The St. Louis Congress of Arts and Sciences
THE Universal Exposition at St. Louis constitutes, in the expansion of the grounds, in the plans of the buildings, in the stage of the preparation, in the eagerness of all countries to participate, and, above all, in the inner scope of the undertaking, a gigantic work of immeasurable value for the Southwest and of high importance for national and international progress. In the face of this broad development it was a most natural wish that where commerce and
( 672) industry, art and education, the products of all lands and callings, are exhibited, the work of the scientist should come also to a full presentation. To be sure, just as modern art will reign over every hall and beautify every corner in the mimic city, so science will penetrate the educational and hygienic exhibitions, will swing the wheels in the industrial halls, and will show its inventions under every roof. And yet, just as art demands its own unfolding in the gallery of paintings and sculptures, so science seeks to concentrate all its energies on one spot, and show the cross-section of human knowledge in our days. That, however, cannot be done for the eyes. The great work which grows day by day in quiet libraries and laboratories, and on a thousand university platforms, can be exhibited only by words. Every visible expression, like that of heaped-up printed volumes, would be dead to the World's Fair spectator. How to make such words living, how to make them helpful to the thinkers and scholars themselves, and, at the same time, to human progress,— this was the problem which burdened the responsible authorities of the Exposition.
The official history of the steps which followed is easily told. The directors of the Exposition appointed an Administrative Board to supervise the arrangements for a representative gathering of scholars. The chairman of that board is the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler; Boston is represented by the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Henry S. Pritchett; Washington, by the librarian of Congress, Herbert Putnam ; Chicago, by the president of the University of Chicago, William R. Harper; the welcoming state of Missouri, by the president of its State University, Richard H. Jesse; the legal aspect is represented by Frederick William Holls, the member of the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague; and the World's Fair itself, by F. J. V. Skiff, director of the exhibits. Finally Mr. Howard J. Rogers, as chief of the department of education, took charge of the technical supervision of all the congresses held in connection with the World's Fair. The Administrative Board, immediately after its organization, appointed a scientific board of scholars to work as the Committee on Plan and Scope. Of this America's most famous scientist, Professor Simon Newcomb of Washington, was chairman. In this committee Newcomb himself represented the exact sciences ; W. H. Welch of Johns Hopkins, medicine ; George F. Moore of Harvard, theology; Albion Small of Chicago, the social sciences; John B. Moore of Columbia, jurisprudence ; Elihu Thompson, the technical sciences; and the writer, the philosophical sciences. This committee met several times in New York, discussed several plans, and finally accepted one, recommended it to the Administrative Board, and then stepped out of existence. The Administrative Board approved the plan and recommended its realization to the directors of the World's Fair. The decisive step quickly followed. The World's Fair authorities accepted the plan, voted the necessary large sum of money, appointed Professor Newcomb as president, Professor Small and myself as vice presidents of the whole congress, and made us at the same time an organizing committee with power to prepare the whole undertaking, with the technical supervision of the Administrative Board. Since that time — that is, since February — the organizing committee has been steadily at work; and while its work must still be for a time a quiet one, it may lie not outside of the line of this work if one of its members steps up to the honored platform in Park Street and tells a wider circle what those plans are, and why they ask for interest and favor.
The whole plan has been controlled by one single definite purpose, and this pur-
( 673) -pose itself has been marked out by the convergence of many reasons. I might approach the point best if I quote extensively at first from a letter which I wrote last fall, in reply to a private inquiry, to the World's Fair authorities, long before the official congress boards were appointed. I said there: —
"The traditional scheme of World's Fair congresses consists in a long list of unconnected meetings with a long programme of unconnected papers. I realize fully that such a routine scheme offers to the management the fewest possible difficulties: it needs hardly any preparation. But already at the last Paris Exposition, there was a general feeling that such an arrangement was on the whole useless, without any important value for science, and without any reason for being. And while the city of Paris, with its large body of scholars of first rank and its old traditions, and especially its convenient location, prevented the internal shortcomings of the congresses from being manifest, nothing of that kind holds for St. Louis. No scholar would feel attracted by a repetition of such meetings there; every one would feel that a World's Fair was the worst possible place for such an undertaking, and that there was no reason to do in St. Louis what each science is doing much more comfortably every year in quiet places of its own selection. In the meantime the aversion to international congresses, with their confusion of languages, has grown on all sides. On the other hand, the idea of overcoming this aversion of Europeans by paying them richly for coming would be most dangerous to the reputation of scholarly life in America. Real scholars are not used to being paid for attending the usual congresses and for reading papers in them. The Europeans would interpret such offers as a symptom of American inability to prepare good papers, and they would thus come in a missionary spirit; they would come to speak down to Americans, and the result would be a serious blow to the reputation of American intellectual life. Add to this all the growing feeling of a surfeit of over-specialization in the sciences of today, a feeling which would be forced on every one who should see such a list of a hundred congresses no one of which knows what its neighbors are doing; the American nation, with its instinctive desire for organization and unity in work, would especially dislike such disconnection.
"In my opinion, the St. Louis plan can be a success only if a way is found to do in every one of these respects exactly the opposite thing. Instead of heaping up once more the scattered specialistic researches, we must strive toward unity of thought ; instead of artificially creating the missionary spirit in Europe, we must secure a plan of complete cooperation among the scholars of the world ; and instead of arranging the usual programme with its traditional lack of purpose and lack of relation to the occasion, we must create something which has a clear, definite, and new purpose, something which has a mission, and which can fulfill its mission only by calling together the whole world.
"All these demands can be fulfilled by one change: instead of a hundred unconnected congresses, let us have one congress, --- one congress with a hundred sections, to be sure, but one congress; and let us give to this one congress the definite purpose of working toward the unity of human knowledge. Let us give to it the mission, in this time of scattered specialized work, of bringing to the consciousness of the world the too much neglected idea of the unity of truth. Let the rush of the world's work stop for one moment for us to consider what are the underlying principles, what are their relations to one another and to the whole, what are their values and purposes ; in short, let us for once give to the world's sciences a holiday. The workaday functions are much better fulfilled in separation, when each
( 674) science meets at its own place and time, or still better, when each scholar works in his own library or in his laboratory ; but this holiday task to bring out the underlying unity, this synthetic work, — this demands really the cooperation of all, this demands that once at least all sciences come together in one place, at one time. Such an achievement and its printed record would make an epoch for our time, and would be welcomed by the best scholars of the whole world, making it a duty for them to do their share.
"The necessary condition would be a plan in which every possible striving for truth, every theoretical and practical science would find its exact place ; as a matter of course, such a plan would have no similarity with chance combinations of the university catalogue. It must be really a plan which brings the inner relations of all branches of knowledge to light. The very existence of such a ground plan which would give to every section its definite position in the whole system would bring the unity of knowledge strongly to consciousness. Then a programme would have to be worked out for each of these sections, in which the chief papers would deal with the relations of each section to its neighbors and with its leading problems; then programmes for groups of sections, for departments, to consider their common fundamental methods and problems; then such for groups of departments, for divisions, till finally crowned by a reunion of all the divisions. The papers would thus form a network of intellectual relations in which every subject would be interrelated with every other.
"All this can be done only by the first men of the sciences, by men who have a view beyond the narrow limits of their special problems, and who have the authority to express the principles, to lay down the methods, to judge fairly of the fundamental problems of their sciences. But it will be easy to get the assistance of first-class men of all nations for such an end, because the scholars who are tired of the routine congresses, the papers of which do not offer more than any magazine issue, will be ready to work for such an unique undertaking, with an original and important task. And this scheme would also allow of attracting the Europeans over the ocean by a fair honorarium, because — while it would be unbecoming to pay for attendance on a regular congress where they would talk on their own special researches — it would be quite correct to offer full compensation if the speaker were invited to prepare a definite piece of work in the service of a complete plan; Europeans and Americans would in this case stand on the same level, receiving the same honorarium for the papers and differing sums merely for traveling expenses. If thus some hundred leading Europeans and some hundred leading Americans took part, there is no doubt that many hundred less known men would come over the ocean to the congress without any compensation, and that thousands of Americans would join. On the other hand, those interrelated addresses printed with a short abstract of the discussions would be a gigantic monument of the intellectual work of the St. Louis Exposition; it would be a lasting work which no private association could perform. The libraries of our specialistic work today form one big encyclopaedia where one thing stands beside the other. This record would become at last a real system; the whole would be a real' Congress of the United Sciences.' Such a congress might meet in the second half of September, thus being completed before our universities opened. It would be easy to arrange for hospitality in connection with a visit to Chicago, Niagara, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, for the foreign guests, giving them a chance to see in October the large universities at work, and allowing them to reach home at the
( 675) end of October, when the European universities open."
Enough of my letter, which was quickly followed by the administrative development that I have sketched step by step, and now, since the whole machinery of boards and committees has worked through a season, the tentative idea has grown into a full-fledged plan, the classifications are completed, the programmes of the meetings are worked out, the honorary list of speakers is sketched, the cooperation of all countries is invited, and it can be foreseen that before the year comes to an end many hundred scholars all over the world will be at work in their libraries to prepare their part in an undertaking which seemed a vague dream so few months ago. We may consider at first the internal plan, the classification of human knowledge, the principles of grouping and differentiating the sciences ; and then the external plan, the technique of the congress, the outer devices for the realization of unity within the chaos. And finally, a word of the obstacles and difficulties, of our fears, which are not small, and of our hopes, which are greater.
We have divided human knowledge into two parts; into seven divisions; into twenty-five departments; into one hundred and thirty sections, with the possibility of an unlimited number of subsections ; and the preliminary list of the sections has come in printed form, probably, already into many a scholar's hand. But such a mere list is not an argument for its principles of classification. An alphabetical programme which runs from Anthropology to Zoology may have no smaller number of parts. The real interest lies in the logic of the arrangement. The logical problem how to bring order into the wilderness of scientific efforts has fascinated the philosophers from Aristotle and Bacon to Comte and Spencer. The way in which a special time groups its efforts toward truth becomes therefore also a most significant expression of the deeper energies of its civilization, and not the least claim which our coming congress will make is that the programme of its work stands out as a realization of principles which characterize the deepest strivings and the inmost energies of our own time as over against the popular classifications of the nineteenth century.
The positivism which controlled human thought at the height of the naturalistic thinking of the nineteenth century settled the problems in a simple manner. All mental and moral sciences, history and philology, jurisprudence and theology, ethics and aesthetics, economics and politics, deal clearly with human phenomena, with functions of men; but man is a living organism, biology is the science of living organisms: all those branches of knowledge, from history to ethics, from jurisprudence to aesthetics, are thus ramifications of biology. The living organism, on the other hand, is merely one type of physical bodies on earth, and the science of these physical bodies is physics. Biology is thus itself merely a department of physics. But the earthly bodies are merely a part of the cosmic totality; the science of the universe is astronomy; physics is thus merely a part of astronomy. And the whole universe is controlled by mathematical laws; astronomy is thus again subordinated to mathematics. This Comtian speculation was a conscious or subconscious fundamental thought for the anti-philosophic period that lies behind us.
Then came a time which knew better, and which overcame this thinly disguised example of materialism. It was a time when the categories of the physiologist lost slightly in credit, and the categories of the psychologist won repute. This newer time held that it is artificial to consider ethical and logical life, historic and legal action, literary and religious emotion, merely as a physiological function of the living organism ; the mental life, however ne-
( 676) -cessarily connected with brain processes, has a positive reality for itself. The psychical facts represent a world of phenomena which in its nature is absolutely different from that of material phenomena., and, while it is true that every ethical action and every logical thought can, from the standpoint of the biologist, be considered as a property of matter, it is not less true that the sciences of mental phenomena, considered impartially, form a sphere of knowledge closed in itself, and thus coördinated, not subordinated, to the knowledge of the physical world. We would say thus : all knowledge belongs to two classes, the physical sciences and the mental sciences. In the circle of physical sciences we have the general sciences, like physics and chemistry, the particular sciences of special objects, like astronomy, geology, mineralogy, biology, and the formal sciences, like mathematics. In the circle of mental sciences we have correspondingly, as a general science, psychology, and as the particular sciences all those special mental and moral sciences in which man's inner life is dealt with, like history or jurisprudence, logic or ethics, and all the rest. Such classification, which had its philosophical backing about twenty years ago, penetrated the popular thought as fully as the positivism of the foregoing generation, and it was certainly superior to its materialistic fore-runner.
Of course it was not the first time in the history of civilization that materialism was replaced by dualism, that biologism was replaced by psychologism ; and it was also not the first time that the natural development of civilization led again beyond this point: that is, led beyond the psychologizing period. There is no doubt that our time presses on, with all its powerful internal energies, away from this world's view of yesterday. The materialism was anti-philosophic, the psychological dualism was unphilosophic. Today the philosophical movement has set in. The one-sidedness of the nineteenth-century creed is felt in the deeper thought all over the world the popular movements and scholarly efforts alike show the signs of a coming idealism, which has something better and deeper to say than merely that our life is a series of causal phenomena. Our time longs for a new interpretation of reality; from the midst of every science wherein for decades philosophizing was despised, the best scholars turn again to a discussion of fundamental conceptions and general principles. Historical thinking begins to take again the leadership which for half a century belonged to naturalistic thinking; specialistic research demands increasingly from day to day the readjustment toward higher unities, and the technical progress which fascinated the world becomes more and more simply a factor in an ideal progress. The appearance of this unifying congress itself is merely one of the thousand symptoms appearing in our public life, and if the scientific philosophy produces today suddenly books upon books to prove that the world of phenomena must be supplemented by the world of values, that description must yield to interpretation, and that explanation must be harmonized with appreciation ; they echo in technical terms the one great emotion of our time.
This certainly does not mean that any step of the gigantic materialistic, technical, and psychological development will be reversed, or that progress in any of these directions ought to cease; on the contrary, no time was ever more ready to put its immense energies into the service of naturalistic work ; but it does mean that our time recognizes the one-sidedness of these movements, recognizes that they belong only to one aspect of reality, and that another aspect is possible; yes, that the other aspect is the one of our immediate life with its purposes and its ideals, its historical relations and its logical aims.
( 677) The claim of materialism, that all psychical facts are merely functions of the organism, was no argument against psychology, because the biological aspect was possible, and yet the other aspect is certainly a necessary supplement; in the same way it is no argument against the newer view that all purposes and ideals, all historical actions and logical thoughts, can be considered as psychological phenomena. Of course we can consider it as such, and we must go on to do so in the service of the psychological and sociological sciences ; but we ought not to imagine that we have expressed and understood the real character of our historical or moral, our logical or religious life when we have described and explained it as a series of phenomena. Its immediate reality expresses itself above all in the fact that it has a meaning, that it is a purpose which we want to understand, not by considering its causes and effects, but by interpreting its aims and appreciating its ideals. We should say therefore today that it is most interesting and important for the scientist to consider human life with all its strivings and creations from a biological, psychological, sociological point of view ; that is, to consider it as a system of causal phenomena; and many problems worthy of the highest energies have still to be solved in these sciences. But that which the jurist or the theologian, the student of art or of history, of literature or of politics, of education or of morality, is dealing with refers to the other aspect in which inner life is not a phenomenon but a system of purposes, not to be explained but to be interpreted, not to be approached by causal but by teleological methods. In this case the historical sciences are no longer subsections of psychological or of sociological sciences; the conception of science is no longer identical with the conception of the science of phenomena; there exist sciences which do not deal with the description or explanation of phenomena at all, but with the internal relation and connection, the interpretation and appreciation of purpose. In this way the modern thought demands that sciences of purposes become coördinated to sciences of phenomena.
But at the very threshold it is clear that purposes and phenomena alike can be of two kinds. We have physical phenomena and we have mental phenomena. Their only difference is that the mental phenomena with which psychology deals are individual phenomena given to one subject only, while the physical phenomena are objects for every possible subject. In the same way there are purposes that are individual purposes, and other purposes which have a more than individual meaning, which are intended as purposes valuable for every one whom we acknowledge as a subject: the logical, the ethical, the aesthetic purposes. These purposes of more than individual value are called our norms; the sciences which deal with them are thus the normative sciences, which interpret our absolute intentions. On the other side stand the sciences of the individual intentions; their totality represents the system of historical purposes in its endless ramifications of political, legal, educational, literary, and religious activities. They form the historical sciences, and we come thus necessarily to a fourfold division of all theoretical knowledge: we have the normative sciences, the historical sciences, the physical sciences, and the mental sciences. That is indeed the chief grouping of theoretical knowledge which our International Congress has definitely accepted, thus leaving far behind it the one - sidedness of materialism and of phenomenalism.
But we are fully aware of another one-sidedness of which we should be guilty if these four divisions of knowledge should be declared as the only ones. That would mean that science is considered to be identical with theoretical science. Positivism takes that
( 678) for granted too. The conception of practical science was not seldom declared to be a contradiction in itself, and all the technical sciences, for instance, were considered as a mixture of theoretical science and art. But as soon as we understand that the different sciences do not mean different material only, but first of all different aspects, then we must see also that a really new science enters into existence when the task is to understand the relations between physical or mental, normative or historical facts on the one side, and practical ends of ours on the other. The study of these relations between the facts and our ends constitutes indeed a whole group, which as practical sciences must be coordinated to the theoretical sciences. But there arises at once another interesting problem of classification. If the practical sciences link facts and ends, we can group them either with reference to the facts which we want to apply or with reference to the ends which we want to reach. Both ways are logically correct. Every one of the normative or historical, physical or mental, sciences can have, according to the first scheme, its practical counterpart. The engineer applies physical or chemical knowledge, the physician biological knowledge, and in the same way the jurist applies the knowledge of the legal purposes as they have formed themselves in historical development, and so on. But if we enter into the details of the applied sciences, we notice soon that most of them are not confined in their real work to the application of one special theoretical science. Most of them bring about a synthesis of various theoretical sciences for a certain end. Not seldom do we see that normative and historical, physical and psychical sciences converge and become united in one practical discipline, and for this reason it is clearly the simplest scheme to group them not with reference to the applied facts, but with reference to the ends which they are serving. Three large divisions separate themselves in this way. Practical sciences may work toward the material welfare, or they may work toward a harmonization of human interests, or, finally, they may work toward the ideal development of man. It is difficult to select words which express exactly the characteristics of these three groups. For our purpose it may be sufficient to call those sciences which serve material welfare, the utilitarian sciences; those which harmonize the interests of man, regulative sciences; and those which work toward his perfection, cultural sciences. And we have now reached the first level of our classification ; we have divided human knowledge into theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge; the theoretical knowledge into the four divisions of normative, historical, physical, and mental sciences; the practical into the three divisions of utilitarian, regulative, and cultural sciences. The question of the logical principle of classification is settled by this determination. The further branching of these seven divisions into departments, and that of the departments into sections, offers much less difficulty and fewer reasons for disagreement.
Nevertheless, even the departmental subdivision may involve at once logical disputes. Our first division was the normative sciences, and the congress proposes to divide this division into two departments, the philosophical sciences and the mathematical sciences. That the philosophical sciences, like logic, ethics, aesthetic, with all their affiliations, belong here no one will doubt, and no serious student of the profounder problems of philosophy will hesitate to acknowledge finally, perhaps after some initial resistance, that all metaphysics is at bottom the general theory of the ultimate values of our logical, ethical, and aesthetic purposes, and thus belongs too under the normative sciences. But it may be different with our second department, mathematics. Many mathe-
( 679) -maticians would say that the mathematical objects are independent realities whose properties we study like those of nature, whose relations we "observe," whose existence we "discover," and in which we are interested because they belong to the real world. All that is true, and yet the objects of the mathematician are objects made by the will, created in the service of logical purposes, and thus different from all phenomena into which sensation enters. The mathematician of course does not reflect upon the purely logical origin of the objects which he studies, but the system of knowledge must give to the study of the mathematical object its place in that group where the more than individual — that is, the normative — purposes are classified. No doubt the purpose of the mathematical object is the application of the arithmetical or geometrical creation in the world of phenomena, and the mathematical concept must thus fit the world so absolutely that it can be conceived as a description of the world after abstracting from the content; mathematics would then be the phenomenalistic science of the form and order of the world. In this way mathematics has a claim to a place in both fields: among the sciences of phenomena, if we emphasize its applicability to the world ; and among the teleological sciences of purposes, if we emphasize the free creation of its objects by the logical normative will. It was clearly more in harmony with the whole plan of the congress to prefer the latter emphasis, as it brings out more clearly the real roots of the sciences. Mathematics thus stands as a second department beside philosophy, in the normative division.
No other department offers similar difficulties. We have subdivided the division of historical sciences into the departments of political sciences, economic sciences, legal sciences, educational sciences, philologic sciences, aesthetic sciences, and religious sciences ;the division of physical sciences into the departments of general physical sciences, astronomical sciences, geological sciences, biological sciences, and anthropological sciences; and the division of mental sciences into the departments of psychological sciences and sociological sciences. We have thus sixteen departments in the theoretical work. The division of utilitarian sciences was carried out into medical sciences, practical economic sciences, and technological sciences ; the division of regulative sciences into practical political sciences, practical legal sciences, and practical social sciences ; and, finally, the division of cultural sciences into practical educational sciences, practical aesthetic sciences, and practical religious sciences; making thus nine departments in the practical field. These twenty-five departments have been divided further into one hundred and thirty sections. Questions of logical principle were to a less degree involved here, and it was not seldom merely a problem of practical fitness, whether a special branch of knowledge ought to be instituted as an independent section or to be considered as a subsection only, which joins fellow sciences to form a whole section. As we divided the department of astronomy into astrometry and astrophysics, the department of psychology into the sections of general psychology, experimental psychology, child psychology, comparative psychology, and abnormal psychology ; the department of medicine into the sections of hygiene, sanitation, contagious diseases, internal medicine, psychiatry, surgery, gynaecology, ophthalmology, otology, dentistry, therapeutics; the department of practical and social sciences into the sections of treatment of the poor, treatment of the defective, treatment of the dependent, prevention of vice and crime, problems of labor, ,problems of the family, and so on, seventy-one in the theoretical departments and fifty-nine in the practical ones, it is evident that a certain arbitrariness of the
( 680) separation lines was unavoidable, and that many a compromise and adjustment to wider interests must come into play. Many of the sections may appear inexcusably large, as, for instance, the section on the history of modern languages, or on the history of the common law, or on the history of modern Europe, and it would certainly have been easier to provide from the first for three times the number of sections; but on the one side the plan gives fall opportunity for the forming of smaller subsections, and, above all, the chief accent has to lie on the cooperation of those whose special fields lie by principle near together.
We have as yet merely the plan of sciences before us, not the plan of the congress, an empty outline which must be filled with a programme for real work. To fulfill our purpose the dry logical scheme must transform itself into a dramatic action, and only star players will be able to do justice to its meaning. The first procedure necessary to translate our classification into life will be the transformation of the logical order into a temporal order, while the methodological branching out of the sciences must appear in a corresponding differentiation and succession of meetings. The congress must thus open with an assemblage of all its members, must then divide itself into its divisions; after that, into its departments; then into its sections; and finally, into its last ramifications. The concrete plan is this: We begin on Monday, the 19th of September, 1904, late enough to avoid the tropical summer heat of St. Louis, and early enough still to make use of the university vacations. On Monday morning the subject for the whole congress is knowledge as a whole, and its marking off into theoretical and practical knowledge. Monday afternoon the seven divisions meet in seven different halls; Tuesday the seven divisional groups divide themselves into the twenty-five departments, of which the sixteen theoretical ones meet in sixteen different halls on Tuesday morning, and the nine practical, on Tuesday afternoon. In the following four days the departments are split up into the sections ; the seventy-one theoretical sections meeting on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, about eighteen each morning in eighteen halls, and the fifty-nine practical sections on the same days in the afternoons, the arrangement being so made that sections of the same departments meet as far as possible on different days, every one thus being able to attend in the last four days of the first week the meetings of eight different sections, four theoretical and four practical ones, in the narrower circle of his interests. In the second week a free subdivision of the sections is expected, and, moreover, a number of important independent congresses, as, for instance, an international medical congress, an international legal congress, and others, are foreseen for the following days. These independent congresses will highly profit from the presence of all the leading American and foreign scholars, whose coming to St. Louis will be secured by the liberal arrangements of the official congress in the first week; on the other hand, these free congresses represent indeed the logical continuation of the set work of the first seven days, as they most clearly indicate the further branching out of our official sections, leading over to the specialized work of the individual scholars. And yet this second week's work must be, as viewed from the standpoint of our official congress, an external addition, inasmuch as its papers and discussions will be free independent contributions not included in the one complete plan of the first week, in which every paper will correspond to a definite request. The official congress will thus come to an end with the first week, and we shall indicate it by putting the last section of the last department, a section on religious influence in civilization, on
( 681) Sunday morning, when it will not be, like all the others on the foregoing days, in competition with fifteen other sections, and may thus again combine the widest interests. In this section there will be room also for the closing exercises of the official occasion.
The arrangement of the sciences in days and halls is however merely an external aspect. We must finally ask for the definite content. Our purpose was to bring out the unity of all this scattered scientific work of our time, to make living in the world the consciousness of inner unity in the specialized work of the millions spread over the globe. The purpose was not to do over again what is daily done in the regular work at home. We desired an hour of repose, an introspective thought, a holiday sentiment, to give new strength and courage, and, above all, new dignity to the plodding toil of the scientist. Superficial repetitions for popular information in the Chautauqua style and specialistic contributions like the papers in the issues of the latest scientific magazines would be thus alike unfit for our task. The topics which we need must be those which bring out the interrelation of the sciences as parts of the whole; the organic development out of the past ; the necessary tendencies of today; the different aspects of the common conceptions; and the result is the following plan : —
We start with the three introductory addresses on Scientific Work, on the Unity of Theoretical Knowledge, and on the Unity of Practical Knowledge, delivered by the president and the two vice presidents. After that the real work of the congress begins with a branching out of the seven divisions. In each one of them the topic is fundamental conceptions. Then we resolve ourselves into the twenty-five departments, and in each one the same two leading addresses will be delivered ; one on the development of the department during the last hundred years, and one on its methods. From here the twenty-five departments pass to their sectional work, and in each of the one hundred and thirty sections again two set addresses will be provided; one on the relations of the section to the other sciences, one on the problems of to-day ; and only from here does the work move during the second week into the usual channels of special discussions. We have thus during the first week a system of two hundred and sixty sectional, fifty departmental, seven divisional, three congressional addresses which belong internally together, and are merely parts of the one great thought which the world needs, the unity of knowledge.
One thing is clear from the beginning, — that there is no place in this plan for second-rate men with second-hand knowledge. We need the men who stand high enough to see the whole field. That must not be misunderstood. We do not need and we do not want there philosophers who enter into metaphysical speculations, and still less do we want vague spirits which generalize about facts of which they have no concrete substantial knowledge. No; the first-class man in every science is today a specialist, but the time is gone by when it was the pride of the specialist to lack the wider view and the understanding of the relations of his specialty to his neighbor's work. We want the men who combine the concentration on productive specialized work with the inspiration that comes from looking over wide regions. We are seeking them in all countries. Only the first two days' work will be essentially the welcome gift of the hosts, the contribution of American scholarship. In every one of the hundred and thirty sections, however, at least one of the leading addresses will be offered by a leading foreign scholar, and all countries will be represented. Every address will be followed by a discussion, but our work will not be really completed when the president delivers on
( 682) Sunday his closing address on the Harmonization of Practical Sciences. The spoken word is then still to be transformed into its lasting expression. The Exposition has voted the funds not only to remunerate liberally all those who take their share in the work, but also to print and publish in a dignified form those three hundred and twenty addresses as a gigantic monument of modern thought, a work which might set the standard for a period, and will do by the unique combination of contributors, by its plan and its topics, by its completeness and its depth, what in no private way could be accomplished. Hundreds of colleagues are helping us to select those men for the departments whose word may be most helpful to the whole. Thousands will listen to the word when it is spoken, and the printed proceedings will, we hope, reach the widest circles, and become a new force in civilization, a real victory of science.
We know very well that there will be some, and there may be many, who will not care, and who will make a demonstration of their disapproval. They boast of their contempt for "generalities," and are convinced that "methodology " is the unpardonable sin of the scientist. Those scholars, they say, who are worth hearing have authority through their specialistic work ; you would do better to give them a chance to speak on a special point of their latest research rather than about unproductive commonplaces. And if the scholars are willing to indulge in such fancies, nobody, they add, will care to make a journey to listen to them. Of course no one is in doubt that such arguments will flourish. To rebut them, we may at first recall the most external, the most trivial side of the matter. It can be taken almost for granted that hardly any foreign scholar of repute would care to cross the ocean for the purpose of reading a paper at the St. Louis Exposition if his expenses were not paid ; and yet it would give a pitiable impression of American scholarship if, contrary to all usage, honorariums were offered for attending a regulation congress with arbitrarily chosen communications. Payments which cover the whole expedition from England or France or Germany are certainly admissible only when every one is requested to do a definite piece of work as part of a systematic whole comparable to a contribution for a cyclopiedia. But moreover, would it really be so much more worth while to invite the speakers for the freeing of their minds from their latest discovery? Would it be really more attractive to the hearers, would it be more productive for human knowledge in every direction? The contrary seems true. Such an invitation to the leading scholars would remain without profit for their own work, because it would not stimulate them to do anything that they would not be doing just as well without the external occasion of the congress. In the best case they would read a paper which would have appeared a few weeks later in their professional archives in any case ; and a greater probability even than this is that it has appeared in some archive in a similar form weeks or years before. But the address which the congress will request will be something which probably would have remained unwritten without this fortunate stimulus, because the holiday hours for reposeful considerations of principles do not come to the busy scholar if they are not almost forced upon him. Therefore the congress will be able to become a positive gain to human knowledge and not a mere recapitulation. It will be more than an echo.
And is it really more attractive to listen to a contribution of special research? It is just the true productive scholar who will shake his head here. He knows too well that the detailed new discovery needs that careful examination which is possible only by reading and rereading a scientific paper in the seclusion of one's own library. To hear
( 683) a paper by a great man is valuable : it may become an inspiration for our whole life, if he has the genius of the true thinker, if he opens before us the wide stretch of land to a far horizon, but not when he comes with a bit of detailed information for which we might much better wait for the next number of the scientific magazine. And only through such wide-reaching outlook can he really hold the attention of a large number of scholarly minds. As soon as he enters into a special problem, he will too easily either popularize it, and thus remove it from the higher interests of scientific thinkers, or demand such an amount of special knowledge that the circle of attentive listeners is narrowed down to a round-table colloquium. This the experiences of a hundred previous congresses, national and international, have proved beyond doubt. Scholars attend them to meet their colleagues personally, but not to listen to papers, and seldom does one hear a paper for which it is worth while to make a journey. And is it really necessary to eliminate in the least the personal differences and personal interests of our speakers? Does not the character of our topics give fullest freedom to the personal preferences and specialistic achievements of every scholar? If we demand in every section one leading address on the relation of that science to other sciences, we do not prescribe beforehand what relations ought to be emphasized ;. we leave that fully to the choice of the speaker. If in the section on American political history the relations to other sciences are to be sketched, we leave it to our scholar whether he wants to emphasize more the relation of American politics to European politics, or to economic life, or to legal life, or to American physiography ;or in the section of electricity, we leave it to the scholar to emphasize its relations to optics, or to chemistry, or to the theory of nature, if he but points to the totality of possible relations, and determines thus the exact geographical position of his science on the intellectual globe, and thus helps by his address to weave the network of scientific interrelations. In a still higher degree is all this true for those who speak on the problems of today. Certainly we do not want an address on the problems of a whole science to become merely an account of the one problem to which our speaker has devoted his last pamphlet; but we surely do not mean that he must first forget his own writings and neutralize his mind till every specific interest is lost. He ought, to see the whole, but he ought to see it from his particular standpoint. If finally the value of such general addresses is looked upon with a skeptical eye, because it seems a waste to spend energy on such general problems when so many special problems are still unsolved, the complainants do not understand the real meaning of their own work, and do not learn from the history of scholarship, which shows that just such generalities have made the world. It is quite true that too many by their long training instinctively shrink away from every comprehensive abstraction ; but the immense educational value of a great unifying undertaking like ours lies just in the opportunity to overcome such latent resistance. If we did not want to offer anything but that which those specialists, who wish to be specialists only, do every day in the year, and if we were thus willing merely to follow the path of least resistance, then it would be certainly a wasted effort to attempt anything beyond an imitation of earlier congresses, which few scientific participants consider models for imitation.
Nearly connected with all this is a misunderstanding which seems easily to arise even among those who are in sympathy with our plan. They have the instinctive feeling that the whole undertaking is after all one of logic and methodology, and thus the immediate concern of the philosopher. It seems to them
( 684) as if philosophy had here swallowed the totality of special sciences. There would be some who might answer that even if this were true, the misfortune would not be great, inasmuch as the desire for philosophical foundation awakens in our day everywhere in the midst of the work of research. But it is not true; it is the part of logic to map out the classification of sciences ; but as soon as they are classified it is no longer the province of logic to discuss the logically arranged scientific problems and methods and conceptions. It belongs to methodology, and thus to philosophy, to determine the topics whose discussion is profitable for the interrelation of sciences; but the discussion of these problems concerns no more the philosopher but the special scientist. With the exception of those few most general addresses, which might be said to belong to the philosophical theory of knowledge, the philosopher has no greater share in it than the physician or the jurist, the historian or the theologian, the astronomer or the sociologist. A discussion on logically grouped subjects is decidedly not a discussion from the standpoint of logic.
And finally, there are some who would say that it is not the philosopher who oversteps his rights here, but the scientist in general. The whole plan which puts science at the head, and makes all those hundreds of human functions which constitute human progress only sections and subsections thereof, stands out as mere arrogance of self-adoring scholasticism. Inflated science once again wants to be bigger than the totality of civilization, instead of seeing that all this scientific thinking and discovery is only one of the many functions in which the progress of mankind realizes itself. The time has passed when a Hegelian construction could assert that the world is the product of logical thought; for us today progress is the widest conception, and thought and science only the special case; let us not fall back to the overestimation of academical work in proclaiming a scheme which makes knowledge the ruler of all. The fallacy of this fear is evident. Let us concede that human progress is the wide conception, and scientific thought the narrow, included in the wider ; but can it be the purpose of a congress to exhibit progress ? Whatever may be done in such a congress in addresses or in discussions, it must go on in words, in sentences, in judgments, and is therefore a part of science. Progress itself is exhibited in all those noble buildings for commerce and industry, for art and education. It is a function of our congress to exhibit that one feature of progress which needs the spoken form, — scientific thought. As soon as that is .granted it is evident that the totality of scientific thoughts must be grouped according to their own inherent characteristics. Scientific thought concerning human progress is then merely one of many parts in the scientific whole; co-ordinated perhaps with the scientific thought concerning the stars, or the chemicals, or the mathematical forms, or God. While science in general is thus subordinated to progress, the science of progress is subordinated to science in general, and it is thus really not academic lack of modesty if the congress considers the conception of knowledge as the widest possible of all conceptions in its realm. The congress does not, cannot, seek to maintain that knowledge as such embraces the totality of human functions ; it knows very well that it will be lodged only in a corner of the immense exhibition grounds, where many other functions of human progress will show their vigorous life in more imposing palaces. Its only ambition is that its systematic exhibition of scholarship may become worthy of its fellow exhibitions all over the ground, and at the same time really helpful to the serious thought of the twentieth century.