THE PHILOSOPHY AND PURPOSE OF GEOGRAPHY
Of course the first thing to do was to make a grand survey of the country she was going to travel through. "It's something very like learning geography," thought Alice, as she stood on tip-toe in hopes of being able to see a little further. "Principal rivers--there are none. Principal mountains--I'm the only one . . . Principal towns--why, what are those creatures, making honey down there?"
LEWIS CARROLL, Through the Looking-Glass.
WE have indicated certain difficulties and complications in the more recent growth stages of geography to explain, if not to excuse, the attitude of the rest of the learned world to this subject and to show the measure of plausibility enjoyed by the attacks of its critics. The reader will not expect professing geographers to quake unduly before the admitted difficulties of their task or to accept meekly the strictures on their subject made by others. It none the less remains true at present that any explanation of the subject is perforce a defence of it.
It is no doubt inevitable that persons of a severely analytical turn of mind who have spent the best years of their lives in the careful and minute study of the life-habits of fungi or the chemistry of the alkaloids should look askance, at what seems to them to be the overweening and preposterous claims of a synoptic subject which attempts a simultaneous view of an extensive field. Literary scholars who dig deeply in narrow plots of classics or of history are often no less repelled. But this is not to say that geography lacks a definitive aim and a recognizable scope. Indeed its raison d'être and intellectual attraction arise in large part from the shortcomings of the