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II.
DARWIN'S VIEWS OF METHOD.

T is necessary to inquire briefly into Darwin's own views of scientific method. He has given us the data for the inquiry, both in direct statements and indirectly by his opinions of the work and ability of other men. In connection with this inquiry must be considered the intellectual and moral qualities of the man himself, and the external influences that bore upon him. In some quarters the notion is entertained that the scientific method leads infallibly to the truth, and that it is something quite distinct from the logical method of every-day life; and yet there is a general haziness as to what the scientific method is. The aim of the scientist is truth, but he has no special mental faculty with which to discover scientific truth. He approaches his problem, equipped with the same logical processes that the common man uses in arriving at facts that are important to his success in life. Neglect in applying those processes strictly, in either case, results in failure, and fidelity to them is the measure of success. There is something more than merely a weak analogy between the very small proportion of successful business men and the similarly small proportion of really successful creative scientific men. The failures on both sides are due to the same kind of intellectual errors. Nor are the principles of the scientific method less clearly understood by successful business men than by successful scientific investigators. Darwin has said that the training which he got on the Beagle voyage was the first real education of his mind.” His University course at Cambridge had been mechanical. He declared that the study of Paley’s “Evidences” and “Natural Theology" gave him as much delight as did Euclid.” And he believed at the time, and to the end of his life, that the study of these works was the only part of his academic course that contributed to the education of his mind. He got no inspiration, and very little knowledge, from his medical course at Edinburgh; one of the principal records of that course is his opinion that there are no advantages and many disadvantages in lectures compared with reading." He has given in his Autobiography the various special subjects that occupied his attention on the Beagle voyage. He attended to Zoology, Botany, and Geology. After mentioning the others, he said that Geology “was far more important, as reasoning here comes into play. On first examining a new district, nothing can appear more hopeless than the chaos of rocks; but by recording the stratification and nature of the rocks and fossils at many points, always reasoning and predicting what will be found elsewhere, light soon begins to dawn on the district, and the structure of the whole becomes more or less intelligible.”” It is interesting to recall that he finally committed the shooting of birds to his servant in order that he might devote himself to the geology of the districts in which he worked. The zoological and botanical materials which he collected were largely worked up by other scientists after his return. On these subjects he collected a vast amount of information, which gave birth to his great biological theories, and was indispensable in the work of his later life. But he did not work this information into a system and bend his energies upon it. He devoted himself to the solution of geological problems . in the field; while the biological problems only arose in their early shadowy outlines during the voyage, and remained in the form of questions till long after his return. Thus it came about that from an educational point of view his biological work was secondary and the geological work pre-eminent. Had his life-work ended with the reports of the Beagle voyage, he would have been rated as a geologist. But after his return he exercised upon great biological problems the intellectual strength and vigor which had been developed by the solution of geological problems in the field. “The above various special studies were, however, of no importance,” he said, “compared with the habit of energetic industry and of concentrated attention to whatever I was engaged in which I then acquired. Everything about which I thought or read was made to bear directly on what I had seen or was likely to see.” He had problems constantly before him, and the time allowed for their solution was always limited by his own movements and those of the ship; so that energy and concentration became habitual in a mind already

1 Life and Letters, Vol. I. pp. 51, 52. * Ibid., p. 41.

1 Life and Letters, Vol. I. p. 33. * Ibid., pp. 51, 52.

strong by nature. His isolation from other
scientific men and from books doubtless also
developed in him the habit of using all the
facts that presented themselves, and directly
and indirectly getting at their significance.
He could not lay his hands on ready-made
explanations of the facts that came before him,
and was compelled to explain them himself.
He said of himself, “I think I am superior to
the common run of men in noticing things
which easily escape attention, and in observ-
ing them carefully. . . . From my earliest
youth I have had the strongest desire to under-
stand or explain whatever I observed, - that
is, to group all facts under some general laws.” "
These natural traits were of necessity strength-
ened and developed by their incessant exercise
on the voyage.
Another prominent trait in Darwin was the
accuracy with which he made his observations
and experiments. “He saved a great deal of
time through not having to do things twice.”
And he always “wished to learn as much as
possible from an experiment, so that he did
not confine himself to observing the single
point to which the experiment was directed,
and his power of seeing a number of things
1 Life and Letters, Vol. I. p. 83.

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