Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/131

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PROFESSOR BROOKS'S PHILOSOPHY

tory duty upon philosophical speculations or not, it is utterly impossible to prevent the importation of them into the mind," he says, and further raises the question if it is "not a little curious to observe that those who most loudly profess to abstain from such commodities are, all the while, unconscious consumers, on a great scale, of one or another of their disguises or adulterations?"[1] In this spirit he recognizes that such philosophical problems as those of "knowledge" and "consciousness," of the "principles of science" in general, of cosmology, and, more specifically, of psychology and ethics, are problems which must be solved in order to make the scheme of knowledge complete. What he does not recognize clearly, or at least does not develop, is the fact that, whereas the greater part of biology is consistent with any one of a number of philosophical systems, it is through evolution that a particularly strong leverage is secured by which it can be shown, perhaps, that only one point of view, namely, evolutionary realism, is the correct position; but just how this is the case I can not here demonstrate.

Some of the specific problems above mentioned are indeed discussed by Professor Brooks in some detail, but not very satisfactorily. A few lectures are almost purely biological, with only now and then a philosophical reference, but in general it may be said that, even including these. Professor Brooks is philosophizing all through the Foundations as well as in his other writings, and that in this characteristic rests his unusualness as a biologist. For while, of course, it must be admitted as a well-known fact that his philosophical interest did not lead him to give up the exact observational investigation of detailed problems, one must go further, I think, and say that it was this same interest also that actuated and stimulated him in all such investigations by placing him ever on the lookout for the significant and important task. But yet at the same time he did not ally himself with any specific and definite constructive metaphysical system, not even with that of Berkeley. In fact, it may be said that with the real inner meaning of the majority of the great historical systems Professor Brooks seems to have been unacquainted. It is, rather, by Virtue of his openness of mind, of his search for significant problems, and of his motivation by the spirit of philosophical investigation and criticism, that he not only allies himself with philosophy, but was himself a philosopher, and in all this he furnishes an example most worthy of imitation, if not of emulation, by the investigator in any special field of scientific research.

  1. Foundations, p. 25.