Mr. McGee and the Washington Symposium

Carl Barus
1893 Science  
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more » ... ntent at http://about.jstor.org/participate--jstor/individuals/early-journal--content. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. 22 SCIENCE. SCIENCE. n contemplating the aspects of nature," and " derives enjoyment from studying the forms, habits, and relationships of animals and plants," but how can he do so, and thus become a " biologist," unless he peers "through the tube of a compound microscope," etc., and does his proper hardening, and staining, and "monographs the same bit of tissue." How such investigations can "obscure the objects" we are trying to explain is rather a mystery. If, at least, anybody allows them to obscure our general views, there can be no speaking of scientific work. Natural history has become, in our century, so broad that no man possibly can become a "general naturalist ' or a good "faunal naturalist" any more; he will, at least, not be able to treat all the questions that arise in any other way but in that of the amateur. The objects of our investigations lie a little deeper than to glance at all that is "most beautiful" and attractive to the eye. How the article comes to the conclusion that the study of the minute structure is histology or that of development embryology, is rather doubtful. Further, I am anxious to know if any of the readers walking over the scientific border-land commanded by the naturalist who might be educated according to the principles given in the article of which we speak did ever meet with "the various pathogenic micrococci of fermentation and disease" which are mentioned (p. 353). However, I shall not enter upon further details, but turn towards the view expressed in the said article about "section-cutters and physiologists," and I shall try to show that the work done by the workers in this particular field is far from being one-sided, at least, when we are speaking of real scientific men who put an equally fair valuation on all of the branches of their science. There are, as Professor E L. Greene sad, ' a good many men tr: ing to figure somewhere " as scientific writers, but where are the scientific men to be found when we look towards the " scientific border-land" (Greene) ? Therefore, we shall see that the right sort of scientific physiologists do not dare to depreciate any of the branches of their science. Professor P. L. Panum once said that he who would not acknowledge physiology as the fundament of pathology and of the other departments of medical science has no right to be called a scientist. The vegetable physiologist who does not know anything about the principles of agriculture, h-rticultule, and forestry also lcses this right, and so he does, if he is ignorant with regard to a great deal of the practical, industrial branches. If we go to the opposite side, he must know how to carry out more minute investigations; he cannot avoid being something of a 'slicecutter," and if he should be unfortunate enough to find "some new form of cell or new property of protoplasm," he must under--stand how to trace such a discovery as far as it can be traced. I am, thi-refore, very much surprised to hear that "the modern school of histologists, under the head of biology, teach little besides the minute structure and function of tissues." For my personal ac-.count, I have studied physiology almost from the time when I could appreciate the blessings of the study of natural history, but I have never met a man who claimed to be a physiologist,-in casu vegetable physiologist,-and who, speaking, for example, of the nitrogen question, did not know the theoretical investigations quite as well as the practical experiments with fertilizers. But it must be noted that natural science has, at present, reached .such an extent that no man possibly can cover the whole ground. Thus we have, with regard to special work, to become specialists, and, therefore, it is possible to take a farmer's boy and make out of him "a general naturalist of the present day" or a 'local faunal" -or floral-. "naturalist." He will be no scientific man. " Bological" teaching is a failure for other reasons than those presente in the article. A college professor may offer a course in " general biology" and include " cell structure and the structure of the less complex tissues of animals and plants." But this :is not "general biology;" the structure of two different forms has not the least to do with biology, it comes under the heading
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