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Method of Scientific Inquiry

分类:高级精读   更新:2016/1/4   来源:本站原创

    Passage Three (Method of Scientific Inquiry)

    Why the inductive and mathematical sciences, after their first rapid development at the culmination of Greek civilization, advanced so slowly for two thousand years—and why in the following two hundred years a knowledge of natural and mathematical science has accumulated, which so vastly exceeds all that was previously known that these sciences may be justly regarded as the products of our own times—are questions which have interested the modern philosopher not less than the objects with which these sciences are more immediately conversant. Was it the employment of a new method of research, or in the exercise of greater virtue in the use of the old methods, that this singular modern phenomenon had its origin? Was the long period one of arrested development, and is the modern era one of normal growth? Or should we ascribe the characteristics of both periods to so-called historical accidents—to the influence of conjunctions in circumstances of which no explanation is possible, save in the omnipotence and wisdom of a guiding Providence?

    The explanation which has become commonplace, that the ancients employed deduction chiefly in their scientific inquiries, while the moderns employ induction, proves to be too narrow, and fails upon close examination to point with sufficient distinctness the contrast that is evident between ancient and modern scientific doctrines and inquiries. For all knowledge is founded on observation, and proceeds from this by analysis, by synthesis and analysis, by induction and deduction, and if possible by verification, or by new appeals to observation under the guidance of deduction—by steps which are indeed correlative parts of one method; the ancient sciences afford examples of every one of these methods, or parts of one method, which have been generalized from the examples of science.

    A failure to

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