Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/125

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PROFESSOR BROOKS'S PHILOSOPHY

primarily the question of the "origin, extent and validity of knowledge," in thorough-going dependence on the mechanistic views and science of his time.

Although philosophy may at times, then, seem to get far away from contact with the empirical and the practical, still this may well be only a "seeming," and there may be and generally is a very genuine continuity of influence and of knowledge through the threads of that consistent and rigorous reasoning which forms the discovery of implications and presuppositions. But even a remoteness of this kind is not always the case. Far more frequently, indeed, has there been intimate contact and close relationship, if not within the mind of one man, then as within that larger whole which we call the Zeitgeist, whatever interpretation may be given to this.

As concerns scientists and philosophers, it must be admitted that all of them are educated and develop with that whole body of knowledge which the human race has won theoretically accessible to them. But specialized environment and congenital predisposition really limit this accessibility considerably, and together result in specialized interests and specific development. But this means only that from a great body of knowledge certain parts are selected and become revivified in the mind of some individual, to furnish the basis for further development, for originality, for discovery, for advance. Yet as this process occurs, it issues in a two-fold result. There is a certain unity in knowledge, not of that kind which means that any part is theoretically or a priori deducible from any other part, but in the sense that there are many parts or aspects of reality to be known, and that knowledge of them must form a logically consistent whole. Now education and training may result in a mind which is aware of all this, in a mind, therefore, which, although it is fully informed, and critical, and constructive in some special field, is also fully aware that this field is but a part of a larger whole and that through this relation special investigation gets its significance and importance. Such a mind may be said to be philosophic, or, if one prefers, scientific in the best sense of the term. On the other hand, intellectual development may result in a mind which is seemingly unaware, even ignorant of the history of the race, of its thought, of its hopes and aspirations, a mind which accordingly finds the summum bonum only in one line of thought and investigation, which ignores or even denies the relation of this to a larger whole, because it is ignorant of this whole, and which accordingly pursues its own way along the straight and narrow path of only highly specialized investigation. While one must not speak disparagingly of such minds, since the history of thought shows quite clearly that to these also are due very important contributions to knowledge, still of such a mind it must be admitted that it has the defects of its qualities, namely, that it