the magnitude of the task. How may any one ever hope to unravel the tangled mass of material that confronts us, or to bring order out of the apparent chaos of problems which have engaged the attention and taxed the energies of mankind. Consider how intricate and how seemingly inexplicable are the problems that overwhelm each individual: how much greater must be the intricacy and the almost hopeless mystery of the problems that vex an entire nation at any epoch! Fortunately, some progress has been made since the time of Hesiod, who wrote: "In the beginning there existed Chaos," the modern view having been expressed by Chamberlain[1] in the words: "No. Chaos has always been at home only in the human mind, never elsewhere." Hence, it is no longer allowable to regard the attempt to find a rational interpretation of the history of science as foolhardy.

A good deal of progress has already been made toward the production of a history of science along the lines here indicated, and a number of practically valuable conclusions have already been reached. For example, the recent discussions of the origin of problems is tending to clarify our notions of how science (problem-solving) originates. This is evidently one of the first phenomena demanding interpretation at the

  1. ↑ Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts," p. 737.