Previous Index Next
Page 112
(previous) (Page 000112) (next)
 
112 FRAGMEN TS OF SCIENCE.

their relationship to each other. When this is done, we
find that the observed motion of the hands follows of ne-
cessity from the inner mechanism of the watch, when acted
upon by the force invested in the Spring.

The motion of the hands may be called a phenomenon
of art, but the case is similar with the phenomena of Nature.
These also have their inner mechanism, and their store of
force to set that mechanism going. The ultimate problem
of physical science is to reveal this mechanism, to discern
this store, and to show that from the combined action of
both the phenomena of which they constitute the basis
must of necessity flow.

I thought an attempt to give you even a brief and
sketchy illustration of the manner in which scientific think-
ers regard this problem would not be uninteresting to you
on the present occasion ; more especially as it will give me
occasion to say a word or two on the tendencies and limits
of modern science; to point out the region which men of
science claim as their own, and where it is mere waste of
time to oppose their advance, and also to define, if possible,
the bourne between this and that other region to which
the questionings and yearnings of the scientific intellect
are directed in vain.

But here your tolerance will be needed. It was the
American Emerson, I think, who said that it is hardly pos-
sible to state any truth strongly without apparent injustice
to some other truth. Truth is often of a dual character,
taking the form of a magnet with two poles ; and many of
the differences which agitate the thinking part of mankind
are to be traced to the exclusiveness with which partisan
reasoners dwell upon one-half of the duality in forgetfulness
of the other. The proper course appears to be to state
both halves strongly, and allow each its fair share in the
formation of the resultant conviction. But this waiting for
the statement of the two sides of a question implies pa-

Previous Index Next