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These Lectures were delivered in the 
University of Edinburgh during the past 
winter session, and with the exception of 
the last and concluding lecture, are pub- 
lished as delivered. To the student of 
psychology, I need hardly mention my 
indebtedness to Dr. Stout for his luminous 
and able articles in Mind on the Her- 
bartian Psychology, and also to his psycho- 
logical writings generally. To the Herbar- 
tian educationalists, named and unnamed, 
who have been criticised in the following 
pages I owe no apology, since the aim of 
every true student of education should be 
to follow the truth wheresoever it may lead. 
To my revered teachers and friends, Profes- 
sor Laurie and Professor Pringle-Pattison, 
I owe much more than can be expressed 
in a brief prefatory note, and the best 

JL.1l «. o 


evidence of this is that the spirit of their 
teaching will be evident to every critical 
reader of the following pages. The 
general nature of the theory advanced 
in these lectures is but an exemplification 
and enlargement of the contention of Mr. 
Haldane in his recent Gifford Lectures 
at St. Andrews, that "when you are 
trying to trace the genesis of the develop- 
ment of a child's consciousness, you are 
driven away from the point of view" — 
which is called Presentationism — and that 
"it is purposes or ends which organise 
our immediate experience and give to it 
its appearance of reality." 

The important thing for the education- 
alist is to become fully aware that instruc- 
tion is only a means to the realisation of 
the various purposes or ends of life, and 
that it is in the controlling and directing of 
education with a clear and explicit know- 
ledge of the relation of the various ends to 
the supreme end that the work of teaching 
essentially consists. It needs also to be 
emphasised at the present day that educa- 


tional practice is explicitly, but more often 
implicitly, based on educational theory, and 
that every educational theory is founded 
not merely on a psychology of mental 
development but on some philosophical 
theory as to the meaning and value of 
human life. 


University of Edinburgh, 
March 1903. 





The Herbartian Psychology. The fundamental pre- 
suppositions. The two divisions of the Herbartian 
school — those who directly found their educational 
theory upon the psychology and ethic of Herbart ; 
those who follow the spirit rather than base their 
the ory on the H erbartian psychology. Criticism of 
the latter — and the critic's position defined. Her- 
bartian psychology opposed to the Faculty psycho- 
logy — the error upon which this system is based — due 
to the inherent faults of the introspective method in 
psychology. Opposed also to the Kantian concep- 
tion of mental development. The Herbartian con- 
ception of the soul — importance of clearly realising 
this in the understanding of the educational theory. 
Presentations or ideas the ultimate element of the 
mental life ; feeling and volition, secondary products 
of the interaction of ideas. • The threefold manner 
in which mental complexity arises — fusion, compli- 
cation, and mutual arrest — the educational conse- 
quences. The Herbartian account of feeling — its 
erroneousness. Volition and the doctrine of Atten- 
tion — confusion between passive and active attention. 
Criticism gfjh e Her bartian doctrine. It may be 
objected that some Herbartians do take account of 
the soul and its activity. Criticism of this position. 
The ambiguous use of the term "attention." Con- 
clusion 1-33 





The Doctrine of Apperception : — Meaning of the term — 
classification into outer and inner — into voluntary and 
involuntary — the meaning of this difference in the 
Herbartian theory — importance of the theory of ap- 
perception in education. Criticism of the Herbartian 
explanation of the process — real difference between 
passive and active apperception — the educational 
importance of the difference. The Doctrine of In- 
terest : — Meaning of the term — used in various senses 
— its meaning in this theory — interest as a method 
and an end in education. Criticism of the Herbartian 
theory. Interest in the psychological sense — a mark 
of the presence of self-activity. Classification of 
interests as ends — their place in education. The 
Doctrine of the Self : — The Herbartian account of 
the development of the self — the ultimate explanation 
reduces the self to a general abstraction or a bare 
identity of function — this is the only possible result 
of a mechanical psychology .... 34-64 



The Herbartian ethic— a subordinate part of the psycho- 
logical theory — opposed to the Kantian doctrine of a 
transcendental will and the negative or ascetic aspect 
of that theory — all action springs from "the circle of 
ideas." The five moral ideas — the second idea of 
most importance in educational theory — meaning of 
the idea — the place of many-sided interests in educa- 
tion — confusion of virtue with culture — moral re- 
sponsibility and personality explained away on the 
Herbartian theory. Individuality — the theory of 
initial equality — the relation of environment to life 
— the meaning of environment — Herbart fails to ac- 
count for individuality. But if Herbartianism is so 
full of errors, how are we to explain its popularity ? 
Explanation of this tendency — the erroneousness of 
this from the educational point of view . . 65-97 





The Doctrine of Method — apperception made a kind of 
fetish — the explanation of the processes of imagination 
and conception given by the theory — Ward and James 
give similar explanations. Criticism of this view. 
Relation of Logic to Psychology. Instruction — the 
only method of education in the Herbartian theory — 
" didactive materialism" the "Five formal steps" 
of Herbart — explanation aud criticism. Neglect of 
formal studies — Zillerian development — the place of 
nature and science studies in the theory — history and 
literature the chief subjects of study. The Herbar- 
tian misconceives the reason for their importance 
in education — their value lies in the fact that they 
give a training and discipline of a particular and 
peculiar kind. The distinction between real and 
formal one of degree or aspect, not of kind. Her- 
bartianism has no place logically for formal studies. 
The Herbartian psychology only gives us an account 
in terms of mechanical causation of the perceptual 
(Kant) or attuitional (Laurie) consciousness — but 
Herbartianism aims at a real error, viz. that there 
can be a mere training of power or faculty apart from 
knowledge. Conclusion 98-127 



The Doctrine of Concentration of Studies — The emphasis 
laid on the theory of concentration by the Herbartian 
follows logically from the psychology. Reasons ad- 
vanced for its importance — to promote the unity and 
consistency of the mental life — the limitations of the 
theory at the present stage of knowledge. Much of 
our instruction must be disjointed and unconnected, 
for we have not yet succeeded in unifying knowledge. 
Again much of our knowledge seems to be of a contin- 
gent character. History illustrates this. Further the 
nature of the connection between the natural and 
social world is not yet understood. Attempts to do so 


more or less fanciful and imaginary. Lastly— there is 
no connection between the facts of several sciences. 
The mathematical qualities of a thing not necessarily 
connected with its chemical or physical qualities. 
All these facts limit the application of the theory. 
The only safe rule for the teacher. The explana- 
tion of the unity of the mental life in the Herbar- 
tian theory — one of knowledge conceived mechani- 
cally and externally ; but the real unity is an unity 
of end or purpose to which the unity of knowledge 
is only a means. Correlation of studies a means to 
arousing present interest — but education is mainly 
concerned with creating future interests ; in fitting 
the pupil for his position in the social organism, 
while present " interest " should as far as possible 
be used to foster these — yet this must often be sacri- 
ficed to the development of the interests which should 
prevail. Again, since the main end of education 
lies in the training of the child to perceive the 
identities which pervade the various systems of 
knowledge, this is in many cases no easy and agree- 
able task, and therefore must at times prove uninter- 
esting. The danger in the Herbartian theory of 
making instruction easy — but present interest must 
be subordinate to a course of study which will corre- 
late the child with the civilisation into which he is 
born. A third reason is that only through concentra- 
tion of studies can we have consistency of conduct — 
but this is only true if we accept the Herbartian 
assumptions as to the nature of the mental life. Con- 
sistency of knowledge only a means to consistency of 
action — practical value of the theory. The attempt 
made to make one subject the centre of all in- 
struction — various subjects proposed as the centre 
— but such attempts must more or less fail as long 
as knowledge itself is not reduced to unity, But the 
theory points out a truth that some subjects are of 
more value in education than others — relative value 
of humanistic and naturalistic studies — the lessons 
for the teacher — other aspects of the Herbartian 
theory not examined in these lectures — Conclusion 128-148 





Within recent years the theory of educa- 
tion set forth by Herbart and developed 
by his successors has received a consider- 
able amount of attention. To some extent 
in the land of its birth, but more par- 
ticularly in America, Herbartianism has 
become more or less of a craze, and work 
after work continues to be turned out ap-A^/ 
plying the Herbartian solvent to all edu- ■ 
cational difficulties. In our own country 
it has found a footing, and while Herbar- 
tians of the extreme type are few in num- 
ber, yet the theory underlies a good deal 



of our educational thought, and pervades 
a good deal of our educational literature. 
From the educationalist who adopts the 
theory on grounds which he can more or 
less justify (though often not seeing the 
full logical outcome of the implied presup- 
positions), we have all degrees, down to 
the well-meaning persons whose cry is 
that the one thing needful is to make 
all school work interesting to our pupils, 
and who have, as a rule, no clear con- 
ception of what interest means, nor of the 
conditions by which it is evoked. In 
general, however, the advocates of the 
theory may be divided into two main 

In the first place, in some quarters, the 
Herbartian ethic is loudly proclaimed as the 
only system which can afford the teacher 
real insight into the nature of the end 
towards which education should strive to 
form and fashion the pupil, and the Her- 
bartian psychology is declared to be the 
only psychology which can yield a practi- 
cal method for the guidance of the educa- 
tor, and the only sure and safe basis for 
any system of pedagogics which builds on 
the solid ground of fact ; and, in contrast, 


opposing systems are supposed to have 
their foundations laid on grounds of a 
more or less vague and general nature. 
The Herbartian claims to deal with con- 
crete experience, with the actual modes 
by which human experience and human 
knowledge develop, and in particular op- 
poses the rational or transcendental psy- 
chologist on the ground that his method 
of looking at the human mind and its 
development yields results which are of 
no value for the use of the educational 
theorist, nor of any aid in the guidance of 
the practical teacher. 1 The rational psy- 
chologist is said to deal "with unchange- 
able presuppositions of mind," to take 
account of only the universal conditions of 
all knowing ; and, while the educationalist 
may conform his work to these condi- 
tions, he cannot modify them any more 
than he can alter a law of nature. 
On the other hand, the educationalist 
who bases his theory upon some scientific, 
empirical, and deterministic psychology 

1 Cf. e.g. "Herbart's Outlines of Educational Doc- 
trine," trans, by Lange and De Garmo, Introduction, 
p. 6. 


is supposed to be able, in some mysterious 
way, to control the actual growth of our 
concrete experience without taking into 
account those universal conditions, those 
unchangeable presuppositions of the human 
mind. With this contention we shall after- 
wards deal. It arises out of a confusion 
of ideas. If a knowledge of the universal 
conditions of all knowing, without some 
knowledge of the particular forms in which 
it is realised, is empty, and therefore of no 
use in the guidance of the educator, so in 
like manner the so-called empirical facts 
of the psychologist are blind and of no 
value without some knowledge of the 
universal modes of synthesis by which 
they become a part of our concrete ex- 
perience. Emphasis on the one aspect 
in educational theory leads to the identi- 
fication of education with mere instruction, 
as emphasis on the other leads to the 
confusion of education with a bare and 
empty discipline and training. 

In the second place, we have within 
the Herbartian camp another set of 
adherents who prefer to follow the spirit 
of their master rather than definitely pin 
their faith to his doctrines with their 


metaphysical and psychological founda- 
tions. 1 For them, Herbartianism is rather 
a set of ethical convictions than a system 
of doctrines. They are convinced, e.g. 
that instruction is of supreme importance 
in the work of education, and in the 
formation of character ; that the line of 
demarcation usually drawn between secu- 
lar and sacred subjects is theoretically 
unsound and practically baneful in its 
consequences ; and, above all, they be- 
lieve that the moral regeneration of man- 
kind lies in the fostering of a many- 
sided interest, and that the kingdom of 
Heaven will be realised on this earth when 
we turn out our pupils with large, well- 
rounded, and internally coherent systems 
of ideas, or, to use the Herbartian tech- 
nical term, apperception- masses. With 
this particular section of the school, it is 
usual to have the assertion made that the 
psychology of Herbart is not so funda- 
mental to his theory of education as is com- 
monly supposed, and that the main thing 
for the educator is to enter into the spirit 
of its founder, and to be fully assured of 

1 Cf. " Herbartian Psychology," by Adams, chap. iii. 


the convictions enumerated above. 1 But 
we may ask : Are the convictions mere 
convictions ? If so, for the old empiricism 
in educational theory and in educational 
practice which Herbartianism seeks to 
remove, we are offered an empiricism 
newer and perhaps better, but still an 
empiricism. If, on the other hand, the 
convictions are not mere convictions — for 
they can hardly, so to speak, hang in 
the air — but claim to have a foundation 
in the nature of human experience and 
human thought, then it is incumbent 
upon their advocates to state the nature 
of the ethical and psychological grounds 
upon which they base their assertions 
that knowledge and the formation of 
a many-sided "interest" are the chief 
things to be considered in the work of 
education and in the formation of char- 
acter. At any rate, until they reject the 
ethical and psychological grounds upon 
which their educational convictions are 
ostensibly founded, it is quite within the 
right of the critic to point out that the 
basis will not support the superstructure, 
and that the new elements introduced are 

1 Cf. e.g. M The Student's Herbart," by Hayward, p. 8. 


of an alien nature, and not consistent with 
the original assumptions. And that, if 
these convictions are to be justified, we 
must seek to base them upon an ethic 
and psychology different in nature from 
that of Herbart. 

Now, in order to understand the nature 
of the educational theory of Herbart, it 
is necessary to know the main principles 
of his psychology and ethics, and to com- 
prehend clearly the point of departure 
from which the system starts. In the 
first place, it will be our aim to state the 
essential doctrines of the system in so far 
as they bear on educational theory, and in 
particular to state exactly and definitely 
the meaning and limitations of such con- 
ceptions as apperception and many-sided 
interest, which are the dominating educa- 
tional categories in the Herbartian theory. 
Much harm is done, both in educational 
theory and in educational practice, by the 
loose and inaccurate use of terms such as 
11 interest " ; and it is important that we 
should understand clearly what these and 
similar terms connote. 

The Herbartian psychology, on its 
negative side, was mainly directed against 



the old faculty psychology. Just as Locke 
had thought that the doctrine of innate 
ideas was the great stumbling-block in the 
way of the clear understanding of things, 
so, in like manner, Herbart considered 
hat a similar charge could be laid at the 
door of the theory which supposed the 
mind to be possessed of various powers 
or activities. Such a conception, carried 
over into the educational field, gives rise 
to the belief that certain subjects are 
specially suited for training the memory, 
while others are supposed to be best fitted 
for cultivating the imagination ; while still 
others exercise and discipline the intellect. 
Now, it is against this error that the 
attack of Herbart is mainly directed, and 
in this respect he is at one with the 
English Associationist school, who at- 
tempt to explain the mental life as 
gradually built up from certain elemen- 
tary atomic states, and to show that all 
mental connection is ultimately reducible 
to mere association. But Herbart goes 
further, and lays his finger definitely 
on the nature of the error on which 
the assumption of separate faculties is 
founded. This is to be traced to the 


fallacy of supposing that the introspective 
method is the only valid method in psy- 
chology, and to the inherent inaccuracy 
in the nature of that method. In in- 
trospection we note the prominent and 
outstanding characteristics of our men- 
tal states. " Self-observation," he says, 
"mutilates the facts of consciousness in 
the very act of apprehending them, tears 
them from their context, and hands them 
over to a disorderly abstraction which 
finds no resting-place until it has arrived 
at the highest genera." 1 The process of 
classification being completed, it is found 
that these generalisations are of no use 
in the explanation of particular pheno- 
mena, and the tendency arises to treat 
them as real forces active in the produc- 
tion of the particular effects. Instead 
of explaining the mental life, the faculty 
psychology leads to the belief that the 
unity of the mental life is ultimately 
inexplicable, and that we must be con- 
tent with the conception of the mind as 
exercising different functions. But a 
second objection may be urged against 
the method of introspection. Not only 

1 Cf. Prof. Stout in Mtnd, No. 51, p. 324 et seq. 


does it tend to mutilate the facts and 
to take note only of the prominent 
characteristics in our mental states, but 
it also fails to notice those dim and 
obscure manifestations of consciousness 
which in many cases are the differen- 
tiating elements in determining mental 
change. The method of introspection 
alone, accordingly, is not sufficient ; and 
this insufficiency is evident in another 
direction. By introspection we become 
aware of certain facts of a self-contradic- 
tory character due to their detachment 
from the connections which alone make 
them intelligible. In particular, the fact 
of an Ego or self is given in conscious- 
ness, and yet the conception of an Ego 
is loaded with contradictions. The self 
cannot be identified with any of its 
particular states, since it is the centre to 
which they are all referred. And again, 
apart from its manifestation in such or 
such a particular state, it is nothing — it 
possesses no mark by which it can be 
distinguished except its own self-aware- 
ness, and this for Herbart involved an 
inner contradiction. It is this contra- 
diction which forces him to distinguish 


afterwards between " apperceiving " and 
11 apperceived " masses of ideas in self- 

Now the method of Herbart, here as 
elsewhere, is to frame such hypotheses as 
will remove the contradictions and inco- 
herences revealed by introspection ; and if, 
further, these hypotheses, while removing 
the contradictions, do no great violence to 
the evidence which introspection furnishes, 
and, moreover, can be applied in the ex- 
planation of further facts and be justified 
on grounds independent of psychology, 
then Herbart supposes that this will justify 
the validity of the method adopted. 

Equally with the rejection of the theory 
of the soul as manifesting a plurality of 
activities does Herbart reject the Kantian 
idea of an Ego and a synthetic activity 
of Reason which is active throughout 
in the construction or reconstruction of 

According to Herbart the soul is intrinsi- 
cally a simple, unchanging being, originally 
without any plurality of states, activities, 
or powers. It is at first a distinctionless 
unity with the bare power of reacting^ 
upon impressions, but the original reactions 


having taken -place it, so to speak, be- 
comes passive, and as Lotze points out, 
" everything further that happens in it, 
the formation of its conceptions, the de- 
velopment of its faculties, the settlement 
of the principles upon which it acts," 1 all 
follow as mechanical results from the 
initial reactions. 

It is important clearly to understand 
the starting-point of Herbart, for on the 
definite apprehension of this depends the 
understanding of the remainder of his 
psychological system, and it is only by 
keeping the initial assumptions before us, 
that we can fully realise where this theory 
would lead us in our educational theory 
and practice. 

From the theory of a plurality of ac- 
tivities Herbart goes to the other ex- 
treme, and denies all activity to the soul 
except this bare power of reacting upon 
the occurrence of the original stimuli from 
without : thereafter the soul is simply the 
arena in which certain mechanical results 
effect themselves, and the development of 
the mental life is throughout explained 
as due to one single kind of process — 

1 Lotze, " Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 238 (Eng. Trans.). 


a process of assimilation, association, or * 
apperception between the varying mental 
contents. From the position that there is 
no wholly unconditioned activity of the 
soul, Herbart passes to the other extreme, 
that there is no act of the soul which is 
not wholly conditioned by the previously 
existing mental content : everything fol- 
lows necessarily from the reactions set up 
by the attractions and repulsions of the 
various ideas. As Lotze 1 rather happily 
puts it : The soul never again shows itself 
irritable or volcanic enough to interfere 
with the further course of its development, 
but is content to remain passive, and view 
its inevitable determination along the 
destined lines. 

The proposition then which forms the 
basis of the Herbartian psychology is that \ 
presentations or " ideas " are the ultimate 1 
elements of the mental life, and that the ' 
unity and complexity which subsequently 
occur, arise from the interaction and com- 
bination of these primary elements. So 
far, Herbart is at one with the doctrines of 
the English Associationist school. But he 
differs from them in the way in which he 

1 Lotze, " Metaphysics," p. 238. 


conceived and explained the ultimate prin- 
ciples of combination and interaction among 
presentations, and in the fact that he applies 
the category of mechanical causation in a 
more thorough-going and systematic way 
to the explanation of the facts of the mental 
life. For Locke and Hume the question 
is : How, starting from simple atomic 
sensations, do these combine to form the 
unity of the mental life? For Herbart 
the question rather is : How is it that the 
soul, which is originally a distinctionless 
unity, takes on the character of plurality 
and distinction ? That is, starting from 
the soul as characterless, as bare, having 
only this mere power of reacting against 
the original stimuli received by means of 
the senses, how can we explain the 
distinctions and differences which arise in 
the nature of the soul ? and, at the same 
time, what is the nature of the identity 
which pervades the whole ? For, however 
we may explain the phenomenon, there is 
a self which in some way or other remains 
identical throughout its various manifesta- 
tions ; or, in Herbartian terms, there must 
be some one apperception mass which is 
appercipient to every other apperceived 


mass. This is a problem which our 
educational Herbartians seem to think of 
little consequence, for, as a rule, they ne- 
glect the consideration of this aspect of the 
theory. But it is important not only from 
the point of view of psychological theory, 
but also important, and much more so, from 
the point of view of educational practice. 
For if the self is nothing, or reduced (as 
we shall afterwards see) to a mere general 
abstraction, then individuality, and per- 
sonality and moral responsibility become 
fictions ; and these, although they may for 
methodological purposes be neglected in 
the working out of an abstract and 
mechanical account of the mental life, 
cannot be left out of educational theory, 
for they are the most important of educa- 
tional categories. 

But not only does Herbartianism reduce 
the elements of the mental life to presen- 
tations, and explain mental development 
and mental complexity by their interac- 
tion, but it reduces feeling and volition to \ 
secondary products formed by the inter- | 
action of presentation masses. And here 
it is well to remember in our educational 
reference, that, although the Herbartian 


often speaks of the efficiency of the will 
and of the necessity of training our pupils 
to act vigorously, for him the will is 
nothing but a general name for certain 
movements among the presentation masses, 
and " freedom of the will is but the assured 
supremacy of the strongest masses of 
ideas over single affections or impres- 
sions." * Instead of volition being regarded 
as due to the activity of a self or 
subject which identifies itself with and 
seeks to realise its various ends, we 
in its place are offered certain interac- 
tions in the psychological mechanism. All 
action, all conduct is thus conceived to be 
reflex in its character, and feeling, instead 
of being regarded as a coefficient of the 
success or non-success of the subject in 
the realisation of its own purposive ends, 
is regarded as a mere product of the in- 
teraction among the presentation masses. 
It is interesting as showing the thorough- 
going mechanical explanation of the 
mental life furnished by Herbart to con- 
sider the manner in which he explains 
the various degrees of difference between 
our feeling-tones. We may notice three 

1 Cf. Ueberweg's " History of Philosophy," p. 237. 


grades. In the first place, we may have 
a merely neutral state, which on the 
emergence of other conditions may pass, 
on the one hand, into the state of pleasure 
or into the state of pain. But, in order to 
understand this, we must first of all give an 
account of the principles by which, starting 
from certain elementary presentations, the 
process of combining them into presenta- 
tion masses is performed. 

Presentations differ from each other in 
quality in three distinct ways. In the first 
place, they may be exactly similar, as e.g. 
my sensation of red is the same as the 
idea of my sensation of the same colour 
yesterday. In this case we have a fusion 
of the two ideas. They attract one another 
and combine to form one total presenta- 
tion, but the important point for us to 
notice in our educational reference is that, 
here as elsewhere, there is no identifying 
nor relating activity of the subject pre- 
sent : the ideas simply rush together on 
account of their inherent and inexplicable 
attraction for each other. The ideas are 
supposed to be active forces mutually at- 
tracting each other. On the other hand, 
two co-presented ideas may be contrary to 



each other ; they may belong to the same 
qualitative continuum, as e.g. two shades 
of colour or two tastes. In this case we 
have not attraction but a process of re- 
pulsion set up between the two presenta- 
tions, or, to make use of the Herbartian 
technical term, we have mutual arrest, and 
this may finally result in the total exclusion 
of one of the elements from consciousness, 
or in their partial fusion, as when one shade 
of colour combines with another and thus 
forms a colour presentation different in 
kind from both. Mutual arrest may vary 
in the result produced, from total exclu- 
sion on the one hand to almost complete 
fusion on the other. Here again it is 
well to note that this result is not pro- 
duced by the relating activity of the sub- 
ject. It is not because the subject cannot, 
in the furtherance of its end of making 
knowledge consistent, bring together, as 
the predicates of a single object, two con- 
trary predicates at the same time that 
this mutual arrest takes place, but the 
ideas in themselves are conceived as the 
sole agents in the realisation of all mental 
combination. In the third and final case, 
we may have two presentations or ideas 


belonging to different qualitative con- 
tinua, as e.g. the sweetness of an orange 
may co-exist with the presentation of its 
colour. In this case the presentations 
show themselves manifestly indifferent to 
each other's charms — they are said to 
be disparate, and meekly and quietly be- 
come complicated in each other's further 
existence. By this three-fold process of 
fusion, arrest, and complication, the soul; 
gradually becomes differentiated into dis-| 
tinct and different groups of presentation- 
masses. And these presentation-masses 
thus formed act as a total force in the 
fusion with, or the repelling of, further 

Let us pause for a moment here and 
ask ourselves by what process of thought 
did Herbart reach this remarkable result. 
How does he come to think of ideas or 
presentations as being possessed of ac- 
tivity, and of manifesting this in vari- 
ous directions. The answer is obvious ; 
the synthetic activity of the Ego is trans- 
ferred and read into the nature of the 
particular ideas. The identifying and 
combining activity of the self is thought 
to be resident in each particular idea, 


and we must not only conceive of them 
as active, but as in some way or other 
aware of their activity and its purpose 
or end, if we are to put any intelligible 
meaning upon the process ; or, on the 
other hand, we must conceive of the whole 
process as a blind, mechanical result effected 
on the soul and not by the soul. In short, 
the differences in the context or meaning of 
ideas is thought to indicate corresponding 
differences in the nature of the presentative 
activities ; and in our educational theory 
and in our educational practice, this logi- 
cally leads to the idea that education 
is a mere mechanical joining of idea to 
idea, and that it is a process effected with- 
out the activity of the pupil. The one 
aim of the educator accordingly is to en- 
deavour to perform this mechanical build- 
ing up in the simplest and easiest manner 
possible, and thus he will make education 
interesting to the child — if indeed there be 
a child at all in this theory, and not a mere 
receptacle of ideas. In the sequel, I hope 
to be able to show that, among the more 
extreme and more consistent upholders 
of the theory, this result has actually 
been reached. For we have the denial 


of the value of formal studies and the 
glorification of mere instruction until, in 
some cases, - the whole aim of education 
has been considered to be the widening or 
extending of the circle of ideas effected by 
the sole agency of the teacher, and such a 
view of education has not inaptly been called 
" Didactive Materialism." Didactive, be- 
cause it implicitly denies what Rousseau 
so strongly insisted on, the self-teaching of 
the pupil ; materialistic, because it denies 
the presence of any spiritual activity in 
the building up of knowledge or in the 
work of education. 

Having seen that Herbart reduces the 
ultimate elements of the mental life to 
presentations, and that he explains the 
complexity and differentiation which subse- 
quently arise in the soul as due solely to 
the mechanical connections that obtain be- 
tween the single ideas or presentations, let 
us now consider the account which he gives 
of the other constituents of the mental life. 
For if the Herbartian dictum be true, that 
knowledge is primary and feeling and \ ' 
volition but secondary products of the 
interaction of ideas, then this must have 
important bearings on the theory and 


practice of education. We shall then 
cease to speak of training the will or of 
\ cultivating the emotions, but shall rather 
\ \ direct our energies to the instilling into 
the mind appropriate ideas, confident that 
when this is done, every other result will 

Let us consider the account of Feeling. 
An arrested presentation, produced either 
by the working of the physiological 
mechanism or aroused by the inner 
working of the psychological mechanism 
on the removal of the arresting condi- 
tions, emerges into consciousness, and no 
further modification of consciousness is 
involved in the process, that is to say, the 
feeling-tone is neither of a pleasant nor 
of a painful kind ; it simply is neutral. 
The other constituents of consciousness 
for the time being, the existing presenta- 
tion masses, are simply indifferent to the 
presence of the new-comer ; and, while 
they do not extend the hand of welcome, 
they are not so uncourteous as to be 
actually hostile to his presence. But if 
the new presentation not merely appears 
or emerges into consciousness in the 
manner described above, but is acted on 


by allied presentations ; if it is warmly 
welcomed as a friend, and if the total 
force is more than is actually necessary 
to produce the result of bringing it 
into clear and distinct consciousness, this 
manifests itself as pleasurable feeling. 
Similarly, painful feeling arises in so far 
as the mutual arrest of presentations has 
a counterpart in consciousness which does 
not affect the nature and distinctness of 
the content presented ; or more simply, 
we have the painful feeling when the 
mechanical energy of the apperceiving 
system, while sufficient to raise the new 
presentate to clear and distinct conscious- 
ness, is insufficient to bring about complete 
fusion. One remark I should like to make 
here in order to avoid misapprehension and 
misunderstanding. The facts are as Her- 
bart describes them. We are conscious 
of this pleasurable feeling when a new 
idea coalesces easily and without hin- 1 
drance with our previously existing system 
of ideas. We have a pleasant process 
as long as the identification of the new 
with the old is easily effected, and in 
the opposite case we have the feeling 
of tension or pain when this process of 



identification is hindered or obstructed. 
But what must be considered is the ex- 
planation of the process. This is what 
is important both in psychological theory 
and in educational practice. Must we 
accept Herbart's explanation, or must 
we rather consider that we have here 
not the mere mechanical action of pre- 
sentations, but rather the activity of a 
self whose pleasure it is whose pain it 
is ; and that the feeling of pleasure on 
the one hand is the resultant of the 
subject realising its end or purpose, and, 
on the other hand, that the feeling of pain 
arises from the thwarting of the ends 
which the self sets before it as ends 
which it would realise. If this is so, then 
not knowledge but self-activity must be 
the fundamental educational category ; 
and while paying attention to the means 
by which our various ends are realised, 
we shall consider the ends and their 
nature to be of fundamental importance. 

The same difficulty in the Herbartian 
theory is brought out if we consider his 
account of Attention. This is explained 
as a process due wholly to the interaction 
of presentations, and the teleological 


aspect of the attention process fails to 
receive any notice. According to Herbart, 
when we say that we have directed our 
attention to an idea, e.g. to b, what has 
happened is merely that b through an in- 
crease in its own strength, due either 
to the intensity of the physiological 
stimulus or to its alliance with other 
presentations, has raised itself into con- 
sciousness above the rest of the other 
presentates, i.e. it has either through its 
original or derived intensity forced its 
way into the focus of consciousness and 
expelled the previous occupant. That is, 
here again attention is a function of the 
ideas and not a function of the self or 
subject. But when we attend to an ob- 
ject we do not desire thereby to increase 
its presentative effect, the heightening of 
its mere intensity in consciousness ; but 
what we seek is a growth in clearness, in 
distinctness, and this, as Lotze points out, 
rests in all cases on the perception of the 
relations which exist between its individual 
constituents. That is to say, attention 
has a teleological aspect ; it is motived \ 
by the end of clearly understanding the > 
object presented. Even when a presen- 


tation succeeds in entering the focus of 
consciousness through its own intensity, 
whether original or due to its connection 
with the existing contents of conscious- 
ness, it fails to receive attention, unless 
we make attention equivalent to mere 
awareness, or being conscious generally. 
It only becomes attended to when there 
is aroused the active attitude of the sub- 
ject. As Mr. Bradley points out : " We 
may will and may attend actively, because 
we have first of all been compelled to 
* attend ' passively, because we have 
somehow been impressed or laid hold of 
by an idea. And if attention is used in 
this improper sense, we often will because 
we have attended, and do not attend in 
the least because we will." * On the Her- 
bartian theory we have mere arrestment, 
mere detention, of the subject, and accord- 
ing to the resultant effect of this deten- 
tion the subject acts in this or in that 
way. From the well-known fact that 
ideas often lay hold of us in this passive 
way — entering the focus of conscious- 
ness through the intensity of the original 

1 Mind, No. 41 (new series), p. 29 : see also Laurie's 
" Institutes of Education," Lecture XVII. 


presentations or through alliance with 
others — it is assumed that this is not 
only true in all cases of attention but is 
a complete explanation of the process. 
But active attention is present and only 
present wherever an end, external or in- 
ternal, practical, imaginative, or theoretical, 
involves in and for its realisation the main- 
tenance and support of an ideal object 
before me and in me. 1 I wish to solve 
a problem or to construct a diagram. 
The end desired forces me to attend to 
and keep in consciousness the idea of the 
means necessary for the realisation of the 
particular end. It is not a function of the 
ideas, but of the self or will, and involves 
the realisation of an end or purpose in, 
by, and for the satisfaction of the self, 
or, as Mr. Bradley has insisted, we have 
only active attention when there is the 
realisation of an idea with which the self 
identifies itself. But while wishing clearly 
to distinguish between active and passive 
attention, or between mere detention and 
attention, I have no desire to minimise 
the importance of the truth of the Her- 
bartian doctrine that in education we 

1 Cf.Mind, No. 41 (new series), p. 8. 


must endeavour to present our subject so 
as to arouse this passive attention or pre- 
occupation ; but let me add that we have 
not begun the work of education, either in 
our pupils or in ourselves, until we have 
passed beyond this stage, and evoked the 
active attention of the child. And this is 
not effected merely by presenting the new 
ideas in such a manner that their entrance 
into the focus of consciousness may be 
effected in the easiest manner possible. 
However, in the insistence that any and 
every attention-process can only be main- 
tained in so far as there is involved the 
operation or evolution of a system of 
ideas, or, in Herbartian phraseology, in 
so far as an apperceptive process is set 
up in the mind, the theory points out an 
undeniable truth for the guidance of the 
teacher. The duration of the process 
depends upon this factor ; but the error 
lies in supposing that the attention-pro- 
cesses are mechanically effected in the 
soul — that they arise and are solely to 
be explained by the reaction set up be- 
tween particular ideas or systems of ideas 
and other systems. On the contrary, it 
must be maintained that in every case 


of active attention there is present an 
end or purpose, theoretical or practical, 
and that the idea or purpose is the 
active agent in determining the evolution 
of the apperceptive system, and the in- 
tensity of the attention-process depends 
upon the intensity with which we seek 
to realise any particular end. If neglect 
of the means by which attention operates 
is to be avoided, so in a similar manner 
we must not forget that the mere account 
of the means is not sufficient, and that, as 
Professor Mlinsterberg has so strongly in- 
sisted, " carelessness in the teleological part 
makes the synthesis just as dilettantic 
and useless as ignorance about the causal 
material." l We must fully grasp that here, </ 
as in other parts of the system, Herbart 
gives us a mere mechanical account of 
the mental life, and that such a mechani- 
cal interpretation of attention is empty 
and unmeaning apart from a know- 
ledge of the ends which the will or self 
seeks to realise. If we look at the # 
mental life from the point of view of the 
individual appercipient, and not from the 
outside in this abstract way, we shall find 

1 Cf. Miinsterberg's "Psychology and Life," p. 139. 


that it is the ends which the individual 
seeks to realise which govern and control. 
There is no mere mechanical stream of 
consciousness, but everywhere we find a 
Self active in the determination of mental 

The subject of attention is important 
in the theory of Herbart, for when his 
account of that factor in the mental life 
is clearly understood, it enables us to 
comprehend more clearly the doctrines of 
apperception and of interest, which are 
his fundamental educational categories. 

But before explaining and discussing 
these in our next lecture, it may be well 
to answer an objection which may pos- 
sibly arise out of this account of the 
nature of the soul, and especially in our 
account of the doctrine of attention. In 
many Herbartian writers there is a dis- 
tinct tendency to speak with the vulgar 
about the question of attention. That 
is, we have the terms will and attention 
used as if they implied the presence of 
something else than a mere process, 
and the objection which may be urged 
is that some Herbartian writers do pos- 
tulate an Ego or self or will which is 


present throughout the whole process of 

True, some of them do make mention 
of the soul, e.g. Lange and De Garmo, 1 
and remind us that the masses of ideas 
are not to be regarded as active inde- 
pendent existences, but rather as the 
means employed by the soul that knows 
and wills, or they introduce the term 
Will ; apparently for very much the same 
reason as Kant was said to have intro- 
duced the idea of God into his system, 
in order to satisfy the conscience of his 
servant Lampe. But they make no con- 
structive use of the principle : are wholly 
employed in explaining the mechanism, 
and insisting on the ethical and spiritual 
significance of the process of assimilation 
or apperception, as if all that were re- 
quired for the realisation, of the ethical 
and spiritual life were to supply the ap- 
propriate presentations : ex hypothesi the 
presentations do the rest. 

In concluding this lecture let me give 
you an example of this ambiguous use 
of terms. In a well-known work on the 

1 Cf. e.g. Lange's " Apperception " ; De Garmo's " Her- 
bart " (Great Educator Series). 


Herbartian psychology we have the state- 
ment made that " Attention cannot create 
masses ; it can only give masses a chance 
to rise into consciousness." 1 I attend 
to an object, but the attention -process 
can only be started and maintained in 
so far as a system of ideas is aroused 
and operative in the assimilation of the 
new presentate. If, however, we keep 
strictly to the Herbartian theory, we 
must say that attention is only present 
where there is a process, and this and 
nothing else is meant by attention ; 
but when we speak of attention giv- 
ing the masses a chance to rise into 
consciousness we are using attention in 
another sense. The attitude of con- 
sciousness here is one of striving, of 
endeavouring to reach an end. It is 
the teleological aspect of the process 
that is here meant, and this view of at- 
tention is inconsistent with the theory as 
laid down by Herbart. You cannot on 
the one hand have an account of atten- 
tion in which the process is explained as 
throughout externally and mechanically 
determined, and, on the other hand, an 

1 " Herbartian Psychology," Adams, p. 259. 


account of the process which involves the 
element of self-determination. 

And in general you cannot, as some 
Herbartian writers think they are able 
to do, superimpose a theory of the will, 
the self-realisation of whose ends is to be 
of primary importance, upon a theory of 
the mental life which denies all spontaneity 
to the soul, and which shows the mental 
life to be throughout, to its very inmost 
fibre, externally determined. 

As a methodological device you may 
neglect the aspect of self-activity ; but 
you must remember that the results 
reached by looking at the mental life in 
this abstract way are also of the same 
nature, and that, therefore, the advice 
they furnish to the educator must be 
similarly limited in its nature. And be- 
fore you can apply these results to the 
guidance of educational practice, you must 
take into account the nature and value of 
the elements abstracted from, and what 
difference they make in the results when 
they are re-introduced. 




In this lecture I propose to consider the 
meaning and implications of the Herbar- 
tian theory of Apperception, and then to 
pass on to the discussion of Interest, and 
to the explanation which Herbart gives 
of the self. 

Apperception in the Herbartian theory 
is the process by which a presentation- 
mass, or a system of ideas, assimilates with 
relatively unstable groups, or single ideas 
fusing with like and repressing antagonistic 
elements. Or, apperception is the process 
by which individual perceptions, ideas, 
or complexes of ideas, are brought into 
relation to our previously existing system 
of ideas, and assimilating with them are 
thus raised to greater clearness and dis- 
tinctness. There is a difference between 
these two definitions, but they both agree 



in affirming that the process is one of 
assimilation, in which the new is fused and 
incorporated with the old. There is 
nothing new, nothing alarming about the 
doctrine of apperception. Its fundamental 
truth is as old as Plato, and has received 
little fresh illumination in recent times 
from the scores of volumes which have f 
been written about it. It might be passed 
over with little or no comment, were it not 
that the Herbartians conceive of the whole 
of our mental development as capable/ 
of explanation by, and due solely and 
entirely to, this one process ; and as a 
consequence establish their method of 
education upon this single basis. 

Perception may be distinguished from 
Apperception, although the distinction, it 
seems to me, is not absolute, but one 
solely of degree. In perception we are 
simply aware of an object, but in apper- 
ception we become conscious of its signi- 
ficance or meaning, we notice it — and this 
significance varies according to the differ- 
ing mental contents of the persons per- 
ceiving. This truth has been elaborated 
at great length by some of the school, but 
its simple statement is sufficient. It is 


more important to note certain classifica- 
tions of the process. In the first place, 
we have the division into outer and inner 
apperception. In the former case, the 
recently or newly assimilated presentate 
is the resultant of some physiological 
stimulus, i.e. it is given in sensation. In 
the latter case the new presentate is re- 
produced by the internal working of the 
psychological mechanism. And here we 
must suppose that some comparatively 
weak and unstable group of ideas gains 
a temporary advantage over some more 
relatively stable and permanent group, 
and as a consequence is enabled to 
emerge into consciousness, and thus to 
enter into relations of fusion and an- 
tagonism, with the pre-existing group or 
groups. We are all aware of this pheno- 
menon, e.g. some grief, which we are able 
to banish from our minds when we are 
actively engaged in business, finds its 
opportunity when we are freed from the 
absorption of work, and soon enters into 
relationships of antagonism and fusion 
with the thoughts which rise to greet 
and to banish it. Now in our educational 
reference we must keep this fact always in 


mind, that distracting thoughts are ever 
clamouring for entrance into the child's 
consciousness, and that they will find 
harbour there unless his active attention 
to the subject in hand is maintained. But 
by far the most important distinction for us 
is between voluntary and involuntary ap- 
perception. This distinction is based on 
the fact that in some cases the greater 
attracting force is the new presentate, and 
in other cases the presentation-mass with 
which it finally becomes incorporated. As 
we have already indicated, apperception is 
the sole constant condition, and not only 
so, the sole condition of the attention pro- 
cess. You must then clearly understand 
that the distinction between voluntary and 
involuntary apperception is not a distinc- 
tion between a process in which there is 
explicit the idea of an end or purpose to 
be achieved, and one in which there is no 
such explicit idea. Much less are you to 
suppose that this is a distinction between a 
process in which a unitary and central will 
or self is engaged and one in which it is 
not. It is a distinction between two kinds 
of detention — between two forms of passive 
attention. An object may enter the focus 


of consciousness in either of two ways 
— it may by its own inherent strength 
make a connection with some pre-exist- 
ing content, or, through its alliance with 
a pre-existing content, it may receive 
an increase in intensity sufficient to 
bring it into the focus. In the alliance 
the new-comer may or may not be the 
better half, but it must be the one or 
the other, and the nature of the alliance 
depends on the amount of affection for its 
mate which the new-comer brings into the 
union. And even if we grant that the 
apperception-mass identified for the time 
being with the self is the appercipient 
in the process which is termed volun- 
tary, yet the union is conceived as a 
mere mechanical fusion in which the par- 
ticular empirical self exerts the greater 
attracting power. We may fully admit 
the truth which underlies this, and yet 
at the same time object to the mode of 
explanation. But to realise it in this way 
is to see how purely mechanical is the 
explanation given of the whole process. 

Now in considering the doctrine of ap- 
perception we must admit that the process 
is one which is involved in all knowing j 


that it is an aspect from which each and 
every process of knowing can be viewed. 
Whether in identifying or subsuming or 
comparing, there is this process of linking 
new with old — for knowledge grows and 
extends by the operation of the Law of 
Identity. Further, it must be admitted 
that all perception of objects receives signi- 
ficance through the inter-connection with 
previously existing systems of ideas, and 
that the life of each and all of us is 
coloured and determined by the various 
systems of ideas which we have gradu- 
ally formed in the course of our ex- 
perience of the world of men and things. 
The Herbartian theory has laid emphasis 
on, and given us a full and fresher state- 
ment of, the fact, that one of the main 
principles which psychology lends to the 
theory of education as its starting-point is 
that all new knowledge should be a de- 
velopment of previous knowledge, and that 
if a new fact or a new idea is presented 
which fails to find some corresponding link 
in the child's mind, then it fails to be appre- 
hended ; and it must be so connected if our 
teaching is to be successful. In all this we 
have no fault to find. Here again it is not 


the nature of the facts that is in question 
but their explanation. Apperception, like 
l attention, is conceived as a purely mechani- 
<X- leal process effected onthe mind and not 
\ fejLthe mind. And between attention and 
apperception no distinction can be drawn 
on this theory except between the initial 
stages of the process and the process itself. 
Apperception is the condition of attention, 
ss and when realised there is no distinction 
between the two processes. In the Her- 
^ bartian theory we must conceive of the 
mind as an arena in which apperception 
masses are ever contending — ever re- 
uniting amongst themselves. Such a 
mental condition, if ever it is realised at 
all, is realised in those abnormal states in 
which the power of self-control is almost 
entirely lost. In the mind of the drunkard, 
in the mind of the insane, there is often 
realised this ever-seizing hold of the sub- 
ject by this or that idea — this mad play of 
ideas and presentation masses. But in 
the normal case, the apperception pro- 
cesses are but means to an end, and we 
must, at least for educational purposes, 
conceive of the mental life as a process 
directed and controlled by the idea of an 


end or purpose. And just as we saw in 
considering the process of attention, that 
we must clearly distinguish between 
passive attention, in which the subject 
is laid hold of by the impression — in 
which we have mere detention, and 
active attention characterised by the in- 
quiring attitude which the subject takes 
up towards the object. So in like 
manner we must clearly discriminate 
between a merely passive apperception 
process and the process of active ap- 
perception. In the former case, which 
is partially realised in our day-dreaming, 
the subject is carried along the stream 
of consciousness. The interference of the 
subject in the stream is at a minimum, 
and, let me add here, that this is a 
condition which we may produce in the 
minds of our pupils to some extent by 
making our teaching of such a kind that 
the matter is too easily assimilated into the 
child's mind ; it requires then little or no 
effort on the part of the child. We may 
by this procedure make our education 
interesting in the Herbartian sense. We 
may produce an apperceiving machine 
which responds easily and smoothly to the 


call of the teacher, and yet fail to create 
that stable and permanent interest which 
is, or ought to be, the outcome of our 
educational efforts. 

On the other hand, in active apper- 
ception we have present the idea of an 
end or aim which is gradually realised 
by the process. Our ends and purposes 
may be, nay often are, inconsistent with 
each other. But the teleological aspect 
is the more important in our educational 
reference. Not only must we conceive 
of the process as guided by the idea of 
an explicit end or purpose, but we must 
also conceive of the presence throughout 
the whole process of an active self. The 
identifying, subsuming, and comparing 
processes do not effect themselves on the 
mind, but are results of the functioning 
of the self or agent. In other words, we 
must conceive of a synthetic activity of 
the Ego manifested throughout the whole 
process, and by means of its activity bind- 
ing together the mere facts into systems 
according to their quantitative, qualita- 
tive, and causal identities. The present- 
ing of materials in such a way that this 
synthetic process may be best effected is 


only a condition, a necessary condition if 
you will, by which the process can be set 
in operation ; but it is not the process nor 
the essential nature of the process, nor is 
it the essential condition without which 
the process cannot take place. It may 
be present, and yet the activity of the 
child may not be aroused. The essential 
condition lies in the subjective worth 
which the end has for the child. This may 
be something extrinsic to the nature of the 
end itself, or it may fall within the end, and 
therefore be intrinsic to the end or purpose. 
A child's active attention may be directed 
to the understanding of an object by the 
desire of pleasing his teacher, or by a spirit 
of emulation, and in both cases the sub- 
jective cause which sets in operation an 
active apperception process is something 
extrinsic to the end desired, or we may 
have the process set up by the natural 
curiosity of the child to know. In educa- 
tion we must keep in mind the twofold 
nature of the process of knowledge. In 
all knowing there is a "given" produced 
by the working of the psycho-physical 
mechanism, and there is a process of 
active synthetic reconstruction of the 


"given." Education involves this twofold 
process of instructing and training ; — of a 
given and of the elaboration of the given 
through and by the activity of the Ego. 
And you can no more carry on the work 
of Education by neglect of the one factor 
than by neglect of the other. Educa- 
tion implies not merely the storing of 
the mind with knowledge, however care- 
fully prepared for easy assimilation, but 
also the evoking of the active functioning 
of the self. The teacher must fully 
realise this fact if his work is to be 
successful. Knowledge grows and ex- 
tends by the active perception of identi- 
ties amidst differences. We form our 
apperceptive systems by bringing into 
activity the relating identifying function 
of the Ego, and the great aim of our 
educational efforts is to train and develop 
this power. And as, on the one hand, 
the Herbartians lay the emphasis upon 
the one aspect of our mental life, so in 
like manner the extreme advocates of 
the Heuristic method of teaching lay the 
emphasis on the other, but the truth lies 
in neither extreme, but in realising clearly 
the twofold aspect of all intellectual pro- 

\> Ca ° r ■' 

cess. Now in the Herbartian theory- 
there is no place for the synthetic activity 
of the Ego. We have the process con- 
ceived as throughout determined by the 
nature of the ideas themselves — and if 
we are to be in earnest with the doctrine 
that training and discipline form essential 
parts of the educative process, then we 
shall have to reject the Herbartian psy- 
chology as a basis upon which to found 
our educational principles, and realise that 
some other foundation is necessary. And 
here I may take up the contention made 
at the introduction of the series of 
lectures. The Herbartian claims to deal 
with concrete experience, with the actual 
modes by which knowledge develops, and 
asserts that the rational psychologist deals 
with the universal conditions present in 
every mind. But all that seems to be 
seriously meant by such a statement is 
that the Herbartian takes account of the 
fact that apperceptive processes take 
different forms according to the differing 
mental contents of the individual. The 
Herbartian lays stress upon the differ- 
ences between the mental contents while 
the rational psychologist lays emphasis 


on the identity throughout the process, 
and seeks to determine the various 
forms in which this identity manifests 
itself in the development of knowledge. 
And surely the Herbartian admits and 
claims that apperception is a universal 
condition — an unchangeable presupposi- 
tion of the human mind. You cannot 
get along without some kind of bond, 
although you may reduce the bond to 
one single type, and in fact, as we shall 
see in the sequel, the activity of the 
self, nay the very self itself, is reduced 
to, and made identical with, the universal 
condition of psychological relationship in 

In concluding this part of the subject, 
I must emphasise the fact that mere easy 
assimilation of the material, the making 
of school work interesting in this sense 
to the child, is erroneous. The funda- 

. mental educational aim should be to 
-^ 1 arouse the self-activity of the pupil, to 

J call forth the active functioning of the 
Ego ; and let me add here again, this 
cannot be done by the mere presenta- 
tion of the right material. This alone is 
not sufficient. There must be present 


an idea of purpose or end, and it is the 
subjective value of the idea or end 
which is the motive power in setting 
and keeping in active operation every 
attention process. The placing of feeling 
in a secondary and subordinate position 
is responsible for the neglect of this 
factor. The presence of the mere idea 
of end or purpose is not alone suffi- 
cient, it must also have this emotional 

The doctrine of apperception naturally 
leads us next to consider the account of 
interest which is given in the Herbartian 
theory, and since this is the dominating 
category in the method of the school, and 
also occupies an important place in their 
ethical theory, it requires careful consi- 
deration. But, before entering on the 
discussion, it is well to note that no 
word in educational literature is used so 
ambiguously, and with so many varied 
meanings, as this. In the first place, in- 
terest may be applied to, and may mean 
the feeling-tone which is subsequent to 
or accompanies the apperceptive or atten- 
tion process. This feeling may be either 
pleasant or painful. It is painful when 


there is an apperceptive process set up, 
which we would, but cannot, banish from 
the mind. We are drawn, so to speak, 
towards the object against our will. Now, 
in the strict psychological sense, interest 
is simply the feeling-tone which accom- 
panies the process of active attention. It is 
not a coefficient of the process qua process, 
but of the subject self. But, secondly, in- 
terest may be identified with the process by 
which a presentate is easily assimilated into 
a previously existing system, and it is in 
this sense that the word is most frequently 
used by Herbartian writers, and it is this 
which is often implied in the current use of 
the term in educational circles. We are 
to make the acquisition of knowledge an 
easy, pleasant, and agreeable task to the 
child. Everything is to be so prepared 
that it may be easily assimilated, and the 
child is to be relieved as far as possible 
J of the irksomeness of learning. It is quite 
a different thing to say that we ought to 
present our matter so that it can be 
assimilated with the old, and to assert 
that it is the duty of the teacher to make 
the process an easy and agreeable one. 
Again, interest may be used to include 


both the attention-process and the feeling- 
tone which accompanies it. And since 
in the Herbartian theory the feeling- tone 
is a secondary and derived product of the 
apperceptive process, interest comes to be 
identified with apperception. We find in- 
terest used in still another and quite diffe- 
rent sense by Herbartians. When they 
affirm that the aim of education, or rather 
that the only means by which we can 
realise the ethical end of education, is by 
the formation of a many-sided interest, 
what they mean is that we should endea- 
vour to form as many and as varied apper- 
ceptive systems as possible in the mind 
of the child — to give him an ever-widening 
circle of ideas ; for ideas, as we have 
already more than once been told, are of 
primary importance in the building up 
of the mind. Again, there is another 
usage of the term, as when we say that 
a man has various interests or is inte- 
rested in a particular subject, and here 
we mean that on the presentation of any- 
thing connected with the subject active 
interest is likely to be aroused, i.e. an 
active attention-process of a pleasant kind 
is likely to ensue. 



Now what is to be noted is that in 
these different usages each and all apply 
to particular psychological processes : in- 
terest is either identified wholly with the 
process of apperception, or refers merely to 
the feeling-tone accompanying the process, 
or is another name for the result obtained 
by the process, viz. the extending and 
widening of the circle of ideas. That is, 
we are to conceive of interest both as a 
means and as an end : as a method for 
securing attention, and as a result of our 
educational activity. And the contention 
of the Herbartian is, that in the fostering 
of "many-sided interests" we have the 
best guarantee for the future moral life 
of the pupil. "Ina many-sided interest," 
one writer remarks, " the pupil should find 
a moral support and protection against the 
servitude that springs from the rule of 
desire and passion. It should arm him 
against the fitful chances of fortune. It 
should enable him to find a new calling 
when driven from the old. It should ele- 
vate him to a standpoint from which the 
goods and successes of earthly life appear 
as accidental, and above which the moral 


character stands free and sublime." ' Now 
whether this result can be effected by the 
method of the Herbartian is the point in 
question — whether the one kind of interest 
is the right means to the attainment of 
the other ; and this is a matter which will 
require further consideration. 

But besides this psychological account of 
interest, there is the well-known classifica- 
tion of interests into those arising from 
knowledge and those arising from associa- 
tion with others. It is difficult to determine 
on what basis this classification is made. 
But a consideration in some detail of the 
various classes may aid us in the elucida- 
tion of the matter. In the interests arising, 
from Knowledge we have the empirical inte-l 
rest, or the pleasure excited in the mind by « 
new objects and new sources of sensation. 
This, of course, is simply one way in which 
in early life we may succeed in arous- 
ing involuntary apperceptive processes. 
The speculative interest and aesthetic inte- 
rest are the two others mentioned under this 
head. The speculative interest is defined 
as the search into the causal explanation of 
things, and the aesthetic as the pleasure 

1 Kern ; cf. De Garmo, " Herbart," p. 60. 


manifested in the perception of beauty. 
But the objection that may be urged here 
is : How are we to account for the pres- 
ence of these in the Herbartian theory? 
The speculative interest implies a will or 
self directed to the attainment of an end 
for its own sake, and although "interest," 
in the sense of a system of ideas, may be a 
necessary condition for enlightened specu- 
lative interest, it is only a means and not 
the end itself. The desire to know is 
the condition for the creation of a many- 
sided interest, and the latter may be built 
up in the mind and yet not create the 
former, and my contention is that "in- 
terest," in the sense of the easy and 
pleasant assimilation of knowledge, is not 
the right method by which to acquire 
interest in the ethical sense. It is only 
when we have aroused the desire to know 
for its own sake, that we can have the 
speculative interest, and if we leave no 
difficulties, no problems for the child to 
solve, we shall end by destroying that 
interest. Only when we have aroused the 
active attention of the child have we pre- 
sent interest in this teleological sense. 
The same criticism applies to the second 


great division of interests — the sympathetic, 
the social, and the religious. They imply 
ends sought for their own sake. The 
wise following out of those ends implies 
a wide and comprehensive knowledge, but 
the desiring of the end is not the resultant 
of the knowledge. And just as we saw 
in the case of attention and appercep- 
tion, that the teleological aspect involved 
in these processes is neglected in the 
Herbartian theory, so, in like manner, 
the Herbartian doctrine of interest is 
erroneous, because it neglects the teleo- 
logical aspect. It is neglected in the psy- 
chological account of the mental life, which 
teaches us that interest is solely a matter 
of the pleasant and agreeable coming to- 
gether of apperceptive systems. 

Moreover, its ethical and teleological 
account of the various ends and interests 
will not fit in with its psychological ex- 
planation. For example, you must con- 
ceive the speculative interest as due solely 
to the working of an apperceptive process, 
set in motion mechanically by the ap- 
pearance in consciousness of a presentate 
which does not easily assimilate or fuse with 
the operative system of ideas. Strictly 


on Herbartian lines, which admit of only 
one kind of process, you must explain the 
speculative interest as a variety of the 
process, as a case of the one function, as 
a particular and peculiar kind of fusion 
and antagonism. 

In our educational theory we must re- 
ject any doctrine of interest which makes 
it a mere function of the ideas and 
neglects it as a function of the active 
subject. Ideas are the means by which 
interest is evoked, and by means of 
which it works its ends. And we have 
interest in the psychological sense only 
when we are actively employed in the 
practical, imaginative, or theoretical con- 
struction or reconstruction of the material 
supplied by sense, or by the inner work- 
ings of the psychological mechanism ; and 
this again implies the idea of an end active 
and dominant throughout the process, and 
it is in the realisation of the end that the 
phenomenon of interest manifests itself. 
Interest is the mark and presence of self- 
activity in the mental life ; and the motive 
power which drives it on is the value of the 
end, its subjective worth to the individual. 
True, the process only works through 


the medium of ideas, through the active 
operation of a system of ideas, and, until 
there is a system, interest in this con- 
structive sense cannot be present. This 
can be easily verified in our own ex- 
perience. The artist is interested in the 
realisation of the end of depicting upon 
the canvas the ideal which he conceives ; 
the child in his working with a set of 
picture blocks is interested in the success- 
ful issue of piecing them together. The 
parts must fit in both cases, but this is 
only the means, a necessary means, the 
mechanism by which interest works, and 
not the interest itself. The teacher may 
furnish us with all the materials for the 
process of construction, but, unless we feel 
the value of realising the end, the process of 
active attention will never be aroused. And 
to emphasise this position more clearly, let 
me give you an example from another 
sphere. It is not because a man may have 
a great knowledge of philosophy and of 
philosophical theories that he has an interest 
in that subject. The knowledge may be 
there and not the interest. It is because 
certain problems, certain questions, demand 
an answer for his soul's satisfaction that 


interest arises. Interest creates the de- 
sire for knowledge, and not knowledge 

It is then the feeling-tone which accom- 
panies the process of active attention which 
is the characteristic mark of the presence 
of interest in the psychological sense. 
Whenever active attention is absent, in- 
terest is absent ; and what we have to 
try and not confuse is the mechanism by 
which interest manifests itself, and the 
end to which it is directed. 

Ethically, our classification of inte- 
rests falls into two main classes — indirect 
interest and direct interest. In indirect 
interest we seek an end not for its own 
sake, but for the sake of something else. 
We may acquire knowledge, and thus create 
a many-sided interest in the Herbartian 
sense, because we wish to pass an exa- 
mination, or to gain a prize, or to stand 
well in the estimation of our compeers, or 
to gain a living ; and in all these cases 
the end desired may fall outside of the 
object desired. In these instances the 
creation of knowledge is not necessarily 
a means for the creation of interest in its 
strictly ethical signification. On the other 


hand, we have direct interest when there 
is no object desired beyond the thing 
itself, or rather, to avoid misapprehension, 
when the object desired is primary and 
fundamental, and not secondary and de- 
rivative. Even the mechanic may desire 
to know primarily and fundamentally for 
the sake of knowing, and only secondarily \ 
for the sake of earning a living. The j 
particular sphere of knowledge, the parti- 
cular object may interest for its own sake 
— it is the one way in which the self seeks 
its realisation, its satisfaction. The in- 
terest is in the problem and its solution, 
not in the thing to which it is a means. 
It is the having interest in this sense \ 
that has throughout the ages been the 
driving force of the world. It is this that 
spurs on the reformer ; it is this that 
cheers and supports the worker in every 
sphere of action who works for the sake 
of the work ; and in each and every case 
this interest is not a function of the ideas 
or knowledge of the particular subject, 
but derives its working force from the 
subjective worth of the end desired. 
This subjective worth may be objectively 
wrong, as e.g. in the case of the fanatic ; 


but without its presence there will not 
be, and cannot be, interest in the true 
sense of seeking an end for its own 

In education, however, we must rely to 
a great extent upon the working of indirect 
interest. By indirect means we strive to 
arouse the active attention of the child, 
but the aim of all good teaching should be 
to make less and less use of these means. 
Indirect interest accomplishes its end and 
aim only when it passes into direct interest. 
We may begin the study of a subject, or 
engage in a particular pursuit, for the sake 
of some other end than the subject or 
pursuit itself, but we shall succeed in 
attaining our result of founding a per- 
manent and stable interest only when we 
have been successful in establishing some 
end, theoretical or practical, which is fol- 
lowed out for its own sake. Knowledge, 
or many-sided interest, in the Herbar- 
tian sense, is a means, a necessary means, 
for the wise following out of these ends 
whatever they may be, high or low, base 
or ignoble, but the real active agent in 
the futherance and pursuit of the end 
is the more or less stable value or worth 


which the end has, or seems to have, for 
the self-realisation of the life of the parti- 
cular individual. 

On the contrary, interest in the Herbal 
tian sense is actually present or aroused 
when a process of assimilation or apper- 
ception is in active operation, and accord- 
ing to this theory two things are necessary 
for the successful evoking of the process : 
(1) a system of ideas to which the new idea 
can be incorporated ; and (2) the presenta- 
tion of the new in such a manner that this 
incorporation may be easily and readily 
effected. Given these two conditions, the 
process is conceived as taking place with- 
out the activity of the Ego or self. In 
the theory laid down in these lectures, it 
is maintained that, while these two con- 
ditions are necessary, interest is present 
only when we have active attention, and 
is the mark or index of the activity of the 
self, i.e. we have interest present only 
when we have a process of active recon- 
struction, theoretical, imaginative, or prac- 
tical, of the data supplied by means of 
the psycho-physical organism. In order 
that this may be evoked, there must be 
present the idea of an end or purpose, and 


this end or purpose is active and operative 
because of its emotional value, tempor- 
ary or permanent, to the individual self. 
In other words, interest is not the mere 
mechanical result of the easy coming 
together of a presentate and an appercep- 
tive system. It is the feeling-tone which 
accompanies the process of active atten- 
tion ; it is the index or mark which accom- 
panies the active realisation of an end or 
idea in, by, and for the satisfaction of 
the self. And the chief thing to note 
is, that unless the end appeals by its 
emotional worth to the self, the process 
of active attention and interest will not 
be evoked. 

Again, many-sided interest in the Her- 
bartian theory means the formation of 
many and varied apperceptive systems, 
and the contention is that this is the only 
or chief condition for the formation of 
permanent or stable interests. On the 
contrary, we maintain that while know- 
ledge is a means to the wise following 
out of any end, the permanency and sta- 
bility of interest depend upon the stable 
worth or value which the end or ends 
have for the realisation of the particular 


life. Knowledge is a function of the 
end, the end is not a function of the 

Further, " interests" imply a subject or 
self as their bearer ; they exist only as the 
interests of a self and not as a mere 
collection of systems of ideas. What ac- 
count does Herbart give of the Self, of the 
permanent subject to which each and 
every "interest" must belong; or, in Her- 
bartian terms, what is the nature of the 
presentation-mass which is appercipient, or 
at least capable of being so to every pre- 
sentation? The self or Ego has three 
characteristic marks: (i) It is the centre 
to which all experience is referred ; (2) It 
is somehow permanent and one throughout 
the whole process ; (3) It is aware of 
itself and of all else. Now, the problem 
for Herbart is to determine the nature 
of the apperceptive system which has 
these three characteristic marks. In early 
life the body-complex is the more or less 
permanent centre to which the various 
experiences are referred ; but as we pro- 
gress in mental development, other systems 
of ideas, and in particular those connected 
with our inner world of emotions and feel- 


ings, displace the body from its position 
of honour ; but these are not able to satisfy 
the required condition of being the apperci- 
pient in all apperception. The only thing 
which is permanent and identical through- 
out the whole Herbartian process of mental 
development is the fact of associative or 
apperceptive function. Individual presen- 
tations, individual systems, may change 
and alter their character, but the one 
thing constant throughout the process is 
the assimilative function — " the inter- 
connection of presentations which is im- 
plied in their union in one consciousness ; " 
and in so far as the self becomes aware 
of this ever-constant function, it may be 
said to be aware of itself, and the unity of 
consciousness becomes an object of con- 
sciousness. Such a view need scarcely 
be criticised. If we start with elementary 
ideas and only one kind of process, there 
can, of course, be no other result. But we 
may point out that the self as so con- 
ceived is but a mere general and abstract 
name for assimilative or apperceptive 
function in general, and that an apper- 
ceptive system, in which it is possible 
for every constituent element to change 


and which yet remains the same system on 
account of this bare identity of function, is 
a myth and a fiction. Indeed, if we are to 
take such a conception seriously, then there 
can be no difference between particular 
selves, for we, one and all, are mere 
machines ; poor even then, for we can only 
perform the one function, the ever and 
never-ceasing connecting of presentate 
with presentate. And there can be no 
other result so long as we endeavour to 
frame our explanation of the mental life 
upon the analogy of physical mechanics, 
and to construe "the perfectly unique 
sphere of mental life after a pattern foreign 
to it." 

It is obvious that in education such a 
theory leads logically to a conceiving of 
the process of education as a mere 
mechanical building up of knowledge ; 
to the idea that knowledge is an end in 
itself, and not a means for the realisa- 
tion of the ends of life ; to the neglect of 
the fact that the unity of the mental life 
is a unity of purpose — a teleological and 
not a mere mechanical unity, and that we 
can succeed only in so far as we bind 
together the various aims and purposes of 


life to the realisation of the one compre- 
hensive ethical aim. The unity of the 
self is not an abstract and mechanical 
unity, but a concrete and teleological 



Having pointed out the main principles 
of the Herbartian psychology, and having 
in a more or less inadequate way indi- 
cated their bearings on educational theory 
and educational practice, let us now con- 
sider the more important elements of the 
Herbartian Ethic. It may be asked why 
the discussion of the end of education, 
as set forth by Herbart, should follow 
and not precede the discussion of his 
psychology. And the answer is that his 
ethical theory is a subordinate part of the 
wider psychological theory, and that with- 
out a knowledge of the latter it is im- 
possible to understand the former. But 
before doing so, let me mention that 
Herbart, like most modern educationalists, 
strongly insists upon the fact that the end 
of education is ethical. I am afraid that 
this is often maintained in theory but for- 



gotten in practice. But no one has urged 
more keenly or more vigorously than 
Herbart that "the one and the whole 
work of education " is morality ; and he 
also, as it seems to me rightly, extends 
the conception to include more than mere 
goodness. But for us, meanwhile, the 
chief thing of importance is to try to 
understand clearly what is implied in the 
use of the term. Does the explanation 
of the moral life given by the Herbartian 
take into account the whole of the facts, 
or does it tend to emphasise one particular 
aspect to the neglect of others ? And what 
I shall endeavour to show in the present 
lecture is that the Herbartian doctrine 
of morality is simply the Socratic doctrine, 
that virtue is knowledge, dressed up in 
a new garb and explained in a less satis- 
factory manner. Looked at from another 
aspect, the theory of virtue reduces itself to 
a species of aesthetic intuitionism, which, 
like the intuitionism of our earlier Scottish 
philosophy, is of a purely formal nature, 
and is unable to give us definite guidance 
except in a purely abstract manner. Like 
every species of intuitionism, it has the 
defect that its principles must be taken 


to be of equal value under all possible 
circumstances ; for we cannot, on such a 
theory, have a governing principle which 
determines the relative value of each with- 
out giving up the theory. Again we shall 
see that it is an attempt to found ethics on J 
a psychological basis, and that basis a de- f 
terministic and fatalistic one. This point 
is to be particularly insisted on, because 
Herbart himself and many of his followers 
would have us believe that in this theory 
we escape, on the one hand, that theory 
of the moral life which regards any change 
as possible, and, on the other hand, that 
which regards as impossible all changes 
not arising out of pre-existing mental con- 
tents: i.e. the theory is supposed to mediate 
between a mere indeterministic account 
of the moral life and a deterministic. 
Finally, we shall see that virtue in the 
Herbartian theory may be anything at all ; 
and, in the words of a recent writer, the 
one, only, and great moral rule is, "Know 
what you want, and see that you get it." 
Or as Herbart himself says, in terms 
reminiscent of our new English Hegelian 
school, 1 " Each individual in his own way 

1 Cf. eg. Taylor's " Problem of Conduct" 


seeks consistency. The ambitious man 
and the egoist complete themselves in 
victory over the better traits of individu- 
ality. The hero of vice and the hero of 
virtue alike complete themselves in vic- 
tory over self." 1 In the Herbartian theory 
the sole test of "betterness" is the width 
and inner consistency of the active and 
dominant apperceptive system. The only 
sin is that of weakness, and weakness is 

The Herbartian ethic is, on its negative 
side, opposed to the Kantian doctrine of a 
transcendental will, or a will which is above 
and independent of every particular im- 
pulse and desire. The psychology and 
ethic of Herbart is the swing back from 
the transcendental psychology and tran- 
scendental ethic of Kant. The latter 
had insisted on the activity of the Ego 
and its synthetic unities, the categories, in 
the construction or reconstruction of ex- 
perience, and had declared that the only 
moral act was that which was freed from 
every trace of the nature of the empirical 
self and motived only by the pure ego. 
Herbart, on the other hand, finds not only 

1 " Science of Education " (trans, by Felkin), p. 118. 


the materials of knowledge, but the prin- 
ciple of unity in the nature of the particular 
ideas. The ideas being given, and on the 
hypothesis of these ideas being the centres 
of forces, everything can be explained with- 
out reference to the Ego or its synthetic 
activity. In a similar manner, ethical con- 
duct can be explained from a survey of the 
empirical facts, and from noting certain 
relations that come to pass between the 
apperceiving mass, which for the time is 
identified with the self, and other apper- 
ceived masses. Now we may admit that the 
Kantian way of looking at the moral life, 
and, in particular, the doctrine of a tran- 
scendental will which sits aloft and descends 
upon and identifies itself with this or that 
particular motive, for no obvious reason, 
is erroneous, and further, that such a 
conception is of no use in the work of 
education. For as Herbart strongly urges, 
if such a will can interfere, without our 
knowledge and without our interposition, 
in the work of building up the mind, then 
the task of the educator ceases to have 
that vigour which it has when he becomes 
aware that his work counts for much 
in the development of the pupil's mind. 


And although the tendency of the Her- 
bartian theory is to exaggerate the im- 
portance of the teacher in the work of 
education, yet this is an error which leans 
to virtue's side. 

In the second place, the ethic of Her- 
bart is opposed to that of Kant in another 
way. Kant had emphasised and made 
supreme the ascetic or negative aspect of 
the moral life. For Kant freedom means, 
in one aspect at least, freedom from the 
mere life of the senses, and to be fully 
free in this sense would be not to be at 
all. In education this leads us to think 
that the giving of mere negative com- 
mands is the principal part in the work 
of Moral Education. Herbart, on the 
other hand, insists on the positive aspect 
of virtue ; it is not a mere not - doing 
but a doing ; and his chief insistence is 
that it is a knowledge of the particular 
acts of right and wrong which is of im- 
portance in education, and that know- 
ledge of what is right and wrong is of 
primary importance. 

All action arises from and springs out 
of the circle of ideas, or as "our own 
Locke " puts it in his quainter and truer 


way, "The man which is the agent deter- 
mines himself to this or that voluntary 
action upon some precedent knowledge, 
or appearance of knowledge, in the under- 
standing. The understanding, with such 
light as it has, well or ill-informed, con- 
stantly leads." And this truth, for it is 
a truth, that all action springs from the 
circle of ideas, is fundamental in the Her- 
bartian theory ; but the fallacy, as we shall 
see, is in supposing that since action 
is idea -motor action, this is all and of 
supreme importance. 

Coming to the details of the ethical 
system, we must first note that, for Her- 
bart, ethics is a subordinate branch of 
the wider science of aesthetics. In such 
a science we have an account given 
of the directly perceived harmonies that 
exist in nature and in art. Now ethical 
laws are perceptions of the harmonies 
existing between volitional relations; and 
Herbart enumerates five such aesthetic 
intuitions or direct perceptions of har- 
monious will-relations. 

The first of these moral ideas is that 
of inner freedom, and this arises from 
the satisfaction or pleasure felt in the 


harmony between a projected action and 
our judgment upon it. That is, from the 
psychological standpoint we must con- 
ceive of a harmony between the apper- 
ception mass with which our moral selves 
are identified and the idea of the pro- 
jected action as it appears to the con- 
sciousness of the individual. In per- 
forming such an action we feel that we 
are acting conscientiously, and that the 
act is our own. As an account of psy- 
chological freedom this is correct, and it 
is important in education that we should 
aim at making our pupils act always in 
accordance with their ideas of what is 
right. If they err, then it is the duty 
of the educator to correct and widen 
the child's ideas of right and wrong, and 
so lead him to see the erroneousness of 
his previous standpoint. But it is well 
to note that the guidance furnished by 
this rule is purely formal, and may be- 
long equally to what we should call an 
immoral as to a moral act. This psy- 
chological or subjective freedom is the 
old intuitionalist doctrine, that we should 
always act in accordance with the dic- 
tates of our conscience. And from such 


a purely formal and subjective self-con- 
sciousness bitter waters are likely to 
flow as well as sweet. The subjective 
will, claiming the right to act in accord- 
ance with its insight into what is right, 
may open the door to hypocrisy, to 
caprice, to the performance of evil, and 
may claim even that evil is its good. And 
more generally, in the abstract way in 
which the principle is arrived at in the 
Herbartian theory, it is difficult to distin- 
guish between purely moral action and 
any class of action in which the means 
are perfectly adjusted for the realisation 
of an end, whatever the nature of the 
end may be. 

But in the second moral idea, Herbart 
endeavours to get beyond this bare for- 
mality, and to emphasise that insight is 
also necessary for right moral activity ; but 
here again we shall see that the insight is 
of a purely subjective character, and that 
this is inevitable so long as we attempt 
to found our ethical convictions upon a 
purely psychological or subjective basis. 
It is somewhat difficult to understand this 
second moral idea of Herbart's, owing to 
the mathematical way in which he states 


it. The idea is that of " perfection" or 
"greatness" or "strength of character." 
Of any two actions, that which is greater 
in extent, i.e. in the multiplicity of the 
results attained as the effect of the voli- 
tion, in the concentration or combination 
of these results to one total end, and in 
the energy or intension with which the 
volition is carried out, over another less 
in magnitude as regards these three di- 
mensions, yields the greater aesthetic satis- 
faction, and is on that account of greater 
moral worth. In simpler language, the 
enlightened man who carefully calculates 
all the possible results of his projected 
volition and then carries it out with all 
the energy at his disposal, is the morally 
better man. It is the contention of Her- 
bart here, as throughout his moral theory, 
that knowledge is of primary importance 
in the moral life, and that the moral man 
is the man whose action springs from an 
apperceptive system wide in extent, in- 
ternally coherent in its organisation, and 
which on that account is dominant in the 
direction of his conduct. Napoleon and 
Bacon are sometimes put forward as ex- 
amples in the concrete of persons who 


possessed this characteristic of "great- 
ness" or "strength of character." But 
the conception may equally be applied to 
the life and conduct of the successful 
swindler and cracksman. The rule is 
purely formal. Because your morality 
cannot be an enlightened morality with- 
out a full and complete knowledge of the 
means and of the probable consequences 
likely to ensue, or, more generally, because 
you cannot follow any end intelligently 
without a full knowledge of the means 
necessary for its realisation, therefore 
virtue is knowledge ; and if not know- 
ledge, then greatness, and greatness is 
simply knowledge considered in its ex- 
tent and intent or internal coherency. 

But if it is true, as Herbart so strongly 
insists upon, that the stupid man cannot 
be virtuous in the sense that his con- 
duct can never be enlightened, it is 
no less true that mere enlightenment is 
not in itself virtue. And experience 
daily proves that mere enlightenment or 
mere culture is not virtue nor the effec- 
tive condition of virtue. Virtue is not 
virtue irrespective of the nature of the 
ends which the will or self seeks to realise ; 


and while knowledge is a means to the 
enlightened pursuit of these ends, it is 
only a means and not the end itself. 
And to the insistence on the supremacy 
of knowledge, and on the subordinate 
part which feeling and emotion play in 
the direction of our conduct, is to be 
traced the fundamental fallacy of the 
Herbartian school. 

Against the criticism of Herbart, it has 
been more than once advanced that we 
must .take into account the other moral 
ideas, and that to lay the emphasis on 
the two already named ideas is to give 
a biassed and one-sided account of the 
theory ; for Herbart also laid down, that 
we should aim at Benevolence, at Justice, 
at Equity. But these ideas, no less than 
the two which are placed in the forefront, 
are formal. We are still in the region of 
subjective morality, still at the mercy of 
the individual conscience ; for to take 
Benevolence as an example, it is defined 
as the perception of the harmony between 
my projected volition and the imagined or 
supposed will of another. But the real 
question — the question of objective Bene- 
volence — is as to the real will of another, 


and not to what I suppose or imagine 
will be the effect of the reciprocity be- 
tween my will and the real will of another. 
If I imagine that such and such an act 
will be pleasing to another, then this is 
said to guarantee its Tightness. If we 
begin in this subjective way, then there 
can be no passage to a purely objective 
standard of morality. Inner harmony, 
inner satisfaction, become the only test 
of right conduct. The other two ideas 
are of a similar nature ; and at this time 
of day there is no need to slay the 
already slain, and to argue against an 
aesthetic intuitionism which results in 
making ethical conduct a matter of purely 
subjective feeling, guaranteed only by the 
harmony between an apperceptive system, 
which the individual identifies with his 
moral self, and a projected volition. Like 
Mill's conscience, which he declared to 
be the ultimate sanction of conduct, and 
which also at the same time varies with 
the varying training and environment of 
the individual, so in like manner the 
apperceptive system, which functions in 
each of us, as our moral conscience and./ 
our moral self, may be, on the Herbartian 


theory, anything we please. The soul is 
nothing ; we count for nothing in the pro- 
cess of development, but are wholly de- 
termined by the nature of our environment 
and by our education. The child is mere 
potter's clay in the hands of the teacher. 
His conscience, his moral ideal, all that he 
shall ever become or hope to become lies 
in our hands; for when he passes from under 
our charge, his intellectual cast, his moral 
bent, has already received that form and 
shape which determines all the succeeding 
course of his life. We may be free at our 
birth, but, from the moment we open our 
eyes and become aware of the world in 
which we live, our whole after-life is in- 
evitably determined, and thereafter we are 
at the mercy of our environment, and 
become the mere sport of circumstances. 

" Heaven lies about us in our infancy ! 
Shades of the prison-house begin to close 

Upon the growing Boy, 
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows 

He sees it in his joy : 
The Youth, who daily farther from the east 
Must travel, still is Nature's priest, 

And by the vision splendid 

Is on his way attended ; 
At length the Man perceives it die away, 
And fade into the light of common day." 


And in like manner in the Herbartian 
theory we must conceive of our lives as 
being gradually hedged in and limited by 
the circle of ideas, with the difference that 
the light has been but an illusion through- 
out. The more our action springs from 
the circle of thought the more determined 
we are ; and since the whole process is 
one in which we have no part, we can 
hardly be held responsible, and if blame 
there be, it must rest upon our educators, 
who have not framed and selected the 
appropriate environment, but have left 
us at the mercy of influences of an evil 

The tendency to make knowledge of 
primary importance in the work of edu- 
cation, to look upon mere instruction, 
the ever widening of the circle of ideas 
as the effective agent in the guidance 
and determination of conduct, is mani- 
fested in the development of the educa- 
tional theory. The ethical ideas which 
have to do with our relations to others 
become less and less important, and what 
is now placed in the forefront is the second 
idea. "In the work of education," writes 


Herbart, "the foremost of all other ideas, 
not as of greater importance, but because 
it is continually applicable, is the idea of 
perfection." And the reason for placing it 
in such a prominent position is obvious, 
for " perfection " is simply another name for 
many-sided interest, for a wide circle of 
ideas. Morality is to be measured by 
the width and depth and height of our 
knowledge about morality. In other 
words, the Herbartian theory of virtue 
is simply the Socratic doctrine that virtue 
is knowledge stated in terms of a me- 
chanical psychology. It is assumed that 
the only thing necessary for moral action 
is to know what is moral, and since feeling 
is a subordinate result of knowledge, our 
emotional life is wholly guided, directed, 
and dependent on our knowledge, and the 
relations between its different parts. 

We may readily admit that knowledge, 
or insight into what is right, is an essential 
element in or condition of virtue, and at 
the same time deny that it is the only 
thing to be taken account of in the train- 
ing up of the pupil. We must again insist 
that it is the teleological aspect of conduct 


that is important in education, and for this 
aspect there is no place in the Herbartian 
theory. Education is the training up of- 
the child to act in accordance with an 
ideal of right, and this ideal, whatever it 
may be, high or low, must make its ap- 
peal to the emotional side of his nature, 
otherwise it will remain ineffective. Cha- , 
racter-making is not will-building in the 
sense of building up certain apperception 
masses which act of themselves (and this 
is what will-building means in the theory 
of Herbart). It is the training up of the 
child to act always in accordance with 
his ideal of what is right. Knowledge or 
insight is necessary, here as elsewhere, 
for well-acting, but it is the means and 
not the end. And just as we become pro- 
ficient in the arts not by knowing about 
the particular subject but by practice, so 
likewise virtue is the result of activity 
guided, directed, and controlled by the 
ideal of an end or purpose. 

A recent advocate of Herbartianism, with 
more zeal than philosophical knowledge, 
declares that " those persons who hold \ 
with the Greeks that self-development, 
culture, vigour of character are essential 



elements in virtue will warmly welcome 
Herbartianism ; " x and those, on the other 
hand, who take an ascetic view of life 
will as warmly reject it. But a con- 
ception of life and mental development 
such as that of Herbart's is altogether 
foreign to the Greek way of thinking. 
How can we speak of self-development if 
there is no self throughout the process, if 
the self, as we have seen, has been re- 
duced to a mere abstraction, to a mere 
name for the repetition of an identical 
function. Culture, no doubt, is an element 
in the Greek conception of virtue, but 
it is a culture won by the energy and 
direction of the individual self. It is not 
something poured into us, but won by the 
sweat of our brow, by the labour of our 
own hands. And between the two ex- 
tremes of a purely determined life and 
a purely undetermined, there is the theory 
which maintains that our life is self- 
determined, and that it is this self-deter- 
mined life which should be the end and 
aim of our educational efforts. 

Our aim in education is to train up our 
pupils in such a way that from the stage 

1 Cf. u The Student's Herbart," Introduction. 


of mere obedience to external authority 
they shall pass to the stage of self-de- 
termination ; guiding their conduct not 
merely in the practical, but also in the 
theoretical affairs of life, by a self-imposed 
ideal ; and to the attainment of this end 
we must throughout the whole process 
evoke the self-activity of the child. No 
mere appeal to the head, no mere stuff- 
ing of the child with knowledge, with 
ideas of what is right or wrong, will 
suffice to produce the result. He must 
be habituated to act in accordance with 
an ideal of what is right. The ideal may 
be, nay, must be at first, an externally 
imposed ideal ; but our ethical result is 
attained in education only in so far as the 
ideal gradually loses its character of mere 
externality, and becomes an internal and 
self-imposed ideal. And we children of 
a larger growth have also need to realise 
that all ethical and political obligation is 
essentially of the same nature. All gov- 
ernment which is ethical is self-govern- 
ment — government of our lower selves by 
our higher. 

Not onlydoes the Herbartian theory tend 
to identify virtue with culture, but in its 



denial of a self that is active throughout the 
process of knowing and doing, it explains 
away personality and moral responsibility, 
and with these, virtue itself is explained 
away. For if we are nothing but ever- 
changing apperceptive systems which 
mutually act, react, and cause by their 
interaction internal changes in us which, 
according to their nature and direction, 
may manifest themselves in outward action, 
and if the identity throughout the whole 
process is nothing but the bare and empty 
identity of apperceptive or associative 
function, then even if our lives become 
moral and prudential, or immoral and in- 
consistent, we cannot be held responsible. 
As we can hardly attribute responsibility 
to mere apperceptive systems, personality 
becomes a myth and a fiction. The psy- 
chological agents in the drama of human 
life are nothing but the ideas themselves, 
and the soul, the will, the character are 
nothing but general names for the ideas, 
or for the movements amongst these ideas. 
And with Hume we must think of the soul 
as " a kind of theatre where several percep- 
tions successively make their appearance, 
pass, repass, glide away, and mingle in an 


infinite variety of postures and situations." 
If in our educational work we keep strictly 
to the tenets of the Herbartian theory, we 
shall cease blaming the child for this or 
that fault (as we are so prone to do through 
want of that insight furnished by this philo- 
sophy alone), and shall look upon him 
rather as a piece of apparatus, an imperfect 
organisation of apperceptive systems, which 
we must endeavour to patch up. This 
conception of moral evil as a form of 
disease or an imperfection for which the 
individual is in no way responsible, is a 
familiar one in our home-bred utilitarian 
philosophy, but it also belongs to the Her- 
bartian conception of the human mind and 
its method of development. An eclectic u 
Herbartian educationalist — the breed, I 
may parenthetically remark, which flour- 
ishes most abundantly in our own country 
— has lately told us that the criminal, 
the abnormal, the defective, and the insane 
are all on the same footing as regards 
education as the child. 1 And since we 
are all more or less defective, he might 
have added that we are all in the same 

1 Findlay, " Principles of Class Teaching," p. 4. 


condition, and that the difference between 
each and all of us is simply a difference in 
the extent and degree of complexity of 
our systems of ideas. Mechanical con- 
sistency is the only test of virtue or of 
vice. The vicious man is a man with 
loosely arranged and narrow apperception 
masses. You may condemn him on the 
same grounds as you would condemn a 
badly constructed machine, but on no 
other. He may be either a useless bolt 
in the social machine, or a fly-wheel which 
occasionally gets out of order and hinders 
its effective working, but that is all ; 
you must attach your blame to the right 
centre of responsibility, and that must 
be to the power which manifests itself 
in the universe. The work of the edu- 
cator on such a theory consists in the 
strengthening or rectifying of the opera- 
tive and active apperception masses, and 
in nothing else. You may add here, 
endeavour to substitute there, but this 
is your whole function, and there is 
nothing else that you can do. Such a 
conception of course leads, not only in the 
smaller society of the school but also in 


the larger society of the State, to the » / 
theory that punishment is justifiable only | 
when its sole end is that of the reformation 
of the ill-doer. No account is taken of 
the fact that the child and the criminal 
can deliberately and with full intent set 
up their private wills against the common 
or moral will of the community, that their 
action, if allowed to go on unchecked 
and unpunished, would tend to the dis- 
solution of society, and that punishment 
in its essence is simply evil inflicted for 
evil done. 

Again, Herbartianism fails to explain, or 
explains away, individuality ; for though 
there is, in some Herbartian circles, much / v 
talk about individuality, and of the duty of, 
the teacher carefully to take into account* 
this factor in his work, there is logically 
no place for it in the system. According 
to this theory, we all are initially equal at 
birth, and the differences among us are 
not nine-tenths, as Locke said, but wholly 
due to our education and environment ; for 
the educational influences, in strict Her- 
bartian terms, are simply specially arranged 
and selected environments, and the success 
of our educational efforts depends wholly 


on the care with which we environ the 
child from infancy onwards. 

But however we may neglect indivi- 
duality in our working out of some em- 
pirical and abstract conception of the 
mental life, it cannot be neglected in our 
educational reference, nor when we con- 
sider man's life as a whole. Let us take 
first the wider question, in which there 
are two things to be considered. In 
the first place, there is no such thing as a 
mere environment apart from the nature 
of the life which is environed. Each in- 
dividual thing has a nature specifically its 
own, and it is this nature, in reciprocity 
with external nature, which determines what 
is or what is not its particular environ- 
ment. There is no such thing, either in 
the animal world or in the life of man, 
as this bare power of reacting upon the 
presentation of an object in response to 
an outward excitation, which Herbart pos- 
tulates at the outset of his theory. Given 
two species, each placed under the same 
physical and natural conditions, then the 
environment of each will differ accord- 
ing to the differing nature of each ; there 
will be no competition, no struggle for 


existence, except in so far as their natures 
and wants are identical in kind. In 
the same way, man is never the mere 
result of his environment in the sense 
that his nature and character are wholly- 
determined by the external influences 
brought to bear upon him. He reacts 
according to his specific nature, accord- 
ing to the nature of that which dis- 
tinguishes him from all else in nature. 
And since man is Reason, is a being not 
determined from without, but self-deter- 
mining, who acts, as Kant has pointed 
out, not in accordance with law but in ac- 
cordance with the idea or conception of 
law, he can take and mould these conditions 
to his own ends and purposes. Environ- 
ment then is in every case the resultant of 
a mutual determination, of a reciprocity 
between the active nature of the agent 
and that of external influences ; and it is 
through this power of going out to, of 
understanding these external conditions, 
and of subduing them to his own ends that 
man is able to constitute himself a person. 
In the second place, not only does man 
thus differ essentially from all else, but 
each of us is empirically different from the 


other, and our reactions originally differ in 
degree, i.e. while there is an identity in 
the nature of the reactions set up in each 
case, the difference is due to differences in 
the natures of the particular individuals. 
We are all initially equal in one respect ; 
we are all initially different in another. 
But the initial equality of the Herbartians 
is a bare, barren, and empty conception, a 
mere abstract power of reacting; it is 
a mere fiction, and only postulated for 
the sake of a theory. One can only 
gaze in astonishment when our Herbartian 
educationalists gravely discuss the effects 
of such a fiction, and fondly declare 
that, by postulating individual differences 
in this bare power of reacting, 1 we save 
individuality, and reconcile it with the 
doctrine of many-sided interest— with the 
doctrine that our character depends wholly 
on the knowledge we acquire, on the num- 
ber and strength of the apperceptive sys- 
tems which are gradually formed in us. 
And we may ask them, how a theory 
which has been so long ago rejected as 
of no use in biological explanation can be 

1 Cf. Felkin, Introduction to the " Science of Educa- 
tion," p. 34. 


of so much importance in the explanation 
of the mental life ? On this theory man's 
whole character and the differences which 
ultimately arise amongst men can be fully 
explained by differences of mere energy 
in relation to external circumstances. But 
mere energy, whether in physics or psy- 
chology, is an empty nothing, and so we 
are left with but the one factor ; and, 
since all action is the resultant of mutual 
interaction, this in itself is insufficient to 
account for differences in individuality. 
And besides these differences, due to the 
initial differences with which we essentially 
react upon the presence of external con- 
ditions, there are psychological differences 
due to physiological differences in the 
bodily and nervous organisation of each 
of us, so that, as a consequence, the ex- 
ternal conditions are never the same in 
any two cases. 

The Herbartian, I repeat, reduces in- 
dividuality to mere differences in this bare 
power of reacting ; and since this is a 
fiction, then the differences must be of a 
like nature, or if not, then the differences 
must be explained as due solely to physio- 
logical causes, so that the final differences 


between two children, placed under the 
same external conditions, must be due to 
differences in their physiological structure. 
Now this would be sufficient to explain 
the diversities of character which ultimately 
manifest themselves, if our reactions were 
purely physiological reactions ; and this 
leads logically (as actually has happened in 
the development of the Herbartian psycho- 
logy), to the conception of the mental life 
as a mere epiphenomenon of the physio- 
logical reactions set up in the brain. If 
we reject this view, we must also reject 
the view that differences in mental re- 
action are solely due to physiological differ- 
ences, and hold, on the contrary, that in 
every reaction there is a psychological as 
well as a physiological aspect, and that 
the latter, taken apart and by itself, is 
an abstraction. 

But the angry and impatient Herbartian 
will retort : — If this theory of the moral 
life is so erroneous, so absurd, so full of 
contradictions, such a massing together 
of fallacies ; if, as you say, it explains 
away personality and responsibility, and 
leaves us with not a shred of individuality 
except that which is due to our conditions 


in life ; if, further, it makes virtue anything 
we please, so that a Borgia no less than a 
Howard must be considered virtuous, how 
can you account for its widespread adop- 
tion, for the enthusiasm which it arouses 
in certain educational circles, for the pre- 
valence of so much Herbartian heat ? In 
reply, I can only repeat what Professor 
James has said in a similar reference : 1 
" Nothing is so easy to understand as this 
mechanical conception of the mental life. 
Man's conduct appears as the mere resul- 
tant of all his various impulses and inhibi- 
tions. One object by its presence makes 
us act ; another checks our action. Feel- 
ings aroused and ideas suggested by 
the objects sway us one way or another ; 
emotions complicate the game by their 
mutually inhibitive effects, the higher abo- 
lishing the lower, or perhaps being itself 
swept away. . . . Like all conceptions, 
when they become clear and lively enough, 
this conception has a strong tendency to 
impose itself upon belief." It is the sim- 
plicity of the theory, the apparent clearness 
and definiteness with which it seems to 

1 " Talks to Teachers," p. 177 et seq. 



explain the mental life, that is the reason 
of its popularity. It is so easy to under- 
stand, it imbues the teacher with the idea 
that his power in the work of education 
is almost absolute, and in this way it is 
pleasing to his self-conceit. 

But it is erroneous if taken for other 
than what it is — an abstract way of look- 
ing at the mental life, a way which may 
be adopted for certain methodological 
purposes, but which is neither a full nor 
true account of that life and its method 
of development. It is doubly erroneous 
when made the basis of a theory of edu- 
cational practice. 

It is erroneous because, in theories of 
this nature, the moral life is looked at 
from the outside, from the point of 
view of the mere spectator, and not from 
the inside as it appears to the individual 
appercipient. From his point of view it 
never appears as this mere mechanical 
process, as an ever -flowing stream of 
which he is a mere passive spectator : 
he knows and feels himself to be a real 
agent, ever determining, ever interfering 
with the direction of the stream of con- 
sciousness, ever using it for the realisa- 


tion of his ends. It is the nature of the 
ends, accordingly, which the child seeks 
to realise, and not the means by which 
they are realised, which it is the primary 
business of the teacher to know and to 
direct. It is also erroneous in so far as 
an attempt is made to found the prin- 
ciples of education upon an abstract account 
of the mental life. We take the results 
of an abstract and empirical psychology, 
heedless of the fact that the assumptions 
made in the theoretical working out of the 
science affect the nature and value of the 
results attained, and straightway we make 
them the basis of an educational theory, 
and apply the principles so obtained to 
educational practice. With an easy jaunti- 
ness we sometimes take for granted that 
the metaphysical assumptions underlying 
our psychological theory may be safely 
neglected without affecting in any way 
the practical guidance which the science 
affords. According to some educational 
writers of the Herbartian school, meta- 
physical assumptions as to the nature of 
the soul, and as to the part which it plays 
in the building up of our concrete experi- 
ence, have no effect upon the results at- 


tained. For all practical purposes, the soul 
may be safely neglected ; the assumption of 
such an entity is of no value for an empiri- 
cal science of the mind. Give us, say these 
writers, the presentations and certain laws 
or supposed laws of reaction among these 
so-called entities, and the concrete mind 
can be fully explained, and its mode of 
development clearly set forth ; and having 
thus reduced the mind to atomistic ele- 
ments with mechanical relationships, they 
work out certain theoretical results on this 
basis. Forthwith they rear on this ab- 
stract foundation an all-embracing method- 
ology of education. They forget the fact 
that assumptions made as to the nature of 
the soul and the character of its contents 
affect the nature of the results obtained, 
and limit the practical guidance which 
the science furnishes to the educationalist. 
Not only is the guidance afforded by the 
science limited by the abstractness of 
its view and the presuppositions in- 
volved in its method, but the very ele- 
ments omitted in the theoretical working 
out of the science may be of supreme 
importance from the practical point of 
view. If we simplify or alter the facts, so 


that instead of dealing with the concrete 
contents of mind we are engaged with 
abstracta, with factitious elements, then we 
shall have to take this into account before 
converting our theoretical results into the 
practical principles of education. The 
elements omitted in our scientific inquiry- 
may be of vital importance from the prac- 
tical point of view, and the re-insertion of 
the omitted elements may alter the entire 
nature of the guidance afforded by the 
theoretical science. 



In considering the Herbartian theory in 
its educational aspect, in so far as it yields 
us an insight into the nature of mental 
development, and consequently as a guide 
to the laying down of an educational 
method, the first and the most important 
thing to note is that it reduces all mental 
process to one particular kind, viz. to a 
process of assimilation or apperception, 
and explains this process in a purely 
mechanical manner. Now, there is no 
doubt that the Herbartian literature has 
thrown a flood of light upon the various 
ways in which this process is actually 
realised in our concrete experience. It 
has done much good in affirming that in 
all developed perception there is a process 
of apperception, and that by means of this 
the new presentate acquires meaning and 

significance. Also in the warning that 

9 8 


it furnishes to teachers that the interpre- 
tations, which children and adults give 
when a new object is presented, depend 
upon their previously existing store of 
ideas, and that we must keep this con- 
stantly in mind, it has been of great ser- 
vice. Further, in its insistence that know- 
ledge is not a mere collection of facts lying 
loosely side by side, or connected only by 
their casual, temporal, and spatial relations, 
but a system, and that one aim of teaching 
is to build up in our pupils' minds sys- 
tems of ideas internally coherent and con- 
nected, and as comprehensive as possible, 
it is a valuable contribution to educational 
method. One of the lessons which the 
Herbartian theory enforces has not yet 
been learned by many educators, namely, 
that the accuracy and power of observa-\ 
tion which we wish to foster in our pupils 
can only be realised in so far as we have 
created in their minds systems of ideas. 
There is no such thing as the training of the 
senses : there is such a thing as training to 
accurate perception and accurate concep- 
tion, but our concepts must be bound to- 
gether by an identity of content if we are 
really to attain our aim of making our pupils 


accurate observers along one or more 
different lines. This truth needs to be 
emphasised at the present day when there 
is so much teaching of nature-knowledge 
and of elementary science of a purely de- 
sultory kind. For example, the trained 
botanist is an accurate observer of plant 
life because he brings to bear upon the 
interpretation of a new specimen a well- 
arranged, internally coherent, and compre- 
hensive system of ideas, and not because 
he brings a keener or more acute organ of 
sight to the examination of the specimen. 
True, accuracy in discrimination, gained in 
one sphere, may help in other spheres of 
knowledge, in so far as the identifying pro- 
cesses are similar in kind, but they will not 
aid the interpretation of further facts, unless 
there be also present an interpreting system. 
But while giving due credit to the good 
in the Herbartian doctrine of Method, it 
is well to note its defects. It tends, in 
the first place, to make the process of 
apperception a kind of fetish, and to for- 
get that it is only one of the innumerable 
results of the psychological process of 
association, and means nothing more than 
the act of taking a thing into the mind — 


of apprehending it ; and, since all appre- 
hension is through identity, it is, as I 
have already said, an aspect from which 
we can view every mental act. Now, 
some of the Herbartians seem to repeat 
in another form the doctrine in opposi- 
tion to which the theory was founded. 
We have the apperceptive processes 
divided and subdivided into various forms, 
such as subsumptive apperception, as- 
similative apperception, and so on, until 
there is a danger of again committing the 
fallacy of thinking that there are different 
activities of the mind employed in each 
kind of association. All such classifica- 
tions, however great a parade they may 
make of scientific exactitude, are merely 
artificial. As Professor James has pointed 
out, " there are as many types of apper- 
ception as there are possible ways in which 
an incoming experience may be reacted 
on by an individual mind." * The descrip- 
tion of particular and strange cases of the 
apperceptive process, such as some writers 
are so fond of relating, may be interesting 
and furnish good descriptive material, but it 
does not aid us much in the further under- 
standing of the subject. In fact, the only 
1 James, " Talks to Teachers," p. 162. 


useful distinction is between active and 
passive apperception, and in this classifica- 
tion the basis of the distinction is, whether 
the new presentate or the apperceiving 
system is the greater force in the uniting 
process. I have already criticised this, 
and pointed out that in active apperception 
we have the gradual realisation of an ex- 
plicit end or purpose, and the presence of an 
Ego active throughout the whole process. 
Again, in the Herbartian theory we 
must conceive of the processes of imagi- 
nation and conception as being effected 
in a purely mechanical manner, and of 
our images and concepts as being gradu- 
ally formed through the fusing together 
of like elements and the dropping out 
of unlike. Such a method of explaining 
mental development is not peculiar to 
Herbartian psychology, but runs through 
most of our empirical psychologies, and 
is especially to be noted in Ward's doctrine 
of continua. 1 We have in Ward's theory, 
first, a presentation continuum, then an 
imagination continuum formed by the 
coagulation of like to like and the dis- 
appearance of dissimilar elements, and at 

1 Ward on Psychology, " Encyclopaedia Britannica." 


a further stage we have a further refine- 
ment of this process in the production 
of an ideational or conceptual continuum. 
Not only does it seem to me that such 
a method of looking at the mental life 
is of little scientific value, but it is of 
comparatively little importance for the 
practical educationalist. He seeks to 
guide and control the various processes 
of perception, imagination, and concep- 
tion, and desires to know how they actu- 
ally do take place, how the processes 
actually go on from the point of view 
of the individual experient, and not how 
they appear when we abstract from the 
synthetic activity of the ego, and view 
them from the outside as a mere spectator 
and in their completed results. Active 
perception, active imagination, active 
conception are all teleological processes, 
and it is only from this standpoint that 
they become thoroughly intelligible. Our 
mental life is not built up either by the 
stringing together of atomistic elements 
or by the gradual differentiation of a pre- 
sentation continuum into discrete and 
distinct objects. It is not more enlight- 
ening to conceive of mental growth as 


a gradual segregation and integration of 
like elements than it is to conceive of 
originally discrete elements fusing to- 
gether through their identity of nature. 
" And just as a conscious series must be 
more than a series, so a conscious continuum 
must be more than a continuum. Con- 
sciousness is a unity, not a continuum." ' 

All mental process has a teleological 
aspect ; it is throughout a self-determin- 
ing as well as an externally determined 
process, and either aspect looked at 
by itself is an abstraction. In educa- 
tional theory, if we are to be true to 
the facts, we must ever keep in mind 
this double aspect of all mental pro- 
cess. In active interpretation, in active 
construction, in the adoption of means for 
the attainment of some practical end, 
there is present, throughout, the idea of 
an end which determines the whole pro- 
cess, choosing here, rejecting there, the 
material supplied by the working of the 
psycho-physical organism ; and it is this 
aspect of the mental life which is of 
importance to the educationalist. Nor is 
activity a mere activity, a mere power 

1 " Hegel," by Professor Mackintosh, p. 164. 


or energy of voluntary attention, as 
Professor James 1 would have us believe. 
Either this energy or power of attention 
is a function of the ideas and their inter- 
connections, and we have again restated 
in other terms the contention of the 
Herbartian school, or it is a variable of 
the activity of the subject or self, a mere 
bare activity or energy, and such a con- 
ception is a mere fiction. If this is all 
that can be given us in order to save 
us from a deterministic and fatalistic con- 
ception of the mental life, then the gift 
is too small to effect the purpose. This, 
however, is too large a question, and for its 
full discussion would require a separate lec- 
ture ; but I may say that what seems to 
me the fundamental fallacy of a good 
deal of our present-day psychological in- 
vestigation is to be traced to the method 
of looking at the mental life from one 
aspect — from the outside — and forgetting 
the other. Even when the self-deter- 
mining aspect is taken account of, it is 
usually brought in towards the end of 
the investigation as an adjunct, e.g. by 
James, 2 which makes little or no difference 

1 "Talks to Teachers," p. 184. 2 Ibid., ch. xv. 


in the results already obtained in the 
mechanical working out of the various 
processes. But if Reason as process 
and end is ever active in the elaboration 
of the materials supplied by the psycho- 
physical organism, then the final results 
cannot be effected in the manner in 
which our empirical psychologists would 
have us believe. Reason is operative 
and active throughout the whole process : 
it may either, in the theoretical or practical 
sphere, misconceive the nature of the ends 
or take the wrong means to attain the ends 
even when the latter are rightly con- 
ceived ; but whether the result be truth 
or error, right or wrong conduct, there 
is this activity of Reason involved in all 
active mental process. The only differ- 
ence between Logic and Psychology is, 
that in the former science we make ex- 
plicit and conscious the conditions of right 
and wrong thinking. There is not one 
kind of thought with which psychology 
deals, and which is in its nature non- 
teleological, and another with which logic 
deals which is guided by the ideal of 
consistency, and therefore is teleological 
in its nature. All thought is teleologi- 


cal. Psychology deals with the thought 
which fails to attain its end or attains ends 
inconsistent with each other, as well as with 
thoughts which are consistent in the means 
adopted and in the end attained. It is the 
business of logic to critically investigate the 
latter characteristic of the psychological 
life, and to make explicit the conditions 
realised and operative in the processes of 
correct reasoning. 

Further, the reduction of mental de- 
velopment to one single type or kind of 
process tends to lay the whole emphasis 
upon instruction in educational method, 
and to conceive of the end of education 
as a building up and cementing together 
of various separate and discrete facts. 
Nay, it must do so, if it keep strictly to 
its presuppositions ; for training and dis- 
cipline of the mind can find no place in 
the Herbartian theory, and are terms which 
do not strictly belong to the Herbartian 
vocabulary. The Herbartian may, if he 
will, speak of regulating the movements 
among the various presentation masses, 
but not of training or discipline. And 
why? Because, apart from its content 
of single ideas and complexes of ideas, 


the soul is nothing ; there is no activity 
except the activity manifested by the 
actions and reactions set up among the 
presentation masses. There are volitional 
movements, but no will. The latter is 
a mere abstract term for the particular 
movements. By one section of the school, 
as I have already mentioned, the above 
result has been 'logically reached ; and, 
if you keep strictly within the presup- 
positions of the theory, there can be 
no other result. The theory of didactive 
materialism lays the sole emphasis upon 
instruction in its educational method. It 
looks to the quantity of knowledge ac- 
quired rather than to its quality. It 
neglects the part which the child plays 
in education, and lays the whole re- 
sponsibility upon the shoulders of the 
teacher for the ultimate result. And if 
education is a mere storing up of know- 
ledge ; — of facts, however skilfully prepared 
and however skilfully assimilated (and 
this is the conception and the only con- 
ception of Education which can be 
logically built up on a system of psy- 
chology such as Herbart's), this is the 
only possible outcome. The chief and 


only function of the teacher becomes 
to impart the right knowledge at the 
right time, and the practical rules of 
method for his guidance reduce them- 
selves to two : ( 1 ) Find out the ideas 
which the child already possesses ; and 
(2) Present the new material in the 
manner and form in which it can be 
most readily assimilated and fused with 
the previously existing store. 

But the Herbartian may reply : What 
about the five formal steps of method 
which form an integral and fundamental 
part in the theory ? There we have the 
various stages of a method laid down 
which not only includes instruction but 
also takes account of the training and dis- 
cipline of the mind. In the associating and 
systematising and applying of the know- 
ledge gained the Herbartian takes into 
account more than mere instruction. There 
can be no education without instruction, 
but instruction is not alone sufficient, and 
this the Herbartian admits. That is true ; 
but the question is, How are we to explain 
this training and disciplinary process? 
Herbart has done away with reason, with 
faculties, and has left us with nothing but 


the bare ideas to work with. What is to 
be trained? What are we to apply? If 
the soul is nothing, if there is no reason- 
process, there can be nothing to train, 
nothing to discipline. All that the third 
and fourth steps ; — the stages of associating 
and systematising the knowledge given, 
can mean is that they are further stages 
in the preparation of the materials to be 
assimilated. We have first a process of 
rude and crude assimilation, followed by a 
more refined and delicate process of the 
same nature ; and application can only 
mean the method by which you set this 
or that piece of the self-acting machinery 
in motion. A monomaniac is a good 
example of this. Introduce, directly or 
indirectly, any allusion to, say, bimetall- 
ism, and the machinery is set in motion. 
He will talk wisely and at length upon 
the subject, but the whole process has 
been set up and goes on independently 
of his control. This is no exaggeration, 
it is simply the logical outcome of any 
theory which makes ideas, their combina- 
tion and their inter-action the sole elements 
of the mental life ; the stream of conscious- 
ness is a stream over which we have no 


control ; it may divert this way or that, 
bifurcate at this or that point, but it 
moves on without our regulation, and its 
diverting or bifurcating are determined 
wholly by external influences. 

We may grant with Herbart that the 
child has at first no will, that he is swayed 
hither and thither by every given impulse, 
that he acts upon the presentation of any 
new object or idea in this mechanical way ; 
but the mere adding on of idea to idea, 
the making more and more extensive the 
circle of ideas only perfects the machinery 
along certain directed lines. If you begin 
by conceiving the mental life in this 
mechanical way, mental progress can only 
mean the making more perfect and more 
complete the machinery, and we must con- 
ceive of the educators function as one of 
skilfully building up the fabric of know- 
ledge, and that is all. 

The child's will is weak in early youth, 
because the means necessary for the at- 
tainment of its ends is relatively weak. 
His curiosity is boundless, but his stock 
of ideas by which to interpret this world 
of wonder is insufficient for the purpose. 
The teacher's function is not merely to 



add to the knowledge of the child, but to 
direct and control this purposed activity. 
Strength of will is strength of purpose, 
and this is not a function varying with 
/ the varying width and extent of our 
system of ideas. In fact, the opposite is 
more truly the case in actual experience. 
Singleness of aim and strength of purpose 
depend on the narrowing of our aims and 
the limiting of our knowledge to one 
particular sphere. 

Along with this over-valuing of instruc- 
tion we have the under-estimation, and, in 
some cases, the almost total neglect of 
formal studies in the work of education, 
and the denial of the worth of such studies 
in the training of the mind and in the 
formation of character. This is the only 
logical outcome of a theory which holds 
that knowledge is a mere collection of 
facts bound together by one single kind 
of bond. It is best exemplified in the 
development of the theory by Ziller. 
Insisting on the fact that the aim of 
education is ethical, and following out 
the presupposition of the Herbartian psy- 
chology that the one and only way to 
reach this result is by means of instruc- 


tion, by adding knowledge to know- 
ledge, the question comes to be for 
Ziller, what subject or subjects have most 
moral content, and are on that account 
best suited for character- building? History 
and literature, of course, answer these tests, 
and so become the core round which all 
other instruction is centred. Hence also 
it follows that since a knowledge of nature 
is not directly or intrinsically moral, science 
and nature-studies are relegated to a sub- 
ordinate place in the school curriculum. 
Moreover, since abstract science, and 
mathematics in particular, besides having 
no direct moral content as regards their 
subject-matter, do not increase our store 
of knowledge to any great extent, this 
furnishes an additional reason for regard- 
ing these subjects as of only secondary 
importance in the work of Education. 

Now, in this contention of the Herbar- 
tians that humanistic subjects, dealing as 
they do with the thoughts and actions of 
men and women, have greater educational 
value in the work of forming moral charac- 
ter than naturalistic studies, there is much 
truth intermingled with much error. And 
the truth is the truth for reasons of a kind 




altogether different from those usually 
advanced by the orthodox and consistent 

To take the errors first : History and 
literature as mere collections of facts, 
as mere material for the building up of 
apperception masses, are not as regards 
their content necessarily moral or im- 
moral. As facts, as knowledge, they 
are exactly on the same footing as know- 
ledge of any other kind. It is the end 
or purpose to which the facts are put 
that determines whether or not they 
have moral worth, and so be made in- 
strumental % in the moral education of 
the child. These subjects become in- 
strumental in the work of moral educa- 
tion and in the building up of character, 
because their subject-matter furnishes 
material upon which we can pass judg- 
ments of approval or disapproval ; and 
in order to attain this we must not only 
instruct our pupils in the facts of his- 
tory and of literature, but also train them 
to evaluate the facts recorded in his- 
tory and the emotions portrayed and the 
actions displayed in literature by some 
recognised end or ideal. Further, these 


subjects are of value in education, because 
they directly tend to cultivate the imagina- 
tion and to foster certain emotions, the 
predominancy of which is necessary for 
the ethical and social stability of society. 
That is, it is not on account of their mere 
instruction-value that these subjects are 
of so much importance in education, but 
because they furnish the means of training 
the mind to a knowledge of principles 
of a particular kind, and of directing the 
will of the pupil to the pursuit of cer- 
tain definite ends. For example, the aim 
of teaching history is not to store the mind 
with a list of kings who have governed 
a particular country, together with a re- 
cord of the wars, treaties, and reforms 
which have taken place in the course of 
its historical development, but by means 
of the facts to cultivate certain emotions 
{e.g. patriotism), of social and moral worth ; 
to train the pupil to critically estimate and 
judge of the actions recorded, and finally 
to make him understand the institutions 
under which he is born, and which have 
gone to make us what we are. And, 
above all, it should be the aim of all 
history teaching to make the pupil realise 


in some degree that these ethical and 
social institutions have been won for us 
by the long travail of the human spirit, 
by the labour and sweat of our forefathers, 
i and that it is his and our duty to maintain, 
improve, and further these outward and 
visible instruments by which man realises 
his spiritual nature, and which are but the 
means by which he satisfies his inmost 
and deepest needs. 

And what is true of history is also true 
of literature. It is because literature fur- 
nishes a training and discipline of a pecu- 
liarly valuable kind that it derives its 
importance in education, and not because 
it is a subject which lends itself to easy 
instruction, to easy assimilation. It is as a 
critical study of the fundamental emotions 
of our human nature, as a portrayal of 
the various types of character that have 
manifested themselves, and will ever 
manifest themselves in the history of 
the world, that literature is valuable as 
a means of educational discipline. For 
example, Shakespeare's men and women 
are men and women not of his time only but 
of all time : the Hamlets, the Macbeths, 
the man of fine intellectual tastes and 


artistic temperament, but of weak moral 
will, such as is portrayed in the character 
of Richard II., are men who mingle with 
us in our everyday life : the tragedies of 
their lives are still tragedies that are being 
worked out in the lives of men and women 
of our own time. It is in the imaginative 
realisation of these things, in pondering 
over the lessons which literature teaches, 
in directing our conduct to worthy, and in 
restraining it from ignoble and unworthy, 
ends that the subject is of educational 
importance. It is, then, mainly for their 
training and disciplinary value that his- 
tory and literature are of so much educa- 
tional importance, and not from the fact 
that they are subjects which can be most 
readily employed in the building up of 

Again : The distinction between Real 
and Formal in education, and in the 
subjects of education, is a difference of 
aspect and not of kind. There are no 
subjects which merely instruct and do not 
train. True, you may teach any and 
every subject in such a way as to neglect 
altogether the work of training, and re- 
duce it to the mere connecting of the 


facts by their accidental time and space 
relations. In like manner, there are no 
subjects which merely train and do not 
instruct or give knowledge. Every subject 
\has a twofold value — a value as furnishing 
/some kind of useful knowledge and a value 
/ as furnishing a training and discipline of a 
particular and peculiar kind, and the aim in 
education should be so to teach each sub- 
ject as to give it the greatest instruction 
value, and also at the same time to afford 
the best training. In other words, it is 
not a mere knowledge of facts but a know- 
ledge of principles which is important, and 
the latter is the result of training. Facts 
are necessary, but it is in the training of 
the pupil to perceive the binding links or 
principles between and behind the facts, 
and in the evoking of the self-activity of 
the pupil in the application of the prin- 
ciples so reached, that the ultimate aim 
of education in any particular subject is 
reached. Now the Herbartian, since he 
conceives of mental development as 
governed throughout by one kind of 
process, and since he denies any activity 
of Reason in the work of building up 
knowledge, is logically forced to lay the 


chief emphasis upon the instructional side 
of education ; and in the theory there is 
logically no place for formal studies. When 
these are introduced into the system they 
are inconsistent with the fundamental as- 
sumption of the Herbartian psychology. 
If we are ever to reconcile the contending 
claims of formal and real studies, we shall 
have to get rid of a theory of the mental 
life, which reduces all knowledge to a pro- 
cess of assimilation between the various 
particular facts. We must realise clearly 
that Herbart has only given us an account, 
in terms of mechanical causation, of what 
Kant 1 meant by a mere animal or perceptual 
consciousness, and what Professor Laurie 2 
has not inaptly called the " Attuitional" 
consciousness, in which subjective sen- 
sations and sense perceptions connect 
themselves in a more or less accidental 
way by association. This must be dis- 
tinguished from an objective or rational 
consciousness, in which reason is through- 
out active in the interpretation and recon- 
struction of the sense data furnished by 
means of the psycho-physical organism. 

1 Cf. Paulsen's " Kant," p. 156 et seq. 

2 Laurie's " Metaphysica Nova et Vetusta," also 
"Institutes of Education," Part II. Lecture 1. 


Knowledge is not a mere collection of 
facts bound together by one single kind of 
bond, but consists in the understanding of 
the identities which underlie the various 
facts ; and the work of reason manifests 
itself in the perception of these various 
identities, and in the endeavour to bind 
together the various facts into systems, 
into rationally connected wholes. But the 
Herbartian contention that instruction and 
not training and discipline of the mind is 
of primary importance involves a fallacy 
to which I have already alluded. This fal- 
lacy consists in the assumption that there 
is such a thing as mere training — a mere 
developing of power or faculty which, once 
gained, is of value in the understanding 
of subjects generally. Now there is no 
such thing as a mere formal training of 
the reason, except in so far as the power 
of concentrating attention upon any one 
subject, and the habit of close and exact 
reasoning in any one study may enable us 
to do so in some other direction. The 
habit of close reasoning, of exact obser- 
vation, or of accurate perception may be 
extended to other objects of investigation, 
but the power so gained will not enable 


us to understand another system of facts, 
except in so far as the new system 
is identical in kind with the former. 
In all understanding, in all interpretation, 
there must be a system of ideas by means 
of which the new is interpreted, and the 
formation of any one system will only 
enable us to interpret facts of a different 
nature in so far as the facts are similar in 
nature in both cases. For example, in 
Mathematics we are training our pupils to 
the exact discrimination of spatial and 
quantitative relations generally, and in so 
doing we are at the same time forming a 
system of ideas of the same nature ; but 
this system of ideas will not enable them 
to understand the ethical, social, and eco- 
nomic worlds, except in so far as these 
worlds and their relations can be ex- 
pressed in quantitative terms. Simi- 
larly, a training in Classics will not aid 
the pupil in the explanation of know- 
ledge of another kind, except in so far 
as the instruction gained thereby can be 
used in the explanation of other facts. 
This is a truth which needs emphasis- 
ing at the present day, when our school 
curriculums, from various causes, tend 


to become over -crowded with subjects. 
Knowledge is not a mere collection of facts 
connected only by their artificial time and 
space relations, and this is what mere 
memorising means, but a system of ideas 
internally connected by the bond of iden- 
tity ; and unless we succeed in forming 
such systems, internally coherent and as 
comprehensive as possible, then the result 
of our educational efforts is to turn out 
mere smatterers instead of educated men 
and women. Now the Herbartian theory, 
while insisting on this fact, that know- 
ledge is system, and that the formation of 
any one system will enable us to interpret 
facts belonging to other and diverse sys- 
tems only in so far as there is an identity 
of content between the apperceiving sys- 
tems and the new presentates, wrongly 
conceives the mode by which the various 
systems are formed : it is consequently un- 
able to reconcile the claims of those who, 
on the one hand, emphasise the import- 
ance of instruction, and, on the other hand, 
those who lay the stress upon the formal 
and disciplinary side of education. 

A recent writer has lately essayed this 
reconciliation by means of a phrase. He 


tells us in language which is to me un- 
intelligible that " mental life, like animal 
life, must be rhythmic. At one moment, 
there must be an aggressive forward- 
moving, ' heuristic' pulsation; at another 
moment there must be calm assimilation." 1 
But to speak thus is to pretend, under 
cover of a phrase, to say something, 
and in reality to say nothing. What 
is meant by the rhythm of the mental 
life ? by the moments of " heuristic " pul- 
sation and of calm assimilation? What 
is the characteristic of the heuristic for- 
ward movement, and what and how is 
it different from the other and opposed 
moment of calm assimilation? An an- 
swer to these questions would inevitably 
lead to the rejection of the Herbartian 
psychology as an inadequate, abstract, 
and one-sided account of the mental 
life, and, as a consequence, involve its 
rejection as a basis for a sound and 
safe theory of education. In the human 
consciousness we approach the moment of 
"calm assimilation," when the activity of 
reason is at a minimum, when we merely 
note or become aware of the existence of 

1 " The Student's Herbart," p. 26. 


the facts presented to us through the 
medium of the senses ; we are then ap- 
proximating to the stage of the mere 
passive reception of material, and the 
complete realisation of this particular 
stage is never actually attained in our 
waking consciousness. The characteristic 
mark of this stage is the low energy of 
the activity of reason, which is employed 
in the bare connecting of the various facts 
by their most obvious and superficial re- 
lations. The other movement, the heur- 
istic movement, is characterised by the 
activity of reason, by the eager, earnest 
searching into the causes and relations 
of the various facts, and in the endeavour 
to reduce the whole to a rational unity. 
Here again, in the theory of the mental 
life which has been indicated rather than 
adequately worked out in these lectures, 
it is the teleological aspect of the process 
of knowing which is of primary import- 
ance. As a consequence it is in the evok- 
ing of the activity of reason, in the 
training to a knowledge of principles, and 
the disciplining of the pupil to the self- 
application of these principles for the ex- 
planation and the understanding of the 


facts of his natural and social worlds, 
which is of primary importance in the 
work of education. Because the prin- 
ciples are embodied in the facts, instruc- 
tion is necessary as a stage in the final 
result ; but it is in the leading of the pupil 
to the self-finding and to the self-apply- 
ing of these principles that the work of 
education primarily consists. Progress in 
science, progress in knowledge generally, 
is the gradually coming to know and to 
understand better the principles which de- 
termine change in the worlds of nature 
and society ; the finding in what at first 
sight seems an unintelligible chaos, a world 
of order, a rational cosmos ; and through- 
out the whole process, human reason has 
been ever active, as end and process, in 
the reducing to itself and so understand- 
ing the Divine Reason which manifests 
itself in the sphere of nature and in the 
sphere of social relations. 

All education, then, involves the two- 
fold process of instructing and of training 
and disciplining the mind ; but we can 
only thoroughly justify the position by a 
theory of the mental life which shows us 
this twofold process in active operation 



throughout the whole process of mental 
development. Everywhere in the mental 
life, whether in the world which we come 
to know by means of the outward senses 
or in the inner world which we come to 
know by means of reflection — the world 
of emotion, of feeling, of desire — we 
have a " given" which we find and did 
not make ; and everywhere we find that 
for the understanding of these worlds 
of nature and of feeling an activity of 
reason is necessary ; that Reason ever 
seeks to interpret this given, to reduce 
it to unity, to find and understand the 
meaning and purpose of the world. And 
since all intellectual process has this two- 
fold aspect, so the educative process must 
be similar in nature. And in realising 
this, we shall also become aware that the 
various subjects of education are but the 
more or less completed and more or 
less adequate results of what the human 
reason has already attained in its endea- 
vour to understand the world and God's 
ways of working ; and as they are the 
result of human reason they must also 
embody the nature of that reason, and 
so have both a Real and a Formal 


aspect. Of course, some subjects are better 
fitted at the school stage for training and 
disciplining the mind than others, and 
this, on the ground that the nature of the 
relations subsisting between the various 
facts, or the nature of the identity which 
pervades the whole system, is of a simple 
and easily recognisable nature. But the 
chief thing to insist on is that, even when 
we lay the chief emphasis upon the in- 
structional value of a subject in the school 
curriculum, this can only be justified as the 
initial and preparatory stage for the subse- 
quent analysis of the facts and their further 
synthetic reconstruction ; and further, that 
the facts should be so chosen at every 
stage that this analytic and synthetic pro- 
cess of reconstruction may be of such 
a nature as to be consistent with the 
stage of mental development of the child. 
Hence it is that the poetical and imagina- 
tive reconstructions of the world in which 
we live are the forms most appropriate in 
the early stages of education, and our theo- 
retical reconstructions should be limited to 
the simpler forms, to the reconstruction of 
the obvious quantitative, qualitative, and 
causal aspects of the world. 



Another characteristic of the Herbartian 
theory, which follows logically from the 
psychology on which it is based, is the 
extreme importance which is placed on 
the concentration or co-ordination of the 
subjects of instruction, and on the value of 
correlation in the teaching of facts belong- 
ing to apparently diverse spheres of know- 
ledge. In this insistence on the importance 
of correlation, both in the subjects and 
methods of instruction, there is a more or 
less implicit assumption that correlation of 
studies is also one of the chief means for 
securing concentration of another kind. 
This fallacy has already been noted : it is 
that extent and internal coherency of know- 
ledge is a necessary pre-condition for 
intensity of action. On the other hand, 

it is maintained in these lectures that the 



latter factor depends on the emotional 
value which any particular end has for 
the individual, and that the width and 
intension of knowledge are merely con- 
ditions for the wise following out of any 
end, whatever the nature of the end may 
be. But before inquiring into the truth 
and error in this doctrine, let us first of 
all state and examine the reasons ad- 
vanced for the importance of this factor 
in the work of education. 1 

In the first place, it is said that one of 
the aims or purposes of the correlation 
of studies is the promotion of the unity 
and consistency of the mental life. The 
various subjects of school study are 
usually taught as separate and discrete 
spheres of knowledge, and no attempt is 
made to bring out and bind together the 
various parts of knowledge. We build up 
in our pupils' minds vague and disjointed 
systems of ideas, and as a consequence 
they leave but little lasting impression, 
and have little effect on the formation of 
the character and will of the pupil. Now 
there is no doubt that this is true of a 

1 Cf. Rein's "Outlines of Pedagogics" (Eng. trans.), 
p. 103 et seq. ; De Garmo's " Herbart," p. 115. 



good deal of our present-day teaching. 
It is disjointed, scrappy, and badly knit 
together ; and it canribt be too strongly 
emphasised that wherever possible the 
various subjects of instruction should be 
correlated with each other. But in so 
doing, it is necessary to note the limita- 
tions to the doctrine of correlation, for 
when these are forgotten we have subject 
linked to subject, and lesson to lesson, 
by bonds of a more or less fanciful and 
imaginary nature. There is no doubt 
that in some quarters this linking has 
been carried to an excess, and has tended 
to obscure the real truth and value in the 

Against the contention that much of the 
instruction which we impart to our pupils 
is of a disjointed and unconnected nature, 
the answer is that, at the present stage of 
knowledge, this must necessarily be so. 
We have not yet succeeded in unifying 
knowledge, in explicating and stating the 
nature of the identity which manifests 
itself amidst all differences ; and until this 
is more or less partially realised, our 
efforts at connecting the various branches 
of study in the school must be similarly 


limited. Again, there is much in our 
knowledge which, so far as we can see 
at present, is of a purely contingent char- 
acter. This is especially true of history, 
which the Herbartians seem inclined to 
place in the forefront as the most fruit- 
ful of all studies. In historical investiga- 
tion, it is extremely difficult to determine 
the nature of the influences which are 
operative in historical change ; and, until 
we can do so, our efforts at linking to- 
gether the various facts, and determining 
the forces and causes at work in the 
various stages of the historical develop- 
ment of any particular country, or of the 
world generally, must be of a more or 
less tentative nature. Unless we can do 
so, the only bond which links one historical 
fact to another must be that of mere 
sequence in time. Again, although it is 
assumed that there must be a connection 
between the various facts of our natural 
and social worlds, we may say that we 
are as yet only beginning to understand 
these relations. Some enthusiasts would 
make Nature-study the centre of the circle 
of knowledge, and on this basis would 
have us reconstruct the whole social and 


economic worlds ; but the method em- 
ployed consists usually in making more 
or less fanciful and strained analogies 
between plant and animal life on the one 
hand, and human life and its various 
social inter-relations on the other. Con- 
nection of this sort, as a rule, depends 
on fertility of imagination in the indivi- 
dual, and not on the power of grasping 
and understanding the real connection 
between facts and events. Further, it 
must be admitted that there is no con- 
nection between the various facts with 
which several of the sciences deal. There 
is e.g. no connection between the spatial 
or extensive qualities of an object, and 
its physical and chemical properties, and 
the nature of the bond which links to- 
gether the various natural sciences is 
of a more or less problematical character. 
Much more is this the case in humanistic 
studies. If, then, there is this want of 
unity between the various parts of our pre- 
sent knowledge, there must be a similar 
lack of unity and consistency in our in- 
struction. The omission to note these 
obvious facts leads the extreme suppor- 
ters of the doctrine of concentration into 


making factitious connections, and thus, 
for the sake of arousing momentary and 
present interest, to cultivate the imagi- 
native powers of the child at the ex- 
pense of his reason. In this way they 
ultimately retard the acquisition of know- 
ledge, which consists in the perception 
of the real relations existing between the 
facts of the natural and social worlds, 
of the real identities which are embodied 
in the various particulars. The only safe 
rule for the teacher is, that wherever there 
is or has been real relation between two 
facts, or groups of facts, the nature of 
the relation should be unfolded and 

But even granting the limited import- 
ance of this factor in education, we have 
to inquire into the nature of the unity 
which is possible in the Herbartian 
theory. Now the only possible concep- 
tion is that it is a unity of knowledge 
mechanically and externally effected on 
the mind. It is a unity made up by the 
linking together of part to part in a whole 
of knowledge mechanically conceived ; and 
this conception of the unity of mind fol- 
lows from looking at mental life from the 


point of view of the mere spectator. But 
the unity of our lives, in so far as they have 
been reduced to unity, is a unity (as I 
have frequently said) of purpose or end, to 
which the unity and consistency of know- 
ledge is only a means. Knowledge which 
does not perform the function of enabling 
us better to realise the various ends of life 
is so much useless lumber. It must be 
turned to use if it is to have any value ; 
and use is not to be confounded with mere 
utility. In other words, inter-connection 
of knowledge is only a means to the inter- 
connection of the purposes of life, and 
it is in the connecting of knowledge with 
the various ends of life that the theory 
of concentration is of value. 

A second reason advanced for the im- 
portance of the correlation of studies is, that 
it is only by showing the inter-relation and 
inter-connection of the various subjects of 
instruction with the present practical " in- 
terests " of the pupil, that we can hope to 
arouse and maintain his interest in the 
present. " When the child finds in the sub- 
ject matter of instruction," writes Professor 
De Garmo, " that which appeals to his own 


thinking as valuable," 1 then, and then 
only, is he genuinely interested ; and Pro- 
fessor Adams, in his brightly written book 
on the Herbartian Psychology, has copi- 
ously illustrated this aspect of the theory : 
" To be interesting," he says, " a thing must 
find a natural place for itself in the cosmos 
of the child's mind. An entirely unknown 
thing can have no interest whatever for 
a child, or, indeed, for an adult" 2 

Now, every educationalist will agree that 
we should aim at showing the relation of 
the subjects of instruction to the various 
" interests" or ends of life, and that only 
in so far as we do so are we likely to leave 
any permanent result as the outcome of 
our educational efforts. But here again 
we must clearly distinguish between the 
mechanism by which interest works and 
interest itself, in the sense of seeking an 
end directly for its own sake, or indirectly 
for the sake of something else. Know- 
ledge which bears upon the dominant 
ends and purposes of the individual life 
finds an apperceiving system which warmly 
welcomes it, and so we have the apper- 

1 " Herbart" (Great Educator Series), p. 115. 

2 " The Herbartian Psychology," p. 272. 


ceiving process set in operation, and con- 
sequently the hedonic tone, which is the 
mark of the presence of interest. 

Education, however, is not mainly con- 
cerned with the fostering and development 
of the present interests of the pupil, but 
in the creation and formation of future 
interests. It is the aim of education to 
fit the individual, intellectually, ethically, 
and practically, to fill his appropriate posi- 
tion in the social organism, and while what 
may interest in the present should, as far 
as possible, be made the basis for the for- 
mation and development of these future 
interests, this is not possible in many 

In the first place, the educator must 
inhibit certain interests, pursuits, or ends 
of the child, and this, of course, can only 
be effectively done in so far as they are 
banished by the creation of other ends 
or pursuits. But in the creation of new 
" interests," and in the expulsion of " in- 
terests " of an evil and vicious nature, the 
mere imparting and correlating of know- 
ledge are not alone sufficient. Unless 
we can make an effective appeal to the 
emotional nature of the child, our mere 


instruction will be ineffective. It is in 
correlating the various subjects of study 
with the practical interests which should 
prevail and be dominant in the life of the 
child, and in making this the basis upon 
which to develop future " interests " of 
ethical and social worth that the real aim 
of education consists ; and in order to 
reach this end much of our school work 
must be uninteresting, in the sense that the 
child can only partially realise the value or 
worth of the end sought, and of the means 
necessary to its attainment. 

In the second place, education is not 
a mere imparting and assimilating of facts, 
but consists in the training of the pupil to 
perceive the relations between the various 
facts, to explicate the nature of the identity 
which pervades and manifests itself in any 
particular system of knowledge ; and while 
the facts of instruction should be so pre- 
sented as to make this identity in differ- 
ence recognisable by the child, there is no 
ethical reason why this should be made an 
easy and agreeable process. The nature 
of the identity which pervades any system 
of knowledge is only made fully explicit 
by the earnest labours of many seekers 



after truth ; and if we are to fit our pupils 
successfully to carry on the work of the 
world, we must habituate them in like 
manner, earnestly to search into the causes 
and inter-relations of things. 

From the extreme position of present- 
ing the facts of instruction, heedless of 
their inter-connection in a system and of 
their value in relation to the practical ends 
of life, we are in danger, through the in- 
fluence of the Herbartian theory, of going 
to the other extreme, and of endeavour- 
ing to make the inter-connection so obvious 
and palpable, that there is no call for the 
active exercise of the reasoning powers 
of our pupils. But it is in the training 
of the child to perceive and apply the 
relations so discerned that the work of 
education mainly consists ; and in so 
doing we must, in many cases, subordi- 
nate present interest in order to create 
and foster a system of interests which 
will enable the child to correlate him- 
self with the civilisation into which he is 

A third reason advanced for the im- 
portance of concentration in the subjects 
of instruction is that only through the 


concentration or co-ordination of know- 
ledge is it possible to have strong, effective, 
and consistent action. 1 It is urged that if 
knowledge lies in detached and isolated 
portions, such knowledge can have little 
cumulative effect in determining con- 
duct, and that there is, as a rule, in such 
cases a want of consistency between our 
various actions. Now one apperceptive 
system is dominant and now another, 
and as each acts in isolation, the resultant 
conduct is lacking in consistency. If we 
conceive of the contents of the mind as 
consisting wholly of apperceptive systems, 
and if the various volitions which occur 
are due solely to this inter-action of the 
various presentation masses, then we shall 
be logically bound to conclude that con- 
sistency and intensity of action can 
only be obtained by the interweaving 
of the various systems together ; and 
that the more effectively we succeed in 
so doing, the more effectively shall we 
obtain the desired result of making our 
activity consistent and mechanical. But 
if, on the other hand, we deny that ideas 
and their inter-actions are the fundamental 

1 Cf. Rein's " Outlines of Pedagogics," p. 103. 


elements of the mental life and that feeling 
and volition are but secondary products of 
the inter-relations set up between pre- 
sentation masses, then we shall have to 
conclude that the consistency of know- 
ledge plays but a subordinate part in the 
consistency and unity of conduct, and 
that it is only a means to an end. 

Consistency of conduct is consistency 
between the various ends of life. This 
is only possible in so far as there is 
inter-relation between the knowledge of 
the various means necessary to realise 
the particular ends ; but while this inter- 
connection of knowledge is a means and 
a necessary means for the unity and con- 
sistency of the various purposes of life, it 
is not the only condition nor the necessary 
condition without which the unity of life 
is impossible. This unity consists in the 
unity and subordination of the various 
minor purposes of life to the one ethical 
purpose, however conceived and however 
interpreted ; and once more it must be 
repeated that this unity can only be rea- 
lised in so far as the supreme end of life 
has the greatest subjective worth to the 


Further, the real unification between the 
spheres of moral and intellectual educa- 
tion cannot be effected by showing the 
inter-connection between moral and intel- 
lectual instruction, but only by realising 
that the distinction between the intellec- 
tual and the spiritual purposes of life is 
not one of kind but of degree. The 
correlation of moral and intellectual in- 
struction is a valuable means to the attain- 
ment of this result, but the real end can be 
attained only in so far as we ethically train 
our pupils to see the manifestation of 
reason, both in the world of Nature and 
of social relations. 

In addition to these theoretical reasons 
for the necessity of correlating the various 
subjects of school instruction, there are 
various practical reasons which are of im- 
portance. By showing the inter-relation j 
of the various branches of study, we aid 
the child in the better understanding and 
comprehension of the facts. The greater 
number of inter-relations we can establish 
between any given fact, and the corre- 
sponding system or systems of know- 
ledge, the more it is known ; for knowledge 


is essentially system. A fact becomes 
known only in so far as it can be related 
within this or that particular system, and the 
ultimate aim of knowledge would be realised 
if any particular fact could be shown in its 
inter-relation with the system as a whole. 1 
'V Further, the inter-relation of the various 
facts helps in the retention and reproduc- 
tion of knowledge. This arises on account 
of the increase in the number of associa- 
tions, and tends to produce what Dr. Stout 
calls a ready or serviceable memory. 2 But 
in the connecting of fact with fact, and in 
training the child to perceive the identity 
between the various parts of knowledge, 
there is a distinct tendency in the pre- 
sent day to make connections of a fanciful 
and imaginary kind, and such connec- 
tions, as I have already pointed out, 
cultivate the imagination of the child at 
the expense of his reason. It cannot be 
too strongly insisted on, that knowledge 
consists in the perception of the real re- 
lations existing in our natural and social 
worlds, and that the endeavour to dis- 
cover and state their nature is, and has 

1 Cf. Welton's " Logical Basis of Education," chap. i. 

2 " Manual of Psychology," p. 441. 


been, the work of reason, and that imagi- 
native bonds of connection are legitimate 
only as a stage in the process of knowing. 
Again, the correlation of the various * 
subjects of instruction is valuable as a 
means for arousing present interest, and 
so is useful as a means for evoking and 
maintaining the active attention of the 
child. But here again care must be taken 
that present interest is not employed at 
the expense of the real understanding of 
the subject. Lastly, the correlation of the 
various subjects of instruction is more or 
less a necessity for securing unity of result 
in our educational efforts. This unity, how- 
ever, can only be effected when our school 
curricula are determined, not, as nowa- 
days, by the more or less capricious de- 
mands of the public, but by a theory of 
the end at which education should aim, 
and of the relative value of the subjects 
in contributing to this end. 

The failure to take account of the obvious 
limitations in our present knowledge, and 
the erroneous conception of knowledge as 
a mechanical linking together of originally 
separate and discrete units, together with 
the confusion of consistency in knowledge 


with consistency in the ends or purposes 
of life, has tended to the exaggeration of 
the value of correlating the subjects of 
instruction. This is manifest in the various 
futile attempts by professed Herbartians 
(and more so in the efforts of the dilettanti 
in educational theory) to find some one sub- 
ject of instruction which may serve as the 
centre or core of all our educational efforts. 
Some would make history the central sub- 
ject of every school curriculum ; others set 
forth in glowing terms the importance of 
Nature-study as the basis upon which to 
rear all knowledge, while one educationalist 
has had the temerity to advance the claim 
of hygiene as the subject most worthy to 
fill this exalted position. Extravagances 
of this sort are scarcely worthy of serious 
mention : they indicate such a lack of com- 
prehension of the general trend of present- 
day philosophical thought as scarcely to 
merit criticism, were it not that such con- 
ceptions influence more or less the practical 
direction of educational activity. It may 
safely be affirmed, however, that the en- 
deavour to find such a one centre or 
core of instruction will partake of a 
conjectural and imaginary character as 


long as our efforts to see the universe as a 
whole and as a unity remain imperfect and 
incomplete. This incompleteness and im- 
perfection in our scientific and philosophical 
knowledge must always infect our educa- 
tional endeavours to teach the various 
subjects of instruction as a unity, and so 
limit the application of the doctrine of 
correlation of subjects. 

But in another sense the theory of con- 
centration points out an important truth 
for the educator, and that is in the conten- 
tion that some subjects are more valuable 
in the education of the child than others. 
If we take as the basis of our principle 
of concentration, not the subjects which 
are of most value as furnishing materials 
easy of assimilation but those which are of 
most worth for the development of the 
ethical and spiritual nature of the child, 
then there can be no doubt that human- 
istic studies, dealing as they do with the 
life of man as an ethical and social being, 
should occupy the central position in edu- 
cation. Naturalistic studies, which have 
for their main aim the fitting of the indi- 
vidual to understand better the conditions 
of the natural world in which he lives, and 



thereby to put him into intelligent relation 
with his environment (and so, among other 
results, to improve his economic efficiency 
as a worker), while they must ever retain 
an important place in educational curricula, 
must always be subordinate in value to 
those disciplines which fit the individual to 
occupy his place as a member of a social 
and ethical organism. 

The theory of concentration, however, 
enforces the practical lesson, that the 
various sciences which have to do with 
our natural world should be so taught 
that the teaching of one may aid in the 
understanding and comprehension of the 
others ; but we must remember that each 
science deals with Nature from one aspect, 
and that the inter-relation of the various 
aspects is not a question which has been 
definitely settled for all time. In a similar 
manner humanistic studies should be inter- 
related with each other, and whenever and 
wherever the facts of nature are determin- 
ing agents in the production of economic 
or social changes the connections should 
be made obvious. The warning furnished 
to the practical teacher is to beware of 
bonds of an imaginary nature, and to be 


sure that there is, or has been, a real con- 
nection between the facts which he seeks 
to conjoin. 

Much more might be said in criticism 
of the Herbartian theory, and at some 
future time I hope to be able to say some- 
thing upon the place and importance of 
the doctrine of " culture stages " in edu- 
cation, a theory which, although not 
peculiar to Herbartian writers, is closely 
connected with the subject of concentration 
in the writings of Ziller and of Professor 
Rein of Jena. 1 Meanwhile I must con- 
clude with the re-statement of the position, 
that the fundamental fallacy of the Her- 
bartian school is the emphasis which it lays 
upon instruction. In opposition to this 
view, it is maintained that instruction is 
only the initiatory and preparatory stage ; 
that it is in the training of the pupil to a 
knowledge of the relations embodied in the 
facts, and in the disciplining him to the self- 
application of principles, that the work of 
education really consists. This is true not 
merely in the narrower sphere which we 
call theoretical, but applies in every sphere 
of activity, ethical or practical. Further, 

1 Cf. Rein, " Outlines of Pedagogics." 


I have shown that this error is due to the 
psychological basis on which the theory is 
founded, and the first thing we have to do is 
to become fully aware of this, and to realise 
that empirical psychologies, whether that 
of Herbart or of other writers, can give 
us only partial guidance in our educational 
efforts. It is the ends or purposes of life 
which determine and organise our experi- 
ence, and as a consequence, when we are 
endeavouring to trace the development of 
the consciousness of a child, we are driven 
away from the point of view which is 
called " Presentationism." Educational 
principles, therefore, must be based on 
some theory of the mental life which takes 
into account not merely the empirical, but 
also the rational factor in the process of 
development ; and since, as we have seen, 
the Herbartian psychology wholly neglects 
the latter, it must be rejected as a ground 
on which to found the theory and art of 


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