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Democracy and Education by John Dewey

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Such is the situation as an affair of theoretical psychology and
as most adequately stated by Aristotle. But this state of things
is reflected in the constitution of classes of men and hence in
the organization of society. Only in a comparatively small
number is the function of reason capable of operating as a law of
life. In the mass of people, vegetative and animal functions
dominate. Their energy of intelligence is so feeble and
inconstant that it is constantly overpowered by bodily appetite
and passion. Such persons are not truly ends in themselves, for
only reason constitutes a final end. Like plants, animals and
physical tools, they are means, appliances, for the attaining of
ends beyond themselves, although unlike them they have enough
intelligence to exercise a certain discretion in the execution of
the tasks committed to them. Thus by nature, and not merely by
social convention, there are those who are slaves--that is, means
for the ends of others. 1 The great body of artisans are in one
important respect worse off than even slaves. Like the latter
they are given up to the service of ends external to themselves;
but since they do not enjoy the intimate association with the
free superior class experienced by domestic slaves they remain on
a lower plane of excellence. Moreover, women are classed with
slaves and craftsmen as factors among the animate
instrumentalities of production and reproduction of the means for
a free or rational life.

Individually and collectively there is a gulf between merely
living and living worthily. In order that one may live worthily
he must first live, and so with collective society. The time and
energy spent upon mere life, upon the gaining of subsistence,
detracts from that available for activities that have an inherent
rational meaning; they also unfit for the latter. Means are
menial, the serviceable is servile. The true life is possible
only in the degree in which the physical necessities are had
without effort and without attention. Hence slaves, artisans,
and women are employed in furnishing the means of subsistence in
order that others, those adequately equipped with intelligence,
may live the life of leisurely concern with things intrinsically
worth while.

To these two modes of occupation, with their distinction of
servile and free activities (or "arts") correspond two types of
education: the base or mechanical and the liberal or
intellectual. Some persons are trained by suitable practical
exercises for capacity in doing things, for ability to use the
mechanical tools involved in turning out physical commodities and
rendering personal service. This training is a mere matter of
habituation and technical skill; it operates through repetition
and assiduity in application, not through awakening and nurturing
thought. Liberal education aims to train intelligence for its
proper office: to know. The less this knowledge has to do with
practical affairs, with making or producing, the more adequately
it engages intelligence. So consistently does Aristotle draw the
line between menial and liberal education that he puts what are
now called the "fine" arts, music, painting, sculpture, in the
same class with menial arts so far as their practice is
concerned. They involve physical agencies, assiduity of
practice, and external results. In discussing, for example,
education in music he raises the question how far the young
should be practiced in the playing of instruments. His answer is
that such practice and proficiency may be tolerated as conduce to
appreciation; that is, to understanding and enjoyment of music
when played by slaves or professionals. When professional power
is aimed at, music sinks from the liberal to the professional
level. One might then as well teach cooking, says Aristotle.
Even a liberal concern with the works of fine art depends upon
the existence of a hireling class of practitioners who have
subordinated the development of their own personality to
attaining skill in mechanical execution. The higher the activity
the more purely mental is it; the less does it have to do with
physical things or with the body. The more purely mental it is,
the more independent or self-sufficing is it.

These last words remind us that Aristotle again makes a
distinction of superior and inferior even within those living the
life of reason. For there is a distinction in ends and in free
action, according as one's life is merely accompanied by reason
or as it makes reason its own medium. That is to say, the free
citizen who devotes himself to the public life of his community,
sharing in the management of its affairs and winning personal
honor and distinction, lives a life accompanied by reason. But
the thinker, the man who devotes himself to scientific inquiry
and philosophic speculation, works, so to speak, in reason, not
simply by *. Even the activity of the citizen in his civic
relations, in other words, retains some of the taint of practice,
of external or merely instrumental doing. This infection is
shown by the fact that civic activity and civic excellence need
the help of others; one cannot engage in public life all by
himself. But all needs, all desires imply, in the philosophy of
Aristotle, a material factor; they involve lack, privation; they
are dependent upon something beyond themselves for completion. A
purely intellectual life, however, one carries on by himself, in
himself; such assistance as he may derive from others is
accidental, rather than intrinsic. In knowing, in the life of
theory, reason finds its own full manifestation; knowing for the
sake of knowing irrespective of any application is alone
independent, or self-sufficing. Hence only the education that
makes for power to know as an end in itself, without reference
to the practice of even civic duties, is truly liberal or free.
2. The Present Situation. If the Aristotelian conception
represented just Aristotle's personal view, it would be a more or
less interesting historical curiosity. It could be dismissed as
an illustration of the lack of sympathy or the amount of academic
pedantry which may coexist with extraordinary intellectual gifts.
But Aristotle simply described without confusion and without that
insincerity always attendant upon mental confusion, the life that
was before him. That the actual social situation has greatly
changed since his day there is no need to say. But in spite of
these changes, in spite of the abolition of legal serfdom, and
the spread of democracy, with the extension of science and of
general education (in books, newspapers, travel, and general
intercourse as well as in schools), there remains enough of a
cleavage of society into a learned and an unlearned class, a
leisure and a laboring class, to make his point of view a most
enlightening one from which to criticize the separation between
culture and utility in present education. Behind the
intellectual and abstract distinction as it figures in
pedagogical discussion, there looms a social distinction between
those whose pursuits involve a minimum of self-directive thought
and aesthetic appreciation, and those who are concerned more
directly with things of the intelligence and with the control of
the activities of others.

Aristotle was certainly permanently right when he said that "any
occupation or art or study deserves to be called mechanical if it
renders the body or soul or intellect of free persons unfit for
the exercise and practice of excellence." The force of the
statement is almost infinitely increased when we hold, as we
nominally do at present, that all persons, instead of a
comparatively few, are free. For when the mass of men and all
women were regarded as unfree by the very nature of their bodies
and minds, there was neither intellectual confusion nor moral
hypocrisy in giving them only the training which fitted them for
mechanical skill, irrespective of its ulterior effect upon their
capacity to share in a worthy life. He was permanently right
also when he went on to say that "all mercenary employments as
well as those which degrade the condition of the body are
mechanical, since they deprive the intellect of leisure and
dignity," -- permanently right, that is, if gainful pursuits as
matter of fact deprive the intellect of the conditions of its
exercise and so of its dignity. If his statements are false, it
is because they identify a phase of social custom with a natural
necessity. But a different view of the relations of mind and
matter, mind and body, intelligence and social service, is better
than Aristotle's conception only if it helps render the old idea
obsolete in fact -- in the actual conduct of life and education.
Aristotle was permanently right in assuming the inferiority and
subordination of mere skill in performance and mere accumulation
of external products to understanding, sympathy of appreciation,
and the free play of ideas. If there was an error, it lay in
assuming the necessary separation of the two: in supposing that
there is a natural divorce between efficiency in producing
commodities and rendering service, and self-directive thought;
between significant knowledge and practical achievement. We
hardly better matters if we just correct his theoretical
misapprehension, and tolerate the social state of affairs which
generated and sanctioned his conception. We lose rather than
gain in change from serfdom to free citizenship if the most
prized result of the change is simply an increase in the
mechanical efficiency of the human tools of production. So we
lose rather than gain in coming to think of intelligence as an
organ of control of nature through action, if we are content that
an unintelligent, unfree state persists in those who engage
directly in turning nature to use, and leave the intelligence
which controls to be the exclusive possession of remote
scientists and captains of industry. We are in a position
honestly to criticize the division of life into separate
functions and of society into separate classes only so far as we
are free from responsibility for perpetuating the educational
practices which train the many for pursuits involving mere skill
in production, and the few for a knowledge that is an ornament
and a cultural embellishment. In short, ability to transcend the
Greek philosophy of life and education is not secured by a mere
shifting about of the theoretical symbols meaning free, rational,
and worthy. It is not secured by a change of sentiment regarding
the dignity of labor, and the superiority of a life of service to
that of an aloof self-sufficing independence. Important as these
theoretical and emotional changes are, their importance consists
in their being turned to account in the development of a truly
democratic society, a society in which all share in useful
service and all enjoy a worthy leisure. It is not a mere change
in the concepts of culture -- or a liberal mind -- and social
service which requires an educational reorganization; but the
educational transformation is needed to give full and explicit
effect to the changes implied in social life. The increased
political and economic emancipation of the "masses" has shown
itself in education; it has effected the development of a common
school system of education, public and free. It has destroyed
the idea that learning is properly a monopoly of the few who are
predestined by nature to govern social affairs. But the
revolution is still incomplete. The idea still prevails that a
truly cultural or liberal education cannot have anything in
common, directly at least, with industrial affairs, and that the
education which is fit for the masses must be a useful or
practical education in a sense which opposes useful and practical
to nurture of appreciation and liberation of thought. As a
consequence, our actual system is an inconsistent mixture.
Certain studies and methods are retained on the supposition that
they have the sanction of peculiar liberality, the chief content
of the term liberal being uselessness for practical ends. This
aspect is chiefly visible in what is termed the higher education
-- that of the college and of preparation for it. But is has
filtered through into elementary education and largely controls
its processes and aims. But, on the other hand, certain
concessions have been made to the masses who must engage in
getting a livelihood and to the increased role of economic
activities in modern life. These concessions are exhibited in
special schools and courses for the professions, for engineering,
for manual training and commerce, in vocational and prevocational
courses; and in the spirit in which certain elementary subjects,
like the three R's, are taught. The result is a system in which
both "cultural" and "utilitarian" subjects exist in an inorganic
composite where the former are not by dominant purpose socially
serviceable and the latter not liberative of imagination or
thinking power.

In the inherited situation, there is a curious intermingling, in
even the same study, of concession to usefulness and a survival
of traits once exclusively attributed to preparation for leisure.
The "utility" element is found in the motives assigned for the
study, the "liberal" element in methods of teaching. The outcome
of the mixture is perhaps less satisfactory than if either
principle were adhered to in its purity. The motive popularly
assigned for making the studies of the first four or five years
consist almost entirely of reading, spelling, writing, and
arithmetic, is, for example, that ability to read, write, and
figure accurately is indispensable to getting ahead. These
studies are treated as mere instruments for entering upon a
gainful employment or of later progress in the pursuit of
learning, according as pupils do not or do remain in school.
This attitude is reflected in the emphasis put upon drill and
practice for the sake of gaining automatic skill. If we turn to
Greek schooling, we find that from the earliest years the
acquisition of skill was subordinated as much as possible to
acquisition of literary content possessed of aesthetic and moral
significance. Not getting a tool for subsequent use but present
subject matter was the emphasized thing. Nevertheless the
isolation of these studies from practical application, their
reduction to purely symbolic devices, represents a survival of
the idea of a liberal training divorced from utility. A thorough
adoption of the idea of utility would have led to instruction
which tied up the studies to situations in which they were
directly needed and where they were rendered immediately and not
remotely helpful. It would be hard to find a subject in the
curriculum within which there are not found evil results of a
compromise between the two opposed ideals. Natural science is
recommended on the ground of its practical utility, but is taught
as a special accomplishment in removal from application. On the
other hand, music and literature are theoretically justified on
the ground of their culture value and are then taught with chief
emphasis upon forming technical modes of skill.

If we had less compromise and resulting confusion, if we analyzed
more carefully the respective meanings of culture and utility, we
might find it easier to construct a course of study which should
be useful and liberal at the same time. Only superstition makes
us believe that the two are necessarily hostile so that a subject
is illiberal because it is useful and cultural because it is
useless. It will generally be found that instruction which, in
aiming at utilitarian results, sacrifices the development of
imagination, the refining of taste and the deepening of
intellectual insight -- surely cultural values -- also in the
same degree renders what is learned limited in its use. Not that
it makes it wholly unavailable but that its applicability is
restricted to routine activities carried on under the supervision
of others. Narrow modes of skill cannot be made useful beyond
themselves; any mode of skill which is achieved with deepening of
knowledge and perfecting of judgment is readily put to use in new
situations and is under personal control. It was not the bare
fact of social and economic utility which made certain activities
seem servile to the Greeks but the fact that the activities
directly connected with getting a livelihood were not, in their
days, the expression of a trained intelligence nor carried on
because of a personal appreciation of their meaning. So far as
farming and the trades were rule-of-thumb occupations and so far
as they were engaged in for results external to the minds of
agricultural laborers and mechanics, they were illiberal--but
only so far. The intellectual and social context has now
changed. The elements in industry due to mere custom and routine
have become subordinate in most economic callings to elements
derived from scientific inquiry. The most important occupations
of today represent and depend upon applied mathematics, physics,
and chemistry. The area of the human world influenced by
economic production and influencing consumption has been so
indefinitely widened that geographical and political
considerations of an almost infinitely wide scope enter in. It
was natural for Plato to deprecate the learning of geometry and
arithmetic for practical ends, because as matter of fact the
practical uses to which they were put were few, lacking in
content and mostly mercenary in quality. But as their social
uses have increased and enlarged, their liberalizing or
"intellectual" value and their practical value approach the same

Doubtless the factor which chiefly prevents our full recognition
and employment of this identification is the conditions under
which so much work is still carried on. The invention of
machines has extended the amount of leisure which is possible
even while one is at work. It is a commonplace that the mastery
of skill in the form of established habits frees the mind for a
higher order of thinking. Something of the same kind is true of
the introduction of mechanically automatic operations in
industry. They may release the mind for thought upon other
topics. But when we confine the education of those who work with
their hands to a few years of schooling devoted for the most part
to acquiring the use of rudimentary symbols at the expense of
training in science, literature, and history, we fail to prepare
the minds of workers to take advantage of this opportunity. More
fundamental is the fact that the great majority of workers have
no insight into the social aims of their pursuits and no direct
personal interest in them. The results actually achieved are not
the ends of their actions, but only of their employers. They do
what they do, not freely and intelligently, but for the sake of
the wage earned. It is this fact which makes the action
illiberal, and which will make any education designed simply to
give skill in such undertakings illiberal and immoral. The
activity is not free because not freely participated in.

Nevertheless, there is already an opportunity for an education
which, keeping in mind the larger features of work, will
reconcile liberal nurture with training in social
serviceableness, with ability to share efficiently and happily in
occupations which are productive. And such an education will of
itself tend to do away with the evils of the existing economic
situation. In the degree in which men have an active concern in
the ends that control their activity, their activity becomes free
or voluntary and loses its externally enforced and servile
quality, even though the physical aspect of behavior remain the
same. In what is termed politics, democratic social organization
makes provision for this direct participation in control: in the
economic region, control remains external and autocratic. Hence
the split between inner mental action and outer physical action
of which the traditional distinction between the liberal and the
utilitarian is the reflex. An education which should unify the
disposition of the members of society would do much to unify
society itself.

Summary. Of the segregations of educational values discussed in
the last chapter, that between culture and utility is probably
the most fundamental. While the distinction is often thought to
be intrinsic and absolute, it is really historical and social.
It originated, so far as conscious formulation is concerned, in
Greece, and was based upon the fact that the truly human life was
lived only by a few who subsisted upon the results of the labor
of others. This fact affected the psychological doctrine of the
relation of intelligence and desire, theory and practice. It was
embodied in a political theory of a permanent division of human
beings into those capable of a life of reason and hence having
their own ends, and those capable only of desire and work, and
needing to have their ends provided by others. The two
distinctions, psychological and political, translated into
educational terms, effected a division between a liberal
education, having to do with the self-sufficing life of leisure
devoted to knowing for its own sake, and a useful, practical
training for mechanical occupations, devoid of intellectual and
aesthetic content. While the present situation is radically
diverse in theory and much changed in fact, the factors of the
older historic situation still persist sufficiently to maintain
the educational distinction, along with compromises which often
reduce the efficacy of the educational measures. The problem of
education in a democratic society is to do away with the dualism
and to construct a course of studies which makes thought a guide
of free practice for all and which makes leisure a reward of
accepting responsibility for service, rather than a state of
exemption from it.

1 Aristotle does not hold that the class of actual slaves and of
natural slaves necessarily coincide.

Chapter Twenty: Intellectual and Practical Studies

1. The Opposition of Experience and True Knowledge. As
livelihood and leisure are opposed, so are theory and practice,
intelligence and execution, knowledge and activity. The latter
set of oppositions doubtless springs from the same social
conditions which produce the former conflict; but certain
definite problems of education connected with them make it
desirable to discuss explicitly the matter of the relationship
and alleged separation of knowing and doing.

The notion that knowledge is derived from a higher source than is
practical activity, and possesses a higher and more spiritual
worth, has a long history. The history so far as conscious
statement is concerned takes us back to the conceptions of
experience and of reason formulated by Plato and Aristotle. Much
as these thinkers differed in many respects, they agreed in
identifying experience with purely practical concerns; and hence
with material interests as to its purpose and with the body as to
its organ. Knowledge, on the other hand, existed for its own
sake free from practical reference, and found its source and
organ in a purely immaterial mind; it had to do with spiritual or
ideal interests. Again, experience always involved lack, need,
desire; it was never self-sufficing. Rational knowing on the
other hand, was complete and comprehensive within itself. Hence
the practical life was in a condition of perpetual flux, while
intellectual knowledge concerned eternal truth.

This sharp antithesis is connected with the fact that Athenian
philosophy began as a criticism of custom and tradition as
standards of knowledge and conduct. In a search for something to
replace them, it hit upon reason as the only adequate guide of
belief and activity. Since custom and tradition were identified
with experience, it followed at once that reason was superior to
experience. Moreover, experience, not content with its proper
position of subordination, was the great foe to the
acknowledgment of the authority of reason. Since custom and
traditionary beliefs held men in bondage, the struggle of reason
for its legitimate supremacy could be won only by showing the
inherently unstable and inadequate nature of experience. The
statement of Plato that philosophers should be kings may best be
understood as a statement that rational intelligence and not
habit, appetite, impulse, and emotion should regulate human
affairs. The former secures unity, order, and law; the latter
signify multiplicity and discord, irrational fluctuations from
one estate to another.

The grounds for the identification of experience with the
unsatisfactory condition of things, the state of affairs
represented by rule of mere custom, are not far to seek.
Increasing trade and travel, colonizations, migrations and wars,
had broadened the intellectual horizon. The customs and beliefs
of different communities were found to diverge sharply from one
another. Civil disturbance had become a custom in Athens; the
fortunes of the city seemed given over to strife of factions.
The increase of leisure coinciding with the broadening of the
horizon had brought into ken many new facts of nature and had
stimulated curiosity and speculation. The situation tended to
raise the question as to the existence of anything constant and
universal in the realm of nature and society. Reason was the
faculty by which the universal principle and essence is
apprehended; while the senses were the organs of perceiving
change, -- the unstable and the diverse as against the permanent
and uniform. The results of the work of the senses, preserved in
memory and imagination, and applied in the skill given by habit,
constituted experience.

Experience at its best is thus represented in the various
handicrafts -- the arts of peace and war. The cobbler, the flute
player, the soldier, have undergone the discipline of experience
to acquire the skill they have. This means that the bodily
organs, particularly the senses, have had repeated contact with
things and that the result of these contacts has been preserved
and consolidated till ability in foresight and in practice had
been secured. Such was the essential meaning of the term
"empirical." It suggested a knowledge and an ability not based
upon insight into principles, but expressing the result of a
large number of separate trials. It expressed the idea now
conveyed by "method of trial and error," with especial emphasis
upon the more or less accidental character of the trials. So far
as ability of control, of management, was concerned, it amounted
to rule-of-thumb procedure, to routine. If new circumstances
resembled the past, it might work well enough; in the degree in
which they deviated, failure was likely. Even to-day to speak of
a physician as an empiricist is to imply that he lacks scientific
training, and that he is proceeding simply on the basis of what
he happens to have got out of the chance medley of his past
practice. Just because of the lack of science or reason in
"experience" it is hard to keep it at its poor best. The empiric
easily degenerates into the quack. He does not know where his
knowledge begins or leaves off, and so when he gets beyond
routine conditions he begins to pretend -- to make claims for
which there is no justification, and to trust to luck and to
ability to impose upon others -- to "bluff." Moreover, he assumes
that because he has learned one thing, he knows others -- as the
history of Athens showed that the common craftsmen thought they
could manage household affairs, education, and politics, because
they had learned to do the specific things of their trades.
Experience is always hovering, then, on the edge of pretense, of
sham, of seeming, and appearance, in distinction from the reality
upon which reason lays hold.

The philosophers soon reached certain generalizations from this
state of affairs. The senses are connected with the appetites,
with wants and desires. They lay hold not on the reality of
things but on the relation which things have to our pleasures and
pains, to the satisfaction of wants and the welfare of the body.
They are important only for the life of the body, which is but a
fixed substratum for a higher life. Experience thus has a
definitely material character; it has to do with physical things
in relation to the body. In contrast, reason, or science, lays
hold of the immaterial, the ideal, the spiritual. There is
something morally dangerous about experience, as such words as
sensual, carnal, material, worldly, interests suggest; while pure
reason and spirit connote something morally praiseworthy.
Moreover, ineradicable connection with the changing, the
inexplicably shifting, and with the manifold, the diverse, clings
to experience. Its material is inherently variable and
untrustworthy. It is anarchic, because unstable. The man who
trusts to experience does not know what he depends upon, since it
changes from person to person, from day to day, to say nothing of
from country to country. Its connection with the "many," with
various particulars, has the same effect, and also carries
conflict in its train.

Only the single, the uniform, assures coherence and harmony. Out
of experience come warrings, the conflict of opinions and acts
within the individual and between individuals. From experience
no standard of belief can issue, because it is the very nature of
experience to instigate all kinds of contrary beliefs, as
varieties of local custom proved. Its logical outcome is that
anything is good and true to the particular individual which his
experience leads him to believe true and good at a particular
time and place. Finally practice falls of necessity within
experience. Doing proceeds from needs and aims at change. To
produce or to make is to alter something; to consume is to alter.
All the obnoxious characters of change and diversity thus attach
themselves to doing while knowing is as permanent as its object.
To know, to grasp a thing intellectually or theoretically, is to
be out of the region of vicissitude, chance, and diversity.
Truth has no lack; it is untouched by the perturbations of the
world of sense. It deals with the eternal and the universal.
And the world of experience can be brought under control, can be
steadied and ordered, only through subjection to its law of

It would not do, of course, to say that all these distinctions
persisted in full technical definiteness. But they all of them
profoundly influenced men's subsequent thinking and their ideas
about education. The contempt for physical as compared with
mathematical and logical science, for the senses and sense
observation; the feeling that knowledge is high and worthy in the
degree in which it deals with ideal symbols instead of with the
concrete; the scorn of particulars except as they are deductively
brought under a universal; the disregard for the body; the
depreciation of arts and crafts as intellectual
instrumentalities, all sought shelter and found sanction under
this estimate of the respective values of experience and
reason -- or, what came to the same thing, of the practical and
the intellectual. Medieval philosophy continued and reinforced
the tradition. To know reality meant to be in relation to the
supreme reality, or God, and to enjoy the eternal bliss of that
relation. Contemplation of supreme reality was the ultimate end
of man to which action is subordinate. Experience had to do with
mundane, profane, and secular affairs, practically necessary
indeed, but of little import in comparison with supernatural
objects of knowledge. When we add to this motive the force
derived from the literary character of the Roman education and
the Greek philosophic tradition, and conjoin to them the
preference for studies which obviously demarcated the
aristocratic class from the lower classes, we can readily
understand the tremendous power exercised by the persistent
preference of the "intellectual" over the "practical" not simply
in educational philosophies but in the higher schools. 2. The
Modern Theory of Experience and Knowledge. As we shall see
later, the development of experimentation as a method of
knowledge makes possible and necessitates a radical
transformation of the view just set forth. But before coming to
that, we have to note the theory of experience and knowledge
developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In
general, it presents us with an almost complete reversal of the
classic doctrine of the relations of experience and reason. To
Plato experience meant habituation, or the conservation of the
net product of a lot of past chance trials. Reason meant the
principle of reform, of progress, of increase of control.
Devotion to the cause of reason meant breaking through the
limitations of custom and getting at things as they really were.
To the modern reformers, the situation was the other way around.
Reason, universal principles, a priori notions, meant either
blank forms which had to be filled in by experience, by sense
observations, in order to get significance and validity; or else
were mere indurated prejudices, dogmas imposed by authority,
which masqueraded and found protection under august names. The
great need was to break way from captivity to conceptions which,
as Bacon put it, "anticipated nature" and imposed merely human
opinions upon her, and to resort to experience to find out what
nature was like. Appeal to experience marked the breach with
authority. It meant openness to new impressions; eagerness in
discovery and invention instead of absorption in tabulating and
systematizing received ideas and "proving" them by means of the
relations they sustained to one another. It was the irruption
into the mind of the things as they really were, free from the
veil cast over them by preconceived ideas.

The change was twofold. Experience lost the practical meaning
which it had borne from the time of Plato. It ceased to mean
ways of doing and being done to, and became a name for something
intellectual and cognitive. It meant the apprehension of
material which should ballast and check the exercise of
reasoning. By the modern philosophic empiricist and by his
opponent, experience has been looked upon just as a way of
knowing. The only question was how good a way it is. The result
was an even greater "intellectualism" than is found in ancient
philosophy, if that word be used to designate an emphatic and
almost exclusive interest in knowledge in its isolation.
Practice was not so much subordinated to knowledge as treated as
a kind of tag-end or aftermath of knowledge. The educational
result was only to confirm the exclusion of active pursuits from
the school, save as they might be brought in for purely
utilitarian ends -- the acquisition by drill of certain habits.
In the second place, the interest in experience as a means of
basing truth upon objects, upon nature, led to looking at the
mind as purely receptive. The more passive the mind is, the more
truly objects will impress themselves upon it. For the mind to
take a hand, so to speak, would be for it in the very process of
knowing to vitiate true knowledge -- to defeat its own purpose.
The ideal was a maximum of receptivity. Since the impressions
made upon the mind by objects were generally termed sensations,
empiricism thus became a doctrine of sensationalism -- that is to
say, a doctrine which identified knowledge with the reception and
association of sensory impressions. In John Locke, the most
influential of the empiricists, we find this sensationalism
mitigated by a recognition of certain mental faculties, like
discernment or discrimination, comparison, abstraction, and
generalization which work up the material of sense into definite
and organized forms and which even evolve new ideas on their own
account, such as the fundamental conceptions of morals and
mathematics. (See ante, p. 61.) But some of his successors,
especially in France in the latter part of the eighteenth
century, carried his doctrine to the limit; they regarded
discernment and judgment as peculiar sensations made in us by the
conjoint presence of other sensations. Locke had held that the
mind is a blank piece of paper, or a wax tablet with nothing
engraved on it at birth (a tabula rasa) so far as any contents of
ideas were concerned, but had endowed it with activities to be
exercised upon the material received. His French successors
razed away the powers and derived them also from impressions

As we have earlier noted, this notion was fostered by the new
interest in education as method of social reform. (See ante, p.
93.) The emptier the mind to begin with, the more it may be made
anything we wish by bringing the right influences to bear upon
it. Thus Helvetius, perhaps the most extreme and consistent
sensationalist, proclaimed that education could do anything--that
it was omnipotent. Within the sphere of school instruction,
empiricism found its directly beneficial office in protesting
against mere book learning. If knowledge comes from the
impressions made upon us by natural objects, it is impossible to
procure knowledge without the use of objects which impress the
mind. Words, all kinds of linguistic symbols, in the lack of
prior presentations of objects with which they may be associated,
convey nothing but sensations of their own shape and color --
certainly not a very instructive kind of knowledge.
Sensationalism was an extremely handy weapon with which to combat
doctrines and opinions resting wholly upon tradition and
authority. With respect to all of them, it set up a test: Where
are the real objects from which these ideas and beliefs are
received? If such objects could not be produced, ideas were
explained as the result of false associations and combinations.
Empiricism also insisted upon a first-hand element. The
impression must be made upon me, upon my mind. The further we
get away from this direct, first-hand source of knowledge, the
more numerous the sources of error, and the vaguer the resulting

As might be expected, however, the philosophy was weak upon the
positive side. Of course, the value of natural objects and
firsthand acquaintance was not dependent upon the truth of the
theory. Introduced into the schools they would do their work,
even if the sensational theory about the way in which they did it
was quite wrong. So far, there is nothing to complain of. But
the emphasis upon sensationalism also operated to influence the
way in which natural objects were employed, and to prevent full
good being got from them. "Object lessons" tended to isolate the
mere sense-activity and make it an end in itself. The more
isolated the object, the more isolated the sensory quality, the
more distinct the sense-impression as a unit of knowledge. The
theory worked not only in the direction of this mechanical
isolation, which tended to reduce instruction to a kind of
physical gymnastic of the sense-organs (good like any gymnastic
of bodily organs, but not more so), but also to the neglect of
thinking. According to the theory there was no need of thinking
in connection with sense-observation; in fact, in strict theory
such thinking would be impossible till afterwards, for thinking
consisted simply in combining and separating sensory units which
had been received without any participation of judgment.

As a matter of fact, accordingly, practically no scheme of
education upon a purely sensory basis has ever been
systematically tried, at least after the early years of infancy.
Its obvious deficiencies have caused it to be resorted to simply
for filling in "rationalistic" knowledge (that is to say,
knowledge of definitions, rules, classifications, and modes of
application conveyed through symbols), and as a device for
lending greater "interest" to barren symbols. There are at least
three serious defects of sensationalistic empiricism as an
educational philosophy of knowledge. (a) the historical value of
the theory was critical; it was a dissolvent of current beliefs
about the world and political institutions. It was a destructive
organ of criticism of hard and fast dogmas. But the work of
education is constructive, not critical. It assumes not old
beliefs to be eliminated and revised, but the need of building up
new experience into intellectual habitudes as correct as possible
from the start. Sensationalism is highly unfitted for this
constructive task. Mind, understanding, denotes responsiveness
to meanings (ante, p. 29), not response to direct physical
stimuli. And meaning exists only with reference to a context,
which is excluded by any scheme which identifies knowledge with a
combination of sense-impressions. The theory, so far as
educationally applied, led either to a magnification of mere
physical excitations or else to a mere heaping up of isolated
objects and qualities.

(b) While direct impression has the advantage of being first
hand, it also has the disadvantage of being limited in range.
Direct acquaintance with the natural surroundings of the home
environment so as to give reality to ideas about portions of the
earth beyond the reach of the senses, and as a means of arousing
intellectual curiosity, is one thing. As an end-all and be-all
of geographical knowledge it is fatally restricted. In precisely
analogous fashion, beans, shoe pegs, and counters may be helpful
aids to a realization of numerical relations, but when employed
except as aids to thought -- the apprehension of meaning--they
become an obstacle to the growth of arithmetical understanding.
They arrest growth on a low plane, the plane of specific physical
symbols. Just as the race developed especial symbols as tools of
calculation and mathematical reasonings, because the use of the
fingers as numerical symbols got in the way, so the individual
must progress from concrete to abstract symbols -- that is,
symbols whose meaning is realized only through conceptual
thinking. And undue absorption at the outset in the physical
object of sense hampers this growth. (c) A thoroughly false
psychology of mental development underlay sensationalistic
empiricism. Experience is in truth a matter of activities,
instinctive and impulsive, in their interactions with things.
What even an infant "experiences" is not a passively received
quality impressed by an object, but the effect which some
activity of handling, throwing, pounding, tearing, etc., has upon
an object, and the consequent effect of the object upon the
direction of activities. (See ante, p. 140.) Fundamentally (as
we shall see in more detail), the ancient notion of experience as
a practical matter is truer to fact that the modern notion of it
as a mode of knowing by means of sensations. The neglect of the
deep-seated active and motor factors of experience is a fatal
defect of the traditional empirical philosophy. Nothing is more
uninteresting and mechanical than a scheme of object lessons
which ignores and as far as may be excludes the natural tendency
to learn about the qualities of objects by the uses to which they
are put through trying to do something with them.

It is obvious, accordingly, that even if the philosophy of
experience represented by modern empiricism had received more
general theoretical assent than has been accorded to it, it could
not have furnished a satisfactory philosophy of the learning
process. Its educational influence was confined to injecting a
new factor into the older curriculum, with incidental
modifications of the older studies and methods. It introduced
greater regard for observation of things directly and through
pictures and graphic descriptions, and it reduced the importance
attached to verbal symbolization. But its own scope was so
meager that it required supplementation by information concerning
matters outside of sense-perception and by matters which appealed
more directly to thought. Consequently it left unimpaired the
scope of informational and abstract, or "rationalistic" studies.

3. Experience as Experimentation. It has already been intimated
that sensational empiricism represents neither the idea of
experience justified by modern psychology nor the idea of
knowledge suggested by modern scientific procedure. With respect
to the former, it omits the primary position of active response
which puts things to use and which learns about them through
discovering the consequences that result from use. It would seem
as if five minutes' unprejudiced observation of the way an infant
gains knowledge would have sufficed to overthrow the notion that
he is passively engaged in receiving impressions of isolated
ready-made qualities of sound, color, hardness, etc. For it
would be seen that the infant reacts to stimuli by activities of
handling, reaching, etc., in order to see what results follow
upon motor response to a sensory stimulation; it would be seen
that what is learned are not isolated qualities, but the behavior
which may be expected from a thing, and the changes in things and
persons which an activity may be expected to produce. In other
words, what he learns are connections. Even such qualities as
red color, sound of a high pitch, have to be discriminated and
identified on the basis of the activities they call forth and the
consequences these activities effect. We learn what things are
hard and what are soft by finding out through active
experimentation what they respectively will do and what can be
done and what cannot be done with them. In like fashion,
children learn about persons by finding out what responsive
activities these persons exact and what these persons will do in
reply to the children's activities. And the combination of what
things do to us (not in impressing qualities on a passive mind)
in modifying our actions, furthering some of them and resisting
and checking others, and what we can do to them in producing new
changes constitutes experience. The methods of science by which
the revolution in our knowledge of the world dating from the
seventeenth century, was brought about, teach the same lesson.
For these methods are nothing but experimentation carried out
under conditions of deliberate control. To the Greek, it seemed
absurd that such an activity as, say, the cobbler punching holes
in leather, or using wax and needle and thread, could give an
adequate knowledge of the world. It seemed almost axiomatic that
for true knowledge we must have recourse to concepts coming from
a reason above experience. But the introduction of the
experimental method signified precisely that such operations,
carried on under conditions of control, are just the ways in
which fruitful ideas about nature are obtained and tested. In
other words, it is only needed to conduct such an operation as
the pouring of an acid on a metal for the purpose of getting
knowledge instead of for the purpose of getting a trade result,
in order to lay hold of the principle upon which the science of
nature was henceforth to depend. Sense perceptions were indeed
indispensable, but there was less reliance upon sense perceptions
in their natural or customary form than in the older science.
They were no longer regarded as containing within themselves some
"form" or "species" of universal kind in a disguised mask of
sense which could be stripped off by rational thought. On the
contrary, the first thing was to alter and extend the data of
sense perception: to act upon the given objects of sense by the
lens of the telescope and microscope, and by all sorts of
experimental devices. To accomplish this in a way which would
arouse new ideas (hypotheses, theories) required even more
general ideas (like those of mathematics) than were at the
command of ancient science. But these general conceptions were
no longer taken to give knowledge in themselves. They were
implements for instituting, conducting, interpreting experimental
inquiries and formulating their results.

The logical outcome is a new philosophy of experience and
knowledge, a philosophy which no longer puts experience in
opposition to rational knowledge and explanation. Experience is
no longer a mere summarizing of what has been done in a more or
less chance way in the past; it is a deliberate control of what
is done with reference to making what happens to us and what we
do to things as fertile as possible of suggestions (of suggested
meanings) and a means for trying out the validity of the
suggestions. When trying, or experimenting, ceases to be blinded
by impulse or custom, when it is guided by an aim and conducted
by measure and method, it becomes reasonable -- rational. When
what we suffer from things, what we undergo at their hands,
ceases to be a matter of chance circumstance, when it is
transformed into a consequence of our own prior purposive
endeavors, it becomes rationally significant -- enlightening and
instructive. The antithesis of empiricism and rationalism loses
the support of the human situation which once gave it meaning and
relative justification.

The bearing of this change upon the opposition of purely
practical and purely intellectual studies is self-evident. The
distinction is not intrinsic but is dependent upon conditions,
and upon conditions which can be regulated. Practical activities
may be intellectually narrow and trivial; they will be so in so
far as they are routine, carried on under the dictates of
authority, and having in view merely some external result. But
childhood and youth, the period of schooling, is just the time
when it is possible to carry them on in a different spirit. It
is inexpedient to repeat the discussions of our previous chapters
on thinking and on the evolution of educative subject matter from
childlike work and play to logically organized subject matter.
The discussions of this chapter and the prior one should,
however, give an added meaning to those results.

(i) Experience itself primarily consists of the active relations
subsisting between a human being and his natural and social
surroundings. In some cases, the initiative in activity is on
the side of the environment; the human being undergoes or suffers
certain checkings and deflections of endeavors. In other cases,
the behavior of surrounding things and persons carries to a
successful issue the active tendencies of the individual, so that
in the end what the individual undergoes are consequences which
he has himself tried to produce. In just the degree in which
connections are established between what happens to a person and
what he does in response, and between what he does to his
environment and what it does in response to him, his acts and the
things about him acquire meaning. He learns to understand both
himself and the world of men and things. Purposive education or
schooling should present such an environment that this
interaction will effect acquisition of those meanings which are
so important that they become, in turn, instruments of further
learnings. (ante, Ch. XI.) As has been repeatedly pointed out,
activity out of school is carried on under conditions which have
not been deliberately adapted to promoting the function of
understanding and formation of effective intellectual
dispositions. The results are vital and genuine as far as they
go, but they are limited by all kinds of circumstances. Some
powers are left quite undeveloped and undirected; others get only
occasional and whimsical stimulations; others are formed into
habits of a routine skill at the expense of aims and resourceful
initiative and inventiveness. It is not the business of the
school to transport youth from an environment of activity into
one of cramped study of the records of other men's learning; but
to transport them from an environment of relatively chance
activities (accidental in the relation they bear to insight and
thought) into one of activities selected with reference to
guidance of learning. A slight inspection of the improved
methods which have already shown themselves effective in
education will reveal that they have laid hold, more or less
consciously, upon the fact that "intellectual" studies instead of
being opposed to active pursuits represent an intellectualizing
of practical pursuits. It remains to grasp the principle with
greater firmness.

(ii) The changes which are taking place in the content of social
life tremendously facilitate selection of the sort of activities
which will intellectualize the play and work of the school. When
one bears in mind the social environment of the Greeks and the
people of the Middle Ages, where such practical activities as
could be successfully carried on were mostly of a routine and
external sort and even servile in nature, one is not surprised
that educators turned their backs upon them as unfitted to
cultivate intelligence. But now that even the occupations of the
household, agriculture, and manufacturing as well as
transportation and intercourse are instinct with applied science,
the case stands otherwise. It is true that many of those who now
engage in them are not aware of the intellectual content upon
which their personal actions depend. But this fact only gives an
added reason why schooling should use these pursuits so as to
enable the coming generation to acquire a comprehension now too
generally lacking, and thus enable persons to carry on their
pursuits intelligently instead of blindly. (iii) The most direct
blow at the traditional separation of doing and knowing and at
the traditional prestige of purely "intellectual" studies,
however, has been given by the progress of experimental science.
If this progress has demonstrated anything, it is that there is
no such thing as genuine knowledge and fruitful understanding
except as the offspring of doing. The analysis and rearrangement
of facts which is indispensable to the growth of knowledge and
power of explanation and right classification cannot be attained
purely mentally -- just inside the head. Men have to do
something to the things when they wish to find out something;
they have to alter conditions. This is the lesson of the
laboratory method, and the lesson which all education has to
learn. The laboratory is a discovery of the condition under
which labor may become intellectually fruitful and not merely
externally productive. If, in too many cases at present, it
results only in the acquisition of an additional mode of
technical skill, that is because it still remains too largely but
an isolated resource, not resorted to until pupils are mostly too
old to get the full advantage of it, and even then is surrounded
by other studies where traditional methods isolate intellect from

Summary. The Greeks were induced to philosophize by the
increasing failure of their traditional customs and beliefs to
regulate life. Thus they were led to criticize custom adversely
and to look for some other source of authority in life and
belief. Since they desired a rational standard for the latter,
and had identified with experience the customs which had proved
unsatisfactory supports, they were led to a flat opposition of
reason and experience. The more the former was exalted, the more
the latter was depreciated. Since experience was identified with
what men do and suffer in particular and changing situations of
life, doing shared in the philosophic depreciation. This
influence fell in with many others to magnify, in higher
education, all the methods and topics which involved the least
use of sense-observation and bodily activity. The modern age
began with a revolt against this point of view, with an appeal to
experience, and an attack upon so-called purely rational concepts
on the ground that they either needed to be ballasted by the
results of concrete experiences, or else were mere expressions of
prejudice and institutionalized class interest, calling
themselves rational for protection. But various circumstances
led to considering experience as pure cognition, leaving out of
account its intrinsic active and emotional phases, and to
identifying it with a passive reception of isolated "sensations."
Hence the education reform effected by the new theory was
confined mainly to doing away with some of the bookishness of
prior methods; it did not accomplish a consistent

Meantime, the advance of psychology, of industrial methods, and
of the experimental method in science makes another conception of
experience explicitly desirable and possible. This theory
reinstates the idea of the ancients that experience is primarily
practical, not cognitive -- a matter of doing and undergoing the
consequences of doing. But the ancient theory is transformed by
realizing that doing may be directed so as to take up into its
own content all which thought suggests, and so as to result in
securely tested knowledge. "Experience" then ceases to be
empirical and becomes experimental. Reason ceases to be a remote
and ideal faculty, and signifies all the resources by which
activity is made fruitful in meaning. Educationally, this change
denotes such a plan for the studies and method of instruction as
has been developed in the previous chapters.

Chapter Twenty-one: Physical and Social Studies: Naturalism and

ALLUSION has already been made to the conflict of natural science
with literary studies for a place in the curriculum. The
solution thus far reached consists essentially in a somewhat
mechanical compromise whereby the field is divided between
studies having nature and studies having man as their theme. The
situation thus presents us with another instance of the external
adjustment of educational values, and focuses attention upon the
philosophy of the connection of nature with human affairs. In
general, it may be said that the educational division finds a
reflection in the dualistic philosophies. Mind and the world are
regarded as two independent realms of existence having certain
points of contact with each other. From this point of view it is
natural that each sphere of existence should have its own
separate group of studies connected with it; it is even natural
that the growth of scientific studies should be viewed with
suspicion as marking a tendency of materialistic philosophy to
encroach upon the domain of spirit. Any theory of education
which contemplates a more unified scheme of education than now
exists is under the necessity of facing the question of the
relation of man to nature.

1. The Historic Background of Humanistic Study. It is
noteworthy that classic Greek philosophy does not present the
problem in its modern form. Socrates indeed appears to have
thought that science of nature was not attainable and not very
important. The chief thing to know is the nature and end of man.
Upon that knowledge hangs all that is of deep significance--all
moral and social achievement. Plato, however, makes right
knowledge of man and society depend upon knowledge of the
essential features of nature. His chief treatise, entitled the
Republic, is at once a treatise on morals, on social
organization, and on the metaphysics and science of nature.
Since he accepts the Socratic doctrine that right achievement in
the former depends upon rational knowledge, he is compelled to
discuss the nature of knowledge. Since he accepts the idea that
the ultimate object of knowledge is the discovery of the good or
end of man, and is discontented with the Socratic conviction that
all we know is our own ignorance, he connects the discussion of
the good of man with consideration of the essential good or end
of nature itself. To attempt to determine the end of man apart
from a knowledge of the ruling end which gives law and unity to
nature is impossible. It is thus quite consistent with his
philosophy that he subordinates literary studies (under the name
of music) to mathematics and to physics as well as to logic and
metaphysics. But on the other hand, knowledge of nature is not
an end in itself; it is a necessary stage in bringing the mind to
a realization of the supreme purpose of existence as the law of
human action, corporate and individual. To use the modern
phraseology, naturalistic studies are indispensable, but they are
in the interests of humanistic and ideal ends.

Aristotle goes even farther, if anything, in the direction of
naturalistic studies. He subordinates (ante, p. 254) civic
relations to the purely cognitive life. The highest end of man
is not human but divine -- participation in pure knowing which
constitutes the divine life. Such knowing deals with what is
universal and necessary, and finds, therefore, a more adequate
subject matter in nature at its best than in the transient things
of man. If we take what the philosophers stood for in Greek
life, rather than the details of what they say, we might
summarize by saying that the Greeks were too much interested in
free inquiry into natural fact and in the aesthetic enjoyment of
nature, and were too deeply conscious of the extent in which
society is rooted in nature and subject to its laws, to think of
bringing man and nature into conflict. Two factors conspire in
the later period of ancient life, however, to exalt literary and
humanistic studies. One is the increasingly reminiscent and
borrowed character of culture; the other is the political and
rhetorical bent of Roman life.

Greek achievement in civilization was native; the civilization of
the Alexandrians and Romans was inherited from alien sources.
Consequently it looked back to the records upon which it drew,
instead of looking out directly upon nature and society, for
material and inspiration. We cannot do better than quote the
words of Hatch to indicate the consequences for educational
theory and practice. "Greece on one hand had lost political
power, and on the other possessed in her splendid literature an
inalienable heritage. It was natural that she should turn to
letters. It was natural also that the study of letters should be
reflected upon speech. The mass of men in the Greek world tended
to lay stress on that acquaintance with the literature of bygone
generations, and that habit of cultivated speech, which has ever
since been commonly spoken of as education. Our own comes by
direct tradition from it. It set a fashion which until recently
has uniformly prevailed over the entire civilized world. We
study literature rather than nature because the Greeks did so,
and because when the Romans and the Roman provincials resolved to
educate their sons, they employed Greek teachers and followed in
Greek paths." 1

The so-called practical bent of the Romans worked in the same
direction. In falling back upon the recorded ideas of the
Greeks, they not only took the short path to attaining a cultural
development, but they procured just the kind of material and
method suited to their administrative talents. For their
practical genius was not directed to the conquest and control of
nature but to the conquest and control of men.

Mr. Hatch, in the passage quoted, takes a good deal of history
for granted in saying that we have studied literature rather than
nature because the Greeks, and the Romans whom they taught, did
so. What is the link that spans the intervening centuries? The
question suggests that barbarian Europe but repeated on a larger
scale and with increased intensity the Roman situation. It had
to go to school to Greco-Roman civilization; it also borrowed
rather than evolved its culture. Not merely for its general
ideas and their artistic presentation but for its models of law
it went to the records of alien peoples. And its dependence upon
tradition was increased by the dominant theological interests of
the period. For the authorities to which the Church appealed
were literatures composed in foreign tongues. Everything
converged to identify learning with linguistic training and to
make the language of the learned a literary language instead of
the mother speech.

The full scope of this fact escapes us, moreover, until we
recognize that this subject matter compelled recourse to a
dialectical method. Scholasticism frequently has been used since
the time of the revival of learning as a term of reproach. But
all that it means is the method of The Schools, or of the School
Men. In its essence, it is nothing but a highly effective
systematization of the methods of teaching and learning which are
appropriate to transmit an authoritative body of truths. Where
literature rather than contemporary nature and society furnishes
material of study, methods must be adapted to defining,
expounding, and interpreting the received material, rather than
to inquiry, discovery, and invention. And at bottom what is
called Scholasticism is the whole-hearted and consistent
formulation and application of the methods which are suited to
instruction when the material of instruction is taken ready-made,
rather than as something which students are to find out for
themselves. So far as schools still teach from textbooks and
rely upon the principle of authority and acquisition rather than
upon that of discovery and inquiry, their methods are
Scholastic -- minus the logical accuracy and system of
Scholasticism at its best. Aside from laxity of method and
statement, the only difference is that geographies and histories
and botanies and astronomies are now part of the authoritative
literature which is to be mastered.

As a consequence, the Greek tradition was lost in which a
humanistic interest was used as a basis of interest in nature,
and a knowledge of nature used to support the distinctively human
aims of man. Life found its support in authority, not in nature.
The latter was moreover an object of considerable suspicion.
Contemplation of it was dangerous, for it tended to draw man away
from reliance upon the documents in which the rules of living
were already contained. Moreover nature could be known only
through observation; it appealed to the senses -- which were
merely material as opposed to a purely immaterial mind.
Furthermore, the utilities of a knowledge of nature were purely
physical and secular; they connected with the bodily and temporal
welfare of man, while the literary tradition concerned his
spiritual and eternal well-being.

2. The Modern Scientific Interest in Nature. The movement of
the fifteenth century which is variously termed the revival of
learning and the renascence was characterized by a new interest
in man's present life, and accordingly by a new interest in his
relationships with nature. It was naturalistic, in the sense
that it turned against the dominant supernaturalistic interest.
It is possible that the influence of a return to classic Greek
pagan literature in bringing about this changed mind has been
overestimated. Undoubtedly the change was mainly a product of
contemporary conditions. But there can be no doubt that educated
men, filled with the new point of view, turned eagerly to Greek
literature for congenial sustenance and reinforcement. And to a
considerable extent, this interest in Greek thought was not in
literature for its own sake, but in the spirit it expressed. The
mental freedom, the sense of the order and beauty of nature,
which animated Greek expression, aroused men to think and observe
in a similar untrammeled fashion. The history of science in the
sixteenth century shows that the dawning sciences of physical
nature largely borrowed their points of departure from the new
interest in Greek literature. As Windelband has said, the new
science of nature was the daughter of humanism. The favorite
notion of the time was that man was in microcosm that which the
universe was in macrocosm.

This fact raises anew the question of how it was that nature and
man were later separated and a sharp division made between
language and literature and the physical sciences. Four reasons
may be suggested. (a) The old tradition was firmly entrenched in
institutions. Politics, law, and diplomacy remained of
necessity branches of authoritative literature, for the social
sciences did not develop until the methods of the sciences of
physics and chemistry, to say nothing of biology, were much
further advanced. The same is largely true of history.
Moreover, the methods used for effective teaching of the
languages were well developed; the inertia of academic custom was
on their side. Just as the new interest in literature,
especially Greek, had not been allowed at first to find lodgment
in the scholastically organized universities, so when it found
its way into them it joined hands with the older learning to
minimize the influence of experimental science. The men who
taught were rarely trained in science; the men who were
scientifically competent worked in private laboratories and
through the medium of academies which promoted research, but
which were not organized as teaching bodies. Finally, the
aristocratic tradition which looked down upon material things and
upon the senses and the hands was still mighty.

(b) The Protestant revolt brought with it an immense increase of
interest in theological discussion and controversies. The appeal
on both sides was to literary documents. Each side had to train
men in ability to study and expound the records which were relied
upon. The demand for training men who could defend the chosen
faith against the other side, who were able to propagandize and
to prevent the encroachments of the other side, was such that it
is not too much to say that by the middle of the seventeenth
century the linguistic training of gymnasia and universities had
been captured by the revived theological interest, and used as a
tool of religious education and ecclesiastical controversy. Thus
the educational descent of the languages as they are found in
education to-day is not direct from the revival of learning, but
from its adaptation to theological ends.

(c) The natural sciences were themselves conceived in a way which
sharpened the opposition of man and nature. Francis Bacon
presents an almost perfect example of the union of naturalistic
and humanistic interest. Science, adopting the methods of
observation and experimentation, was to give up the attempt to
"anticipate" nature -- to impose preconceived notions upon her --
and was to become her humble interpreter. In obeying nature
intellectually, man would learn to command her practically.
"Knowledge is power." This aphorism meant that through science
man is to control nature and turn her energies to the execution
of his own ends. Bacon attacked the old learning and logic as
purely controversial, having to do with victory in argument, not
with discovery of the unknown. Through the new method of thought
which was set forth in his new logic an era of expansive
discoveries was to emerge, and these discoveries were to bear
fruit in inventions for the service of man. Men were to give up
their futile, never-finished effort to dominate one another to
engage in the cooperative task of dominating nature in the
interests of humanity.

In the main, Bacon prophesied the direction of subsequent
progress. But he "anticipated" the advance. He did not see that
the new science was for a long time to be worked in the interest
of old ends of human exploitation. He thought that it would
rapidly give man new ends. Instead, it put at the disposal of a
class the means to secure their old ends of aggrandizement at the
expense of another class. The industrial revolution followed, as
he foresaw, upon a revolution in scientific method. But it is
taking the revolution many centuries to produce a new mind.
Feudalism was doomed by the applications of the new science, for
they transferred power from the landed nobility to the
manufacturing centers. But capitalism rather than a social
humanism took its place. Production and commerce were carried on
as if the new science had no moral lesson, but only technical
lessons as to economies in production and utilization of saving
in self-interest. Naturally, this application of physical
science (which was the most conspicuously perceptible one)
strengthened the claims of professed humanists that science was
materialistic in its tendencies. It left a void as to man's
distinctively human interests which go beyond making, saving, and
expending money; and languages and literature put in their claim
to represent the moral and ideal interests of humanity.

(d) Moreover, the philosophy which professed itself based upon
science, which gave itself out as the accredited representative
of the net significance of science, was either dualistic in
character, marked by a sharp division between mind
(characterizing man) and matter, constituting nature; or else it
was openly mechanical, reducing the signal features of human life
to illusion. In the former case, it allowed the claims of
certain studies to be peculiar consignees of mental values, and
indirectly strengthened their claim to superiority, since human
beings would incline to regard human affairs as of chief
importance at least to themselves. In the latter case, it called
out a reaction which threw doubt and suspicion upon the value of
physical science, giving occasion for treating it as an enemy to
man's higher interests.

Greek and medieval knowledge accepted the world in its
qualitative variety, and regarded nature's processes as having
ends, or in technical phrase as teleological. New science was
expounded so as to deny the reality of all qualities in real, or
objective, existence. Sounds, colors, ends, as well as goods and
bads, were regarded as purely subjective -- as mere impressions
in the mind. Objective existence was then treated as having only
quantitative aspects -- as so much mass in motion, its only
differences being that at one point in space there was a larger
aggregate mass than at another, and that in some spots there were
greater rates of motion than at others. Lacking qualitative
distinctions, nature lacked significant variety. Uniformities
were emphasized, not diversities; the ideal was supposed to be
the discovery of a single mathematical formula applying to the
whole universe at once from which all the seeming variety of
phenomena could be derived. This is what a mechanical philosophy

Such a philosophy does not represent the genuine purport of
science. It takes the technique for the thing itself; the
apparatus and the terminology for reality, the method for its
subject matter. Science does confine its statements to
conditions which enable us to predict and control the happening
of events, ignoring the qualities of the events. Hence its
mechanical and quantitative character. But in leaving them out
of account, it does not exclude them from reality, nor relegate
them to a purely mental region; it only furnishes means
utilizable for ends. Thus while in fact the progress of science
was increasing man's power over nature, enabling him to place his
cherished ends on a firmer basis than ever before, and also to
diversify his activities almost at will, the philosophy which
professed to formulate its accomplishments reduced the world to a
barren and monotonous redistribution of matter in space. Thus
the immediate effect of modern science was to accentuate the
dualism of matter and mind, and thereby to establish the physical
and the humanistic studies as two disconnected groups. Since the
difference between better and worse is bound up with the
qualities of experience, any philosophy of science which excludes
them from the genuine content of reality is bound to leave out
what is most interesting and most important to mankind.

3. The Present Educational Problem. In truth, experience knows
no division between human concerns and a purely mechanical
physical world. Man's home is nature; his purposes and aims are
dependent for execution upon natural conditions. Separated from
such conditions they become empty dreams and idle indulgences of
fancy. From the standpoint of human experience, and hence of
endeavor, any distinction which can be justly made between nature
and man is a distinction between the conditions which have to be
reckoned with in the formation and execution of our practical
aims, and the aims themselves. This philosophy is vouched for by
the doctrine of biological development which shows that man is
continuous with nature, not an alien entering her processes from
without. It is reinforced by the experimental method of science
which shows that knowledge accrues in virtue of an attempt to
direct physical energies in accord with ideas suggested in
dealing with natural objects in behalf of social uses. Every
step forward in the social sciences -- the studies termed
history, economics, politics, sociology -- shows that social
questions are capable of being intelligently coped with only in
the degree in which we employ the method of collected data,
forming hypotheses, and testing them in action which is
characteristic of natural science, and in the degree in which we
utilize in behalf of the promotion of social welfare the
technical knowledge ascertained by physics and chemistry.
Advanced methods of dealing with such perplexing problems as
insanity, intemperance, poverty, public sanitation, city
planning, the conservation of natural resources, the constructive
use of governmental agencies for furthering the public good
without weakening personal initiative, all illustrate the direct
dependence of our important social concerns upon the methods and
results of natural science.

With respect then to both humanistic and naturalistic studies,
education should take its departure from this close
interdependence. It should aim not at keeping science as a study
of nature apart from literature as a record of human interests,
but at cross-fertilizing both the natural sciences and the
various human disciplines such as history, literature, economics,
and politics. Pedagogically, the problem is simpler than the
attempt to teach the sciences as mere technical bodies of
information and technical forms of physical manipulation, on one
side; and to teach humanistic studies as isolated subjects, on
the other. For the latter procedure institutes an artificial
separation in the pupils' experience. Outside of school pupils
meet with natural facts and principles in connection with various
modes of human action. (See ante, p. 30.) In all the social
activities in which they have shared they have had to understand
the material and processes involved. To start them in school
with a rupture of this intimate association breaks the continuity
of mental development, makes the student feel an indescribable
unreality in his studies, and deprives him of the normal motive
for interest in them.

There is no doubt, of course, that the opportunities of education
should be such that all should have a chance who have the
disposition to advance to specialized ability in science, and
thus devote themselves to its pursuit as their particular
occupation in life. But at present, the pupil too often has a
choice only between beginning with a study of the results of
prior specialization where the material is isolated from his
daily experiences, or with miscellaneous nature study, where
material is presented at haphazard and does not lead anywhere in
particular. The habit of introducing college pupils into
segregated scientific subject matter, such as is appropriate to
the man who wishes to become an expert in a given field, is
carried back into the high schools. Pupils in the latter simply
get a more elementary treatment of the same thing, with
difficulties smoothed over and topics reduced to the level of
their supposed ability. The cause of this procedure lies in
following tradition, rather than in conscious adherence to a
dualistic philosophy. But the effect is the same as if the
purpose were to inculcate an idea that the sciences which deal
with nature have nothing to do with man, and vice versa. A large
part of the comparative ineffectiveness of the teaching of the
sciences, for those who never become scientific specialists, is
the result of a separation which is unavoidable when one begins
with technically organized subject matter. Even if all students
were embryonic scientific specialists, it is questionable whether
this is the most effective procedure. Considering that the great
majority are concerned with the study of sciences only for its
effect upon their mental habits -- in making them more alert,
more open-minded, more inclined to tentative acceptance and to
testing of ideas propounded or suggested, -- and for achieving a
better understanding of their daily environment, it is certainly
ill-advised. Too often the pupil comes out with a smattering
which is too superficial to be scientific and too technical to be
applicable to ordinary affairs.

The utilization of ordinary experience to secure an advance into
scientific material and method, while keeping the latter
connected with familiar human interests, is easier to-day than it
ever was before. The usual experience of all persons in
civilized communities to-day is intimately associated with
industrial processes and results. These in turn are so many
cases of science in action. The stationary and traction steam
engine, gasoline engine, automobile, telegraph and telephone, the
electric motor enter directly into the lives of most individuals.
Pupils at an early age are practically acquainted with these
things. Not only does the business occupation of their parents
depend upon scientific applications, but household pursuits, the
maintenance of health, the sights seen upon the streets, embody
scientific achievements and stimulate interest in the connected
scientific principles. The obvious pedagogical starting point of
scientific instruction is not to teach things labeled science,
but to utilize the familiar occupations and appliances to direct
observation and experiment, until pupils have arrived at a
knowledge of some fundamental principles by understanding them in
their familiar practical workings.

The opinion sometimes advanced that it is a derogation from the
"purity" of science to study it in its active incarnation,
instead of in theoretical abstraction, rests upon a
misunderstanding. AS matter of fact, any subject is cultural in
the degree in which it is apprehended in its widest possible
range of meanings. Perception of meanings depends upon
perception of connections, of context. To see a scientific fact
or law in its human as well as in its physical and technical
context is to enlarge its significance and give it increased
cultural value. Its direct economic application, if by economic
is meant
something having money worth, is incidental and secondary, but a
part of its actual connections. The important thing is that the
fact be grasped in its social connections -- its function in

On the other hand, "humanism" means at bottom being imbued with
an intelligent sense of human interests. The social interest,
identical in its deepest meaning with a moral interest, is
necessarily supreme with man. Knowledge about man, information
as to his past, familiarity with his documented records of
literature, may be as technical a possession as the accumulation
of physical details. Men may keep busy in a variety of ways,
making money, acquiring facility in laboratory manipulation, or
in amassing a store of facts about linguistic matters, or the
chronology of literary productions. Unless such activity reacts
to enlarge the imaginative vision of life, it is on a level with
the busy work of children. It has the letter without the spirit
of activity. It readily degenerates itself into a miser's
accumulation, and a man prides himself on what he has, and not on
the meaning he finds in the affairs of life. Any study so
pursued that it increases concern for the values of life, any
study producing greater sensitiveness to social well-being and
greater ability to promote that well-being is humane study. The
humanistic spirit of the Greeks was native and intense but it was
narrow in scope. Everybody outside the Hellenic circle was a
barbarian, and negligible save as a possible enemy. Acute as
were the social observations and speculations of Greek thinkers,
there is not a word in their writings to indicate that Greek
civilization was not self-inclosed and self-sufficient. There
was, apparently, no suspicion that its future was at the mercy of
the despised outsider. Within the Greek community, the intense
social spirit was limited by the fact that higher culture was
based on a substratum of slavery and economic serfdom--classes
necessary to the existence of the state, as Aristotle declared,
and yet not genuine parts of it. The development of science has
produced an industrial revolution which has brought different
peoples in such close contact with one another through
colonization and commerce that no matter how some nations may
still look down upon others, no country can harbor the illusion
that its career is decided wholly within itself. The same
revolution has abolished agricultural serfdom, and created a
class of more or less organized factory laborers with recognized
political rights, and who make claims for a responsible role in
the control of industry--claims which receive sympathetic
attention from many among the well-to- do, since they have been
brought into closer connections with the less fortunate classes
through the breaking down of class barriers.

This state of affairs may be formulated by saying that the older
humanism omitted economic and industrial conditions from its
purview. Consequently, it was one sided. Culture, under such
circumstances, inevitably represented the intellectual and moral
outlook of the class which was in direct social control. Such a
tradition as to culture is, as we have seen (ante, p. 260),
aristocratic; it emphasizes what marks off one class from
another, rather than fundamental common interests. Its standards
are in the past; for the aim is to preserve what has been gained
rather than widely to extend the range of culture.

The modifications which spring from taking greater account of
industry and of whatever has to do with making a living are
frequently condemned as attacks upon the culture derived from the
past. But a wider educational outlook would conceive industrial
activities as agencies for making intellectual resources more
accessible to the masses, and giving greater solidity to the
culture of those having superior resources. In short, when we
consider the close connection between science and industrial
development on the one hand, and between literary and aesthetic
cultivation and an aristocratic social organization on the other,
we get light on the opposition between technical scientific
studies and refining literary studies. We have before us the
need of overcoming this separation in education if society is to
be truly democratic.

Summary. The philosophic dualism between man and nature is
reflected in the division of studies between the naturalistic and
the humanistic with a tendency to reduce the latter to the
literary records of the past. This dualism is not characteristic
(as were the others which we have noted) of Greek thought. It
arose partly because of the fact that the culture of Rome and of
barbarian Europe was not a native product, being borrowed
directly or indirectly from Greece, and partly because political
and ecclesiastic conditions emphasized dependence upon the
authority of past knowledge as that was transmitted in literary

At the outset, the rise of modern science prophesied a
restoration of the intimate connection of nature and humanity,
for it viewed knowledge of nature as the means of securing human
progress and well-being. But the more immediate applications of
science were in the interests of a class rather than of men in
common; and the received philosophic formulations of scientific
doctrine tended either to mark it off as merely material from man
as spiritual and immaterial, or else to reduce mind to a
subjective illusion. In education, accordingly, the tendency was
to treat the sciences as a separate body of studies, consisting
of technical information regarding the physical world, and to
reserve the older literary studies as distinctively humanistic.
The account previously given of the evolution of knowledge, and
of the educational scheme of studies based upon it, are designed
to overcome the separation, and to secure recognition of the
place occupied by the subject matter of the natural sciences in
human affairs.

1 The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian
Church. pp. 43-44.

Chapter Twenty-two: The Individual and the World

1. Mind as Purely Individual. We have been concerned with the
influences which have effected a division between work and
leisure, knowing and doing, man and nature. These influences
have resulted in splitting up the subject matter of education
into separate studies. They have also found formulation in
various philosophies which have opposed to each other body and
mind, theoretical knowledge and practice, physical mechanism and
ideal purpose. Upon the philosophical side, these various
dualisms culminate in a sharp demarcation of individual minds
from the world, and hence from one another. While the connection
of this philosophical position with educational procedure is not
so obvious as is that of the points considered in the last three
chapters, there are certain educational considerations which
correspond to it; such as the antithesis supposed to exist
between subject matter (the counterpart of the world) and method
(the counterpart of mind); such as the tendency to treat interest
as something purely private, without intrinsic connection with
the material studied. Aside from incidental educational
bearings, it will be shown in this chapter that the dualistic
philosophy of mind and the world implies an erroneous conception
of the
relationship between knowledge and social interests, and between
individuality or freedom, and social control and authority.
The identification of the mind with the individual self and of
the latter with a private psychic consciousness is comparatively
modern. In both the Greek and medieval periods, the rule was to
regard the individual as a channel through which a universal and
divine intelligence operated. The individual was in no true
sense the knower; the knower was the "Reason" which operated
through him. The individual interfered at his peril, and only to
the detriment of the truth. In the degree in which the
individual rather than reason "knew," conceit, error, and opinion
were substituted for true knowledge. In Greek life, observation
was acute and alert; and thinking was free almost to the point of
irresponsible speculations. Accordingly the consequences of the
theory were only such as were consequent upon the lack of an
experimental method. Without such a method individuals could not
engage in knowing, and be checked up by the results of the
inquiries of others. Without such liability to test by others,
the minds of men could not be intellectually responsible; results
were to be accepted because of their aesthetic consistency,
agreeable quality, or the prestige of their authors. In the
barbarian period, individuals were in a still more humble
attitude to truth; important knowledge was supposed to be
divinely revealed, and nothing remained for the minds of
individuals except to work it over after it had been received on
authority. Aside from the more consciously philosophic aspects
of these movements, it never occurs to any one to identify mind
and the personal self wherever beliefs are transmitted by custom.

In the medieval period there was a religious individualism. The
deepest concern of life was the salvation of the individual soul.
In the later Middle Ages, this latent individualism found
conscious formulation in the nominalistic philosophies, which
treated the structure of knowledge as something built up within
the individual through his own acts, and mental states. With the
rise of economic and political individualism after the sixteenth
century, and with the development of Protestantism, the times
were ripe for an emphasis upon the rights and duties of the
individual in achieving knowledge for himself. This led to the
view that knowledge is won wholly through personal and private
experiences. As a consequence, mind, the source and possessor of
knowledge, was thought of as wholly individual. Thus upon the
educational side, we find educational reformers, like Montaigne,
Bacon, Locke, henceforth vehemently denouncing all learning which
is acquired on hearsay, and asserting that even if beliefs happen
to be true, they do not constitute knowledge unless they have
grown up in and been tested by personal experience. The reaction
against authority in all spheres of life, and the intensity of
the struggle, against great odds, for freedom of action and
inquiry, led to such an emphasis upon personal observations and
ideas as in effect to isolate mind, and set it apart from the
world to be known.

This isolation is reflected in the great development of that
branch of philosophy known as epistemology--the theory of
knowledge. The identification of mind with the self, and the
setting up of the self as something independent and
self-sufficient, created such a gulf between the knowing mind and
the world that it became a question how knowledge was possible at
all. Given a subject - - the knower--and an object--the thing to
be known--wholly separate from one another, it is necessary to
frame a theory to explain how they get into connection with each
other so that valid knowledge may result. This problem, with the
allied one of the possibility of the world acting upon the mind
and the mind acting upon the world, became almost the exclusive
preoccupation of philosophic thought.

The theories that we cannot know the world as it really is but
only the impressions made upon the mind, or that there is no
world beyond the individual mind, or that knowledge is only a
certain association of the mind's own states, were products of
this preoccupation. We are not directly concerned with their
truth; but the fact that such desperate solutions were widely
accepted is evidence of the extent to which mind had been set
over the world of realities. The increasing use of the term
"consciousness" as an equivalent for mind, in the supposition
that there is an inner world of conscious states and processes,
independent of any relationship to nature and society, an inner
world more truly and immediately known than anything else, is
evidence of the same fact. In short, practical individualism, or
struggle for greater freedom of thought in action, was translated
into philosophic subjectivism.

2. Individual Mind as the Agent of Reorganization. It should be
obvious that this philosophic movement misconceived the
significance of the practical movement. Instead of being its
transcript, it was a perversion. Men were not actually engaged
in the absurdity of striving to be free from connection with
nature and one another. They were striving for greater freedom
in nature and society. They wanted greater power to initiate
changes in the world of things and fellow beings; greater scope
of movement and consequently greater freedom in observations and
ideas implied in movement. They wanted not isolation from the
world, but a more intimate connection with it. They wanted to
form their beliefs about it at first hand, instead of through
tradition. They wanted closer union with their fellows so that
they might influence one another more effectively and might
combine their respective actions for mutual aims.

So far as their beliefs were concerned, they felt that a great
deal which passed for knowledge was merely the accumulated
opinions of the past, much of it absurd and its correct portions
not understood when accepted on authority. Men must observe for
themselves, and form their own theories and personally test them.
Such a method was the only alternative to the imposition of dogma
as truth, a procedure which reduced mind to the formal act of
acquiescing in truth. Such is the meaning of what is sometimes
called the substitution of inductive experimental methods of
knowing for deductive. In some sense, men had always used an
inductive method in dealing with their immediate practical
concerns. Architecture, agriculture, manufacture, etc., had to
be based upon observation of the activities of natural objects,
and ideas about such affairs had to be checked, to some extent,
by results. But even in such things there was an undue reliance
upon mere custom, followed blindly rather than understandingly.
And this observational-experimental method was restricted to
these "practical" matters, and a sharp distinction maintained
between practice and theoretical knowledge or truth. (See Ch.
XX.) The rise of free cities, the development of travel,
exploration, and commerce, the evolution of new methods of
producing commodities and doing business, threw men definitely
upon their own resources. The reformers of science like Galileo,
Descartes, and their successors, carried analogous methods into
ascertaining the facts about nature. An interest in discovery
took the place of an interest in systematizing and "proving"
received beliefs.

A just philosophic interpretation of these movements would,
indeed, have emphasized the rights and responsibilities of the
individual in gaining knowledge and personally testing beliefs,
no matter by what authorities they were vouched for. But it
would not have isolated the individual from the world, and
consequently isolated individuals--in theory--from one another.
It would have perceived that such disconnection, such rupture of
continuity, denied in advance the possibility of success in their
endeavors. As matter of fact every individual has grown up, and
always must grow up, in a social medium. His responses grow
intelligent, or gain meaning, simply because he lives and acts in
a medium of accepted meanings and values. (See ante, p. 30.)
Through social intercourse, through sharing in the activities
embodying beliefs, he gradually acquires a mind of his own. The
conception of mind as a purely isolated possession of the self is
at the very antipodes of the truth. The self achieves mind in
the degree in which knowledge of things is incarnate in the life
about him; the self is not a separate mind building up knowledge
anew on its own account.

Yet there is a valid distinction between knowledge which is
objective and impersonal, and thinking which is subjective and
personal. In one sense, knowledge is that which we take for
granted. It is that which is settled, disposed of, established,
under control. What we fully know, we do not need to think
about. In common phrase, it is certain, assured. And this does
not mean a mere feeling of certainty. It denotes not a
sentiment, but a practical attitude, a readiness to act without
reserve or quibble. Of course we may be mistaken. What is taken
for knowledge--for fact and truth--at a given time may not be
such. But everything which is assumed without question, which is
taken for granted in our intercourse with one another and nature
is what, at the given time, is called knowledge. Thinking on the
contrary, starts, as we have seen, from doubt or uncertainty. It
marks an inquiring, hunting, searching attitude, instead of one
of mastery and possession. Through its critical process true
knowledge is revised and extended, and our convictions as to the
state of things reorganized. Clearly the last few centuries have
been typically a period of revision and reorganization of
beliefs. Men did not really throw away all transmitted beliefs
concerning the realities of existence, and start afresh upon the
basis of their private, exclusive sensations and ideas. They
could not have done so if they had wished to, and if it had been
possible general imbecility would have been the only outcome.
Men set out from what had passed as knowledge, and critically
investigated the grounds upon which it rested; they noted
exceptions; they used new mechanical appliances to bring to light
data inconsistent with what had been believed; they used their
imaginations to conceive a world different from that in which
their forefathers had put their trust. The work was a piecemeal,
a retail, business. One problem was tackled at a time. The net
results of all the revisions amounted, however, to a revolution
of prior conceptions of the world. What occurred was a
reorganization of prior intellectual habitudes, infinitely more
efficient than a cutting loose from all connections would have

This state of affairs suggests a definition of the role of the
individual, or the self, in knowledge; namely, the redirection,
or reconstruction of accepted beliefs. Every new idea, every
conception of things differing from that authorized by current
belief, must have its origin in an individual. New ideas are
doubtless always sprouting, but a society governed by custom does
not encourage their development. On the contrary, it tends to
suppress them, just because they are deviations from what is
current. The man who looks at things differently from others is
in such a community a suspect character; for him to persist is
generally fatal. Even when social censorship of beliefs is not
so strict, social conditions may fail to provide the appliances
which are requisite if new ideas are to be adequately elaborated;
or they may fail to provide any material support and reward to
those who entertain them. Hence they remain mere fancies,
romantic castles in the air, or aimless speculations. The
freedom of observation and imagination involved in the modern
scientific revolution were not easily secured; they had to be
fought for; many suffered for their intellectual independence.
But, upon the whole, modern European society first permitted, and
then, in some fields at least, deliberately encouraged the
individual reactions which deviate from what custom prescribes.
Discovery, research, inquiry in new lines, inventions, finally
came to be either the social fashion, or in some degree
tolerable. However, as we have already noted, philosophic
theories of knowledge were not content to conceive mind in the
individual as the pivot upon which reconstruction of beliefs
turned, thus maintaining the continuity of the individual with
the world of nature and fellow men. They regarded the individual
mind as a separate entity, complete in each person, and isolated
from nature and hence from other minds. Thus a legitimate
intellectual individualism, the attitude of critical revision of
former beliefs which is indispensable to progress, was explicitly
formulated as a moral and social individualism. When the
activities of mind set out from customary beliefs and strive to
effect transformations of them which will in turn win general
conviction, there is no opposition between the individual and the
social. The intellectual variations of the individual in
observation, imagination, judgment, and invention are simply the
agencies of social progress, just as conformity to habit is the
agency of social conservation. But when knowledge is regarded as
originating and developing within an individual, the ties which
bind the mental life of one to that of his fellows are ignored
and denied.

When the social quality of individualized mental operations is
denied, it becomes a problem to find connections which will unite
an individual with his fellows. Moral individualism is set up by
the conscious separation of different centers of life. It has
its roots in the notion that the consciousness of each person is
wholly private, a self-inclosed continent, intrinsically
independent of the ideas, wishes, purposes of everybody else.
But when men act, they act in a common and public world. This is
the problem to which the theory of isolated and independent
conscious minds gave rise: Given feelings, ideas, desires, which
have nothing to do with one another, how can actions proceeding
from them be controlled in a social or public interest? Given an
egoistic consciousness, how can action which has regard for
others take place?

Moral philosophies which have started from such premises have
developed four typical ways of dealing with the question. (i)
One method represents the survival of the older authoritative
position, with such concessions and compromises as the progress
of events has made absolutely inevitable. The deviations and
departures characterizing an individual are still looked upon
with suspicion; in principle they are evidences of the
disturbances, revolts, and corruptions inhering in an individual
apart from external authoritative guidance. In fact, as distinct
from principle, intellectual individualism is tolerated in
certain technical regions -- in subjects like mathematics and
physics and astronomy, and in the technical inventions resulting
therefrom. But the applicability of a similar method to morals,
social, legal, and political matters, is denied. In such
matters, dogma is still to be supreme; certain eternal truths
made known by revelation, intuition, or the wisdom of our
forefathers set unpassable limits to individual observation and
speculation. The evils from which society suffers are set down
to the efforts of misguided individuals to transgress these
boundaries. Between the physical and the moral sciences, lie
intermediate sciences of life, where the territory is only
grudgingly yielded to freedom of inquiry under the pressure of
accomplished fact. Although past history has demonstrated that
the possibilities of human good are widened and made more secure
by trusting to a responsibility built up within the very process
of inquiry, the "authority" theory sets apart a sacred domain of
truth which must be protected from the inroads of variation of
beliefs. Educationally, emphasis may not be put on eternal
truth, but it is put on the authority of book and teacher, and
individual variation is discouraged.

(ii) Another method is sometimes termed rationalism or abstract
intellectualism. A formal logical faculty is set up in
distinction from tradition and history and all concrete subject
matter. This faculty of reason is endowed with power to
influence conduct directly. Since it deals wholly with general
and impersonal forms, when different persons act in accord with
logical findings, their activities will be externally consistent.
There is no doubt of the services rendered by this philosophy.
It was a powerful factor in the negative and dissolving criticism
of doctrines having nothing but tradition and class interest
behind them; it accustomed men to freedom of discussion and to
the notion that beliefs had to be submitted to criteria of
reasonableness. It undermined the power of prejudice,
superstition, and brute force, by habituating men to reliance
upon argument, discussion, and persuasion. It made for clarity
and order of exposition. But its influence was greater in
destruction of old falsities than in the construction of new ties
and associations among men. Its formal and empty nature, due to
conceiving reason as something complete in itself apart from
subject matter, its hostile attitude toward historical
institutions, its disregard of the influence of habit, instinct,
and emotion, as operative factors in life, left it impotent in
the suggestion of specific aims and methods. Bare logic, however
important in arranging and criticizing existing subject matter,
cannot spin new subject matter out of itself. In education, the
correlative is trust in general ready-made rules and principles
to secure agreement, irrespective of seeing to it that the
pupil's ideas really agree with one another.

(iii) While this rationalistic philosophy was developing in
France, English thought appealed to the intelligent self-interest
of individuals in order to secure outer unity in the acts which
issued from isolated streams of consciousness. Legal
arrangements, especially penal administration, and governmental
regulations, were to be such as to prevent the acts which
proceeded from regard for one's own private sensations from
interfering with the feelings of others. Education was to
instill in individuals a sense that non-interference with others
and some degree of positive regard for their welfare were
necessary for security in the pursuit of one's own happiness.
Chief emphasis was put, however, upon trade as a means of
bringing the conduct of one into harmony with that of others. In
commerce, each aims at the satisfaction of his own wants, but can
gain his own profit only by furnishing some commodity or service
to another. Thus in aiming at the increase of his own private
pleasurable states of consciousness, he contributes to the
consciousness of others. Again there is no doubt that this view
expressed and furthered a heightened perception of the values of
conscious life, and a recognition that institutional arrangements
are ultimately to be judged by the contributions which they make
to intensifying and enlarging the scope of conscious experience.
It also did much to rescue work, industry, and mechanical devices
from the contempt in which they had been held in communities
founded upon the control of a leisure class. In both ways, this
philosophy promoted a wider and more democratic social concern.
But it was tainted by the narrowness of its fundamental premise:
the doctrine that every individual acts only from regard for his
own pleasures and pains, and that so-called generous and
sympathetic acts are only indirect ways of procuring and assuring
one's own comfort. In other words, it made explicit the
consequences inhering in any doctrine which makes mental life a
self-inclosed thing, instead of an attempt to redirect and
readapt common concerns. It made union among men a matter of
calculation of externals. It lent itself to the contemptuous
assertions of Carlyle that it was a doctrine of anarchy plus a
constable, and recognized only a "cash nexus" among men. The
educational equivalents of this doctrine in the uses made of
pleasurable rewards and painful penalties are only too obvious.
(iv) Typical German philosophy followed another path. It started
from what was essentially the rationalistic philosophy of
Descartes and his French successors. But while French thought
upon the whole developed the idea of reason in opposition to the
religious conception of a divine mind residing in individuals,
German thought (as in Hegel) made a synthesis of the two. Reason
is absolute. Nature is incarnate reason. History is reason in
its progressive unfolding in man. An individual becomes rational
only as he absorbs into himself the content of rationality in
nature and in social institutions. For an absolute reason is
not, like the reason of rationalism, purely formal and empty; as
absolute it must include all content within itself. Thus the
real problem is not that of controlling individual freedom so
that some measure of social order and concord may result, but of
achieving individual freedom through developing individual
convictions in accord with the universal law found in the
organization of the state as objective Reason. While this
philosophy is usually termed absolute or objective idealism, it
might better be termed, for educational purposes at least,
institutional idealism. (See ante, p. 59.) It idealized
historical institutions by conceiving them as incarnations of an
immanent absolute mind. There can be no doubt that this
philosophy was a powerful influence in rescuing philosophy in the
beginning of the nineteenth century from the isolated
individualism into which it had fallen in France and England. It
served also to make the organization of the state more
constructively interested in matters of public concern. It left
less to chance, less to mere individual logical conviction, less
to the workings of private self-interest. It brought
intelligence to bear upon the conduct of affairs; it accentuated
the need of nationally organized education in the interests of
the corporate state. It sanctioned and promoted freedom of
inquiry in all technical details of natural and historical
phenomena. But in all ultimate moral matters, it tended to
reinstate the principle of authority. It made for efficiency of
organization more than did any of the types of philosophy
previously mentioned, but it made no provision for free
experimental modification of this organization. Political
democracy, with its belief in the right of individual desire and
purpose to take part in readapting even the fundamental
constitution of society, was foreign to it.

3. Educational Equivalents. It is not necessary to consider in
detail the educational counterparts of the various defects found
in these various types of philosophy. It suffices to say that in
general the school has been the institution which exhibited with
greatest clearness the assumed antithesis between purely
individualistic methods of learning and social action, and
between freedom and social control. The antithesis is reflected
in the absence of a social atmosphere and motive for learning,
and the consequent separation, in the conduct of the school,
between method of instruction and methods of government; and in
the slight opportunity afforded individual variations. When
learning is a phase of active undertakings which involve mutual
exchange, social control enters into the very process of
learning. When the social factor is absent, learning becomes a
carrying over of some presented material into a purely individual
consciousness, and there is no inherent reason why it should give
a more socialized direction to mental and emotional disposition.
There is tendency on the part of both the upholders and the
opponents of freedom in school to identify it with absence of
social direction, or, sometimes, with merely physical
unconstraint of movement. But the essence of the demand for
freedom is the need of conditions which will enable an individual
to make his own special contribution to a group interest, and to
partake of its activities in such ways that social guidance shall
be a matter of his own mental attitude, and not a mere
authoritative dictation of his acts. Because what is often
called discipline and "government" has to do with the external
side of conduct alone, a similar meaning is attached, by
reaction, to freedom. But when it is perceived that each idea
signifies the quality of mind expressed in action, the supposed
opposition between them falls away. Freedom means essentially
the part played by thinking -- which is personal -- in learning:
-- it means intellectual initiative, independence in observation,
judicious invention, foresight of consequences, and ingenuity of
adaptation to them.

But because these are the mental phase of behavior, the needed
play of individuality -- or freedom -- cannot be separated from
opportunity for free play of physical movements. Enforced
physical quietude may be unfavorable to realization of a problem,
to undertaking the observations needed to define it, and to
performance of the experiments which test the ideas suggested.
Much has been said about the importance of "self-activity" in
education, but the conception has too frequently been restricted
to something merely internal -- something excluding the free use
of sensory and motor organs. Those who are at the stage of
learning from symbols, or who are engaged in elaborating the
implications of a problem or idea preliminary to more carefully
thought-out activity, may need little perceptible overt activity.
But the whole cycle of self-activity demands an opportunity for
investigation and experimentation, for trying out one's ideas
upon things, discovering what can be done with materials and
appliances. And this is incompatible with closely restricted
physical activity. Individual activity has sometimes been taken
as meaning leaving a pupil to work by himself or alone. Relief
from need of attending to what any one else is doing is truly
required to secure calm and concentration. Children, like grown
persons, require a judicious amount of being let alone. But the
time, place, and amount of such separate work is a matter of
detail, not of principle. There is no inherent opposition
between working with others and working as an individual. On the
contrary, certain capacities of an individual are not brought out
except under the stimulus of associating with others. That a
child must work alone and not engage in group activities in order
to be free and let his individuality develop, is a notion which
measures individuality by spatial distance and makes a physical
thing of it.

Individuality as a factor to be respected in education has a
double meaning. In the first place, one is mentally an
individual only as he has his own purpose and problem, and does
his own thinking. The phrase "think for one's self" is a
pleonasm. Unless one does it for one's self, it isn't thinking.
Only by a pupil's own observations, reflections, framing and
testing of suggestions can what he already knows be amplified and

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