Popular Science Monthly/Volume 84/March 1914/The World versus Matter
|THE WORLD VERSUS MATTER|
By WM. E. RITTER
LA JOLLA, CALIF.
JUDGING from what one hears and reads, there is a great variety of opinion as to what sort of a thing the world in which we live really is. Indeed, so diverse are these opinions that one can hardly help wondering if we all do actually live in the same world.
A correspondent, unknown to me personally, writes that after having lived eighty years, he finds with every passing year and day the world becoming to him more marvelous and interesting; and this as the culmination of a career which seems to have been particularly well filled with affairs at arms, in business and of the intellect.
An artist friend is so laid hold upon by the glories of color and form that abound in each spot, new or old, in which she finds herself, that nothing could convince her that the essential frame and substance of the world is not beauty. Shift the motive of this type of person slightly, from that of delineative art to that of the discursive interpretation of nature, and you have the Jefferies, the Muirs and the Burroughs—the emotional naturalists.
Through many centuries and lands there has been the religious humanist who has taken to his soul the words "Behold, I have given you every herb-yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed," and has rejoiced as he has repeated "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good."
But alongside the radiant-faced religious humanist there has stood the sour-visaged religious ascetic, muttering:
Hence lying world, with all thy care,
With all thy show of good and fair,
Of beautiful or great!
Stand with thy slighted charms aloof,
Nor dare invade my peaceful roof,
Nor trouble my retreat.
And there has been, too, the sweet-voiced religious ascetic, saying:
Ah, love, let us be true
To each other! for the world which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.
The outward gentleman who is an inward voluptuary, confides to you upon occasion that he is a "man of the world," and with the slightest encouragement he will let you know what "the world" is viewed from his standpoint.
The subjective idealist speaks without a qualification or misgiving about "my world," "your world," "his world "—how we, he and you and I create these several worlds.
"Nature is in reality a tapestry of which we see the reverse side. This is why we try to turn it," says a distinguished French literary critic.
A fact about these various worlds which comes out in bold relief when we place them alongside one another is the way they contradict, in some instances quite annihilate, one another. Perhaps the crowning instance of mutually annihilative "worlds" is the "all is flux" world of the Hereclitian philosophy, and the "no new thing under the sun" world of Ecclesiastes. And if any one is disposed to think this Greek-Hebrew world muddle is too ancient and outworn to be significant for us moderns, let him recall, on the one hand, the energeticers, to use a term that has gained some currency for designating a number of men high-stationed in the science of the present moment; and, on the other hand, those speculators who largely stake their scientific faith on a motionless ether.
The world surely does "speak a various language" to different persons. This can not be doubted. And there is much to justify the assertion of a German writer on esthetics that "Die Natur ist jedem ein anderes" (Nature is something different to every person). "Dem Kinde [ist es] kindlich, dem Gotte göttlich" (To the child it is childish, to the God, divine).
But is it really true that nature—the world—is through and through different to each person? Does each one create and possess his own world, and that in such fashion that these worlds have not in deepest essence, identical elements of uncompromising objectivity? Were I to attempt to answer this question to-night in terms that would fit well into the scheme of office furniture, so to speak, of either the professional scientist or the professional philosopher, I should soon empty this room, at any rate, if the company were to be more truthful than courteous in expressing its feelings as to the properties of such an occasion as this.
So what I say toward an answer to the query shall not be in the role of either scientist or philosopher, but rather that of the humble naturalist; or, as I prefer, natural historian. This means a descent from the dizzy perch of "the world" to the humble, particular things of which the world is composed. Or, expressed in the vernacular, it means "coming down to brass tacks." Exactly! Imagine, if you will, a representative emotional naturalist, a representative realist in art, a representative humanitarian religionist, a representative ascetic religionist, a representative "man of the world," a representative subjective idealist, and representatives of as many other types of world-viewing as you like, each one taking his turn in stepping, barefoot, on the upturned point of a brass tack. Is there anything in the result upon which they all agree? Note particularly that I do not ask, "Is there anything in the result about which they, or some of them, disagree?" Almost certainly there will be disagreement as to some of the details of the result; but these disagreements will not invalidate nor make meaningless the points on which they do agree. Very well, then, as to this experiment the general conclusion is that brass tacks are neither totally different nor absolutely alike, as interpreted by these several observers.
You will not miss my point: This rosebush in the front yard, that house across the street—is there the slightest disagreement among us, no matter how divergent our points of view, my ten-year-old boy friend, my man-of-the-world friend, my subjective-idealist friend, my artist friend, my Christian science friend, and all the rest, that this is a rosebush, and that that is a house? Does any one hedge or qualify in answering? Is or is not this a big rock on which we sit, an automobile in which we ride? Imagine yourselves, each one of you, under demand to choose in just three seconds between an unqualified "yes" and an unqualified "no" as an answer, the demand being backed up by a Winchester rifle leveled at your head. The first point to be gained in this is to see whether you will or will not make the choice, not to find what the choice will be. Either the "yes" or the "no" will save your life. What the demander is after is to find, first of all, whether or not you can choose instantly, when the issue is one of life or death. Having decided that, the question of what the choice is, is greatly interesting. Do you doubt that you would choose? And do you doubt that the "ayes would have it" unanimously? There is then, is there not, something about the world on which we can all agree? Is there not, in fact, a great deal about it on which we can agree when we come down to "brass tacks"; that is when common sense is appealed to, and life or death the issue?
I am speaking under the auspices of a scientific society to a more or less general audience. The occasion seems fitting, therefore, to raise the question as to what science is doing and may do toward finding what is solid in the world for all mankind—ground on which all may stand with equal unobstructedness of view for looking at the vast complex of things we name "nature" or "the world." The way in which I have raised the question forecasts not only my belief that science has done and is doing very much in this direction, but also something of the methods by which I conceive this greatly-to-be-desired good may be still farther attained.
Do you remember how Christian on his journey to the Celestial City used to get out his roll in times of sore perplexity and read what was written therein? The Roll which, according to my doctrine, every successful pilgrim must have easy of access when the trail grows dim, the body weary, and hope and faith weaken while traveling the hard road toward his Fair View of the world, is Common Sense. Notice I do not say such a guide alone would take anybody anywhere. What I mean is that I do not believe anybody's Fair View is truly fair unless he does read in this Roll over and over again. And one of the things I want to hammer home to-night is that Section I. of the Roll is natural history—unostentatious, old-fashioned description, designation and classification of the myriads of objects by which we are surrounded: men and dogs, wagons and cows, trees and disease germs, clouds, rivers and birds, stars and mosquitoes, windmills and cherry blossoms, and all the rest.
I am particularly solicitous about this Section I. of the Roll because generous as is my recognition of what science is doing to help forward a better world view, and profound as is my faith that it will not, in the long run, be lukewarm or ineffective in this part of its mission, I am unable to be blind to the great neglect of this section in our day by many men of science, particularly those who are cultivating certain compartments of the realm of nature. And negligence in both fact and spirit of this first section (of clear description and designation) unavoidably entails considerable neglect of the whole Roll.
To make sure that my allegory is clear, I explain that it means that, according to my view, there are always currents in the sciences of external nature setting against common sense; and that in our era these seem to be particularly numerous and strong. Always in considerable danger of becoming sophisticated, science is specially open to this peril in an era like the present, when the momentum of its advance is so great that restrictions and criticisms leveled against it from the outside are hardly felt by it at all. It is doubtful if internal criticism in any great and well-established realm of knowledge is quite sufficient to insure its complete doctrinal healthfulness.
The particular form of sophistication which science is now suffering and against which pressure from the outside is, I believe, going to compel a reexamination and readjustment, is what is called, indifferently because uncritically, sometimes materialism and sometimes mechanism. A sharp distinction ought, I am sure, to be made between materialism and mechanism. But I shall be true to my earlier promise and spare you a discussion so recondite as would be one that should undertake to establish this distinction.
What I am going to try to do is to show, briefly, that materialism held down to its legitimate meaning and made a general theory of the world is a form of scientific sophistication; and then especially, to insist that natural history is the natural antidote and prophylactic against such sophistication.
A young mathematical physicist, who I hear is highly regarded among his fellow workmen, tells me that one of the "fathers in Israel" of their science declares that physics is bankrupt to-day. Now I should not take this declaration, by itself, very seriously. Of the bankruptcy of science as a whole, and of particular branches of science, we hear rather frequently. But from some of the things this young friend tells me, and from what I gather from other sources—by conversation and the reading I am able to do along the edges of the domain of physics—I am led to suspect that there are conditions within that domain which justify considerable solicitude for the health of that science. My young friend's epigrammatic way of stating the situation is this: All nature reduces itself to matter, all matter to electrons, all electrons to ether, and all ether to a hypothesis.
Only a few days ago I heard a physical chemist making a sharp distinction between what he called the "world of fact," the world of common sense, and as he put it, "the world with which science deals." I submit that if such statements coming from within the portals of the physicochemical realm are to be taken seriously, if science as understood within that realm is not dealing with facts, then indeed are outsiders justified in taking seriously also the ex-cathedra statement about the bankruptcy of this science.,
If then there really is cause for solicitude as to the solvency of physics—if it has used its credit (its speculations) well up to the limit of its assets (its facts), how has it come to do this, and how might it get back to a safe business basis?
Should any one question the right of biology, which science I represent, to inquire into the internal affairs of physics, the reply is that biology has heavy investments in physics both as depositor and stockholder, and so has not only the right but the duty to be informed as to physics' solvency or insolvency.
I believe physics and chemistry for years. have been and now are violating certain principles fundamental and common to the right interpretation of nature in all its subdivisions. To return to the banking simile, these sciences have, unwittingly and unintentionally, invested their funds in inadequately protected securities. This I understand is a grave charge, and any one who should make it without being able to support it with unquestioned facts and the most painstaking argument ought to be looked upon as either a trifler, a charlatan or a well-intentioned incompetent. Since I do not court being listed under any of these heads I must state, as briefly as possible, the exact nature of the offense which, as I believe, physics has committed. Stated in the most general terms, it is against the natural history mode of viewing nature; or to carry the statement one step farther toward specificity, it consists in a violation of certain essential principles of observation, description, designation and classification which are so obviously the very foundation of the natural historian's "world." Or, expressed still more positively, physics has become over-mathematicized, and has concentrated its gaze too exclusively on a few attributes of what it calls matter, or substance. What I mean by being over-mathematicized is not that mathematics has been applied too widely or exactly to physico-chemical problems, but that the reasonings of pure mathematics, that is, mathematics as a purely subjective process and without reference to its application to objective reality, has been too exclusively relied on in the formulation of general theories. Not sufficient restraint in theorizing has been exercised, in view of the fact that the "probable error" involved in all physical experimentation contains two chances of error, the one wholly manipulative; that is, dependent upon imperfections of apparatus or methods; while the other, and from the present standpoint, far more important chance of error is that of undiscovered factors in the phenomena themselves which are being investigated.
A physiologist of deservedly great distinction has expressed the view that just as "the constitution of matter is the main problem of the physicist, the constitution of living matter is the main problem of the biologist." I want to call attention to the fact that "matter" with its connotations in the above statements is, historically, a poetic fancy; and further that it is merely a convenient symbol or fiction when considered from the standpoint of truly objective or observational science. Glance at the subject historically first. You hardly need be reminded that the conception of matter has come down to us from the ancient Latin poet Lucretius who sets forth his views with sufficient elaboration in his great poem "Concerning the Nature of Things"; and that he in turn got the idea from certain Greek philosopher-poets, more particularly Democritus. While Lucretius undoubtedly had much of the spirit of genuine objective science, no modern who studies his work and reflects on the influence it has had on subsequent literature and philosophy and science should forget for a moment that, as concerns methods and results of actual positive science, it was quite impossible for him to be more than mildly scientific; nor forget that his interests were primarily poetic rather than scientific. What he was aiming to satisfy was not so much man's observational and rational nature as his own emotional nature. His undertaking is well characterized by a recent writer in this way:
Lucretius and the Greeks, in observing universal mutation and the vanity of life, conceived behind appearance a great intelligible process, an evolution in nature.
This process was conceived to have its seat in a single homogeneous substance which was material rather than metaphysical; that is, in brief, was matter. The point to be particularly noted is that such a substance must be behind appearance; it must be a "hidden background"; it must be invisible. In other words the real world must be an invisible world. The obvious reason for this was that the visible world seemed too transitory and insignificant, and as regards men, too evil and worthless to satisfy the deeper longings of the poet's emotional nature.
Modern materialism has undoubtedly taken on a quite different motive from that which gave it birth, for no one would contend for a moment that the materialistic conception of the world in our day is primarily poetic. Its design is unquestionably rational and logical rather than emotional. Viewed historically this poetic motive of materialism has never met the needs in a large and general way, of the emotional side of human nature. The great epochal outbursts of poetic genius throughout the ages have been in one form or another quite the opposite of materialistic. The Dantes and Petrarchs, and Chancers and Spensers, the Miltons and Shakespeares, and Goethes and Brownings, have been men with a strongly ideal or spiritual quality. The poets who by touching the hearts of men mightily have become their universal spokesmen have been of very different mould from Lucretius. Taking the facts which history actually presents to us, materialism as a poetic and philosophic motive has not been superlatively great; it has not met. the deeper needs of the race.
What we now have to consider is whether modernized, that is to say rationalized, materialism is more successful. You will recall my earlier statement that science, like other fields of human endeavor, is rarely if ever capable of self-criticism to the extent of recasting, with no impetus from the outside, fundamental defects and errors into which it may have fallen. I believe science is now face to face with interests and demands from other quarters than its own that will compel a self-examination of its fundamental processes and conceptions, and then a recognition of what is in reality untenable in its materialistic theory of the world. This pressure, one hardly needs to point out, is being brought to bear from the sides of psychology, philosophy, religion and sociology. Summing up the whole situation, no candid observer can fail to acknowledge that the materialistic tendencies of the last twenty-five or fifty years have had something unmistakably brutish about them as regards the affairs of men. The doctrine of survival of the fittest has surely been of this character, and the so-called economic interpretation of human history and society, based avowedly to a considerable extent on materialistic physical science, has been undeniably hostile to the nobler element of man's nature.
And so it happens that the inevitable reaction is appearing in such phenomena as that which in the political realm of our country is called the progressive spirit, strongly tinctured with religious zeal, and perhaps still more significantly in such mystical manifestations as Christian Science and Theosophy, and the far more soberly wrought out philosophical systems of Bergson and Eucken.
What now, we must inquire, is the fundamental difference between what I am calling the natural history mode of viewing nature and the materialistic mode; and wherein may the former be claimed to be more in accordance with the needs of what is best in man's nature?
The whole problem rests inevitably on the essential processes and composition of our knowledge of the world and can not be touched with the least prospect of success without due attention to what we call the attributes of natural bodies.
That these attributes are the common and ultimate ground of both the world itself and of our knowledge of it, is not only demonstrably true, but is truth of such kind that it needs no laborious demonstration except for minds that have become sophisticated by overstraining in trying to answer ill-considered questions. Common sense never strives after a single ultimate, invisible substance, either physical or meta' physical, in the orange behind the roundness, yellowness, heaviness, semi-softness, sweetness, juciness, and so on of it. Nor does science ever really demonstrate any such thing, however laboriously it may search for it. What it does accomplish is the resolution or analysis of the orange into innumerable constituent bodies, cells, nuclei, chromosomes and chemical compounds, solid, liquid and gaseous, chemical simples, electrons, et cetera. But—and here is a point of prime importance—each and every one of these bodies or objects has its own peculiar attributes exactly as the original orange had.
Scientific analysis of the objects of nature always runs in a two-fold stream: There are the analyses of the objects into constituent objects, and of stages into precedent stages; and there are the parallel analyses of these constituent objects into their attributes. Each and every object and grade of objects has its own attributes. These latter and these alone secure for the objects places in our knowledge. Now it so happens that all objects in the world as common experience finds them have many attributes never entirely attainable, so far as we can make out, or recognizable by any single one of our senses. We have an enormous amount of evidence to the effect that all objects of nature whatever possess attributes fitted to our senses of touch and sight at least. We have no well-established experience of any natural object having but a single attribute, or even a group of attributes appropriate to but a single sense. Such is the indubitable testimony of all common experience and of almost all scientific experience. Right here is one of the strategic points of the whole situation. How trustworthy is the testimony of common experience and of so much of science as supports it in this matter?
Some physicists, how many I do not know, but seemingly a considerable number, do not feel themselves compelled to admit that there are no real objects in the world possessing but a single attribute. As I understand the conception of the electron as a corpuscle ("a little body" you note) of pure, negative electricity—of just electricity and nothing else—of "electricity with no material support" as some writers say, is virtually, though perhaps not admittedly, a natural body with but a single attribute. All ordinary experience is certainly to the effect that electricity is an attribute of natural bodies rather than a wholly independent body. The innumerable mechanisms all about us, batteries, dynamos, conducting wires, transformers, etc., for producing and handling it, are unequivocal witnesses to the truth of this assertion.
Before it can be admitted that electricity or the "ether of space" or any single entity with but a single attribute under any name whatever, is the real essence and explanation of the whole visible world, we must examine intently what would be involved in such an admission, and also the positive evidence advanced in support of the hypothesis.
First look at the matter for a moment historically or racially as one might say. One of the most significant results of modern anthropological research is the clear demonstration that the mind of primitive man is not clearly differentiated as to the way it recognizes objects in the world by which it is surrounded; that what is subjective and what is objective are very imperfectly separated in the primitive mind as compared with what they are in the mind of civilized man. Indeed the process of becoming civilized may be well characterized by saying that it consists in the gradual sifting out in consciousness of objective, sensible experiences from purely subjective experiences. The chief interest to us about this disentanglement of the human mind from the external world is that it consists, in large part at least, in discovering that what civilized men unquestionably recognize as attributes of natural objects, are held by primitive men to be independent entities on a footing with actual objects, that is, with objects composed of numerous attributes properly combined. The roar of the waterfall, the hoot of the owl, the destroying force of the storm, disease, hunger and the thousand and one other incidents of common life universally recognized by men under civilization as states or conditions of their appropriate objects, are conceived by savages to be independent beings. And it is clear that something of the same sort marks the development of each individual civilized man from earliest childhood to the full consciousness of mature life. In the terminology of biological evolution we have here an instance of the law that individual development or ontogeny repeats in a general way race development or phylogeny. The designation and systematization and organization of sense impressions, on the one hand, and subjective states on the other, which are the very essence of rational life, and which distinguish the civilized man from the savage, and the adult from the child, are found on closer examination to consist fundamentally, as to fully one half at least, in naming and placing and correlating the attributes of natural objects.
Turning now from the racial and the individual development of ordinary rational life, to the development of physical science, we may characterize this development by saying that its whole course has been one of discovery of new natural bodies each having its own attributes; and of new attributes of old bodies, that is, of bodies already known.
The attributes of bodies, with many for each body, are the very cement and sand and gravel and steel out of which the reinforced concrete edifices of experiential knowledge, both common and scientific, are built up; and any one who comes forward with a hypothesis of nature which in essence declares that some single one of these building materials is all that nature really furnishes so that the edifice of knowledge must get along with only this one, is presenting a daring hypothesis sure enough. If true it must, of course, be accepted; but no one should fail to see that its complete acceptance would mean the complete demolition of the great edifices of common knowledge and physical science as these have been laboriously built up through the centuries, and the erection on their sites of other edifices wholly different in design and construction. Surely the proof in support of so revolutionary a hypothesis must be convincing beyond a shadow of doubt. Is it? For one I am convinced it is not. Were there no other grounds for doubting the electrical theory of matter and so of all nature, a sufficient one is found in the circumstance already alluded to, namely that no physical observation or experiment ever gets rid of the "probable error"; and that in this probable error there is always a chance of an unknown factor in the phenomena under investigation.
So I turn again to the natural history way of viewing the world and point out that it is in strict accord with both the historic development of natural knowledge and the fundamental processes of psychic life in that it accepts without cavil the whole range of attributes of natural bodies, demanding only that these be undoubted as to identification. It is only when the natural history attitude and the materialistic attitude toward nature is each viewed in its mode of treating the attributes of natural objects, that the fundamental distinction between the two attitudes comes to view. The natural history attitude is one of unreserved acceptance of the world of fact, one of its greatest concerns being to make sure of what the facts are. It makes no such sharp distinction between fact and truth as materialism tries to make. Facts are the elements of truth much as chemical simples are the elements of chemical compounds. The critical natural-historian recognizes other differences than this between fact and truth but for the present discussion this suffices. All we need to do here is to insist that the cultivators of any domain whatever of natural knowledge who believe they see something in the nature of truth which makes truth's exaltation result in the degradation of fact, are moving over by just so much from the side of true science to that of subjectivism and mysticism, and that they are going by the road of mathematics makes no whit of difference so far as concerns the essence of the thing. I raise the question: Has mathematics any legitimate place in dealing with the objective universe beyond that of helping to "visualize" those portions of it too minute or too transparent or delicate for man's unaided senses? In other words, can it render any real service further than that of helping to make the description of nature more full and accurate and serviceable to man?
The natural history motive is not to "get behind" the actual world in the sense in which materialism would do this, but to get more deeply into the actual world—to move more and ever more of the world into the fold of real knowledge.
Scientific or rational materialism no less than poetic materialism is virtually a system of world-repudiation. The natural history standpoint, on the contrary, is the very antithesis of this, and looking at the two systems still from the standpoint of their treatment of the attributes of objects, we are able to see clearly wherein the materialistic standpoint can not possibly meet the needs of man's deeper nature while the natural history standpoint genuinely and unreservedly accepted and understood seems capable of satisfying these needs. In its determination to reduce all things to one or at least a very few simple material substances or forces and so to explain them, materialism of necessity makes the actual world subordinate to, or, as it sometimes says, a manifestation of these deeper essences and in doing this, of course, must subordinate the good there is in the world as well as the bad to these invisible simples; and when we look at what this means in the light of the part that the attributes of bodies play in the make-up of all our knowledge of nature, the real meaning of the statement made some pages back—that there is something genuinely brutish in materialism—becomes obvious. It means that the higher attributes of man's nature are never taken at their face value; they are nothing but manifestations of something lower clown and more elemental in the scale of beings. The materialistic philosophy is always a philosophy of "nothing but."
The conclusion of the foremost protagonists in our day of the doctrine of the survival of the fittest and natural selection that the esthetic and religious attributes of men are merely by-products of their survival and sexual instincts, is a conspicuous and remarkable illustration of this truth, and the so-called economic interpretation of human life and society is an illustration from a different angle of the same thing. From the natural history standpoint, on the other hand, there is no more question about the reality and validity and fundamentality of man's higher attributes than of his lower attributes, for it recognizes that the attributes of natural objects, being the very fundamentals of knowledge itself, never are, and seemingly never can be, reduced or explained by referring them to the attributes of other bodies lower in the scale. Its office is not to find something more fundamental and elemental behind attributes either high or low, but to make sure of the validity and generality of all attributes and then get them into a consistent scheme of classification. It, consequently, in the very nature of its procedure, has to fix upon standards of value and importance of attributes. It is in position to accept—nay, more, from the very nature of its undertaking, it must accept men like all other beings and objects in the full range of their natures.
But while I am emphasizing the belief that the natural history way of viewing the world is capable of meeting the deepest needs of man's nature, while the materialistic can not possibly do this, I would wish to make it quite clear that this is not my main motive, as a man of science, in defending the natural history standpoint. Primarily, my position is, that the natural history standpoint is the only one that is in accord with both the historic development of natural knowledge and the fundamental nature of knowledge itself, as well as with the processes by which it is acquired. And I should like to establish the claim that when the scientific interpretation of nature is genuinely sound, as judged by its own undertakings and best interests, it will encourage in every way the fullest and freest development and expression and satisfaction of the whole gamut of man's nature consistent with the healthful coordination of all the independent parts thereof; that is, consistent with the whole of life, individual and social.
And this brings me to the focus of the evening's enterprise: The chance and the duty of natural history to beneficently influence the attitude of people generally toward the world—toward nature, man and society. You will not, I trust, have understood me to mean natural history in any restrictive sense. As I am thinking of it, it includes every aspect of knowledge that aims to find out in the most comprehensive and accurate way possible, the make-up of the world outside our own heads. The distinctive thing about it is not so much how far its knowledge shall reach, as is the character of what that knowledge shall be. The goal of its striving is not to understand the constitution of the matter of which the world is composed, but of the world itself. Physical geography, geology, mineralogy, oceanography and astronomy are consequently no less provinces of natural history than are paleontology, botany, zoology and anthropology.
For the ends of general education, the study of natural history should beget the habit of mind of demanding the widest and exactest knowledge attainable touching any situation in life where decision and action are necessary; and it should provide the individual with a large fund of information, all so vitally correlated and intertwined as to give every faculty of the mind the greatest measure of sensitiveness and avidity for new knowledge and higher enjoyment. It should create a great complex of knowledge, the whole logical and rational substance of which should be penetrated through and through by a subdued emotional appreciation of the beauty there is in the great whole.
Such a knowledge would, perforce, hold the world in reverence even after all due regard were given to those portions of it which are unseemly and ugly and evil.
For the ends of scientific education and research, the study of such natural history would serve to counteract the tendencies toward sophistication which appear to be an inevitable concomitant of the rigorous mathematical treatment of such portions of nature as are amenable to these methods. Whatever the department of science to which any life may be dedicated, sufficient attention should be given to what is fundamentally involved in the elemental processes of observing, naming and classifying, to insure against the perils of ever fofgetting that these processes are really fundamental to all natural knowledge.
To attempt to banish these simple operations from the august presence of exact science because one may to a considerable extent carry them on more or less automatically and unconsciously is folly, sure and disastrous, no less than would be the attempt to banish one's feet from the act of walking or his hands from piano-playing, because these members may do their parts, after once being well schooled, with little or no attention to them.