CONCLUSION : THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE HISTORY OF THOUGHT THE TRUE CRITIQUE OF THE MIND
The methodical use of the comparative method in philosophy, founded on analogical analysis, should bring about the consummation of a science of the mind. Doubtless no one will deny that no such science as yet exists. Hitherto, the human datum in its entirety has never been systematically examined. The position is analogous to that of geography before a proven method had been achieved. Its paraphernalia, woefully lacking in many respects, comprised a jumble of suspect and superficial observations, without explicative bearing; abundant, yet sterile documentation in respect of certain subjects; in other matters, no accepted results, and no possibility of defining the problems. The conditions of progress were, first, an exploration of the planet; then a classing of the facts, and afterwards, the treatment of connected questionsthose of geology, oceanography, meteorology, and orography ; finally, comprehension of the solidarity between nature and life-palaeontology, philological, sociological, and historical geography. In the same way knowledge of humanity, bound up as it is with knowledge of the environment in which it finds itself, requires an exploration as extensive as possible, a systematic clearing of the ground* and a constant delving into the past that the past may
illuminate the present. In respect of certain epochs and certain environments we are, as it were, overwhelmed by our documentation, but so thick are the trees all about us that we cannot see the wood as a whole. Whereas n respect of others-but not necessarily the most distant
from our own times-information is lacking. We are in no position to distinguish the essential from the accidental. History is reduced to a recital in which the signs of the times are sought, just as geography was a description in love with the picturesque. In this mass of vague observations, uncorroborated by any experimental test (shall we say : by any form of verification ?) there is nothing to recall to us the necessity of natural laws.