Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 497 pages of information about Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects.

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Meanwhile, let us glance at the conclusions that have been reached.  On the one side, government, originally one, and afterwards subdivided for the better fulfilment of its function, must be considered as having ever been, in all its branches—­political, religious, and ceremonial—­beneficial; and, indeed, absolutely necessary.  On the other side, government, under all its forms, must be regarded as subserving a temporary office, made needful by the unfitness of aboriginal humanity for social life; and the successive diminutions of its coerciveness in State, in Church, and in Custom, must be looked upon as steps towards its final disappearance.  To complete the conception, there requires to be borne in mind the third fact, that the genesis, the maintenance, and the decline of all governments, however named, are alike brought about by the humanity to be controlled:  from which may be drawn the inference that, on the average, restrictions of every kind cannot last much longer than they are wanted, and cannot be destroyed much faster than they ought to be.

Society, in all its developments, undergoes the process of exuviation.  These old forms which it successively throws off, have all been once vitally united with it—­have severally served as the protective envelopes within which a higher humanity was being evolved.  They are cast aside only when they become hindrances—­only when some inner and better envelope has been formed; and they bequeath to us all that there was in them good.  The periodical abolitions of tyrannical laws have left the administration of justice not only uninjured, but purified.  Dead and buried creeds have not carried with them the essential morality they contained, which still exists, uncontaminated by the sloughs of superstition.  And all that there is of justice and kindness and beauty, embodied in our cumbrous forms of etiquette, will live perennially when the forms themselves have been forgotten.

[1] Westminster Review, April 1854.

[2] This was written before moustaches and beards had become common.

ON THE GENESIS OF SCIENCE[1]

There has ever prevailed among men a vague notion that scientific knowledge differs in nature from ordinary knowledge.  By the Greeks, with whom Mathematics—­literally things learnt—­was alone considered as knowledge proper, the distinction must have been strongly felt; and it has ever since maintained itself in the general mind.  Though, considering the contrast between the achievements of science and those of daily unmethodic thinking, it is not surprising that such a distinction has been assumed; yet it needs but to rise a little above the common point of view, to see that no such distinction can really exist:  or that at best, it is but a superficial distinction.  The same faculties are employed in both cases; and in both cases their mode of operation is fundamentally the same.

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Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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