Autobiography and Selected Essays

By Thomas Henry Huxley; Ada L. F. Snell | Go to book overview

PRINCIPAL SUBJECTS OF EDUCATION

I KNOW quite well that launching myself into this discussion is a very dangerous operation; that it is a very large subject, and one which is difficult to deal with, however much I may trespass upon your patience in the time allotted to me. But the discussion is so fundamental, it is so completely impossible to make up one's mind on these matters until one has settled the question, that I will even venture to make the experiment. A great lawyer-statesman and philosopher of a former age -- I mean Francis Bacon -- said that truth came out of error much more rapidly than it came out of confusion. There is a wonderful truth in that saying. Next to being right in this world, the best of all things is to be clearly and definitely wrong, because you will come out somewhere. If you go buzzing about between right and wrong, vibrating and fluctuating, you come out nowhere; but if you are absolutely and thoroughly and persistently wrong, you must, some of these days, have the extreme good fortune of knocking your head against a fact, and that sets you all straight again. So I will not trouble myself as to whether I may be right or wrong in what I am about to say, but at any rate I hope to be clear and definite; and then you will be able to judge for yourself whether, in following out the train of thought I have to introduce, you knock your heads against facts or not.

-73-

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Autobiography and Selected Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents ii
  • Preface iii
  • Introduction iv
  • Autobiography 1
  • On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge 15
  • A Liberal Education 35
  • On a Piece, of Chalk 44
  • Principal Subjects of Education 73
  • The Method of Scientific Investigation 85
  • On the Physical Basis of Life 95
  • On Coral and Coral Reefs 115
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