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The Present Problems of Geography

2012 June 3

Map of the world

No worries, the title is from an address by Hugh Robert Mill to the international Arts and Sciences Congress in St. Louis in 1904. Not sure anymore how it found its way to me, think I was googling Jstor and came across it at Jstore . It is published in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society.
If writings could be eloquent, this address certainly is. Some samples:
  • “To begin with, the ground should be cleared by wiping off the globe the words terra incognita.”
  •  “The map of the world ought to be completed, and it is the duty and, I believe, the interest of every country to complete that portion which includes its own territory.”
  •  “Unsurveyed and unmapped territory is a danger as well as a disgrace, to the country possessing it; and it would hardly be too much to say that boundary disputes would be unknown if new lands were mapped before their mineral wealth is discovered.”
  •  “The acquisition of knowledge is a simple process, for which multitudes have a natural aptitude; but the co-ordination of knowledge and its advancement are very different matters.”
  •  “A more serious difficulty is that different languages favour different modes of thought, and thus lead to different methods of classification.”
  •  “It is the nemesis of the temptation to adopt a plausible and probably true hypothesis for the demonstrated truth and to proclaim broad and attractive generalizations on the strength of individual cases”.
I rest my case. I must end with this quote: “The methods of journalism – even the best journalism –are to be absolutely discouraged in science”.  The content of the address is also very interesting, will get back to that later. Some of the problems of the past have not yet been resolved.
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