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APPLICATION OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY 5
from the foremost outskirts of physical science, there lies in full view a realm till now untrodden by mortals even in their dreams-the promise of power to fulfil ambitions as yet latent, wealth and energy adequate to eliminate for ever the struggle for existence on its physical side, strength, at least in great measure, to make of life whatsoever we will. Even the probable route forward can be dimly made out, the way the pioneers will most likely pursue to enter the promised land. And then?
Judging from past experience, from the uses to which the enlarged opportunities and dominance already conferred by physical science have been put, is it so certain that man is ripe for such a myriadfold multiplication of his physical powers? Apart altogether from war, what would the unscientific wisdom of the age make of the golden opportunity more publicly beneficial than more millionaires and more slums? There arises the challenge: Is there a single practical branch of human thought or knowledge which has been left untouched, nay, more, which has not been altered to its very foundations, by the progress of science? The education of those to whom for the most part is entrusted the happiness and destiny of nations ceases where it should begin.
For a modern ruler the laws of the conservation and transformation of energy, whence the vivifying stream takes its source, the ways it wends its course in nature, and how, under wisdom and knowledge, it may be intertwined with human destiny, instead of careering headlong to the ocean, are a study at least as pregnant with consequences to life as any lesson taught by the long unscientific history of man. The essential public questions of the day find in such modern advances a suggestive and connected interpretation.
Youth ought to breathe in science with its mother tongue, in addition to the ancient wisdom of those who lived directly on sunlight. A prolonged course of pettifogging crofting fits no man to administer vast possessions. With the exception of a few, to whom it is a hobby, public men in this country are as ignorant of the meaning of science to life as the man in the street is of the Greek alphabet.
It is not difficult to comprehend the precise condition which science has introduced into human affairs, and to which every feature peculiar to the present age can be more or less directly traced. It is the effective control and utilisation of inanimate sources of energy. The power of a man to do work -one man-power-is, in its purely physical sense, now an insignificant accomplishment, and could only again justify his existence if other sources of power failed. To increase and multiply one man-power is the object of all social systems from time immemorial.
The modern Ship of State moves with an unseen power. Old salts still trim the useless sails in true maritime fashion, and there is a talk on deck of hurricanes and doldrums, maelstroms and monsoons. But those below the deck, who provide the power, know where the ship would sail to, if sail it ever had to again. Curious persons in cloisteral seclusion are experimenting with new sources of energy, which, if ever harnessed, would make coal and oil as useless as oars and sails. If they fail in their quest, or are too late, so that coal and oil, everywhere sought for, are no longer found, and the only hope of men lay in their time-honoured traps to catch the sunlight, who doubts that galley-slaves and helots would reappear in the world once more? The history of man is dominated by, and reflects, the amount of available energy. The energy available for each individual man is his income, and the philosophy which can
DIVORCE OF SCIENCE FROM EDUCATION
teach him to be content with penury should be capable of teaching him also the uses of wealth.
A single modern machine does the work of tens of thousands of labourers, releasing them from the benumbing and soul-destroying effect of unremittent physical labour. The very same movement which lightened the task of men, favoured women even more. The minimisation of individual brute strength in the affairs of life could hardly do otherwise.
ITS EFFECT ON EDUCATION.
Each year science increases by so many millions of horse-power its patient armies of inanimate slaves. The adoption of slave labour by Imperial Rome, we are taught, laid that mighty civilisation in the dust. Already the new slave of science has laid in ruins. all the ineradicable doctrines derived from the history and experience of a time when the physical environment was unchanging. Those who pleaded just for one or two at least of the ancient seats of learning to be left untouched and unreformed amid the startling and dangerous innovations of science, as a sanctuary for what was noble and enduring in the thought of the past, may have perpetuated an anachronism, safe enough in a monastery, but infinitely more dangerous than innovation where it concerns the education of future generations of public men. If men so trained had been debarred from holding public positions in the State, or even if they had been regarded, so far as their training was serious, as specialists, instead of becoming the fashion and being preferred as the traditional type which all systems of general education should strive to produce, no possible objection could be taken. But it is absurd that the administration of a modern State should be left to men ignorant of science and of its
human consequences. More serious consequences have attended the overweighting of education by dead and moribund habits of thought than would have attended an overweighting of education with science. So great is the discontinuity between the present and any previous period.
One may believe that the human aspect of learning, if it is the highest, is also the last aspect to be achieved, and if no adequate appreciation of the older humanities can be arrived at without long preparation in the grammar and etymology of ancient languages, so no adequate appreciation of the newer scientific humanities can be derived without a long discipline in the grammar and principles of science. In spite of all make-believe to the contrary, this is the age of science.
One may walk through any city, as the early Greek sculptor did in his day, absorbing unconsciously from its medley of sights and sounds the fleeting impressions which, in a trained mind, fuse together and congeal, epitomising for all time the animation of a moment. Science is not sculpturing from models. Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. But the workmen are building in steel and the designers are thinking in stone.
THE NEED FOR ADAPTATION.
Human nature, in general, is the result of an age-long adaptation to what has been hitherto, for any one country, an essentially unchanging physical environment. Emigration to other countries, as in the population of the Americas, produces corresponding marked changes of human nature, and the rapidity of these changes among the mixed population which finds its way into the United States is well known. The subjection of inanimate sources
THE NEED FOR ADAPTATION
of energy resulted in a far vaster and more sudden change of physical environment than a mere geographical alteration, and its effect on human nature have been more immediate and universal than could be produced by any local migrations in themselves. The change is the more immediate and complete, as one generation succeeds another, among those upon whom the struggle for existence presses the more directly. It began at the bottom with the unskilled labourer. It is resisted the more strenuously, and for the time the more effectively, in accordance as an accumulation of wealth, interests or privileges serves to protect the resister from the natural consequences of being out of tune with his environment, or endear him to the conditions which are changing.
In such resistance is to be found the explanation of the disquieting fact that the vast social reconstruction everywhere in progress is volcanic rather than a normal healthy growth. There is scarcely a social change of any consequence which has not, like the right of combination of labour, taken its origin and assumed strength from below, and burst through the resistance offered to it from above. After having been denounced as anti-social, it is, in due course, welcomed and universally adopted by official and orthodox circles, so soon as the further progress of the movement has made it appear as the least of inevitable evils. Even the nationalisation of railways, land, and the sources of wealth, the conscription of capital, and all the rank heresies of a little while ago, are now receiving serious consideration. Perhaps most significant of all such ideas is that of the international co-operative labour movement against war.
This movement is a remarkable instance of how the forces compelling change find expression, in spite of the most innate traditions, such as patriotism