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Democracy and Education by John Dewey

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rectified. Thinking is as much an individual matter as is the
digestion of food. In the second place, there are variations of
point of view, of appeal of objects, and of mode of attack, from
person to person. When these variations are suppressed in the
alleged interests of uniformity, and an attempt is made to have a
single mold of method of study and recitation, mental confusion
and artificiality inevitably result. Originality is gradually
destroyed, confidence in one's own quality of mental operation is
undermined, and a docile subjection to the opinion of others is
inculcated, or else ideas run wild. The harm is greater now than
when the whole community was governed by customary beliefs,
because the contrast between methods of learning in school and
those relied upon outside the school is greater. That systematic
advance in scientific discovery began when individuals were
allowed, and then encouraged, to utilize their own peculiarities
of response to subject matter, no one will deny. If it is said
in objection, that pupils in school are not capable of any such
originality, and hence must be confined to appropriating and
reproducing things already known by the better informed, the
reply is twofold. (i) We are concerned with originality of
attitude which is equivalent to the unforced response of one's
own individuality, not with originality as measured by product.
No one expects the young to make original discoveries of just the
same facts and principles as are embodied in the sciences of
nature and man. But it is not unreasonable to expect that
learning may take place under such conditions that from the
standpoint of the learner there is genuine discovery. While
immature students will not make discoveries from the standpoint
of advanced students, they make them from their own standpoint,
whenever there is genuine learning. (ii) In the normal process
of becoming acquainted with subject matter already known to
others, even young pupils react in unexpected ways. There is
something fresh, something not capable of being fully anticipated
by even the most experienced teacher, in the ways they go at the
topic, and in the particular ways in which things strike them.
Too often all this is brushed aside as irrelevant; pupils are
deliberately held to rehearsing material in the exact form in
which the older person conceives it. The result is that what is
instinctively original in individuality, that which marks off one
from another, goes unused and undirected. Teaching then ceases
to be an educative process for the teacher. At most he learns
simply to improve his existing technique; he does not get new
points of view; he fails to experience any intellectual
companionship. Hence both teaching and learning tend to become
conventional and mechanical with all the nervous strain on both
sides therein implied.

As maturity increases and as the student has a greater background
of familiarity upon which a new topic is projected, the scope of
more or less random physical experimentation is reduced.
Activity is defined or specialized in certain channels. To the
eyes of others, the student may be in a position of complete
physical quietude, because his energies are confined to nerve
channels and to the connected apparatus of the eyes and vocal
organs. But because this attitude is evidence of intense mental
concentration on the part of the trained person, it does not
follow that it should be set up as a model for students who still
have to find their intellectual way about. And even with the
adult, it does not cover the whole circuit of mental energy. It
marks an intermediate period, capable of being lengthened with
increased mastery of a subject, but always coming between an
earlier period of more general and conspicuous organic action and
a later time of putting to use what has been apprehended.

When, however, education takes cognizance of the union of mind
and body in acquiring knowledge, we are not obliged to insist
upon the need of obvious, or external, freedom. It is enough to
identify the freedom which is involved in teaching and studying
with the thinking by which what a person already knows and
believes is enlarged and refined. If attention is centered upon
the conditions which have to be met in order to secure a
situation favorable to effective thinking, freedom will take care
of itself. The individual who has a question which being really
a question to him instigates his curiosity, which feeds his
eagerness for information that will help him cope with it, and
who has at command an equipment which will permit these interests
to take effect, is intellectually free. Whatever initiative and
imaginative vision he possesses will be called into play and
control his impulses and habits. His own purposes will direct
his actions. Otherwise, his seeming attention, his docility, his
memorizings and reproductions, will partake of intellectual
servility. Such a condition of intellectual subjection is needed
for fitting the masses into a society where the many are not
expected to have aims or ideas of their own, but to take orders
from the few set in authority. It is not adapted to a society
which intends to be democratic.

Summary. True individualism is a product of the relaxation of
the grip of the authority of custom and traditions as standards
of belief. Aside from sporadic instances, like the height of
Greek thought, it is a comparatively modern manifestation. Not
but that there have always been individual diversities, but that
a society dominated by conservative custom represses them or at
least does not utilize them and promote them. For various
reasons, however, the new individualism was interpreted
philosophically not as meaning development of agencies for
revising and transforming previously accepted beliefs, but as an
assertion that each individual's mind was complete in isolation
from everything else. In the theoretical phase of philosophy,
this produced the epistemological problem: the question as to the
possibility of any cognitive relationship of the individual to
the world. In its practical phase, it generated the problem of
the possibility of a purely individual consciousness acting on
behalf of general or social interests, -- the problem of social
direction. While the philosophies which have been elaborated to
deal with these questions have not affected education directly,
the assumptions underlying them have found expression in the
separation frequently made between study and government and
between freedom of individuality and control by others.
Regarding freedom, the important thing to bear in mind is that it
designates a mental attitude rather than external unconstraint of
movements, but that this quality of mind cannot develop without a
fair leeway of movements in exploration, experimentation,
application, etc. A society based on custom will utilize
individual variations only up to a limit of conformity with
usage; uniformity is the chief ideal within each class. A
progressive society counts individual variations as precious
since it finds in them the means of its own growth. Hence a
democratic society must, in consistency with its ideal, allow for
intellectual freedom and the play of diverse gifts and interests
in its educational measures.

Chapter Twenty-Three: Vocational Aspects of Education

1. The Meaning of Vocation. At the present time the conflict of
philosophic theories focuses in discussion of the proper place
and function of vocational factors in education. The
bald statement that significant differences in fundamental
philosophical conceptions find their chief issue in connection
with this point may arouse incredulity: there seems to be too
great a gap between the remote and general terms in which
philosophic ideas are formulated and the practical and concrete
details of vocational education. But a mental review of the
intellectual presuppositions underlying the oppositions in
education of labor and leisure, theory and practice, body and
mind, mental states and the world, will show that they culminate
in the antithesis of vocational and cultural education.
Traditionally, liberal culture has been linked to the notions of
leisure, purely contemplative knowledge and a spiritual activity
not involving the active use of bodily organs. Culture has also
tended, latterly, to be associated with a purely private
refinement, a cultivation of certain states and attitudes of
consciousness, separate from either social direction or service.
It has been an escape from the former, and a solace for the
necessity of the latter.

So deeply entangled are these philosophic dualisms with the whole
subject of vocational education, that it is necessary to define
the meaning of vocation with some fullness in order to avoid the
impression that an education which centers about it is narrowly
practical, if not merely pecuniary. A vocation means nothing but
such a direction of life activities as renders them perceptibly
significant to a person, because of the consequences they
accomplish, and also useful to his associates. The opposite of a
career is neither leisure nor culture, but aimlessness,
capriciousness, the absence of cumulative achievement in
experience, on the personal side, and idle display, parasitic
dependence upon the others, on the social side. Occupation is a
concrete term for continuity. It includes the development of
artistic capacity of any kind, of special scientific ability, of
effective citizenship, as well as professional and business
occupations, to say nothing of mechanical labor or engagement in
gainful pursuits.

We must avoid not only limitation of conception of vocation to
the occupations where immediately tangible commodities are
produced, but also the notion that vocations are distributed in
an exclusive way, one and only one to each person. Such
restricted specialism is impossible; nothing could be more absurd
than to try to educate individuals with an eye to only one line
of activity. In the first place, each individual has of
necessity a variety of callings, in each of which he should be
intelligently effective; and in the second place any one
occupation loses its meaning and becomes a routine keeping busy
at something in the degree in which it is isolated from other
interests. (i) No one is just an artist and nothing else, and in
so far as one approximates that condition, he is so much the less
developed human being; he is a kind of monstrosity. He must, at
some period of his life, be a member of a family; he must have
friends and companions; he must either support himself or be
supported by others, and thus he has a business career. He is a
member of some organized political unit, and so on. We naturally
name his vocation from that one of the callings which
distinguishes him, rather than from those which he has in common
with all others. But we should not allow ourselves to be so
subject to words as to ignore and virtually deny his other
callings when it comes to a consideration of the vocational
phases of education.

(ii) As a man's vocation as artist is but the emphatically
specialized phase of his diverse and variegated vocational
activities, so his efficiency in it, in the humane sense of
efficiency, is determined by its association with other callings.
A person must have experience, he must live, if his artistry is
to be more than a technical accomplishment. He cannot find the
subject matter of his artistic activity within his art; this must
be an expression of what he suffers and enjoys in other
relationships -- a thing which depends in turn upon the alertness
and sympathy of his interests. What is true of an artist is true
of any other special calling. There is doubtless--in general
accord with the principle of habit -- a tendency for every
distinctive vocation to become too dominant, too exclusive and
absorbing in its specialized aspect. This means emphasis upon
skill or technical method at the expense of meaning. Hence it is
not the business of education to foster this tendency, but rather
to safeguard against it, so that the scientific inquirer shall
not be merely the scientist, the teacher merely the pedagogue,
the clergyman merely one who wears the cloth, and so on.

2. The Place of Vocational Aims in Education. Bearing in mind
the varied and connected content of the vocation, and the broad
background upon which a particular calling is projected, we shall
now consider education for the more distinctive activity of an

1. An occupation is the only thing which balances the
distinctive capacity of an individual with his social service.
To find out what one is fitted to do and to secure an opportunity
to do it is the key to happiness. Nothing is more tragic than
failure to discover one's true business in life, or to find that
one has drifted or been forced by circumstance into an
uncongenial calling. A right occupation means simply that the
aptitudes of a person are in adequate play, working with the
minimum of friction and the maximum of satisfaction. With
reference to other members of a community, this adequacy of
action signifies, of course, that they are getting the best
service the person can render. It is generally believed, for
example, that slave labor was ultimately wasteful even from the
purely economic point of view -- that there was not sufficient
stimulus to direct the energies of slaves, and that there was
consequent wastage. Moreover, since slaves were confined to
certain prescribed callings, much talent must have remained
unavailable to the community, and hence there was a dead loss.
Slavery only illustrates on an obvious scale what happens in some
degree whenever an individual does not find himself in his work.
And he cannot completely find himself when vocations are looked
upon with contempt, and a conventional ideal of a culture which
is essentially the same for all is maintained. Plato (ante, p.
88) laid down the fundamental principle of a philosophy of
education when he asserted that it was the business of education
to discover what each person is good for, and to train him to
mastery of that mode of excellence, because such development
would also secure the fulfillment of social needs in the most
harmonious way. His error was not in qualitative principle, but
in his limited conception of the scope of vocations socially
needed; a limitation of vision which reacted to obscure his
perception of the infinite variety of capacities found in
different individuals.

2. An occupation is a continuous activity having a purpose.
Education through occupations consequently combines within itself
more of the factors conducive to learning than any other method.
It calls instincts and habits into play; it is a foe to passive
receptivity. It has an end in view; results are to be
accomplished. Hence it appeals to thought; it demands that an
idea of an end be steadily maintained, so that activity cannot be
either routine or capricious. Since the movement of activity
must be progressive, leading from one stage to another,
observation and ingenuity are required at each stage to overcome
obstacles and to discover and readapt means of execution. In
short, an occupation, pursued under conditions where the
realization of the activity rather than merely the external
product is the aim, fulfills the requirements which were laid
down earlier in connection with the discussion of aims, interest,
and thinking. (See Chapters VIII, X, XII.)

A calling is also of necessity an organizing principle for
information and ideas; for knowledge and intellectual growth. It
provides an axis which runs through an immense diversity of
detail; it causes different experiences, facts, items of
information to fall into order with one another. The lawyer, the
physician, the laboratory investigator in some branch of
chemistry, the parent, the citizen interested in his own
locality, has a constant working stimulus to note and relate
whatever has to do with his concern. He unconsciously, from the
motivation of his occupation, reaches out for all relevant
information, and holds to it. The vocation acts as both magnet
to attract and as glue to hold. Such organization of knowledge
is vital, because it has reference to needs; it is so expressed
and readjusted in action that it never becomes stagnant. No
classification, no selection and arrangement of facts, which is
consciously worked out for purely abstract ends, can ever compare
in solidity or effectiveness with that knit under the stress of
an occupation; in comparison the former sort is formal,
superficial, and cold.

3. The only adequate training for occupations is training
through occupations. The principle stated early in this book
(see Chapter VI) that the educative process is its own end, and
that the only sufficient preparation for later responsibilities
comes by making the most of immediately present life, applies in
full force to the vocational phases of education. The dominant
vocation of all human beings at all times is living --
intellectual and moral growth. In childhood and youth, with
their relative freedom from economic stress, this fact is naked
and unconcealed. To predetermine some future occupation for
which education is to be a strict preparation is to injure the
possibilities of present development and thereby to reduce the
adequacy of preparation for a future right employment. To repeat
the principle we have had occasion to appeal to so often, such
training may develop a machine-like skill in routine lines (it is
far from being sure to do so, since it may develop distaste,
aversion, and carelessness), but it will be at the expense of
those qualities of alert observation and coherent and ingenious
planning which make an occupation intellectually rewarding. In
an autocratically managed society, it is often a conscious object
to prevent the development of freedom and responsibility, a few
do the planning and ordering, the others follow directions and
are deliberately confined to narrow and prescribed channels of
endeavor. However much such a scheme may inure to the prestige
and profit of a class, it is evident that it limits the
development of the subject class; hardens and confines the
opportunities for learning through experience of the master
class, and in both ways hampers the life of the society as a
whole. (See ante, p. 260.)

The only alternative is that all the earlier preparation for
vocations be indirect rather than direct; namely, through
engaging in those active occupations which are indicated by the
needs and interests of the pupil at the time. Only in this way
can there be on the part of the educator and of the one educated
a genuine discovery of personal aptitudes so that the proper
choice of a specialized pursuit in later life may be indicated.
Moreover, the discovery of capacity and aptitude will be a
constant process as long as growth continues. It is a
conventional and arbitrary view which assumes that discovery of
the work to be chosen for adult life is made once for all at some
particular date. One has discovered in himself, say, an
interest, intellectual and social, in the things which have to do
with engineering and has decided to make that his calling. At
most, this only blocks out in outline the field in which further
growth is to be directed. It is a sort of rough sketch for use
in direction of further activities. It is the discovery of a
profession in the sense in which Columbus discovered America when
he touched its shores. Future explorations of an indefinitely
more detailed and extensive sort remain to be made. When
educators conceive vocational guidance as something which leads
up to a definitive, irretrievable, and complete choice, both
education and the chosen vocation are likely to be rigid,
hampering further growth. In so far, the calling chosen will be
such as to leave the person concerned in a permanently
subordinate position, executing the intelligence of others who
have a calling which permits more flexible play and readjustment.
And while ordinary usages of language may not justify terming a
flexible attitude of readjustment a choice of a new and further
calling, it is such in effect. If even adults have to be on the
lookout to see that their calling does not shut down on them and
fossilize them, educators must certainly be careful that the
vocational preparation of youth is such as to engage them in a
continuous reorganization of aims and methods.

3. Present Opportunities and Dangers. In the past, education
has been much more vocational in fact than in name. (i) The
education of the masses was distinctly utilitarian. It was
called apprenticeship rather than education, or else just
learning from experience. The schools devoted themselves to the
three R's in the degree in which ability to go through the forms
of reading, writing, and figuring were common elements in all
kinds of labor. Taking part in some special line of work, under
the direction of others, was the out-of-school phase of this
education. The two supplemented each other; the school work in
its narrow and formal character was as much a part of
apprenticeship to a calling as that explicitly so termed.

(ii) To a considerable extent, the education of the dominant
classes was essentially vocational -- it only happened that their
pursuits of ruling and of enjoying were not called professions.
For only those things were named vocations or employments which
involved manual labor, laboring for a reward in keep, or its
commuted money equivalent, or the rendering of personal services
to specific persons. For a long time, for example, the
profession of the surgeon and physician ranked almost with that
of the valet or barber -- partly because it had so much to do
with the body, and partly because it involved rendering direct
service for pay to some definite person. But if we go behind
words, the business of directing social concerns, whether
politically or economically, whether in war or peace, is as much
a calling as anything else; and where education has not been
completely under the thumb of tradition, higher schools in the
past have been upon the whole calculated to give preparation for
this business. Moreover, display, the adornment of person, the
kind of social
companionship and entertainment which give prestige, and the
spending of money, have been made into definite callings.
Unconsciously to themselves the higher institutions of learning
have been made to contribute to preparation for these
employments. Even at present, what is called higher education is
for a certain class (much smaller than it once was) mainly
preparation for engaging effectively in these pursuits.

In other respects, it is largely, especially in the most advanced
work, training for the calling of teaching and special research.
By a peculiar superstition, education which has to do chiefly
with preparation for the pursuit of conspicuous idleness, for
teaching, and for literary callings, and for leadership, has been
regarded as non-vocational and even as peculiarly cultural. The
literary training which indirectly fits for authorship, whether
of books, newspaper editorials, or magazine articles, is
especially subject to this superstition: many a teacher and
author writes and argues in behalf of a cultural and humane
education against the encroachments of a specialized practical
education, without recognizing that his own education, which he
calls liberal, has been mainly training for his own particular
calling. He has simply got into the habit of regarding his own
business as essentially cultural and of overlooking the cultural
possibilities of other employments. At the bottom of these
distinctions is undoubtedly the tradition which recognizes as
employment only those pursuits where one is responsible for his
work to a specific employer, rather than to the ultimate
employer, the community.

There are, however, obvious causes for the present conscious
emphasis upon vocational education -- for the disposition to make
explicit and deliberate vocational implications previously tacit.
(i) In the first place, there is an increased esteem, in
democratic communities, of whatever has to do with manual labor,
commercial occupations, and the rendering of tangible services to
society. In theory, men and women are now expected to do
something in return for their support -- intellectual and
economic -- by society. Labor is extolled; service is a
much-lauded moral ideal. While there is still much admiration
and envy of those who can pursue lives of idle conspicuous
display, better moral sentiment condemns such lives. Social
responsibility for the use of time and personal capacity is more
generally recognized than it used to be.

(ii) In the second place, those vocations which are specifically
industrial have gained tremendously in importance in the last
century and a half. Manufacturing and commerce are no longer
domestic and local, and consequently more or less incidental, but
are world-wide. They engage the best energies of an increasingly
large number of persons. The manufacturer, banker, and captain
of industry have practically displaced a hereditary landed gentry
as the immediate directors of social affairs. The problem of
social readjustment is openly industrial, having to do with the
relations of capital and labor. The great increase in the social
importance of conspicuous industrial processes has inevitably
brought to the front questions having to do with the relationship
of schooling to industrial life. No such vast social
readjustment could occur without offering a challenge to an
education inherited from different social conditions, and without
putting up to education new problems.

(iii) In the third place, there is the fact already repeatedly
mentioned: Industry has ceased to be essentially an empirical,
rule-of-thumb procedure, handed down by custom. Its technique is
now technological: that is to say, based upon machinery resulting
from discoveries in mathematics, physics, chemistry,
bacteriology, etc. The economic revolution has stimulated
science by setting problems for solution, by producing greater
intellectual respect for mechanical appliances. And industry
received back payment from science with compound interest. As a
consequence, industrial occupations have infinitely greater
intellectual content and infinitely larger cultural possibilities
than they used to possess. The demand for such education as will
acquaint workers with the scientific and social bases and
bearings of their pursuits becomes imperative, since those who
are without it inevitably sink to the role of appendages to the
machines they operate. Under the old regime all workers in a
craft were approximately equals in their knowledge and outlook.
Personal knowledge and ingenuity were developed within at least a
narrow range, because work was done with tools under the direct
command of the worker. Now the operator has to adjust himself to
his machine, instead of his tool to his own purposes. While the
intellectual possibilities of industry have multiplied,
industrial conditions tend to make industry, for great masses,
less of an educative resource than it was in the days of hand
production for local markets. The burden of realizing the
intellectual possibilities inhering in work is thus thrown back
on the school.

(iv) In the fourth place, the pursuit of
knowledge has become, in science, more experimental, less
dependent upon literary tradition, and less associated with
dialectical methods of reasoning, and with symbols. As a result,
the subject matter of industrial occupation presents not only
more of the content of science than it used to, but greater
opportunity for familiarity with the method by which knowledge is
made. The ordinary worker in the factory is of course under too
immediate economic pressure to have a chance to produce a
knowledge like that of the worker in the laboratory. But in
schools, association with machines and industrial processes may
be had under conditions where the chief conscious concern of the
students is insight. The separation of shop and laboratory,
where these conditions are fulfilled, is largely conventional,
the laboratory having the advantage of permitting the following
up of any intellectual interest a problem may suggest; the shop
the advantage of emphasizing the social bearings of the
scientific principle, as well as, with many pupils, of
stimulating a livelier interest.

(v) Finally, the advances which have been made in the psychology
of learning in general and of childhood in particular fall into
line with the increased importance of industry in life. For
modern psychology emphasizes the radical importance of primitive
unlearned instincts of exploring, experimentation, and "trying
on." It reveals that learning is not the work of something
ready-made called mind, but that mind itself is an organization
of original capacities into activities having significance. As
we have already seen (ante, p. 204), in older pupils work is to
educative development of raw native activities what play is for
younger pupils. Moreover, the passage from play to work should
be gradual, not involving a radical change of attitude but
carrying into work the elements of play, plus continuous
reorganization in behalf of greater control. The reader will
remark that these five points practically resume the main
contentions of the previous part of the work. Both practically
and philosophically, the key to the present educational situation
lies in a gradual reconstruction of school materials and methods
so as to utilize various forms of occupation typifying social
callings, and to bring out their intellectual and moral content.
This reconstruction must relegate purely literary methods --
including textbooks--and dialectical methods to the position of
necessary auxiliary tools in the intelligent development of
consecutive and cumulative activities.

But our discussion has emphasized the fact that this educational
reorganization cannot be accomplished by merely trying to give a
technical preparation for industries and professions as they now
operate, much less by merely reproducing existing industrial
conditions in the school. The problem is not that of making the
schools an adjunct to manufacture and commerce, but of utilizing
the factors of industry to make school life more active, more
full of immediate meaning, more connected with out-of-school
experience. The problem is not easy of solution. There is a
standing danger that education will perpetuate the older
traditions for a select few, and effect its adjustment to the
newer economic conditions more or less on the basis of
acquiescence in the untransformed, unrationalized, and
unsocialized phases of our defective industrial regime. Put in
concrete terms, there is danger that vocational education will be
interpreted in theory and practice as trade education: as a means
of securing technical efficiency in specialized future pursuits.
Education would then become an instrument of perpetuating
unchanged the existing industrial order of society, instead of
operating as a means of its transformation. The desired
transformation is not difficult to define in a formal way. It
signifies a society in which every person shall be occupied in
something which makes the lives of others better worth living,
and which accordingly makes the ties which bind persons together
more perceptible -- which breaks down the barriers of distance
between them. It denotes a state of affairs in which the
interest of each in his work is uncoerced and intelligent: based
upon its congeniality to his own aptitudes. It goes without
saying that we are far from such a social state; in a literal and
quantitative sense, we may never arrive at it. But in principle,
the quality of social changes already accomplished lies in this
direction. There are more ample resources for its achievement
now than ever there have been before. No insuperable obstacles,
given the intelligent will for its realization, stand in the way.

Success or failure in its realization depends more upon the
adoption of educational methods calculated to effect the change
than upon anything else. For the change is essentially a change
in the quality of mental disposition -- an educative change.
This does not mean that we can change character and mind by
direct instruction and exhortation, apart from a change in
industrial and political conditions. Such a conception
contradicts our basic idea that character and mind are attitudes
of participative response in social affairs. But it does mean
that we may produce in schools a projection in type of the
society we should like to realize, and by forming minds in accord
with it gradually modify the larger and more recalcitrant
features of adult society. Sentimentally, it may seem harsh to
say that the greatest evil of the present regime is not found in
poverty and in the suffering which it entails, but in the fact
that so many persons have callings which make no appeal to them,
which are pursued simply for the money reward that accrues. For
such callings constantly provoke one to aversion, ill will, and a
desire to slight and evade. Neither men's hearts nor their minds
are in their work. On the other hand, those who are not only
much better off in worldly goods, but who are in excessive, if
not monopolistic, control of the activities of the many are shut
off from equality and generality of social intercourse. They are
stimulated to pursuits of indulgence and display; they try to
make up for the distance which separates them from others by the
impression of force and superior possession and enjoyment which
they can make upon others.

It would be quite possible for a narrowly conceived scheme of
vocational education to perpetuate this division in a hardened
form. Taking its stand upon a dogma of social predestination, it
would assume that some are to continue to be wage earners under
economic conditions like the present, and would aim simply to
give them what is termed a trade education -- that is, greater
technical efficiency. Technical proficiency is often sadly
lacking, and is surely desirable on all accounts -- not merely
for the sake of the production of better goods at less cost, but
for the greater happiness found in work. For no one cares for
what one cannot half do. But there is a great difference between
a proficiency limited to immediate work, and a competency
extended to insight into its social bearings; between efficiency
in carrying out the plans of others and in one forming one's own.
At present, intellectual and emotional limitation characterizes
both the employing and the employed class. While the latter
often have no concern with their occupation beyond the money
return it brings, the former's outlook may be confined to profit
and power. The latter interest generally involves much greater
intellectual initiation and larger survey of conditions. For it
involves the direction and combination of a large number of
diverse factors, while the interest in wages is restricted to
certain direct muscular movements. But none the less there is a
limitation of intelligence to technical and non- humane,
non-liberal channels, so far as the work does not take in its
social bearings. And when the animating motive is desire for
private profit or personal power, this limitation is inevitable.
In fact, the advantage in immediate social sympathy and humane
disposition often lies with the economically unfortunate, who
have not experienced the hardening effects of a one-sided control
of the affairs of others.

Any scheme for vocational education which takes its point of
departure from the industrial regime that now exists, is likely
to assume and to perpetuate its divisions and weaknesses, and
thus to become an instrument in accomplishing the feudal dogma of
social predestination. Those who are in a position to make their
wishes good, will demand a liberal, a cultural occupation, and
one which fits for directive power the youth in whom they are
directly interested. To split the system, and give to others,
less fortunately situated, an education conceived mainly as
specific trade preparation, is to treat the schools as an agency
for transferring the older division of labor and leisure, culture
and service, mind and body, directed and directive class, into a
society nominally democratic. Such a vocational education
inevitably discounts the scientific and historic human
connections of the materials and processes dealt with. To
include such things in narrow trade education would be to waste
time; concern for them would not be "practical." They are
reserved for those who have leisure at command--the leisure due
to superior economic resources. Such things might even be
dangerous to the interests of the controlling class, arousing
discontent or ambitions "beyond the station" of those working
under the direction of others. But an education which
acknowledges the full intellectual and social meaning of a
vocation would include instruction in the historic background of
present conditions; training in science to give intelligence and
initiative in dealing with material and agencies of production;
and study of economics, civics, and politics, to bring the future
worker into touch with the problems of the day and the various
methods proposed for its improvement. Above all, it would train
power of readaptation to changing conditions so that future
workers would not become blindly subject to a fate imposed upon
them. This ideal has to contend not only with the inertia of
existing educational traditions, but also with the opposition of
those who are entrenched in command of the industrial machinery,
and who realize that such an educational system if made general
would threaten their ability to use others for their own ends.
But this very fact is the presage of a more equitable and
enlightened social order, for it gives evidence of the dependence
of social reorganization upon educational reconstruction. It is
accordingly an encouragement to those believing in a better order
to undertake the promotion of a vocational education which does
not subject youth to the demands and standards of the present
system, but which utilizes its scientific and social factors to
develop a courageous intelligence, and to make intelligence
practical and executive.

Summary. A vocation signifies any form of continuous activity
which renders service to others and engages personal powers in
behalf of the accomplishment of results. The question of the
relation of vocation to education brings to a focus the various
problems previously discussed regarding the connection of thought
with bodily activity; of individual conscious development with
associated life; of theoretical culture with practical behavior
having definite results; of making a livelihood with the worthy
enjoyment of leisure. In general, the opposition to recognition
of the vocational phases of life in education (except for the
utilitarian three R's in elementary schooling) accompanies the
conservation of aristocratic ideals of the past. But, at the
present juncture, there is a movement in behalf of something
called vocational training which, if carried into effect, would
harden these ideas into a form adapted to the existing industrial
regime. This movement would continue the traditional liberal
or cultural education for the few economically able to enjoy it,
and would give to the masses a narrow technical trade education
for specialized callings, carried on under the control of others.
This scheme denotes, of course, simply a perpetuation of the
older social division, with its counterpart intellectual and
moral dualisms. But it means its continuation under conditions
where it has much less justification for existence. For
industrial life is now so dependent upon science and so
intimately affects all forms of social intercourse, that there is
an opportunity to utilize it for development of mind and
character. Moreover, a right educational use of it would react
upon intelligence and interest so as to modify, in connection
with legislation and administration, the socially obnoxious
features of the present industrial and commercial order. It
would turn the increasing fund of social sympathy to constructive
account, instead of leaving it a somewhat blind philanthropic

It would give those who engage in industrial callings desire and
ability to share in social control, and ability to become masters
of their industrial fate. It would enable them to saturate with
meaning the technical and mechanical features which are so marked
a feature of our machine system of production and distribution.
So much for those who now have the poorer economic opportunities.
With the representatives of the more privileged portion of the
community, it would increase sympathy for labor, create a
disposition of mind which can discover the culturing elements in
useful activity, and increase a sense of social responsibility.
The crucial position of the question of vocational education at
present is due, in other words, to the fact that it concentrates
in a specific issue two fundamental questions: -- Whether
intelligence is best exercised apart from or within activity
which puts nature to human use, and whether individual culture is
best secured under egoistic or social conditions. No discussion
of details is undertaken in this chapter, because this
conclusion but summarizes the discussion of the previous
chapters, XV to XXII, inclusive.

Chapter Twenty-four: Philosophy of Education

1. A Critical Review. Although we are dealing with the
philosophy of education, DO definition of philosophy has yet been
given; nor has there been an explicit consideration of the nature
of a philosophy of education. This topic is now introduced by a
summary account of the logical order implied in the previous
discussions, for the purpose of bringing out the philosophic
issues involved. Afterwards we shall undertake a brief
discussion, in more specifically philosophical terms, of the
theories of knowledge and of morals implied in different
educational ideals as they operate in practice. The prior
chapters fall logically into three parts.

I. The first chapters deal with education as a social need and
function. Their purpose is to outline the general features of
education as the process by which social groups maintain their
continuous existence. Education was shown to be a process of
renewal of the meanings of experience through a process of
transmission, partly incidental to the ordinary companionship or
intercourse of adults and youth, partly deliberately instituted
to effect social continuity. This process was seen to involve
control and growth of both the immature individual and the group
in which he lives.

This consideration was formal in that it took no specific account
of the quality of the social group concerned--the kind of society
aiming at its own perpetuation through education. The general
discussion was then specified by application to social groups
which are intentionally progressive, and which aim at a greater
variety of mutually shared interests in distinction from those
which aim simply at the preservation of established customs.
Such societies were found to be democratic in quality, because of
the greater freedom allowed the constituent members, and the
conscious need of securing in individuals a consciously
socialized interest, instead of trusting mainly to the force of
customs operating under the control of a superior class. The
sort of education appropriate to the development of a democratic
community was then explicitly taken as the criterion of the
further, more detailed analysis of education.

II. This analysis, based upon the democratic criterion, was seen
to imply the ideal of a continuous reconstruction or reorganizing
of experience, of such a nature as to increase its recognized
meaning or social content, and as to increase the capacity of
individuals to act as directive guardians of this reorganization.
(See Chapters VI-VII.) This distinction was then used to outline
the respective characters of subject matter and method. It also
defined their unity, since method in study and learning upon this
basis is just the consciously directed movement of reorganization
of the subject matter of experience. From this point of view the
main principles of method and subject matter of learning were
developed (Chapters XIII-XIV.)

III. Save for incidental criticisms designed to illustrate
principles by force of contrast, this phase of the discussion
took for granted the democratic criterion and its application in
present social life. In the subsequent chapters (XVIII-XXII) we
considered the present limitation of its actual realization.
They were found to spring from the notion that experience
consists of a variety of segregated domains, or interests, each
having its own independent value, material, and method, each
checking every other, and, when each is kept properly bounded by
the others, forming a kind of "balance of powers" in education.
We then proceeded to an analysis of the various assumptions
underlying this segregation. On the practical side, they were
found to have their cause in the divisions of society into more
or less rigidly marked-off classes and groups -- in other words,
in obstruction to full and flexible social interaction and
intercourse. These social ruptures of continuity were seen to
have their intellectual formulation in various dualisms or
antitheses -- such as that of labor and leisure, practical and
intellectual activity, man and nature, individuality and
association, culture and vocation. In this discussion, we found
that these different issues have their counterparts in
formulations which have been made in classic philosophic systems;
and that they involve the chief problems of philosophy -- such as
mind (or spirit) and matter, body and mind, the mind and the
world, the individual and his relationships to others, etc.
Underlying these various separations we found the fundamental
assumption to be an isolation of mind from activity involving
physical conditions, bodily organs, material appliances, and
natural objects. Consequently, there was indicated a philosophy
which recognizes the origin, place, and function of mind in an
activity which controls the environment. Thus we have completed
the circuit and returned to the conceptions of the first portion
of this book: such as the biological continuity of human impulses
and instincts with natural energies; the dependence of the growth
of mind upon participation in conjoint activities having a common
purpose; the influence of the physical environment through the
uses made of it in the social medium; the necessity of
utilization of individual variations in desire and thinking for a
progressively developing society; the essential unity of method
and subject matter; the intrinsic continuity of ends and means;
the recognition of mind as thinking which perceives and tests the
meanings of behavior. These conceptions are consistent with the
philosophy which sees intelligence to be the purposive
reorganization, through action, of the material of experience;
and they are inconsistent with each of the dualistic philosophies

2. The Nature of Philosophy. Our further task is to extract and
make explicit the idea of philosophy implicit in these
considerations. We have already virtually described, though not
defined, philosophy in terms of the problems with which it deals:
and that thing nor even to the aggregate of known things, but to
the considerations which govern conduct.

Hence philosophy cannot be defined simply from the side of
subject matter. For this reason, the definition of such
conceptions as generality, totality, and ultimateness is most
readily reached from the side of the disposition toward the world
which they connote. In any literal and quantitative sense, these
terms do not apply to the subject matter of knowledge, for
completeness and finality are out of the question. The very
nature of experience as an ongoing, changing process forbids. In
a less rigid sense, they apply to science rather than to
philosophy. For obviously it is to mathematics, physics,
chemistry, biology, anthropology, history, etc. that we must go,
not to philosophy, to find out the facts of the world. It is for
the sciences to say what generalizations are tenable about the
world and what they specifically are. But when we ask what sort
of permanent disposition of action toward the world the
scientific disclosures exact of us we are raising a philosophic

From this point of view, "totality" does not mean the hopeless
task of a quantitative summation. It means rather consistency of
mode of response in reference to the plurality of events which
occur. Consistency does not mean literal identity; for since the
same thing does not happen twice, an exact repetition of a
reaction involves some maladjustment. Totality means
continuity -- the carrying on of a former habit of action with
the readaptation necessary to keep it alive and growing. Instead
of signifying a ready-made complete scheme of action, it means
keeping the balance in a multitude of diverse actions, so that
each borrows and gives significance to every other. Any person
who is open-minded and sensitive to new perceptions, and who has
concentration and responsibility in connecting them has, in so
far, a philosophic disposition. One of the popular senses of
philosophy is calm and endurance in the face of difficulty and
loss; it is even supposed to be a power to bear pain without
complaint. This meaning is a tribute to the influence of the
Stoic philosophy rather than an attribute of philosophy in
general. But in so far as it suggests that the wholeness
characteristic of philosophy is a power to learn, or to extract
meaning, from even the unpleasant vicissitudes of experience and
to embody what is learned in an ability to go on learning, it is
justified in any scheme. An analogous interpretation
applies to the generality and ultimateness of philosophy. Taken
literally, they are absurd pretensions; they indicate insanity.
Finality does not mean, however, that experience is ended and
exhausted, but means the disposition to penetrate to deeper
levels of meaning -- to go below the surface and find out the
connections of any event or object, and to keep at it. In like
manner the philosophic attitude is general in the sense that it
is averse to taking anything as isolated; it tries to place an
act in its context -- which constitutes its significance.
It is of assistance to connect philosophy with thinking in its
distinction from knowledge. Knowledge, grounded knowledge, is
science; it represents objects which have been settled, ordered,
disposed of rationally. Thinking, on the other hand, is
prospective in reference. It is occasioned by an unsettlement
and it aims at overcoming a disturbance. Philosophy is thinking
what the known demands of us -- what responsive attitude it
exacts. It is an idea of what is possible, not a record of
accomplished fact. Hence it is hypothetical, like all thinking.
It presents an assignment of something to be done -- something to
be tried. Its value lies not in furnishing solutions (which can
be achieved only in action) but in defining difficulties and
suggesting methods for dealing with them. Philosophy might
almost be
described as thinking which has become conscious of
itself -- which has generalized its place, function, and value in

More specifically, the demand for a "total" attitude arises
because there is the need of integration in action of the
conflicting various interests in life. Where interests are so
superficial that they glide readily into one another, or where
they are not sufficiently organized to come into conflict with
one another, the need for philosophy is not perceptible. But
when the scientific interest conflicts with, say, the religious,
or the economic with the scientific or aesthetic, or when the
conservative concern for order is at odds with the progressive
interest in freedom, or when institutionalism clashes with
individuality, there is a stimulus to discover some more
comprehensive point of view from which the divergencies may be
brought together, and consistency or continuity of experience
recovered. Often these clashes may be settled by an individual
for himself; the area of the struggle of aims is limited and a
person works out his own rough accommodations. Such homespun
philosophies are genuine and often adequate. But they do not
result in systems of philosophy. These arise when the discrepant
claims of different ideals of conduct affect the community as a
whole, and the need for readjustment is general. These traits
explain some things which are often brought as objections against
philosophies, such as the part played in them by individual
speculation, and their controversial diversity, as well as the
fact that philosophy seems to be repeatedly occupied with much
the same questions differently stated. Without doubt, all these
things characterize historic philosophies more or less. But they
are not objections to philosophy so much as they are to human
nature, and even to the world in which human nature is set. If
there are genuine uncertainties in life, philosophies must
reflect that uncertainty. If there are different diagnoses of
the cause of a difficulty, and different proposals for dealing
with it; if, that is, the conflict of interests is more or less
embodied in different sets of persons, there must be divergent
competing philosophies. With respect to what has happened,
sufficient evidence is all that is needed to bring agreement and
certainty. The thing itself is sure. But with reference to what
it is wise to do in a complicated situation, discussion is
inevitable precisely because the thing itself is still
indeterminate. One would not expect a ruling class living at
ease to have the same philosophy of life as those who were having
a hard struggle for existence. If the possessing and the
dispossessed had the same fundamental disposition toward the
world, it would argue either insincerity or lack of seriousness.
A community devoted to industrial pursuits, active in business
and commerce, is not likely to see the needs and possibilities of
life in the same way as a country with high aesthetic culture and
little enterprise in turning the energies of nature to mechanical
account. A social group with a fairly continuous history will
respond mentally to a crisis in a very different way from one
which has felt the shock of abrupt breaks. Even if the same data
were present, they would be evaluated differently. But the
different sorts of experience attending different types of life
prevent just the same data from presenting themselves, as well as
lead to a different scheme of values. As for the similarity of
problems, this is often more a matter of appearance than of fact,
due to old discussions being translated into the terms of
contemporary perplexities. But in certain fundamental respects
the same predicaments of life recur from time to time with only
such changes as are due to change of social context, including
the growth of the sciences.

The fact that philosophic problems arise because of widespread
and widely felt difficulties in social practice is disguised
because philosophers become a specialized class which uses a
technical language, unlike the vocabulary in which the direct
difficulties are stated. But where a system becomes influential,
its connection with a conflict of interests calling for some
program of social adjustment may always be discovered. At this
point, the intimate connection between philosophy and education
appears. In fact, education offers a vantage ground from which
to penetrate to the human, as distinct from the technical,
significance of philosophic discussions. The student of
philosophy "in itself" is always in danger of taking it as so
much nimble or severe intellectual exercise -- as something said
by philosophers and concerning them alone. But when philosophic
issues are approached from the side of the kind of mental
disposition to which they correspond, or the differences in
educational practice they make when acted upon, the
life-situations which they formulate can never be far from view.
If a theory makes no difference in educational endeavor, it must
be artificial. The educational point of view enables one to
envisage the philosophic problems where they arise and thrive,
where they are at home, and where acceptance or rejection makes a
difference in practice. If we are willing to conceive education
as the process of forming fundamental dispositions, intellectual
and emotional, toward nature and fellow men, philosophy may even
be defined as the general theory of education. Unless a
philosophy is to remain symbolic -- or verbal -- or a sentimental
indulgence for a few, or else mere arbitrary dogma, its auditing
of past experience and its program of values must take effect in
conduct. Public agitation, propaganda, legislative and
administrative action are effective in producing the change of
disposition which a philosophy indicates as desirable, but only
in the degree in which they are educative -- that is to say, in
the degree in which they modify mental and moral attitudes. And
at the best, such methods are compromised by the fact they are
used with those whose habits are already largely set, while
education of youth has a fairer and freer field of operation. On
the other side, the business of schooling tends to become a
routine empirical affair unless its aims and methods are
animated by such a broad and sympathetic survey of its place in
contemporary life as it is the business of philosophy to provide.
Positive science always implies practically the ends which the
community is concerned to achieve. Isolated from such ends, it
is matter of indifference whether its disclosures are used to
cure disease or to spread it; to increase the means of sustenance
of life or to manufacture war material to wipe life out. If
society is interested in one of these things rather than another,
science shows the way of attainment. Philosophy thus has a
double task: that of criticizing existing aims with respect to
the existing state of science, pointing out values which have
become obsolete with the command of new resources, showing what
values are merely sentimental because there are no means for
their realization; and also that of interpreting the results of
specialized science in their bearing on future social endeavor.
It is impossible that it should have any success in these tasks
without educational equivalents as to what to do and what not to
do. For philosophic theory has no Aladdin's lamp to summon into
immediate existence the values which it intellectually
constructs. In the mechanical arts, the sciences become methods
of managing things so as to utilize their energies for recognized
aims. By the educative arts philosophy may generate methods of
utilizing the energies of human beings in accord with serious and
thoughtful conceptions of life. Education is the laboratory in
which philosophic distinctions become concrete and are tested.

It is suggestive that European philosophy originated (among the
Athenians) under the direct pressure of educational questions.
The earlier history of philosophy, developed by the Greeks in
Asia Minor and Italy, so far as its range of topics is concerned,
is mainly a chapter in the history of science rather than of
philosophy as that word is understood to-day. It had nature for
its subject, and speculated as to how things are made and
changed. Later the traveling teachers, known as the Sophists,
began to apply the results and the methods of the natural
philosophers to human conduct.

When the Sophists, the first body of professional educators in
Europe, instructed the youth in virtue, the political arts, and
the management of city and household, philosophy began to deal
with the relation of the individual to the universal, to some
comprehensive class, or to some group; the relation of man and
nature, of tradition and reflection, of knowledge and action.
Can virtue, approved excellence in any line, be learned, they
asked? What is learning? It has to do with knowledge. What,
then, is knowledge? How is it achieved? Through the senses, or by
apprenticeship in some form of doing, or by reason that has
undergone a preliminary logical discipline? Since learning is
coming to know, it involves a passage from ignorance to wisdom,
from privation to fullness from defect to perfection, from
non-being to being, in the Greek way of putting it. How is such
a transition possible? Is change, becoming, development really
possible and if so, how? And supposing such questions answered,
what is the relation of instruction, of knowledge, to virtue?
This last question led to opening the problem of the relation of
reason to action, of theory to practice, since virtue clearly
dwelt in action. Was not knowing, the activity of reason, the
noblest attribute of man? And consequently was not purely
intellectual activity itself the highest of all excellences,
compared with which the virtues of neighborliness and the
citizen's life were secondary? Or, on the other hand, was the
vaunted intellectual knowledge more than empty and vain pretense,
demoralizing to character and destructive of the social ties that
bound men together in their community life? Was not the only
true, because the only moral, life gained through obedient
habituation to the customary practices of the community? And was
not the new education an enemy to good citizenship, because it
set up a rival standard to the established traditions of the

In the course of two or three generations such questions were cut
loose from their original practical bearing upon education and
were discussed on their own account; that is, as matters of
philosophy as an independent branch of inquiry. But the fact
that the stream of European philosophical thought arose as a
theory of educational procedure remains an eloquent witness to
the intimate connection of philosophy and education. "Philosophy
of education" is not an external application of ready-made ideas
to a system of practice having a radically different origin and
purpose: it is only an explicit formulation of the problems of
the formation of right mental and moral habitudes in respect to
the difficulties of contemporary social life. The most
penetrating definition of philosophy which can be given is, then,
that it is the theory of education in its most general phases.

The reconstruction of philosophy, of education, and of social
ideals and methods thus go hand in hand. If there is especial
need of educational reconstruction at the present time, if this
need makes urgent a reconsideration of the basic ideas of
traditional philosophic systems, it is because of the
thoroughgoing change in social life accompanying the advance of
science, the industrial revolution, and the development of
democracy. Such practical changes cannot take place without
demanding an educational reformation to meet them, and without
leading men to ask what ideas and ideals are implicit in these
social changes, and what revisions they require of the ideas and
ideals which are inherited from older and unlike cultures.
Incidentally throughout the whole book, explicitly in the last
few chapters, we have been dealing with just these questions as
they affect the relationship of mind and body, theory and
practice, man and nature, the individual and social, etc. In our
concluding chapters we shall sum up the prior discussions with
respect first to the philosophy of knowledge, and then to the
philosophy of morals.

Summary. After a review designed to bring out the philosophic
issues implicit in the previous discussions, philosophy was
defined as the generalized theory of education. Philosophy was
stated to be a form of thinking, which, like all thinking, finds
its origin in what is uncertain in the subject matter of
experience, which aims to locate the nature of the perplexity and
to frame hypotheses for its clearing up to be tested in action.
Philosophic thinking has for its differentia the fact that the
uncertainties with which it deals are found in widespread social
conditions and aims, consisting in a conflict of organized
interests and institutional claims. Since the only way of
bringing about a harmonious readjustment of the opposed
tendencies is through a modification of emotional and
intellectual disposition, philosophy is at once an explicit
formulation of the various interests of life and a propounding of
points of view and methods through which a better balance of
interests may be effected. Since education is the process
through which the needed transformation may be accomplished and
not remain a mere hypothesis as to what is desirable, we reach a
justification of the statement that philosophy is the theory of
education as a deliberately conducted practice.

Chapter Twenty-five: Theories of Knowledge

1. Continuity versus Dualism. A number of theories of knowing
have been criticized in the previous pages. In spite of their
differences from one another, they all agree in one fundamental
respect which contrasts with the theory which has been positively
advanced. The latter assumes continuity; the former state or
imply certain basic divisions, separations, or antitheses,
technically called dualisms. The origin of these divisions we
have found in the hard and fast walls which mark off social
groups and classes within a group: like those between rich and
poor, men and women, noble and baseborn, ruler and ruled. These
barriers mean absence of fluent and free intercourse. This
absence is equivalent to the setting up of different types of
life-experience, each with isolated subject matter, aim, and
standard of values. Every such social condition must be
formulated in a dualistic philosophy, if philosophy is to be a
sincere account of experience. When it gets beyond dualism -- as
many philosophies do in form -- it can only be by appeal to
something higher than anything found in experience, by a flight
to some transcendental realm. And in denying duality in name
such theories restore it in fact, for they end in a division
between things of this world as mere appearances and an
inaccessible essence of reality.

So far as these divisions persist and others are added to them,
each leaves its mark upon the educational system, until the
scheme of education, taken as a whole, is a deposit of various
purposes and procedures. The outcome is that kind of check and
balance of segregated factors and values which has been
described. (See Chapter XVIII.) The present discussion is simply
a formulation, in the terminology of philosophy, of various
antithetical conceptions involved in the theory of knowing.
In the first place, there is the opposition of empirical and
higher rational knowing. The first is connected with everyday
affairs, serves the purposes of the ordinary individual who has
no specialized intellectual

pursuit, and brings his wants into some kind of working
connection with the immediate environment. Such knowing is
depreciated, if not despised, as purely utilitarian, lacking in
cultural significance. Rational knowledge is supposed to be
something which touches reality in ultimate, intellectual
fashion; to be pursued for its own sake and properly to terminate
in purely theoretical insight, not debased by application in
behavior. Socially, the distinction corresponds to that of the
intelligence used by the working classes and that used by a
learned class remote from concern with the means of living.
Philosophically, the difference turns about the distinction of
the particular and universal. Experience is an aggregate of more
or less isolated particulars, acquaintance with each of which
must be separately made. Reason deals with universals, with
general principles, with laws, which lie above the welter of
concrete details. In the educational precipitate, the pupil is
supposed to have to learn, on one hand, a lot of items of
specific information, each standing by itself, and upon the other
hand, to become familiar with a certain number of laws and
general relationships. Geography, as often taught, illustrates
the former; mathematics, beyond the rudiments of figuring, the
latter. For all practical purposes, they represent two
independent worlds.

Another antithesis is suggested by the two senses of the word
"learning." On the one hand, learning is the sum total of what is
known, as that is handed down by books and learned men. It is
something external, an accumulation of cognitions as one might
store material commodities in a warehouse. Truth exists ready-
made somewhere. Study is then the process by which an individual
draws on what is in storage. On the other hand, learning means
something which the individual does when he studies. It is an
active, personally conducted affair. The dualism here is between
knowledge as something external, or, as it is often called,
objective, and knowing as something purely internal, subjective,
psychical. There is, on one side, a body of truth, ready-made,
and, on the other, a ready-made mind equipped with a faculty of
knowing -- if it only wills to exercise it, which it is often
strangely loath to do. The separation, often touched upon,
between subject matter and method is the educational equivalent
of this dualism. Socially the distinction has to do with the
part of life which is dependent upon authority and that where
individuals are free to advance. Another dualism is that of
activity and passivity in knowing. Purely empirical and physical
things are often supposed to be known by receiving impressions.
Physical things somehow stamp themselves upon the mind or convey
themselves into consciousness by means of the sense organs.
Rational knowledge and knowledge of spiritual things is supposed,
on the contrary, to spring from activity initiated within the
mind, an activity carried on better if it is kept remote from all
sullying touch of the senses and external objects. The
distinction between sense training and object lessons and
laboratory exercises, and pure ideas contained in books, and
appropriated -- so it is thought -- by some miraculous output of
mental energy, is a fair expression in education of this
distinction. Socially, it reflects a division between those who
are controlled by direct concern with things and those who are
free to cultivate themselves.

Another current opposition is that said to exist between the
intellect and the emotions. The emotions are conceived to be
purely private and personal, having nothing to do with the work
of pure intelligence in apprehending facts and truths, -- except
perhaps the single emotion of intellectual curiosity. The
intellect is a pure light; the emotions are a disturbing heat.
The mind turns outward to truth; the emotions turn inward to
considerations of personal advantage and loss. Thus in education
we have that systematic depreciation of interest which has been
noted, plus the necessity in practice, with most pupils, of
recourse to extraneous and irrelevant rewards and penalties in
order to induce the person who has a mind (much as his clothes
have a pocket) to apply that mind to the truths to be known.
Thus we have the spectacle of professional educators decrying
appeal to interest while they uphold with great dignity the need
of reliance upon examinations, marks, promotions and emotions,
prizes, and the time-honored paraphernalia of rewards and
punishments. The effect of this situation in crippling the
teacher's sense of humor has not received the attention which it

All of these separations culminate in one between knowing and
doing, theory and practice, between mind as the end and spirit of
action and the body as its organ and means. We shall not repeat
what has been said about the source of this dualism in the
division of society into a class laboring with their muscles for
material sustenance and a class which, relieved from economic
pressure, devotes itself to the arts of expression and social
direction. Nor is it necessary to speak again of the educational
evils which spring from the separation. We shall be content to
summarize the forces which tend to make the untenability of this
conception obvious and to replace it by the idea of continuity.
(i) The advance of physiology and the psychology associated with
it have shown the connection of mental activity with that of the
nervous system. Too often recognition of connection has stopped
short at this point; the older dualism of soul and body has been
replaced by that of the brain and the rest of the body. But in
fact the nervous system is only a specialized mechanism for
keeping all bodily activities working together. Instead of being
isolated from them, as an organ of knowing from organs of motor
response, it is the organ by which they interact responsively
with one another. The brain is essentially an organ for
effecting the reciprocal adjustment to each other of the stimuli
received from the environment and responses directed upon it.
Note that the adjusting is reciprocal; the brain not only enables
organic activity to be brought to bear upon any object of the
environment in response to a sensory stimulation, but this
response also determines what the next stimulus will be. See
what happens, for example, when a carpenter is at work upon a
board, or an etcher upon his plate -- or in any case of a
consecutive activity. While each motor response is adjusted to
the state of affairs indicated through the sense organs, that
motor response shapes the next sensory stimulus. Generalizing
this illustration, the brain is the machinery for a constant
reorganizing of activity so as to maintain its continuity; that
is to say, to make such modifications in future action as are
required because of what has already been done. The continuity
of the work of the carpenter distinguishes it from a routine
repetition of identically the same motion, and from a random
activity where there is nothing cumulative. What makes it
continuous, consecutive, or concentrated is that each earlier act
prepares the way for later acts, while these take account of or
reckon with the results already attained -- the basis of all
responsibility. No one who has realized the full force of the
facts of the connection of knowing with the nervous system and of
the nervous system with the readjusting of activity continuously
to meet new conditions, will doubt that knowing has to do with
reorganizing activity, instead of being something isolated from
all activity, complete on its own account.

(ii) The development of biology clinches this lesson, with its
discovery of evolution. For the philosophic significance of the
doctrine of evolution lies precisely in its emphasis upon
continuity of simpler and more complex organic forms until we
reach man. The development of organic forms begins with
structures where the adjustment of environment and organism is
obvious, and where anything which can be called mind is at a
minimum. As activity becomes more complex, coordinating a
greater number of factors in space and time, intelligence plays a
more and more marked role, for it has a larger span of the future
to forecast and plan for. The effect upon the theory of knowing
is to displace the notion that it is the activity of a mere
onlooker or spectator of the world, the notion which goes with
the idea of knowing as something complete in itself. For the
doctrine of organic development means that the living creature is
a part of the world, sharing its vicissitudes and fortunes, and
making itself secure in its precarious dependence only as it
intellectually identifies itself with the things about it, and,
forecasting the future consequences of what is going on, shapes
its own activities accordingly. If the living, experiencing
being is an intimate participant in the activities of the world
to which it belongs, then knowledge is a mode of participation,
valuable in the degree in which it is effective. It cannot be
the idle view of an unconcerned spectator.

(iii) The development of the experimental method as the method of
getting knowledge and of making sure it is knowledge, and not
mere opinion -- the method of both discovery and proof -- is the
remaining great force in bringing about a transformation in the
theory of knowledge. The experimental method has two sides. (i)
On one hand, it means that we have no right to call anything
knowledge except where our activity has actually produced certain
physical changes in things, which agree with and confirm the
conception entertained. Short of such specific changes, our
beliefs are only hypotheses, theories, suggestions, guesses, and
are to be entertained tentatively and to be utilized as
indications of experiments to be tried. (ii) On the other hand,
the experimental method of thinking signifies that thinking is of
avail; that it is of avail in just the degree in which the
anticipation of future consequences is made on the basis of
thorough observation of present conditions. Experimentation, in
other words, is not equivalent to blind reacting. Such surplus
activity -- a surplus with reference to what has been observed
and is now anticipated -- is indeed an unescapable factor in all
our behavior, but it is not experiment save as consequences are
noted and are used to make predictions and plans in similar
situations in the future. The more the meaning of the
experimental method is perceived, the more our trying out of a
certain way of treating the material resources and obstacles
which confront us embodies a prior use of intelligence. What we
call magic was with respect to many things the experimental
method of the savage; but for him to try was to try his luck, not
his ideas. The scientific experimental method is, on the
contrary, a trial of ideas; hence even when practically -- or
immediately -- unsuccessful, it is intellectual, fruitful; for we
learn from our failures when our endeavors are seriously

The experimental method is new as a scientific resource--as a
systematized means of making knowledge, though as old as life as
a practical device. Hence it is not surprising that men have not
recognized its full scope. For the most part, its significance
is regarded as belonging to certain technical and merely physical
matters. It will doubtless take a long time to secure the
perception that it holds equally as to the forming and testing of
ideas in social and moral matters. Men still want the crutch of
dogma, of beliefs fixed by authority, to relieve them of the
trouble of thinking and the responsibility of directing their
activity by thought. They tend to confine their own thinking to
a consideration of which one among the rival systems of dogma
they will accept. Hence the schools are better adapted, as John
Stuart Mill said, to make disciples than inquirers. But every
advance in the influence of the experimental method is sure to
aid in outlawing the literary, dialectic, and authoritative
methods of forming beliefs which have governed the schools of the
past, and to transfer their prestige to methods which will
procure an active concern with things and persons, directed by
aims of increasing temporal reach and deploying greater range of
things in space. In time the theory of knowing must be derived
from the practice which is most successful in making knowledge;
and then that theory will be employed to improve the methods
which are less successful.

2. Schools of Method. There are various systems of philosophy
with characteristically different conceptions of the method of
knowing. Some of them are named scholasticism, sensationalism,
rationalism, idealism, realism, empiricism, transcendentalism,
pragmatism, etc. Many of them have been criticized in connection
with the discussion of some educational problem. We are here
concerned with them as involving deviations from that method
which has proved most effective in achieving knowledge, for a
consideration of the deviations may render clearer the true place
of knowledge in experience. In brief, the function of knowledge
is to make one experience freely available in other experiences.
The word "freely" marks the difference between the principle of
knowledge and that of habit. Habit means that an individual
undergoes a modification through an experience, which
modification forms a predisposition to easier and more effective
action in a like direction in the future. Thus it also has the
function of making one experience available in subsequent
experiences. Within certain limits, it performs this function
successfully. But habit, apart from knowledge, does not make
allowance for change of conditions, for novelty. Prevision of
change is not part of its scope, for habit assumes the essential
likeness of the new situation with the old. Consequently it
often leads astray, or comes between a person and the successful
performance of his task, just as the skill, based on habit alone,
of the mechanic will desert him when something unexpected occurs
in the running of the machine. But a man who understands the
machine is the man who knows what he is about. He knows the
conditions under which a given habit works, and is in a position
to introduce the changes which will readapt it to new conditions.

In other words, knowledge is a perception of those connections of
an object which determine its applicability in a given situation.
To take an extreme example; savages react to a flaming comet as
they are accustomed to react to other events which threaten the
security of their life. Since they try to frighten wild animals
or their enemies by shrieks, beating of gongs, brandishing of
weapons, etc., they use the same methods to scare away the comet.
To us, the method is plainly absurd -- so absurd that we fail to
note that savages are simply falling back upon habit in a way
which exhibits its limitations. The only reason we do not act in
some analogous fashion is because we do not take the comet as an
isolated, disconnected event, but apprehend it in its connections
with other events. We place it, as we say, in the astronomical
system. We respond to its connections and not simply to the
immediate occurrence. Thus our attitude to it is much freer. We
may approach it, so to speak, from any one of the angles provided
by its connections. We can bring into play, as we deem wise, any
one of the habits appropriate to any one of the connected
objects. Thus we get at a new event indirectly instead of
immediately -- by invention, ingenuity, resourcefulness. An
ideally perfect knowledge would represent such a network of
interconnections that any past experience would offer a point of
advantage from which to get at the problem presented in a new
experience. In fine, while a habit apart from knowledge supplies
us with a single fixed method of attack, knowledge means that
selection may be made from a much wider range of habits.

Two aspects of this more general and freer availability of former
experiences for subsequent ones may be distinguished. (See ante,
p. 77.) (i) One, the more tangible, is increased power of
control. What cannot be managed directly may be handled
indirectly; or we can interpose barriers between us and
undesirable consequences; or we may evade them if we cannot
overcome them. Genuine knowledge has all the practical value
attaching to efficient habits in any case. (ii) But it also
increases the meaning, the experienced significance, attaching to
an experience. A situation to which we respond capriciously or
by routine has only a minimum of conscious significance; we get
nothing mentally from it. But wherever knowledge comes into play
in determining a new experience there is mental reward; even if
we fail practically in getting the needed control we have the
satisfaction of experiencing a meaning instead of merely
reacting physically.

While the content of knowledge is what has happened, what is
taken as finished and hence settled and sure, the reference of
knowledge is future or prospective. For knowledge furnishes the
means of understanding or giving meaning to what is still going
on and what is to be done. The knowledge of a physician is what
he has found out by personal acquaintance and by study of what
others have ascertained and recorded. But it is knowledge to him
because it supplies the resources by which he interprets the
unknown things which confront him, fills out the partial obvious
facts with connected suggested phenomena, foresees their probable
future, and makes plans accordingly. When knowledge is cut off
from use in giving meaning to what is blind and baffling, it
drops out of consciousness entirely or else becomes an object of
aesthetic contemplation. There is much emotional satisfaction to
be had from a survey of the symmetry and order of possessed
knowledge, and the satisfaction is a legitimate one. But this
contemplative attitude is aesthetic, not intellectual. It is the
same sort of joy that comes from viewing a finished picture or a
well composed landscape. It would make no difference if the
subject matter were totally different, provided it had the same
harmonious organization. Indeed, it would make no difference if
it were wholly invented, a play of fancy. Applicability to the
world means not applicability to what is past and gone -- that is
out of the question by the nature of the case; it means
applicability to what is still going on, what is still unsettled,
in the moving scene in which we are implicated. The very fact
that we so easily overlook this trait, and regard statements of
what is past and out of reach as knowledge is because we assume
the continuity of past and future. We cannot entertain the
conception of a world in which knowledge of its past would not be
helpful in forecasting and giving meaning to its future. We
ignore the prospective reference just because it is so
irretrievably implied.

Yet many of the philosophic schools of method which have been
mentioned transform the ignoring into a virtual denial. They
regard knowledge as something complete in itself irrespective of
its availability in dealing with what is yet to be. And it is
this omission which vitiates them and which makes them stand as
sponsors for educational methods which an adequate conception of
knowledge condemns. For one has only to call to mind what is
sometimes treated in schools as acquisition of knowledge to
realize how lacking it is in any fruitful connection with the
ongoing experience of the students -- how largely it seems to be
believed that the mere appropriation of subject matter which
happens to be stored in books constitutes knowledge. No matter
how true what is learned to those who found it out and in whose
experience it functioned, there is nothing which makes it
knowledge to the pupils. It might as well be something about
Mars or about some fanciful country unless it fructifies in the
individual's own life.

At the time when scholastic method developed, it had relevancy to
social conditions. It was a method for systematizing and lending
rational sanction to material accepted on authority. This
subject matter meant so much that it vitalized the defining and
systematizing brought to bear upon it. Under present conditions
the scholastic method, for most persons, means a form of knowing
which has no especial connection with any particular subject
matter. It includes making distinctions, definitions, divisions,
and classifications for the mere sake of making them -- with no
objective in experience. The view of thought as a purely
physical activity having its own forms, which are applied to any
material as a seal may be stamped on any plastic stuff, the view
which underlies what is termed formal logic is essentially the
scholastic method generalized. The doctrine of formal discipline
in education is the natural counterpart of the scholastic method.

The contrasting theories of the method of knowledge which go by
the name of sensationalism and rationalism correspond to an
exclusive emphasis upon the particular and the general
respectively -- or upon bare facts on one side and bare relations
on the other. In real knowledge, there is a particularizing and
a generalizing function working together. So far as a situation
is confused, it has to be cleared up; it has to be resolved into
details, as sharply defined as possible. Specified facts and
qualities constitute the elements of the problem to be dealt
with, and it is through our sense organs that they are specified.
As setting forth the problem, they may well be termed
particulars, for they are fragmentary. Since our task is to
discover their connections and to recombine them, for us at the
time they are partial. They are to be given meaning; hence, just
as they stand, they lack it. Anything which is to be known,
whose meaning has still to be made out, offers itself as
particular. But what is already known, if it has been worked
over with a view to making it applicable to intellectually
mastering new particulars, is general in function. Its function
of introducing connection into what is otherwise unconnected
constitutes its generality. Any fact is general if we use it to
give meaning to the elements of a new experience. "Reason" is
just the ability to bring the subject matter of prior experience
to bear to perceive the significance of the subject matter of a
new experience. A person is reasonable in the degree in which he
is habitually open to seeing an event which immediately strikes
his senses not as an isolated thing but in its connection with
the common experience of mankind.

Without the particulars as they are discriminated by the active
responses of sense organs, there is no material for knowing and
no intellectual growth. Without placing these particulars in the
context of the meanings wrought out in the larger experience of
the past -- without the use of reason or thought -- particulars
are mere excitations or irritations. The mistake alike of the
sensational and the rationalistic schools is that each fails to
see that the function of sensory stimulation and thought is
relative to reorganizing experience in applying the old to the
new, thereby maintaining the continuity or consistency of life.
The theory of the method of knowing which is advanced in these
pages may be termed pragmatic. Its essential feature is to
maintain the continuity of knowing with an activity which
purposely modifies the environment. It holds that knowledge in
its strict sense of something possessed consists of our
intellectual resources -- of all the habits that render our
action intelligent. Only that which has been organized into our
disposition so as to enable us to adapt the environment to our
needs and to adapt our aims and desires to the situation in which
we live is really knowledge. Knowledge is not just something
which we are now conscious of, but consists of the dispositions
we consciously use in understanding what now happens. Knowledge
as an act is bringing some of our dispositions to consciousness
with a view to straightening out a perplexity, by conceiving the
connection between ourselves and the world in which we live.

Summary. Such social divisions as interfere with free and full
intercourse react to make the intelligence and knowing of members
of the separated classes one-sided. Those whose experience has
to do with utilities cut off from the larger end they subserve
are practical empiricists; those who enjoy the contemplation of a
realm of meanings in whose active production they have had no
share are practical rationalists. Those who come in direct
contact with things and have to adapt their activities to them
immediately are, in effect, realists; those who isolate the
meanings of these things and put them in a religious or so-called
spiritual world aloof from things are, in effect, idealists.
Those concerned with progress, who are striving to change
received beliefs, emphasize the individual factor in knowing;
those whose chief business it is to withstand change and conserve
received truth emphasize the universal and the fixed -- and so
on. Philosophic systems in their opposed theories of knowledge
present an explicit formulation of the traits characteristic of
these cut-off and one-sided segments of experience -- one-sided
because barriers to intercourse prevent the experience of one
from being enriched and supplemented by that of others who are
differently situated.

In an analogous way, since democracy stands in principle for free
interchange, for social continuity, it must develop a theory of
knowledge which sees in knowledge the method by which one
experience is made available in giving direction and meaning to
another. The recent advances in physiology, biology, and the
logic of the experimental sciences supply the specific
intellectual instrumentalities demanded to work out and formulate
such a theory. Their educational equivalent is the connection of
the acquisition of knowledge in the schools with activities, or
occupations, carried on in a medium of associated life.

Chapter Twenty-six: Theories of Morals

1. The Inner and the Outer.

Since morality is concerned with conduct, any dualisms which are
set up between mind and activity must reflect themselves in the
theory of morals. Since the formulations of the separation in
the philosophic theory of morals are used to justify and idealize
the practices employed in moral training, a brief critical
discussion is in place. It is a commonplace of educational
theory that the establishing of character is a comprehensive aim
of school instruction and discipline. Hence it is important that
we should be on our guard against a conception of the relations
of intelligence to character which hampers the realization of the
aim, and on the look-out for the conditions which have to be
provided in order that the aim may be successfully acted upon.
The first obstruction which meets us is the currency of moral
ideas which split the course of activity into two opposed
factors, often named respectively the inner and outer, or the
spiritual and the physical. This division is a culmination of
the dualism of mind and the world, soul and body, end and means,
which we have so frequently noted. In morals it takes the form
of a sharp demarcation of the motive of action from its
consequences, and of character from conduct. Motive and
character are regarded as something purely "inner," existing
exclusively in consciousness, while consequences and conduct are
regarded as outside of mind, conduct having to do simply with the
movements which carry out motives; consequences with what happens
as a result. Different schools identify morality with either the
inner state of mind or the outer act and results, each in
separation from the other. Action with a purpose is deliberate;
it involves a consciously foreseen end and a mental weighing of
considerations pro and eon. It also involves a conscious state
of longing or desire for the end. The deliberate choice of an
aim and of a settled disposition of desire takes time. During
this time complete overt action is suspended. A person who does
not have his mind made up, does not know what to do. Consequently
he postpones definite action so far as possible. His position
may be compared to that of a man considering jumping across a
ditch. If he were sure he could or could not make it, definite
activity in some direction would occur. But if he considers, he
is in doubt; he hesitates. During the time in which a single
overt line of action is in suspense, his activities are confined
to such redistributions of energy within the organism as will
prepare a determinate course of action. He measures the ditch
with his eyes; he brings himself taut to get a feel of the energy
at his disposal; he looks about for other ways across, he
reflects upon the importance of getting across. All this means
an accentuation of consciousness; it means a turning in upon the
individual's own attitudes, powers, wishes, etc.

Obviously, however, this surging up of personal factors into
conscious recognition is a part of the whole activity in its
temporal development. There is not first a purely psychical
process, followed abruptly by a radically different physical one.
There is one continuous behavior, proceeding from a more
uncertain, divided, hesitating state to a more overt,
determinate, or complete state. The activity at first consists
mainly of certain tensions and adjustments within the organism;
as these are coordinated into a unified attitude, the organism as
a whole acts -- some definite act is undertaken. We may
distinguish, of course, the more explicitly conscious phase of
the continuous activity as mental or psychical. But that only
identifies the mental or psychical to mean the indeterminate,
formative state of an activity which in its fullness involves
putting forth of overt energy to modify the environment.

Our conscious thoughts, observations, wishes, aversions are
important, because they represent inchoate, nascent activities.
They fulfill their destiny in issuing, later on, into specific
and perceptible acts. And these inchoate, budding organic
readjustments are important because they are our sole escape from
the dominion of routine habits and blind impulse. They are
activities having a new meaning in process of development.
Hence, normally, there is an accentuation of personal
consciousness whenever our instincts and ready formed habits find
themselves blocked by novel conditions. Then we are thrown back
upon ourselves to reorganize our own attitude before proceeding
to a definite and irretrievable course of action. Unless we try
to drive our way through by sheer brute force, we must modify our
organic resources to adapt them to the specific features of the
situation in which we find ourselves. The conscious deliberating
and desiring which precede overt action are, then, the methodic
personal readjustment implied in activity in uncertain
situations. This role of mind in continuous activity is not
always maintained, however. Desires for something different,
aversion to the given state of things caused by the blocking of
successful activity, stimulates the imagination. The picture of
a different state of things does not always function to aid
ingenious observation and recollection to find a way out and on.
Except where there is a disciplined disposition, the tendency is
for the imagination to run loose. Instead of its objects being
checked up by conditions with reference to their practicability
in execution, they are allowed to develop because of the
immediate emotional satisfaction which they yield. When we find
the successful display of our energies checked by uncongenial
surroundings, natural and social, the easiest way out is to build
castles in the air and let them be a substitute for an actual
achievement which involves the pains of thought. So in overt
action we acquiesce, and build up an imaginary world in, mind.
This break between thought and conduct is reflected in those
theories which make a sharp separation between mind as inner and
conduct and consequences as merely outer.

For the split may be more than an incident of a particular
individual's experience. The social situation may be such as to
throw the class given to articulate reflection back into their
own thoughts and desires without providing the means by which
these ideas and aspirations can be used to reorganize the
environment. Under such conditions, men take revenge, as it
were, upon the alien and hostile environment by cultivating
contempt for it, by giving it a bad name. They seek refuge and
consolation within their own states of mind, their own imaginings
and wishes, which they compliment by calling both more real and
more ideal than the despised outer world. Such periods have
recurred in history. In the early centuries of the Christian
era, the influential moral systems of Stoicism, of monastic and
popular Christianity and other religious movements of the day,
took shape under the influence of such conditions. The more
action which might express prevailing ideals was checked, the
more the inner possession and cultivation of ideals was regarded
as self-sufficient -- as the essence of morality. The external
world in which activity belongs was thought of as morally
indifferent. Everything lay in having the right motive, even
though that motive was not a moving force in the world. Much the
same sort of situation recurred in Germany in the later
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; it led to the Kantian
insistence upon the good will as the sole moral good, the will
being regarded as something complete in itself, apart from action
and from the changes or consequences effected in the world.
Later it led to any idealization of existing institutions as
themselves the embodiment of reason.

The purely internal morality of "meaning well," of having a good
disposition regardless of what comes of it, naturally led to a
reaction. This is generally known as either hedonism or
utilitarianism. It was said in effect that the important thing
morally is not what a man is inside of his own consciousness, but
what he does -- the consequences which issue, the charges he
actually effects. Inner morality was attacked as sentimental,
arbitrary, dogmatic, subjective -- as giving men leave to dignify
and shield any dogma congenial to their self-interest or any
caprice occurring to imagination by calling it an intuition or an
ideal of conscience. Results, conduct, are what counts; they
afford the sole measure of morality. Ordinary morality, and
hence that of the schoolroom, is likely to be an inconsistent
compromise of both views. On one hand, certain states of feeling
are made much of; the individual must "mean well," and if his
intentions are good, if he had the right sort of emotional
consciousness, he may be relieved of responsibility for full
results in conduct. But since, on the other hand, certain things
have to be done to meet the convenience and the requirements of
others, and of social order in general, there is great insistence
upon the doing of certain things, irrespective of whether the
individual has any concern or intelligence in their doing. He
must toe the mark; he must have his nose held to the grindstone;
he must obey; he must form useful habits; he must learn
self-control, -- all of these precepts being understood in a way
which emphasizes simply the immediate thing tangibly done,
irrespective of the spirit of thought and desire in which it is
done, and irrespective therefore of its effect upon other less
obvious doings.

It is hoped that the prior discussion has sufficiently elaborated
the method by which both of these evils are avoided. One or both
of these evils must result wherever individuals, whether young or
old, cannot engage in a progressively cumulative undertaking
under conditions which engage their interest and require their
reflection. For only in such cases is it possible that the
disposition of desire and thinking should be an organic factor in
overt and obvious conduct. Given a consecutive activity
embodying the student's own interest, where a definite result is
to be obtained, and where neither routine habit nor the following
of dictated directions nor capricious improvising will suffice,
and there the rise of conscious purpose, conscious desire, and
deliberate reflection are inevitable. They are inevitable as the
spirit and quality of an activity having specific consequences,
not as forming an isolated realm of inner consciousness.

2. The Opposition of Duty and Interest. Probably there is no
antithesis more often set up in moral discussion than that
between acting from "principle" and from "interest." To act on
principle is to act disinterestedly, according to a general law,
which is above all personal considerations. To act according to
interest is, so the allegation runs, to act selfishly, with one's
own personal profit in view. It substitutes the changing
expediency of the moment for devotion to unswerving moral law.
The false idea of interest underlying this opposition has already
been criticized (See Chapter X), but some moral aspects of the
question will now be considered. A clew to the matter may be
found in the fact that the supporters of the "interest" side of
the controversy habitually use the term "self-interest." Starting
from the premises that unless there is interest in an object or
idea, there is no motive force, they end with the conclusion that
even when a person claims to be acting from principle or from a
sense of duty, he really acts as he does because there "is
something in it" for himself. The premise is sound; the
conclusion false. In reply the other school argues that since
man is capable of generous self-forgetting and even
self-sacrificing action, he is capable of acting without
interest. Again the premise is sound, and the conclusion false.
The error on both sides lies in a false notion of the relation of
interest and the self.

Both sides assume that the self is a fixed and hence isolated
quantity. As a consequence, there is a rigid dilemma between
acting for an interest of the self and without interest. If the
self is something fixed antecedent to action, then acting from
interest means trying to get more in the way of possessions for
the self -- whether in the way of fame, approval of others, power
over others, pecuniary profit, or pleasure. Then the reaction
from this view as a cynical depreciation of human nature leads to
the view that men who act nobly act with no interest at all. Yet
to an unbiased judgment it would appear plain that a man must be
interested in what he is doing or he would not do it. A
physician who continues to serve the sick in a plague at almost
certain danger to his own life must be interested in the
efficient performance of his profession -- more interested in
that than in the safety of his own bodily life. But it is
distorting facts to say that this interest is merely a mask for
an interest in something else which he gets by continuing his
customary services -- such as money or good repute or virtue;
that it is only a means to an ulterior selfish end. The moment
we recognize that the self is not something ready-made, but
something in continuous formation through choice of action, the
whole situation clears up. A man's interest in keeping at his
work in spite of danger to life means that his self is found in
that work; if he finally gave up, and preferred his personal
safety or comfort, it would mean that he preferred to be that
kind of a self. The mistake lies in making a separation between
interest and self, and supposing that the latter is the end to
which interest in objects and acts and others is a mere means.
In fact, self and interest are two names for the same fact; the
kind and amount of interest actively taken in a thing reveals and
measures the quality of selfhood which exists. Bear in mind that
interest means the active or moving identity of the self with a
certain object, and the whole alleged dilemma falls to the

Unselfishness, for example, signifies neither lack of interest in
what is done (that would mean only machine-like indifference) nor
selflessness--which would mean absence of virility and character.
As employed everywhere outside of this particular theoretical
controversy, the term "unselfishness" refers to the kind of aims
and objects which habitually interest a man. And if we make a
mental survey of the kind of interests which evoke the use of
this epithet, we shall see that they have two intimately
associated features. (i) The generous self consciously
identifies itself with the full range of relationships implied in
its activity, instead of drawing a sharp line between itself and
considerations which are excluded as alien or indifferent; (ii)
it readjusts and expands its past ideas of itself to take in new
consequences as they become perceptible. When the physician
began his career he may not have thought of a pestilence; he may
not have consciously identified himself with service under such
conditions. But, if he has a normally growing or active self,
when he finds that his vocation involves such risks, he willingly
adopts them as integral portions of his activity. The wider or
larger self which means inclusion instead of denial of
relationships is identical with a self which enlarges in order to
assume previously unforeseen ties.

In such crises of readjustment -- and the crisis may be slight as
well as great -- there may be a transitional conflict of
"principle" with "interest." It is the nature of a habit to
involve ease in the accustomed line of activity. It is the
nature of a readjusting of habit to involve an effort which is
disagreeable -- something to which a man has deliberately to hold
himself. In other words, there is a tendency to identify the
self -- or take interest -- in what one has got used to, and to
turn away the mind with aversion or irritation when an unexpected
thing which involves an unpleasant modification of habit comes
up. Since in the past one has done one's duty without having to
face such a disagreeable circumstance, why not go on as one has
been? To yield to this temptation means to narrow and isolate the
thought of the self -- to treat it as complete. Any habit, no
matter how efficient in the past, which has become set, may at
any time bring this temptation with it. To act from principle in
such an emergency is not to act on some abstract principle, or
duty at large; it is to act upon the principle of a course of
action, instead of upon the circumstances which have attended it.
The principle of a physician's conduct is its animating aim and
spirit -- the care for the diseased. The principle is not what
justifies an activity, for the principle is but another name for
the continuity of the activity. If the activity as manifested in
its consequences is undesirable, to act upon principle is to
accentuate its evil. And a man who prides himself upon acting
upon principle is likely to be a man who insists upon having his
own way without learning from experience what is the better way.
He fancies that some abstract principle justifies his course of
action without recognizing that his principle needs

Assuming, however, that school conditions are such as to provide
desirable occupations, it is interest in the occupation as a
whole -- that is, in its continuous development -- which keeps a
pupil at his work in spite of temporary diversions and unpleasant
obstacles. Where there is no activity having a growing
significance, appeal to principle is either purely verbal, or a
form of obstinate pride or an appeal to extraneous considerations
clothed with a dignified title. Undoubtedly there are junctures
where momentary interest ceases and attention flags, and where
reinforcement is needed. But what carries a person over these
hard stretches is not loyalty to duty in the abstract, but
interest in his occupation. Duties are "offices" -- they are the
specific acts needed for the fulfilling of a function -- or, in
homely language -- doing one's job. And the man who is genuinely
interested in his job is the man who is able to stand temporary
discouragement, to persist in the face of obstacles, to take the
lean with the fat: he makes an interest out of meeting and
overcoming difficulties and distraction.

3. Intelligence and Character. A noteworthy paradox often
accompanies discussions of morals. On the one hand, there is an
identification of the moral with the rational. Reason is set up
as a faculty from which proceed ultimate moral intuitions, and
sometimes, as in the Kantian theory, it is said to supply the
only proper moral motive. On the other hand, the value of
concrete, everyday intelligence is constantly underestimated, and
even deliberately depreciated. Morals is often thought to be an
affair with which ordinary knowledge has nothing to do. Moral
knowledge is thought to be a thing apart, and conscience is
thought of as something radically different from consciousness.
This separation, if valid, is of especial significance for
education. Moral education in school is practically hopeless
when we set up the development of character as a supreme end, and
at the same time treat the acquiring of knowledge and the
development of understanding, which of necessity occupy the chief
part of school time, as having nothing to do with character. On
such a basis, moral education is inevitably reduced to some kind
of catechetical instruction, or lessons about morals. Lessons
"about morals" signify as matter of course lessons in what other
people think about virtues and duties. It amounts to something
only in the degree in which pupils happen to be already animated
by a sympathetic and dignified regard for the sentiments of
others. Without such a regard, it has no more influence on
character than information about the mountains of Asia; with a
servile regard, it increases dependence upon others, and throws
upon those in authority the responsibility for conduct. As a
matter of fact, direct instruction in morals has been effective
only in social groups where it was a part of the authoritative
control of the many by the few. Not the teaching as such but the
reinforcement of it by the whole regime of which it was an
incident made it effective. To attempt to get similar results
from lessons about morals in a democratic society is to rely upon
sentimental magic.

At the other end of the scale stands the Socratic-Platonic
teaching which identifies knowledge and virtue--which holds that
no man does evil knowingly but only because of ignorance of the
good. This doctrine is commonly attacked on the ground that
nothing is more common than for a man to know the good and yet do
the bad: not knowledge, but habituation or practice, and motive
are what is required. Aristotle, in fact, at once attacked the
Platonic teaching on the ground that moral virtue is like an art,
such as medicine; the experienced practitioner is better than a
man who has theoretical knowledge but no practical experience of
disease and remedies. The issue turns, however, upon what is
meant by knowledge. Aristotle's objection ignored the gist of
Plato's teaching to the effect that man could not attain a
theoretical insight into the good except as he had passed through
years of practical habituation and strenuous discipline.
Knowledge of the good was not a thing to be got either from books
or from others, but was achieved through a prolonged education.
It was the final and culminating grace of a mature experience of
life. Irrespective of Plato's position, it is easy to perceive
that the term knowledge is used to denote things as far apart as
intimate and vital personal realization, -- a conviction gained
and tested in experience, -- and a second- handed, largely
symbolic, recognition that persons in general believe so and so
-- a devitalized remote information. That the latter does not
guarantee conduct, that it does not profoundly affect character,
goes without saying. But if knowledge means something of the
same sort as our conviction gained by trying and testing that
sugar is sweet and quinine bitter, the case stands otherwise.
Every time a man sits on a chair rather than on a stove, carries
an umbrella when it rains, consults a doctor when ill -- or in
short performs any of the thousand acts which make up his daily
life, he proves that knowledge of a certain kind finds direct
issue in conduct. There is every reason to suppose that the same
sort of knowledge of good has a like expression; in fact "good"
is an empty term unless it includes the satisfactions experienced
in such situations as those mentioned. Knowledge that other
persons are supposed to know something might lead one to act so
as to win the approbation others attach to certain actions, or at
least so as to give others the impression that one agrees with
them; there is no reason why it should lead to personal
initiative and loyalty in behalf of the beliefs attributed to

It is not necessary, accordingly, to dispute about the proper
meaning of the term knowledge. It is enough for educational
purposes to note the different qualities covered by the one name,
to realize that it is knowledge gained at first hand through the
exigencies of experience which affects conduct in significant
ways. If a pupil learns things from books simply in connection
with school lessons and for the sake of reciting what he has
learned when called upon, then knowledge will have effect upon
some conduct -- namely upon that of reproducing statements at the
demand of others. There is nothing surprising that such
"knowledge" should not have much influence in the life out of

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