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recognizes once more the marvelous expansion of thought which has been gained since the promulgation and adoption of the inductive method of inquiry ; while some are more or less clearly aware that the body of accepted scientific principles constitutes a systematic view of the world which, though in itself and strictly interpreted it be no more than a system of correlated truths concerning phenomena, easily passes over into a metaphysical doctrine.
This last item in the success of science has its dangers, as well as its beneficent promise. These deserve greater attention than is commonly devoted to them. But for the present purpose it is more important to notice that science exerts a reflex influence on human thinking, which, as it appears to the writer, is to be reckoned among its greatest achievements. For, in the broad sense of the term, science is a true philosophy; that is to say, its method is based on thought processes and its results lead on to principiant conclusions, even when in themselves they do not amount to definite principles. It is an old error, though one which certain so-called scientists have done their best to keep alive, that scientific work depends upon the exercise of the observational rather than of the rational faculties. The popular mind too often thinks of the scientist as one who peers up through telescopes or down through microscopes, who manufactures queer odors in places called laboratories, or cuts up unfortunate beasts in laboratories of a different sort and name, and who then gives himself to the exact recording of the facts he has observed the whole process in some mysterious way at times producing practical results of a useful kind, at times tending to subvert the foundations of religious faith. But to the student of scientific method the matter assumes a different aspect. The factors in scientific inquiry which most appeal to his appreciation do not consist in the patient observation and experimentation and the exact recording of the data thus obtained, however much he may be disposed to admire the successful devotion with which these necessary operations are performed; rather does he dwell with pleasure on the scientific imagination which strikes out hypotheses fruitful because of their very simplicity and audacity as well as because of the basis of ascertained fact
forming their point of departure; and most of all he is impressed by the scope, by the brilliancy, by the precision in thinking-thinking in the narrower meaning of the termexhibited by the scientists whose discoveries have made the modern age illustrious. Copernicus and Kepler and Galileo and Newton-to choose a few names from the standpoint of a layman in science-Linnæus and Cuvier and Humboldt, Dalton and Kirchhoff and Bunsen, Helmholtz and Clerk Maxwell, Darwin and Wallace, and the later developers of biological evolution—no mere empirics these, but intellectual leaders in whom patience in research was well mated with the highest powers of correlating thought, synthetic thinkers in the strictest sense, philosophers, if the term be understood to include thinkers of comprehensive grasp and combining faculty, as well as those who give themselves especially to speculative reflection. The case is evident, again, if the results of science be considered, instead of its exponents. The heliocentric astronomy, the theory of gravitation, the atomic analysis of matter, the conservation and correlation of energy, the evolutionary origin of species, the discoveries of solar physics, the germ theory of disease—scientific conclusions like these are principles which bring into connection great masses of facts previously isolated, and which render inference possible to other phenomena distant in time or remote in place. . In consequence of these triumphant labors there has been developed a new ground of confidence in the powers of the human mind. Never before in the history of thought has there been given so impressive an illustration of the capacity of the mind for the discovery of truth. It is especially noteworthy that in no previous era of doubt—the eighteenth century, when also science exerted a constructive effect, alone approximates the present age in this respect_has mankind been in possession of so large and so important a body of accepted conclusions. Thus, amid all the critical questionings of the time, science has exercised a potent steadying influence. Though it has brought into question principles in other departments of thought where our inferences, since they take a wider sweep, are less susceptible of demonstration and less permanently accepted—just as by the rigorous accuracy of its method it has created standards which these other disciplines are unable to attain--within the limits of its own field it has furnished so striking an instance of the power of thought that the
has been delivered from some of the worst miseries which have beset mankind in other skeptical eras. For, as the writer has remarked elsewhere, the difference between certain forms of ancient skepticism and the agnosticism of today is measured by the extent of the imposing edifice of predictable fact and verifiable law in which our science consists. Therefore, whatever be held to be true concerning the possibility of knowledge in the regions of metaphysics and theology, few henceforward will have the hardihood to refuse credence to the conclusions of the sciences of phenomena when they are taken in their strict and proper meaning. Seldom, again, unless science itself should fail, are we likely to hear the wail of the old Greek sophist, “ Nothing is,” and “If any: thing were, it would be unknowable,” and “ If anything were, and were knowable, the knowledge could not be communicated ;” for such cries of despair do not go up in times when men are busy in seeking and in finding the secrets which nature has hitherto kept hidden since the world began.
And this element in the thought of the time is great gain. If prophesying were at all in place, one might venture the prediction that later ages will look back with surprise on the failure of so many thinkers of the present time to recognize these positive implications of natural science. Misled, these historians of the future will say, by the conflict between the newly discovered principles and their cherished beliefs, many of the choicest minds of the nineteenth century were blinded to the services which science rendered in saving their age from utter mental despair, in contrast to the votaries of the new learning who, too often, with equal misapprehension of the truth supposed that all man's spiritual need was to be supplied by nourishing his soul on a diet of general laws. Moreover, in addition to their value as a preservative of general mental health, the conclusions of science bear in a positive sense on certain abstract problems which have perplexed modern thought. Berkeley's paradox concerning the external world, for instance, no longer finds its chief non-philosophical antag.
onist in popular opinion, for the realistic assumptions implicit in scientific theory have not merely reinforced the metaphysics of naïve consciousness, but, as science progresses, have made their influence felt in abstract philosophy as well. In a similar way the postulate of a world-order has become intrenched in recent thinking to a very remarkable degree. If Hume himself abated somewhat of his skepticism in favor of everyday life and inductive inquiries, the many thinkers of this later age who have inherited largely of his negative spirit have gone beyond their master, including the principle of uniformity among their somewhat scanty stock of dogmatic beliefs. It is true that philosophy is forced to consider the subject in another aspect, since the question of the world-order for it forms a central and critical problem-a problem, moreover, in whose solution any evidence of an experimental kind is of doubtful validity. But it, too, does not escape the positive impulse which differentiates the agnosticism of the close of the nineteenth century from the skepticism of a hundred and fifty years ago. The argument might be continued further in connection with the recoil from the unbelief of the mid-century to the renewal of interest in philosophical and religious questions which has been characteristic of recent decades. In this movement, also, it would be found that the scientific impulse and the outcome of scientific inquiry have played their important parts. But the discussion, thus developed, would transgress the limits of the present opportunity. Enough has been said, perhaps, to defend the conclusion which to the student of contemporary opinion is abundantly evident. On the one hand, it is clear that natural science, like history, has been a chief instrument in the development of the critical problems of the age and in the genesis of recent doubt; on the other, and like history again, it reconps us in measure for the loss, furnishing a residuum of undoubted value and supplying always an impulse, sometimes a basis for fresh constructive work.
Art. II.--CARLYLE, TENNYSON, AND BROWNING
ON THE FUTURE LIFE. PERENNIALLY interesting are questions concerning death. Does the coffin hold all that there is of man after the pulse is still, or does the redeemed soul go to be forever with the Lord ? The Old Testament makes incomplete answer, but the New Testament reveals a glorious life hereafter. Many able men, even at the present day, have not emerged from the dimness and confusion of the Old Testament into the bright sunshine of Corinthians and the clear gospel of John.
Carlyle, Tennyson, and Browning were all religious; not as manifestly so as Milton and Dante, but more so than Keats. Without religion our three contemporaries could not have been nearly all that they were. We do not here discuss the gen. eral subject of their religion, but only their attitude toward belief in the future life. The Christian should not be indif. ferent to the service rendered by imaginative genius to his cause, any more than he should surrender the grounds of his faith in subservience to great names. Every intelligent believer in spiritual things must rejoice that the three men whose names stand above this article did not train in the camp of materialism. Carlyle, Tennyson, and Browning, great in literature, are not, to be sure, authorities on theology any more than Darwin, Huxley, and Tyndall, who are eminent in physical science; yet the Church is not indifferent to the scorn of materialists or the friendliness of literary masters.
The position of Carlyle toward immortality is not satisfactory. This man, who claimed that a miracle was mathematically impossible, naturally never appears to accept the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus. So much the worse for Carlyle, for the proof of the resurrection is so adequate that the acceptance of the testimony is more reasonable than the attitude of incredulity. Beyond question Carlyle was a religious man, but he is almost willful in the way in which he alludes to any attempt to define his faith, or even to afford data for a clear surmise of his faith. The idea of God engages much of his thoughts, and (this bears particularly upon the subject in hand)