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may be explained and co-ordinated are quite as uniform, quite as beautiful, and as far-reaching in their applications as any of the laws of language or the truths of mathematics. Moreover, the processes of thought required in the study of these questions are just as rigorous, just as stimulating, stand in just as close a relation to the intellectual needs of a well-instructed man as those involved in the older studies. You can make the teaching of physical science as fruitful, as thoroughly disciplinal for all the higher purposes contemplated in a liberal education as the teaching of Greek or of geometry if you will only first recognize the possibility of making it so, if you will encourage skilled and accomplished men to take up this branch of instruction, and are ready to give them the same status and encouragement which you now give to accomplished teachers of philology or history. Enlarge your conception of what a liberal education means. Let that conception include some acquaintance with the actual constitution of the world we live in, of the forces which surround us, of the framework of our own bodies and the laws of matter and of life, and make provision for these things, as well as for those facts and speculations which are to be found only in books, and which have hitherto usurped the name of scholarship."
There is surely great force in this appeal, and no one Reasons of us who has any power of controlling the education of for these the young can properly disregard it. We may wish, for our own parts, that some Huxley or Tyndall had enunciated this message before we ourselves went to school, for then we might discuss with greater advantage the true claims of physical science and the place it should hold in a school course. But of the legitimacy of those claims there can be no doubt, and it may be well for us to try to analyse them.
(1) The For, consider in the first place the immense practical utilities of usefulness of some knowledge of physical science and the physical trutis. number of unexpected applications to the use and service
of man which are found to grow out, not only of every new discovery, but of every honest effort to submit old discoveries to the test of new observation and experiment. One man studies carefully the nature of light, tries experiments with refracting media, with reflecting instruments, separates the rays, ascertains the chemical effect of certain rays on certain substances. He does all this perhaps from mere interest in the discovery of new and beautiful truth, and has no suspicion that speculative experiments of this kind can serve any immediate practical purpose. But soon it appears that what he has done enables us to find some new illuminating power, or that out of it grows the whole art of photography, with all its wonderful developments, its power to record what is beautiful, to represent to us a beloved countenance, to register the phænomena of nature, and even to aid in the detection of crime. It would not be difficult to shew that almost every new and valuable invention from the spinning-jenny to the telephone, which has increased the control of man over nature, economized his time or added to his comfort, is the product of scientific knowledge, and often of experiments and researches which had at first no merely utilitarian purpose, but were undertaken with the sole and simple object of discovering the secrets of nature, and revealing truth. And there is not a single lesson by means of which you can convey to a child a strong interest in any one department of physical science which may not develop itself, as it works and germinates in his mind, into results and discoveries of unexpected value, and add enormously to the resources and to the enjoyments of mankind.
A second reason for giving to a learner some ac- (2) Their quaintance with nature and with the laws which govern and inher phænomena is the extreme beauty of the truths them- tellectual
attractiveselves. Even if nothing useful were to be gained by the study of science, it would be a shame to pass our lives in this well-ordered and harmonious world, and catch no echoes of the music of its laws; to be surrounded every day by mysteries, none of which we ever tried to penetrate; to possess a body fearfully and wonderfully made, and to cast no thoughts on its structure, its physiology, the functions of its parts, the marvellous adaptation of means to ends; to find oneself conveyed 60 miles an hour through the agency of steam, and one's thoughts conveyed a thousand times faster by the agency of electricity; and yet to know nothing of the nature of these forces or the laws of their action; to walk amid flowers and rocks, glaciers and avalanches, and to remain uninstructed and untouched by them. But it is mainly by the conscious and systematic study of natural science that we learn to notice all these things and to draw right inferences from them. It must be knowledge of nature after all that is at the basis of a true enjoyment of her works, and a true reverence for her Author.
“Is it not,” says Herbert Spencer, "an absurd and almost a sacrilegious belief that the more a man studies Nature, the less he reveres it? Think you that a drop of water, which to the vulgar eye is merely a drop of water, loses anything in the eye of the physicist who knows that its elements are held together by a force which if suddenly liberated would produce a flash of lightning ? Think you that what is carelessly looked upon by the uninitiated as a mere snow-flake does not suggest higher associations to one who has seen through a microscope the wondrously-varied and elegant forms of snow-crystals? Think you that the rounded rock marked with parallel scratches, calls up as much poetry in an ignorant mind as in the mind of a geologist who knows that over this rock a glacier slid a million of years ago ? The truth is, that
those who have never entered on scientific pursuits are blind to most of the poetry by which they are surrounded. Whoever has not in youth collected plants and insects, knows not half the halo of interest which lanes and hedge-rows can assume. Whoever has not sought for fossils, has little idea of the poetical associations that surround the places where imbedded treasures were found. Whoever at the seaside has not had a microscope and aquarium, has yet
to learn what the highest pleasures of the seaside are?” (3) The But after all, the main reason for teaching some disciplinal
, branch of physical science is to be found in considering inductive the sort of processes by which the truths of such science process.
are investigated, and the faculties of mind which are exercised in the course of physical investigations. For in the first place a student of any branch of natural history or science must learn to observe carefully, to use his eyes and to know the difference between facts which are abnormal and facts which are typicat. Therr he must come into actual contact with realities, must handle objects, must try experiments, must question matter and nature closely, must wait and watch, must invent new forms of test until he is quite sure that he has hold of the true answer. And when he has observed the phænomena, he has to reason from them inductively, and pass from particular facts to the general laws which underlie and comprehend them. We saw in considering the subject of mathematics that certain axioms and data being postulated the reasoner proceeded deductively, and out of them unfolded in due sequence an orderly series of particular truths. We saw that mathematics afforded a discipline in pure logic in passing from premiss to conclusion, in detecting fallacies in reasoning, and generally in deducing special inferences from wide, comprehensive and admitted truths. But in the physical sciences the mind proceeds in exactly the opposite direction. You begin with the particulars, you combine and co-ordinate them, and at Process of inductive reasoning.
last, when you have enough of them, you arrive at some general proposition which includes them all. This generalized truth, which is the starting-point in mathematics, is the goal in physics; and whereas researches in the physical sciences tell you how to get at your major premiss, or your universal truth, it is the business of mathematics and of logic to tell you what inferences you may deduce from such a truth when you have got it. So all investigations into the phænomena of nature must begin by the observation of facts. The observer must put his facts together, must group them according to their resemblances and differences, and see what they have to say for themselves. He must have no prepossessions, no wish to twist the facts into a particular direction. His theory or final generalization when it comes must have been actually suggested by the facts.
This kind of procedure is very different from that by Inductive which the mind acts in syllogistic reasoning; and it is not reasoning. wonderful that in the middle ages, when people began to study the nature of matter and of force, they should have imagined that all truth about these things was to be obtained in the same way as the truths about geometry, by the methods of Aristotelian logic. Hence, even the early physicists hampered themselves with certain dogmas, or first principles, which seemed to them self-evident, that “nothing can act where it is not,” that “nature abhorred a vacuum,” that there was somewhere in the world a substance which would transmute all metals into gold, that some source of perpetual motion could be discovered, or that “out of nothing nothing can come.” It was against this kind of assumption that Bacon and Newton protested. Hypotheses non fingo-said the one. Man," said the other, “is the minister and interpreter of nature." It is his business to find out what she actually says and