The Epitome of Andreas Vesalius

The Epitome of Andreas Vesalius

The Epitome of Andreas Vesalius

The Epitome of Andreas Vesalius

Excerpt

The echoes of the absurd quarrel between the sciences and the humanities in education still reverberate in certain quarters; but that quarrel has never had the slightest justification when the respective claims of each are considered from a historical point of view. Although Thomas Henry Huxley and Charles W. Eliot, each in his own land, fought hard to bring the sciences into the curriculum on a more equal footing with Greek and Latin, neither man wished to exclude the classical humanities in turn. They knew that in origin both forms of knowledge were embraced in the conception of the seven liberal arts; and they must have known that, in view of the basic unity of all knowledge, to speak of a "College of Liberal Arts and Sciences" was a tautological blunder.

Our age of specialization, with its urgent emphasis upon what is immediate, practical, and expedient, has been tempted in a fury of extremism to discard the classical humanities. Furthermore, while they are on the whole far more friendly to the Classics than their colleagues in certain other fields, some scientists, content to regard a moderate knowledge of French and German as exclusively sufficient for the linguistic training of their students, ignore the fact that the terminology of their sciences is predominantly Greek or Latin or both in its content. But those very scientists would be the first to recognize that an adequate understanding of the history of science is impossible without either a knowledge of Latin and Greek or the use of translations of the great books of any science written before the eighteenth century.

The best scientists of the Renaissance since Leonardo present an instructive contrast in this respect as well as in others to their modern brethren.

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