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Our time is Gothic in its spirit. Unlike the Renaissance, it is not dominated by a few outstanding personalities. The twentieth century has established the democracy of the intellect. In the republic of art and science there are many men who take an equally important part in the intellectual movements of our age. It is the epoch rather than the individual that is important. There is no one dominant personality like Galileo or Newton. Even in the nineteenth century there were still a few giants who outtopped all others. Today the general level is much higher than ever before in the history of the world, but there are few men whose stature immediately sets them apart from all others.
Science is a process. It is a way of thinking, a manner of approaching and of possibly resolving problems, a route by which one can produce order and sense out of disorganized and chaotic observations. Through it we achieve useful conclusions and results that are compelling and upon which there is a tendency to agree.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
The history of science abundantly proves that a body of abstract propositions - even if, as in the case of conic sections, it remains two thousand years without effect upon daily life - may yet, at any moment, be used to cause a revolution in the habitual thoughts and occupations of every citizen.
The priests of the different religious sects, who dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of day-light; and scowl on it the fatal harbinger announcing the subversion of the duperies on which they live. In this the Presbyterian clergy take the lead. the tocsin is sounded in all their pulpits, and the first alarm denounced is against the particular creed of Doctr. Cooper; and as impudently denounced as if they really knew what it is.
While you're playing cards with a regular guy or having a bite to eat with him, he seems a peaceable, good-humoured and not entirely dense person. But just begin a conversation with him about something inedible, politics or science, for instance, and he ends up in a deadend or starts in on such an obtuse and base philosophy that you can only wave your hand and leave.
Science condemns itself to failure when, yielding to the infatuation of the serious, it aspires to attain being, to contain it, and to possess it; but it finds its truth if it considers itself as a free engagement of thought in the given, aiming, at each discovery, not at fusion with the thing, but at the possibility of new discoveries; what the mind then projects is the concrete accomplishment of its freedom.