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little encouragement for one to try to meet such obstinacy and such utter disregard of reason by any appeal to facts. Still we make the attempt, and we should make it too without any resort to ridicule until kindness and forbearance have proved unavailing.
Take some of the superstitions of the day and deal with them in the light of facts that are accessible and evident to all. Much the same subject was proposed in the section devoted to exposition. But the intention there was merely to ferret out and explain these superstitions and treat of them in a desultory but entertaining style; the object here is to deal with them rigorously and inquiringly, and to show that they are without ground in easily observable facts.
ARGUMENT BY CAREFUL EXPOSITION.
Many an error has arisen and been perpetuated merely through a misunderstanding of the terms involved, due either to ignorance of the facts or to a misinterpretation of them. And many an unpleasant dispute may be avoided if the disputants will only take the trouble at first to make sure that they have a like understanding of the terms in the question, and that they are approaching it from the same point of view. One person declares that a piece of metal is
warm to the touch and another declares that it is cold. They only need to have explained to them that warm and cold are relative terms, and they will understand how both assertions may be right. There is the old story of a dispute over a sign-board which one person declared to be red and another, blue. Had some one suggested that a sign-board has two sides, further trouble might have been saved.
Is interest on money, usury? is the taking of interest, extortion? It was held so once, but a clear exposition of the nature of money and of interest has reversed the opinion. Is money, capital? Well, what do we mean by money, and what do we mean by capital ? A clear definition of these terms is about all that is needed. The logical process by which the question will then be answered is so simple that it scarcely needs elucidation.
When we find people disposed to argue about things they do not comprehend, or to make declarations of truths when they do not understand the things which the truths concern, it is evident that we shall have to meet them with simple but forcible exposition. Take the old question: When a cart is moving forward does the uppermost portion of the tire of a wheel move faster than the portion on the ground ? Put the question to your friends and see how they will argue it. They will never come to an agreement, or at least will not arrive at a correct conclusion, until they settle the meaning of the terms motion and velocity. Is the one absolute or relative? Is the other calculated from some point absolutely at rest or not? Relatively to the axle, both points are moving with the same velocity. Relatively to the earth, the motion of the
axle may accelerate the velocity of one portion and retard that of another, and so on. Similar is the question, Can a man walk around a monkey when the monkey keeps turning so as to face the man? The only argument necessary is the determination of what is meant by “going around.”
Enough has been said perhaps to impress the necessity of first of all clearly defining terms. This necessity is fully apparent in many of the larger questions of the day. In a current number of the Educational Review appears an article by Brander Matthews, entitled Can English Literature Be Taught ? Much of the article is taken up with an exposition of the term teaching, and we quote from that portion as follows:
One thing more an American discovers in reading Mr. Collins's pages, and the discovery thus made is confirmed by reading the reviews which the book has had in the British journals — and this is that the custom of examining for honors has obtained so long in Great Britain, and has been carried to such extremes that a confusion has arisen between the end and the means. In other words, British writers on education, like Mr. Collins, and like Mr. Andrew Lang, who reviewed Mr. Collins's book in the Illustrated London News, seem no longer able to distinguish between teaching and examining. When Mr. Collins asks the question which stands at the head of this paper and answers it in the affirmative, and when Mr. Lang answers it in the negative, both of them interpret the question to mean “ Can English literature be examined on?”
This insistence on examinations, this substitution of one of the instruments of teaching for the teaching itself, this exaltation of the means above the end, has apparently the same result in the universities of England that it has in the public schools of New York City. A strict application of the marking system is little likely to encourage culture either in a university or in a public school. Narrowness is more easily produced than breadth. :
Having in his mind the confusion between teaching and examining which has befogged the whole discussion of the question in England, Mr. E. A. Freeman, the historian, declared against any university teaching of English literature. Mr. Collins quotes Mr. Freeman as writing, “ there are many things fit for a man's personal study which are not fit for university examinations. One of these is literature." That literature « cultivates the taste, educates the sympathies, enlarges the mind,” Mr. Freeman makes no attempt to deny ; "only we cannot examine in tastes and sympathies,” is his reply. Now, if this proves anything, it proves too much. It is an argument, not against teaching English literature only, but against teaching Latin literature and Greek literature. But Mr. Freeman and those who hold with him have not yet suggested that the universities of Oxford and Cambridge should give up the teaching of Greek literature.
There is indeed a difference between the teaching of English literature and the teaching of Greek literature. The texts of the great Greek authors, like the texts of the great English authors, may serve for grammatical instruction and for mere linguistic drill ; or they may, the ancient as well as the modern, be used to cultivate the taste, educate the sympathy, and enlarge the mind.
Such exposition differs little from exposition pure and simple. Only, it may be made more forcible, considering that it is the handmaid of argument, that it is intended to clear away error as well as enlighten ignorance, that it deals not only with truth as concreted in isolated facts, but also with larger truths as expressive of complex relations between these facts.
It may be well to begin this exercise with the argument of some such simple questions as those alluded to above. The subject offered at the head of the exercise will entail a somewhat abstruse discussion of the term selfishness.
Allusion has been made to the fact that many errors are prevalent which a simple appeal to facts is sufficient to expose.
If people examined facts in the first place, or at any rate examined large numbers of facts, before they ventured upon broad general statements, they would be saved from many of these errors. The difficulty in the majority of cases is that the process of inductive reasoning has been too hasty or else there has been no such reasoning at all. Perhaps the appearance of a comet in the heavens is accompanied or followed by some great national or other catastrophe on earth. The thoughtless man does not stop to consider that this may be a mere chance coincidence, but assumes that there must be some vital connection between the two events, and immediately upon the appearance of another comet confidently predicts a similar disaster. The thoughtful man on the contrary is not so ready to assume this connection, but waits to see if the coincidence will be observed a second and a third and a tenth time before he will express even a