Art, Science, Humanity

Francis Kelsey, Is There A Science Of Classical Philology?

“I have spoken of classical philology a science; but do not misunderstand me, I mean no pyramid of bricks. Bit by bit evidence is collected, sifted, and pieced together; but larger combinations are effected, as in all sciences, by the constructive imagination, and a final test of every reconstruction of antiquity is its vitality. If we can gain the point of view of the Greek or the Roman, with his heredity, his atmosphere, his superstitions, his ambitions, his inquisitiveness, his sensitiveness to beauty of form, and his ethical ideals, Athens and Rome will for us be no longer peopled with lay figures, and we shall have taken a long step toward our goal.

In one respect the American classical student has a peculiar coign of vantage. From our kindred across the sea we have the tradition of the classics as humanities, that they should be read primarily to be enjoyed, and for their refining influence; thence, too, from time to time come books in our own tongue that manifest an appreciation of ancient literature so delicate and yet so deep that they are at the same time a revelation and an inspiration. But side by side with this humane ideal we have the scientific, introduced from the German university, which we have sought to superimpose upon the American college of English origin. The function of art in all its forms is to please ; and he who is lacking in appreciation of art whether manifested in the literary masterpiece or in the monument is thereby disqualified for the scientific study of either, because unable to comprehend its purpose. Herein lies the opportunity, the call of American classical scholarship, that it blend together into one both the humane ideal and the scientific, and thus create a new type, which shall be as strong in sympathy and appreciation as it is broad, exact, and thorough.”

Guillaume Budé and lady Philology writing the Institution of a Christian prince.

One thought on “Art, Science, Humanity

Leave a Reply to Darrel Janzen Cancel reply