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Public Library 

Kansas City, Mo. 



: M .- PUBLIC LIBRARY 




D DDD1 DB7213fl fl 




HOW WE 



BY 

JOHN DEWEY 

PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSIT* 



D. C. Ul^jj^^^^, PUBLISHERS 
BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO 



COPYRIGHT, 1910, 
BY B. C. HEATH & Co. 



No 29 



PREFACE 

OUR schools are troubled with a multiplication of 
studies, each in turn having its own multiplication of 
materials and principles. Our teachers find their tasks 
made heavier in that they have come to deal with 
pupils individually and not merely in mass. Unless 
these steps in advance are to end in distraction, some 
clew of unity, some principle that makes for simplifica 
tion, must be found. This book represents the con 
viction that the needed steadying and centralizing factor 
is found in adopting as the end of endeavor that atti 
tude of mind, that habit of thought, which we call 
scientific. This scientific attitude of mind might, con 
ceivably, be quite irrelevant to teaching children and 
youth. But this book also represents the conviction 
that such is not the case ; that the native and unspoiled 
attitude of childhood, marked by ardent curiosity, fertile 
imagination, and love of experimental inquiry, is near, 
very near, to the attitude of the scientific mind. If 
these pages assist any to appreciate this kinship and to 
consider seriously how its recognition in educational 
practice would make for individual happiness and the 
reduction of social waste, the book will amply have 
served its purpose. 

It is hardly necessary to enumerate the authors t 
whom I am indebted. My fundamental indebtedness 
is to my wife, by whom the ideas of this book were 



IV PREFACE 

inspired, and through whose work in connection with 
the Laboratory School, existing in Chicago between 
1896 and 1903, the ideas attained such concreteness 
as comes from embodiment and testing in practice. It 
is a pleasure, also, to acknowledge indebtedness to the 
intelligence and sympathy of those who cooperated as 
teachers and supervisors in the conduct of that school, 
and especially to Mrs. Ella Flagg Young, then a col 
league in the University, and now Superintendent of 
the Schools of Chicago. 

NEW YORK CITY, December, 1909. , 



CONTENTS 

PART I 
THE PROBLEM OF TRAINING THOUGHT 

CHAFTKK PAGE 

I. WHAT is THOUGHT? i 

II. THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT ... 14 

III. NATURAL RESOURCES IN THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 29 

IV. SCHOOL CONDITIONS AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 45 
V. THE MEANS AND END OF MENTAL TRAINING: THE 

PSYCHOLOGICAL AND THE LOGICAL ... 56 

PART II 

LOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS 

VI. THE ANALYSIS OF A COMPLETE ACT OF THOUGHT . 68 
VII. SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE: INDUCTION AND DEDUC 
TION ......... 79 

VIII. JUDGMENT: THE INTERPRETATION OF FACTS . . 101 

IX. MEANING: OR CONCEPTIONS AND UNDERSTANDING . 116 

X. CONCRETE AND ABSTRACT THINKING . . . 135 

XL EMPIRICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING ... 145 

PART HI 
THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 

XII. ACTIVITY AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT . . 157 
XIII. LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT . .170 

v 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XIV. OBSERVATION AND INFORMATION IN THE TRAINING 

OF MIND iS8 

XV. THE RECITATION AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 201 
SOME GENERAL CONCLUSIONS . . . . ,214 



HOW WE THINK 



PART ONE: THE PROBLEM OF 
TRAINING THOUGHT 

CHAPTER ONE 
WHAT IS THOUGHT? 

i. Varied Senses of the Term 

No words are oftener on our lips than thinking and 
thought. So profuse and varied, indeed, is our use of 
these words that it is not easy to define just what we 
mean by them. The aim of this chapter is to find a 
single consistent meaning. Assistance may be had by 
considering some typical ways in which the terms are 
employed. In the first place thought is used broadly, 
not to say loosely. JEverything that comes to mind, 
that "goes through our heads," is called a thought. To 
think of a thing is just to be conscious of it in any wa 
whatsoever. Second, the term is restricted by excluding 
whatever is directly presented; we think (or think of) 
only such things as we do not directly see, hear, smell, 
or taste. Then, third, the meaning is further Emited to 
beliefs that rest upon some kind of evidence or testi 
mony. Of this third type, two kinds or, rather, two de 
grees mus t be discriminated. In some cases, a belief 
is accepted with slight or almost no attempt to state 
the grounds that support it. In other cases, the ground 
or basis for a belief is deliberately sought and its 



HOW WE THINK 



Chance and 
idle thinking 



Reflective 
thought is 
consecutive, 
not merely 
a sequence 



adequacy to support the belief examined. This process 
is called reflective thought; it alone is truly educative in 
value, and it forms, accordingly, the principal subject of 
this volume. We shall now briefly describe each of 
the four senses. 

I. In its loosest sense, thinking signifies everything 
that, as we say, is "in our heads" or that "goes through 
our minds/' He who offers "a penny for your thoughts" 
does not expect to drive any great bargain. In calling ' 
the objects of his demand thoughts, he does not intend 
to ascribe to them dignity, consecutiveness, or truth. 
Any Idle fancy, trivial recollection, or flitting impression 
will satisfy his demand. Daydreaming, building of 
castles in the air, that loose flux of casual and discon 
nected material that floats through our minds in relaxed 
moments are, in this random sense, thinking. More of 
our waking life than we should care to admit, even to 
ourselves, is likely to be whiled away in this inconse 
quential trifling with idle fancy and unsubstantial hope. 

In this sense, silly folk and dullards think. The story 
is told of a man in slight repute for intelligence, who, 
desiring to be chosen selectman in his New England 
town, addressed a knot of neighbors in this wise : " I 
hear you don't believe I know enough to hold office. I 
wish you to understand that I am thinking about some 
thing or other most of the time." Now reflective 
thought is like this random coursing of things through 
the mind in that it consists of a succession of things 
thought of; but it is unlike, in that the mere chance 
occurrence of any chance "something or other" in 
an irregular sequence does not suffice. Reflection 
involves not simply a sequence of ideas, but a con- 
sequence a consecutive ordering in such a way that 



WHAT IS THOUGHT ? 3 

each determines the next as its proper outcome, while 
each in turn leans back on its predecessors. The suc 
cessive portions of the reflective thought grow out of 
one another and support j>ne another; they do not come 
and go in a medley r~" Each phase is a step from some 
thing to something technically speaking, it is a term 
of thought. Each term leaves a deposit which is utilized 
in the next term. The stream or flow becomes a train, 
chain, or thread. 

II. Even when thinking is used in a broad sense, it is Tterestrie- 
usually restricted to matters not directly perceived: to ^ f . to 
what we do not see, smell, hear, or touch. We ask the wiiat goes 
man telling a story if he saw a certain incident happen, 
and his reply may be, " No, I only thought of it" A vation 
note of invention, as distinct from faithful record of 
observation, is present. Most important in this class 
are successions of imaginative incidents and episodes 
which, having a certain coherence, hanging together on 
a continuous thread, lie between kaleidoscopic flights of 
fancy and considerations deliberately employed to estab 
lish a conclusion. The imaginative stories poured forth 
by children possess all degrees of internal congruity; 
some are disjointed, some are articulated. When con 
nected, they simulate reflective thought; indeed, they 
usually occur in minds of logical capacity. These 
imaginative enterprises often precede thinking of the 
close-knit type and prepare the way for it. But they Reflective 
do not aim at knowledge, at belief about facts or in truths; 
and thereby they are marked off from reflective thought erer/at 
even when they most resemble it. Those who express 
such thoughts do not expect credence, but rather credit 
for a well-constructed plot or a well-arranged climax. 
They produce good stories, not unless by chance 



4 HOW WE THINK 

knowledge. Such thoughts are an efflorescence of 
feeling; the enhancement of a mood or sentiment is 
their aim ; congruity of emotion, their binding tie. 
Thought III. In its next sense, thought denotes belief resting- 

induces T_ i 

belief in u P on some basis > that ls real or supposed knowledge 
two ways going beyond what is directly present. It is marked 
by acceptance or rejection of something as reasonably prob 
able or improbable. This phase of thought, however, 
includes two such distinct types of belief that, even 
though their difference is strictly one of degree, not 
of kind, it becomes practically important to consider 
them separately. Some beliefs are accepted when 
their grounds have not themselves been considered, 
others are accepted because their grounds have been 
examined. 

/ When we say, "Men used to think the world was flat," 
or, "I thought you went by the house," we express be- 
! 4 lief : something is accepted, held to, acquiesced in, or 
affirmed. But such thoughts may mean a supposition 
accepted without reference to its real grounds. These 
may be adequate, they may not; but their value with 
reference to the support they afford the belief has not 
been considered. 

Such thoughts grow up unconsciously and without 
reference to the attainment of correct belief. They are 
picked up we know not how. From obscure sources 
and by unnoticed channels they insinuate themselves 
into acceptance and become unconsciously a part of 
our mental furniture. Tradition, instruction, imitation 
all of which depend upon authority in some form, 
or appeal to our own advantage, or fall in with a 
strong passion are responsible for them. Such 
thoughts are prejudices, that is, prejudgments, not 



WHAT IS THOUGHT? 5 

judgments proper that rest upon a survey of evi 
dence. 1 

IV. Thoughts that result in belief have an importance Thinking 

attached to them which leads to reflective thought, ^^^st 

, & ' senseistfcat 

to conscious inquiry into the nature, conditions, and wMch con- 
bearings of the belief. To think of whales and camels f^f" the 

... basis and 

in the clouds is to entertain ourselves with fancies, conse- 

terminable at our pleasure, which do not lead to any 5?^* 
* -J of beliefs 

belief in particular. But to think of the world as flat is 

to ascribe a quality to a real thing as its real property. 
This conclusion denotes a connection among things and 
hence is not, like imaginative thought, plastic to our 
mood. Belief in the world's flatness commits him who 
holds it to thinking in certain specific ways of other 
objects, such as the heavenly bodies, antipodes, the possi 
bility of navigation. It prescribes to him actions in ac 
cordance with his conception of these objects. 

The consequences of a belief upon other beliefs and 
upon behavior may be so important, then, that men are 
forced to consider the grounds or reasons of their belief 
and its logical consequences. This means reflective 
thought thought in its eulogistic and emphatic sense. 

Men thought the world was flat until Columbus thought 
it to be round. The earlier thought was a belief held 
because men had not the energy or the courage to ques 
tion what those about them accepted and taught, 
especially as it was suggested and seemingly confirmed 
by obvious sensible facts. The thought of Columbus 
was a reasoned conclusion. It marked the close of study 
into facts, of scrutiny and revision of evidence, of work 
ing out the implications of various hypotheses, and of 

1 This mode of thinking in its contrast with thoughtful inquiry receives 
special notice in the next chapter. 



HOW WE THINK 



Refiective 
defined 



There is a 



types of 



comparing these theoretical results with one another and 
with known facts. Because Columbus did not accept 
unhesitatingly the current traditional theory, because he 
doubted and inquired, he arrived at his thought. Skep 
tical of what, from long habit, seemed most certain, and 
credulous of what seemed impossible, he went on thinking 
until he could produce evidence for both his confidence 
and his disbelief. Even if his conclusion had finally 
turned out wrong, it would have been a different sort of 
belief from those it antagonized, because it was reached 
by a different method. Active, persistent \ and careful con- 
sideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in 
^ ^g^t f the grounds that sttpport it, and the further con 
clusions to which it tends, constitutes reflective thought. 
Any one of the first three kinds of thought may elicit 
this type ; but once begun, it is a conscious and voluntary 
effort to establish belief upon a firm basis of reasons. 

2. The Central Factor in Thinking 

There are, however, no sharp lines of demarcation 
between tiie various operations just outlined. The 
problem of attaining correct habits of reflection would 
be much easier than it is, did not the different modes of 
thinking blend insensibly into one another. So far, we 
have considered rather extreme instances of each kind 
in order to get the field clearly before us. Let us now 
reverse this operation; let us consider a rudimentary 
case of thinking, lying between careful examination of 
evidence and a mere irresponsible stream of fancies. A 
man is walking on a warm day. The sky was clear the 
last time he observed it; but presently he notes, while 
occupied primarily with other things, that the air is 
cooler. It occurs to him that it is probably going to 



WHAT IS THOUGHT? 7 

rain ; looking up, he sees a dark cloud between him and 
the sun, and he then quickens his steps. What, if any 
thing, in such a situation can be called thought ? Neither 
the act of walking nor the noting of the cold is a thought 
Walking is one direction of activity; looking and noting 
are other modes of activity. The likelihood that it will 
rain is, however, something suggested. The pedestrian 
feels the cold; he thinks of clouds and a coming 
shower. 

So far there is the same sort of situation as when one *** 
looking at a cloud is reminded of a human figure and 
face. Thinking in both of these cases (the cases of be- observed 
lief and of fancy) involves a noted or perceived fact, 
followed by something else which is not observed but 
which is brought to mind, suggested by the thing seen. 
One reminds us, as we say, of the other. Side by side, 
however, with this factor of agreement in the two cases 
of suggestion is a factor of marked disagreement. We 
do not believe in the face suggested by the cloud; we do 
not consider at all the probability of its being a fact 
There is no refiectwe thought The danger of rain, on 
the contrary, presents itself to us as a genuine possibil 
ity as a possible fact of the same nature as the ob 
served coolness. Put differently, we do not regard the 
cloud as meaning or indicating a face, but merely as 
suggesting it, while we do consider that the coolness may 
mean rain. In the first case, seeing an object, we just relation of 

_. iii 

happen, as we say, to think of something else ; in the 
second, we consider the possibility and nature of the con 
nection between the object seen and the object suggested. 
The seen thing is regarded as in some way the ground or 
basis of belief in the suggested thing ; it possesses the 
quality of evidence. 



8 



HOW WE THINK 



Various 
synonymous 
expressions 
for the 
function of 
signifying 



Reflection 
and belief 
on evidence 



This function by which one thing signifies or indi 
cates another, and thereby leads us to consider how far 
one may be regarded as warrant for belief in the other, 
is, then, the central factor in all reflective or distinctively 
intellectual thinking. By calling up various situations to 
which such terms as signifies and indicates apply, the stu 
dent will best realize for himself the actual facts denoted 
by the words reflective thought. Synonyms for these 
terms are : points to, tells of, betokens, prognosticates, 
represents, stands for, implies. 1 We also say one thing 
portends another ; is ominous of another, or a symptom 
of it, or a key to it, or (if the connection is quite ob 
scure) that it gives a hint, clue, or intimation. 

Reflection thus implies that something is believed in 
(or disbelieved in), not on its own direct account, but 
through something else which stands as- witness, evi 
dence, proof, voucher, warrant; that is, as ground of be* 
lief. At one time, rain is actually felt or directly ex 
perienced; at another time, we infer that it has rained 
from the looks of the grass and trees, or that it is going 
to rain because of the condition of the air or the state of 
the barometer. At one time, we see a man (or suppose 
we do) without any intermediary fact ; at another time, 
we are not quite sure what we see, and hunt for accom 
panying facts that will serve as signs, indications, tokens 
of what is to be believed. 

Thinking, for the purposes of this inquiry, is defined 
accordingly as that operation in which present facts sug 
gest other facts (or truths) in such a way as to induce be- 

1 Implies is more often used when a principle or general truth bring? 
about belief in some other truth ; the other phrases are more frequently 
used to denote the cases in which one fact or event leads us to believe in 
something else. 



WHAT IS THOUGHT? 9 

Uef in the latter upon the ground or warrant of the 
former. We do not put beliefs that rest simply on 
inference on the surest level of assurance. To say 
" I think so " implies that I do not as yet know so. The 
inferential belief may later be confirmed and come to 
stand as sure, but in itself it always has a certain ele 
ment of supposition. 

3. Elements in Reflective Thinking 

So much for the description of the more external and 
obvious aspects of the fact called thinking. Further 
consideration at once reveals certain subprocesses which 
are involved in every reflective operation. These are : 
(a) a state of perplexity, hesitation, doubt ; and (8) an 
act of search or investigation directed toward bringing 
to light further facts which serve to corroborate or to 
nullify the suggested belief. 

(a) In our illustration, the shock of coolness generated Tie impor- 

confusion and suspended belief, at least momentarily. tanc t 

' . J uncertainty 

Because it was unexpected, it was a shock or an interrup 
tion needing to be accounted for, identified, or placed. 
To say that the abrupt occurrence of the change of tem 
perature constitutes a problem may sound forced and 
artificial ; but if we are willing to extend the meaning 
of the vrmdifroblem to whatever no matter how slight 
and commonplace in character perplexes and chal 
lenges the mind so that it makes belief at all uncertain, 
there is a genuine problem or question involved in this 
experience of sudden change. 

() The turning of the head, the lif ting of the eyes, and of 
the scanning of the heavens, are activities adapted to JJ*!^ 
bring to recognition facts that will answer the question to teat 
presented by the sudden coolness. The facts as titey 



10 HOW WE THINK 

first presented themselves were perplexing ; they sug 
gested, however, clouds. The act of looking was an act 
to discover if this suggested explanation held good. It 
may again seem forced to speak of this looking, almost 
automatic, as an acfr of research or inquiry. But once 
more, if we are willing to generalize our conceptions 
of our mental operations to include the trivial and 
ordinary as well as the technical and recondite, there 
is no good reason for refusing to give such a title to 
the act of looking. The purport of this act of inquiry 
is to confirm or to refute the suggested belief. New 
facts are brought to perception, which either corrobo 
rate the idea that a change of weather is imminent, or 
negate it. 

Another instance, commonplace also, yet not quite so 
trivial, m ^Y enforce this lesson. A man traveling in an 
unfamiliar region comes to a branching of the roads. 
011 Having no sure knowledge to fall back upon, he is 
brought to a standstill of hesitation and suspense. 
Which road is right? And how shall perplexity be 
resolved? There are but two alternatives: he must 
either blindly and arbitrarily take his course, trusting to 
luck for the outcome, or he must discover grounds for 
the conclusion that a given road is right. Any attempt 
to decide the matter by thinking will involve inquiry 
into other facts, whether brought out by memory or by 
further observation, or by both. The perplexed way 
farer must carefully scrutinize what is before him and 
he must cudgel his memory. He looks for evidence 
that will support belief in favor of either of the roads 
for evidence that will weight down one suggestion. 
He may climb a tree ; he may go first in this direction, 
thea in that, looking, in either case, for signs, clues, 



WHAT IS THOUGHT? II 

indications. He wants something in the nature of a 
signboard or a map, and his reflection is aimed at the 
discovery of facts that will serve this purpose. 

The above illustration may be generalized. Think- possible, 
ing begins in what may fairly enough be called a forked- y *^^ m ~ 
road situation, a situation which is ambiguous, which suggestions 
presents a dilemma, which proposes alternatives. As 
long as our activity glides smoothly along from one 
thing to another, or as long as we permit our imagina 
tion to entertain fancies at pleasure, there is no call for 
reflection. Difficulty or obstruction in the way of 
reaching a belief brings us, however, to a pause. In 
the suspense of uncertainty, we metaphorically climb a 
tree ; we try to find some standpoint from which we 
may survey additional facts and, getting a more com 
manding view of the situation, may decide how the facts 
stand related to one another. 

Demand for the solution of a perplexity is the steadying Regulation 
and guiding factor in the entire process of reflection. ? f ^" l 
Where there is no question of a problem to be solved 
or a difficulty to be surmounted, the course of suggestions 
flows on at random ; we have the first type of thought 
described. If the stream of suggestions is controlled 
simply by their emotional congruity, their fitting agree 
ably into a single picture or story, we have the second 
type. But a question to be answered, an ambiguity to 
be resolved, sets up an end and holds the current of 
ideas to a definite channel. Every suggested conclusion 
is tested by its reference to this regulating end, by its 
pertinence to the problem in hand. This need of 
straightening out a perplexity also controls the kind of 
inquiry undertaken. A traveler whose end is the most 
beautiful path will look for other considerations and 



12 HOW WE THINK 

will test suggestions occurring to him on another prin 
ciple than if he wishes to discover the way to a given 
city. The problem fixes the end of thought and the end 
controls the process of thinking. 

4. Summary 

Origin and We may recapitulate by saying that the origin of 
thinking is some perplexity, confusion, or doubt. Think 
ing is not a case of spontaneous combustion; it does 
not occur just on "general principles/' There is some 
thing specific which occasions and evokes it General 
appeals to a child (or to a grown-up) to think, irrespec 
tive of the existence in his own experience of some 
difficulty that troubles him and disturbs his equilibrium, 
are as futile as advice to lift himself by his boot-straps. 

Suggestion! Given a difficulty, the next step is suggestion of 
some way out the formation of some tentative plan 
or project, the entertaining of some theory which will 
account for the peculiarities in question, the considera 
tion of some solution for the problem. The data at 
hand cannot supply the solution ; they can only suggest 
it What, then, are the sources of the suggestion? 
Clearly past experience and prior knowledge. If the 
person has had some acquaintance with similar situations, 
if he has dealt with material of the same sort before, 
suggestions more or less apt and helpful are likely to arise. 
But unless there has been experience in some degree 
analogous, which may now be represented in imagination, 
confusion remains mere confusion. There is nothing 
upon which to draw in order to clarify it Even when 
a child (or a grown-up) has a problem, to urge him to 
think when he has no prior experiences involving some 
of the same conditions, is wholly futile. 



WHAT IS THOUGHT? 13 

If the suggestion that occurs is at once accepted, we Exploration 
have uncritical thinking, the minimum of reflection. To and tcstijl * 
turn the thing over in mind, to reflect, means to hunt 
for additional evidence, for new data, that will de 
velop the suggestion, and will either, as we say, bear it 
out or else make obvious its absurdity and irrelevance. 
Given a genuine difficulty and a reasonable amount of 
analogous experience to draw upon, the difference, par 
excellence, between good and bad thinking is found at 
this point. The easiest way is to accept any suggestion 
that seems plausible and thereby bring to an end the 
condition of mental uneasiness. Reflective thinking is 
always more or less troublesome because it involves 
overcoming the inertia that inclines one to accept sug 
gestions at their face value; it involves willingness to 
endure a condition of mental unrest and disturbance. 
Reflective thinking, in short, means judgment suspended 
during further inquiry; and suspense is likely to be 
somewhat painful. As we shall see later, the most im 
portant factor in the training of good mental habits 
consists in acquiring the attitude of suspended conclu 
sion, and in mastering the various methods of searching 
for new materials to corroborate or to refute the first 
suggestions that occur. To maintain the state of doubt 
and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry 
these are the essentials of thinking. 



CHAPTER TWO 



Man the 

animal 

tninks 



The possi 
bility of 
deliberate 
and in 
tentional 
activity 



THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT 

To expatiate upon the importance of thought would 
be absurd. The traditional definition of man as " the 
thinking animal " fixes thought as the essential difference 
between man and the brutes, surely an important mat 
ter. More relevant to our purpose is the question how 
thought is important, for an answer to this question 
will throw light upon the kind of training thought re 
quires if it is to subserve its end. 

I. The Values of Thottght 

I. Thought affords the sole method of escape from 
purely impulsive or purely routine action. A being 
without capacity for thought is moved only by instincts 
and appetites, as these are called forth by outward con 
ditions and by the inner state of the organism. A being 
thus moved is, as it were, pushed from behind. This 
is what we mean by the blind nature of brute actions. 
The agent does not see or foresee the end for which he 
is acting, nor the results produced by his behaving in one 
way rather than in another. He does not " know what 
he is about." Where there is thougKt, things present 
act as signs or tokens of things not yet experienced. A 
thinking being can, accordingly, act on the basis of the 
absent and the future. Instead of being pushed into a 
mode of action by the sheer urgency of forces, whether 



THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT 15 

instincts or habits, of which he is not aware, a reflective 
agent is drawn (to some extent at least) to action by 
some remoter object of which he is indirectly aware. 

An animal without thought may go into its hole when 
rain threatens, because of some immediate stimulus to 
its organism. A thinking agent will perceive that cer 
tain given facts are probable signs of a future rain, and 
will take steps in the light of this anticipated future. 
To plant seeds, to cultivate the soil, to harvest grain, 
are intentional acts, possible only to a being who has 
learned to subordinate the immediately felt elements of 
an experience to those values which these hint at and Natural 
prophesy. Philosophers have made much of the phrases ^Jbfa in 
"book of nature," "language of nature." Well, it is in language 
virtue of the capacity of thought that given things are 
significant of absent things, and that nature speaks a 
language which may be interpreted. To a being who 
thinks, things are records of their past, as fossils tell 
of the prior history of the earth, and are prophetic of 
their future, as from the present positions of heavenly 
bodies remote eclipses are foretold. Shakespeare's 
"tongues in trees, books in the running brooks," ex 
presses literally enough the power superadded to exist 
ences when they appeal to a thinking being. Upon 
the function of signification depend all foresight, all in 
telligent planning, deliberation, and calculation. 

II. By thought man also develops and arranges arti- T&epssi- 
ficial signs to remind him in advance of consequences, ^j^t^f 
and of ways of securing and avoiding them. As the trait foresight 
just mentioned makes the difference between savage man 
and brute, so this trait makes the difference between 
civilized man and savage. A savage who has been 
shipwrecked in a river may note certain things which 



HOW WE THINK 



The possi 
bility of 
objects rich 
in quality 



serve him as signs of danger in the future. But civilized 
man deliberately makes such signs; he sets up in ad 
vance of wreckage warning buoys, and builds light 
houses where he sees signs that such events may occur. 
A savage reads weather signs with great expertness; 
civilized man institutes a weather service by which signs 
are artificially secured and information is distributed in 
advance of the appearance of any signs that could be 
detected without special methods. A savage finds his 
way skillfully through a wilderness by reading certain 
obscure indications; civilized man builds a highway 
which shows the road to all The savage learns to 
detect the signs of fire and thereby to invent methods 
of producing flame; civilized man invents permanent 
conditions for producing light and heat whenever they 
are needed. The very essence of civilized culture is 
that we deliberately erect monuments and memorials, 
lest we forget ; and deliberately institute, in advance of 
the happening of various contingencies and emergencies 
of life, devices for detecting their approach and regis 
tering their nature, for warding off what is unfavorable, 
or at least for protecting ourselves from its full impact 
and for making more secure and extensive what is favor 
able. All forms of artificial apparatus are intentionally 
designed modifications of natural things in order that 
they may serve better than in their natural estate to in 
dicate the hidden, the absent, and the remote. 

III. Finally, thought confers upon physical events 
and objects a very different status and value from that 
which they possess to a being that does not reflect 
These words are mere scratches, curious variations of 
light and shade, to one to whom they are not linguistic 
signs. To him for whom they are signs of other things, 



THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT 17 

each has a definite individuality of its own, according to 
the meaning that it is used to convey. Exactly the same 
holds of natural objects, A chair is a different object 
to a being to whom it consciously suggests an oppor 
tunity for sitting down, repose, or sociable converse, from 
what it is to one to whom it presents itself merely as a 
thing to be smelled, or gnawed, or jumped over; a 
stone is different to one who knows something of its 
past history and its future use from what it is to one 
who only feels it directly through his senses. It is only 
by courtesy, indeed, that we can say that an unthinking 
animal experiences an object at all so largely is any 
thing that presents itself to us as an object made up 
by the qualities it possesses as a sign of other things. 

An English logician (Mr. Venn) has remarked that it The nature 
may be questioned whether a dog sees a rainbow any 
more than he apprehends the political constitution of 
the country in which he lives. The same principle ap 
plies to the kennel in which he sleeps and the meat that 
he eats. When he is sleepy, he goes to the kennel ; 
when he is hungry, he is excited by the smell and color of 
meat; beyond this, in what sense does he see an object? 
Certainly he does not see a house i.e. a thing with all 
the properties and relations of a permanent residence, 
unless he is capable of making what is present a uniform 
sign of what is absent unless he is capable of thought* 
Nor does he see what he eats as meat unless it suggests 
the absent properties by virtue of which it is a certain 
joint of some animal, and is known to afford nourish 
ment Just what is left of an object stripped of all 
such qualities of meaning, we cannot well say; but 
we can be sure that the object is then a very different 
sort of thing from the objects that we perceive. There 



18 



HOW WE THINK 



Mill on the 
business of 
life and the 
occupation 
of mind 



Thinking 
goes astray 



is moreover no particular limit to the possibilities of 
growth in the fusion of a thing as it is to sense and as it 
is to thought, or as a sign of other things. The child to 
day soon regards as constituent parts of objects qualities 
that once it required the intelligence of a Copernicus or 
a Newton to apprehend. 

These various values of the power of thought may be 
summed up in the following quotation from John Stuart 
Mill. "To draw inferences," he says, "has been said 
to be the great business of life. Every one has daily, 
hourly, and momentary need of ascertaining facts which 
he has not directly observed : not from any general pur 
pose of adding to his stock of knowledge, but because 
the facts themselves are of importance to his interests 
or to his occupations. The business of the magistrate, 
of the military commander, of the navigator, of the 
physician, of the agriculturist, is merely to judge of 
evidence and to act accordingly. ... As they do this 
well or ill, so they discharge well or ill the duties of 
their several callings. // is the only occupation in which 
the mind never ceases to be engaged" * 

2. Importance of Direction in order to Realise these 

Values 

What a person has not only daily and hourly, but 
momentary need of performing, is not a technical and 
abstruse matter ; nor, on the other hand, is it trivial and 
negligible. Such a function must be congenial to the 
mind, and must be performed, in an unspoiled mind, 
upon every fitting occasion. Just because, however, it 
is an operation of drawing inferences, of basing conclu 
sions upon evidence, of reaching belief indirectly, it is 
1 Mill, System of Loffic, Introduction, 5. 



THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT 19 

an operation that may go wrong as well as right, and 
hence is one that needs safeguarding and training. The 
greater its importance the greater are the evils when it 
is ill-exercised. 

An earlier writer than Mill, John Locke (1632-1704), ideas m 
brings out the importance of thought for life and the f^-^^^ 
need of training so that its best and not its worst orforwors* 
possibilities will be realized, in the following words : 
" No man ever sets himself about anything but upon 
some view or other, which serves him for a reason for 
what he does ; and whatsoever faculties he employs, the 
understanding with such light as it has, well or ill in 
formed, constantly leads; and by that light, true or false, 
all his operative powers are directed. . . . Temples 
have their sacred images, and we see what influence they 
have always had over a great part of mankind. But in 
truth the ideas and images in men's minds are the 
invisible powers that constantly govern them, and to 
these they all, universally, pay a ready submission. It 
is therefore of the highest concernment that great care 
should be taken of the understanding, to conduct it 
aright in the search of knowledge and in the judgments it 
makes/' * If upon thought hang all deliberate activities 
and the uses we make of all our other powers, Locke's 
assertion that it is of the highest concernment that care 
should be taken of its conduct is a moderate statement. 
While the power of thought frees us from servile sub 
jection to instinct, appetite, and routine, it also brings 
with it the occasion and possibility of error and mistake. 
In elevating us above the brute, it opens to us the pos 
sibility of failures to which the animal, limited to in 
stinct, cannot sink. 

1 Locke, Of ike Conduct ofiht Understanding) first paragraph. 



HOW WE THINK 



P&yaicaland 
social sanc 
tions of cor 
rect thinking 



The serious 
limitations 
of such 
sanctions 



3. Tendencies Needing Constant Regulation 

Up to a certain point, the ordinary conditions of life, 
natural and social, provide the conditions requisite for 
regulating the operations of inference. The necessities 
of life enforce a fundamental and persistent discipline 
for which the most cunningly devised artifices would be 
ineffective substitutes. The burnt child dreads the fire ; 
the painful consequence emphasizes the need of correct 
inference much more than would learned discourse on 
the properties of heat. Social conditions also put a pre 
mium on correct inferring in matters where action based 
on valid thought is socially important. These sanctions 
of proper thinking may affect life itself, or at least a 
life reasonably free from perpetual discomfort. The 
signs of enemies, of shelter, of food, of the main social 
conditions, have to be correctly apprehended. 

But this disciplinary training, efficacious as it is within 
certain limits, does not carry us beyond a restricted 
boundary. Logical attainment in one direction is no 
bar to extravagant conclusions in another. A savage 
expert in judging signs of the movements and location 
of animals that he hunts, will accept and gravely narrate 
the most preposterous yarns concerning the origin of 
their habits and structures. When there is no directly 
appreciable reaction of the inference upon the security 
and prosperity of life, there are no natural checks to 
the acceptance of wrong beliefs. Conclusions may be 
generated by a modicum of fact merely because the sug 
gestions are vivid and interesting ; a large accumulation 
of data may fail to suggest a proper conclusion because 
existing customs are averse to entertaining it. Inde 
pendent of training, there is a "primitive credulity" 



THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT 21 

which tends to make no distinction between what a 
trained mind calls fancy and that which it calls a rea 
sonable conclusion. The face in the clouds is believed 
in as some sort of fact, merely because it is forcibly 
suggested. Natural intelligence is no barrier to the 
propagation of error, nor large but untrained experience 
to the accumulation of fixed false beliefs. Errors may 
support one another mutually and weave an ever larger 
and firmer fabric of misconception. Dreams, the posi 
tions of stars, the lines of the hand, may be regarded as 
valuable signs, and the fall of cards as an inevitable 
omen, while natural events of the most crucial signifi 
cance go disregarded. Beliefs in portents of various 
kinds, now mere nook and cranny superstitions, were 
once universal. A long discipline in exact science was 
required for their conquest 

In the mere function of suggestion, there is no differ- Superstition 
ence between the power of a column of mercury to por- JJ^UjJJJ* 11 
tend rain, and that of the entrails of an animal or the as science 
flight of birds to foretell the fcrtunes of war. For all 
anybody can tell in advance, the spilling of salt is as 
likely to import bad luck as the bite of a mosquito to 
import malaria. Only systematic regulation of the con 
ditions under which observations are made and severe 
discipline of the habits of entertaining suggestions can 
secure a decision that one type of belief is vicious and 
the other sound. The substitution of scientific for 
superstitious habits of inference has not been brought 
about by any improvement in the acuteness of the 
senses or in the natural workings of the function" of 
suggestion. It is the result of regulation of the condi 
tions under which observation and inference take 
place. 



22 HOW WE THINK 

General It is instructive to note some of the attempts that 

SdthiiLk- have been made to classify the main sources of error in 
ing: Bacon's reaching beliefs. Francis Bacon, for example, at the 
ldos beginnings of modern scientific inquiry, enumerated 

four such classes, under the somewhat fantastic title of 
"idols" (Gr. eitScoXa, images), spectral forms that allure 
the mind into false paths. These he called the idols, or 
phantoms, of the (a) tribe, () the market-place, (c) the 
cave or den, and (d) the theater; or, less metaphorically, 
(a) standing erroneous methods (or at least temptations 
to error) that have their roots in human nature gener 
ally; (b) those that come from intercourse and language; 
(c) those that are due to causes peculiar to a specific 
individual ; and finally, (d) those that have their sources 
in the fashion or general current of a period. Classify 
ing these causes of fallacious belief somewhat differently, 
we may say that two are intrinsic and two are extrinsic. 
Of the intrinsic, one is common to all men alike (such 
as the universal tendency to notice instances that cor 
roborate a favorite belief more readily than those that 
contradict it), while the other resides in the specific 
temperament and habits of the given individual. Of 
the extrinsic, one, proceeds from generic social condi 
tions like the tendency to suppose that there is a 
fact wherever there is a word, and no fact where there 
is no linguistic term while the other proceeds from 
local and temporary social currents. 

Locke on the Locke's method of dealing with typical forms of 
influence of wrong b e ii e f j s j ess f orma i anc j ma y be more enlight 
ening. We can hardly do better than quote his forcible 
and quaint language, when, enumerating different classes 
of men, he shows different ways in which thought goes 
wrong : 



THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT 23 

1. "The first is of those who seldom reason at all, O) depend 
but do and think according to the example of others, ^her!? 
whether parents, neighbors, ministers, or who else they 

are pleased to make choice of to have an implicit faith 
in, for the saving of themselves the pains and troubles 
of thinking and examining for themselves." 

2. " This kind is of those who put passion in the W self - 
place of reason, and being resolved that shall govern mterest> 
their actions and arguments, neither use their own, nor 
hearken to other people's reason, any farther than it 

suits their humor, interest, or party." 1 

3. " The third sort is of those who readily and sin- 0) circun* 

cerely follow reason, but for want of having that which scribed 

J experience 

one may call large, sound, roundabout sense, have not 
a full view of all that relates to the question. . . . They 
converse but with one sort of men, they read but one 
sort of books, they will not come in the hearing but of 
one sort of notions. . . . They have a pretty traffic 
with known correspondents in some little creek . . . 
but will not venture out into the great ocean of knowl 
edge." Men of originally equal natural parts may 
finally arrive at very different stores of knowledge and 
truth, " when all the odds between them has been the 
different scope that has been given to their understand 
ings to range in, for the gathering up of information 
and furnishing their heads with ideas and notions and 
observations, whereon to employ their mind." 2 

1 In another place he says ; " Men's prejudices and inclinations impose 
often upon themselves. . . . Inclination suggests and slides into dis 
course favorable terms, which introduce favorable ideas; till at last by 
this means that is concluded clear and evident, thus dressed up, which, 
taken in its native state, by making use of none but precise determined 
ideas, would find no admittance at all." 

3 The Conduct of the Understanding, 3, 



HOW WE THINK 



Effect of 
dogmatic 
principle*, 



of closed 



In another portion of his writings, 1 Locke states the 
same ideas in slightly different form. 

I. "That which is inconsistent with our principles is 
so far from passing for probable with us that it will 
not be allowed possible. The reverence borne to these 
principles is so great, and their authority so paramount 
to all other, that the testimony, not only of other men, 
but the evidence of our own senses are often rejected, 
when they offer to vouch anything contrary to these es 
tablished rules. . . . There is nothing more ordinary 
than children's receiving into their minds propositions 
. . . from their parents, nurses, or those about them; 
which being insinuated in their unwary as well as un 
biased understandings, and fastened by degrees, are at 
last (and this whether true or false) riveted there by 
long custom and education, beyond all possibility of 
being pulled out again. For men, when they are grown 
up, reflecting upon their opinions and finding those of 
this sort to be as ancient in their minds as their very 
memories, not having observed their early insinuation, 
nor by what means they got them, they are apt to rever 
ence them as sacred things, and not to suffer them to be 
profaned, touched, or questioned." They take them as 
standards "to be the great and unerring deciders of 
truth and falsehood, and the judges to which they are 
to appeal in all manner of controversies." 

2. " Secondly, next to these are men whose under 
standings are cast into a mold, and fashioned just to 
the size of a received hypothesis." Such men, Locke 
goes on to say, while not denying the existence of facts 
and evidence, cannot be convinced by the evidence that 

1 Essay Concerning Human Understanding, bk. IV, ch. XX, "Of 
Wrong Assent or Error." 



THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT 25 

would decide them if their minds were not so closed 
by adherence to fixed belief. 

3. " Predominant Passions. Thirdly, probabilities of strong 
which cross men's appetites and prevailing passions P* 8810 ** 
run the same fate. Let ever so much probability hang 

on one side of a covetous man's reasoning, and money 
on the other, it is easy to foresee which will outweigh. 
Earthly minds, like mud walls, resist the strongest 
batteries. 

4. " Authority. The fourth and last wrong measure of depend- 
of probability I shall take notice of, and which keeps in ^thoilty 
ignorance or error more people than all the others of others 
together, is the giving up our assent to the common 
received opinions, either of our friends or party, neigh 
borhood or country." 

Both Bacon and Locke make it evident that over and Cauaes of 
above the sources of misbelief that reside in the natural 
tendencies of the individual (like those toward hasty 
and too far-reaching conclusions), social conditions tend 
to instigate and confirm wrong habits of thinking by 
authority, by conscious instruction, and by the even 
more insidious half-conscious influences of language, 
imitation, sympathy, and suggestion. Education has 
accordingly not only to safeguard an individual against 
the besetting erroneous tendencies of his own mind 
its rashness, presumption, and preference of what chimes 
with self-interest to objective evidence but also to 
undermine and destroy the accumulated and self-per 
petuating prejudices of long ages. When social life 
in general has become more reasonable, more imbued 
with rational conviction, and less moved by stiff authority 
and blind passion, educational agencies may be more 
positive and constructive than at present, for they will 



26 HOW WE THINK 

work in harmony with the educative influence exercised 
willy-nilly by other social surroundings upon an individ 
ual's habits of thought and belief. At present, the 
work of teaching must not only transform natural ten 
dencies into trained habits of thought, but must also 
fortify the mind against irrational tendencies current in 
the social environment, and help displace erroneous 
habits already produced. 

4. Regulation Transforms Inference into Proof 
A leap is Thinking is important because, as we have seen, it is 

*kat f unc ti n i* 1 which given or ascertained facts stand 
for or indicate others which are not directly ascertained. 
But the process of reaching the absent from the present 
is peculiarly exposed to error; it is liable to be influ 
enced by almost any number of unseen and unconsid- 
ered causes, past experience, received dogmas, the 
stirring of self-interest, the arousing of passion, sheer 
mental laziness, a social environment steeped in biased 
traditions or animated by false expectations, and so 
on. The exercise of thought is, in the literal sense of 
that word, inference ; by it one thing carries us over to 
the idea of, and belief in, another thing. It involves a 
jump, a leap, a going beyond what is surely known to 
something else accepted on its warrant Unless one 
is an idiot, one simply cannot help having all things 
and events suggest other things not actually present, 
nor can one help a tendency to believe in the latter 
on the basis of the former. The very inevitableness 
of the jump, the leap, to something unknown, only 
emphasizes the necessity of attention to the conditions 
under which it occurs so that the danger of a false step 
may be lessened and the probability of a right landing 
increased. 



THE NEED FOR TRAINING THOUGHT 27 

Such attention consists in regulation (i) of the con- Hence, the 
ditions under which the function of suggestion takes J^ton* 1 *** 
place, and (2) of the conditions under which credence is which, when 
yielded to the suggestions that occur. Inference con- ^k^^of 
trolled in these two ways (the study of which in detail 
constitutes one of the chief objects of this book) forms 
proof. To prove a thing means primarily to try, to 
test it The guest bidden to the wedding feast excused 
himself because he had to prove his oxen. Exceptions 
are said to prove a rule ; i.e. they furnish instances so 
extreme that they try in the severest fashion its applica 
bility ; if the rule will stand such a test, there is no good 
reason for further doubting it. Not until a thing has 
been tried "tried out/' in colloquial language do 
we know its true worth. Till then it may be pretense, 
a bluff. But the thing that has come out victorious in 
a test or trial of strength carries its credentials with it; 
it is approved, because it has been proved. Its value is 
clearly evinced, shown, i.e. demonstrated. So it is with 
inferences. The mere fact that inference in general is 
an invaluable function does not guarantee, nor does it 
even help out the correctness of any particular inference. 
Any inference may go astray; and as we have seen, 
there are standing influences ever ready to assist its 
going wrong. What is important, is that every inference 
shall be a tested inference ; or (since often this is not 
possible) thai we shall discriminate between beliefs that 
rest upon tested evidence and those tJiat do not, and shall 
be accordingly on our guard as to the kind and degree of 
assent yielded. 

While it is not the business of education to prove The office of 
every statement made, any more than to teach every 
possible item of information, it is its business to culti- 



28 HOW WE THINK 

powers of vate deep-seated and effective habits of discrimlnat- 
tbinkin ing tested beliefs from mere assertions, guesses, and 
opinions ; to develop a lively, sincere, and open-minded 
preference for conclusions that are properly grounded, 
and to ingrain into the individual's working habits 
methods of inquiry and reasoning appropriate to the 
various problems that present themselves. No matter 
how much an individual knows as a matter of hearsay 
and information, if he has not attitudes and habits of 
this sort, he is not intellectually educated. He lacks the 
rudiments of mental discipline. And since these habits 
are not a gift of nature (no matter how strong the ap 
titude for acquiring them) ; since, moreover, the casual 
circumstances of the natural and social environment 
are not enough to compel their acquisition, the main 
office of education is to supply conditions that make for 
their cultivation. The formation of these habits is the 
Training of Mind. 



CHAPTER THREE 

NATURAL RESOURCES IN THE TRAINING OF 
THOUGHT 

IN the last chapter we considered the need of trans 
forming, through training, the natural capacities of in 
ference into habits of critical examination and inquiry. 
The very importance of thought for life makes necessary 
its control by education because of its natural tendency 
to go astray, and because social influences exist that tend 
to form habits of thought leading to inadequate and 
erroneous beliefs. Training must, however, be itself 
based upon the natural tendencies, that is, it must find 
its point of departure in them. A being who could not 
think without training could never be trained to think ; 
one may have to learn to think well^ but not to think. 
Training, in short, must fall back upon the prior and 
independent existence of natural powers ; it is con 
cerned with their proper direction, not with creating 
them. 

Teaching and learning are correlative or correspond 
ing processes, as much so as selling and buying. One 
might as well say he has sold when no one has bought, 
as to say that he has taught when no one has learned. 
And in the educational transaction, the initiative lies Hence, the 
with the learner even more than in commerce it lies with 
the buyer. If an individual can learn to think only in 
the sense of learning to employ more economically and 



30 HOW WE THINK 

effectively powers he already possesses, even more truly 
one can teach others to think only in the sense of ap 
pealing to and fostering powers already active in them. 
Effective appeal of this kind is impossible unless the 
teacher has an insight into existing habits and tenden 
cies, the natural resources with which he has to ally 
himself. 

Three Any inventory of the items of this natural capital is 

naturaf 11 somewhat arbitrary because it must pass over many of 
resources the complex details. But a statement of the factors 
essential to thought will put before us in outline the 
main elements. Thinking involves (as we have seen) 
the suggestion of a conclusion for acceptance, and also 
search or inquiry to test the value of the suggestion be 
fore finally accepting it This implies (a) a certain fund 
or store of experiences and facts from which sugges. 
tions proceed; (6) promptness, flexibility, and fertility 
of suggestions; and (c) orderliness, consecutiveness, 
appropriateness in what is suggested. Clearly, a person 
may be hampered in any of these three regards : His 
thinking may be irrelevant, narrow, or crude because 
he has not enough actual material upon which to base 
conclusions ; or because concrete facts and raw material, 
even if extensive and bulky, fail to evoke suggestions 
easily and richly ; or finally, because, even when these 
two conditions are fulfilled, the ideas suggested are in 
coherent and fantastic, rather than pertinent and con 
sistent, 

I. Curiosity 

Desire for The most vital and significant factor in supplying the 
primary material whence suggestion may issue is, with 
out doubt, curiosity. The wisest of the Greeks used to 



NATURAL RESOURCES IN TRAINING THOUGHT 31 

say that wonder is the mother of all science. An inert 
mind waits, as it were, for experiences to be imperiously 
forced upon it. The pregnant saying of Words 
worth : 

" The eye it cannot choose but see ; 

We cannot bid the ear be still ; 

Our bodies feel, where'er they be, 

Against or with our will " 

holds good in the degree in which one is naturally pos 
sessed by curiosity. The curious mind is constantly 
alert and exploring, seeking material for thought, as a 
vigorous and healthy body is on the qui vive for 
nutriment Eagerness for experience, for new and 
varied contacts, is found where wonder is found. Such 
curiosity is the only sure guarantee of the acquisition 
of the primary facts upon which inference must base 
itself. 

(a) In its first manifestations, curiosity is a vital over- (a) physical 
flow, an expression of an abundant organic energy. A 
physiological uneasiness leads a child to be " into every 
thing/' to be reaching, poking, pounding, prying. 
Observers of animals have noted what one author calls 
" their inveterate tendency to fool." " Rats run about, 
smell, dig, or gnaw, without real reference to the busi 
ness in hand. In the same way Jack [a dog] scrabbles 
and jumps, the kitten wanders and picks, the otter slips 
about everywhere like ground lightning, the elephant 
fumbles ceaselessly, the monkey pulls things about." l 
The most casual notice of the activities of a young child 
reveals a ceaseless display of exploring and testing ac 
tivity. Objects are sucked, fingered, and thumped; 
drawn and pushed, handled and thrown ; in short, experi- 

1 Habhonse, Mind in Evolution^ p. 195. 



HOW WE THINK 



social 



(c) intel 
lectual 



mented with, till they cease to yield new qualities. Such 
activities are hardly intellectual, and yet without them 
intellectual activity would be feeble and intermittent 
through lack of stuff for its operations. 

() A higher stage of curiosity develops under the in 
fluence of social stimuli. When the child learns that he 
can appeal to others to eke out his store of experiences, 
so that, if objects fail to respond interestingly to his ex 
periments, he may call upon persons to provide interest 
ing material, a new epoch sets in. "What is that?" 
" Why ? " become the unfailing signs of a child's pres 
ence. At first this questioning is hardly more than a 
projection into social relations of the physical overflow 
which earlier kept the child pushing and pulling, open 
ing and shutting. He asks in succession what holds up 
the house, what holds up the soil that holds the. house, 
what holds up the earth that holds the soil; but his 
questions are not evidence of any genuine consciousness 
of rational connections. His why is not a demand for 
scientific explanation; the motive behind it is simply 
eagerness for a larger acquaintance with the mysterious 
world in which he is placed. The search is not for 
a law or principle, but only for a bigger fact. Yet 
there is more than a desire to accumulate just informa 
tion or heap up disconnected items, although sometimes 
the interrogating habit threatens to degenerate into a 
mere disease of language. In the feeling, however dim, 
that the facts which directly meet the senses are not 
the whole story, that there is more behind them and 
more to come from them, lies the germ of intellectual 
curiosity. 

(c) Curiosity rises above the organic and the social 
planes and becomes intellectual in the degree in which 



NATURAL RESOURCES IN TRAINING THOUGHT 33 

it is transformed into interest in problems provoked by 
the observation of things and the accumulation of ma 
terial. When the question is not discharged by being 
asked of another, when the child continues to entertain 
it in his own mind and to be alert for whatever will help 
answer it, curiosity has become a positive intellectual 
force. To the open mind, nature and social experience 
are full of varied and subtle challenges to look further. 
If germinating powers are not used and cultivated at 
the right moment, they tend to be transitory, to die out, 
or to wane in intensity. This general law is peculiarly 
true of sensitiveness to what is uncertain and question 
able ; in a few people, intellectual curiosity is so insati 
able that nothing will discourage it, but in most its edge 
is easily dulled and blunted. Bacon's saying that we 
must become as little children in order to enter the 
kingdom of science is at once a reminder of the open- 
minded and flexible wonder of childhood and of the ease 
with which this endowment is lost. Some lose it in 
indifference or carelessness; others in a frivolous 
flippancy; many escape these evils only to become in 
cased in a hard dogmatism which is equally fatal to the 
spirit of wonder. Some are so taken up with routine 
as to be inaccessible to new facts and problems. Others 
retain curiosity only with reference to what concerns 
their personal advantage in their chosen career. With 
many, curiosity is arrested on the plane of interest in 
local gossip and in the fortunes of their neighbors ; in 
deed, so usual is this result that very often the first 
association with the word curiosity is a prying inquisitive- 
ness into other people's business. With respect then to 
curiosity, the teacher has usually more to learn than to 
teach. Rarely can he aspire to the office of kindling or 



34 HOW WE THINK 

even increasing it. His task is rather to keep alive the 
sacred spark of wonder and to fan the flame that already 
glows. His problem is to protect the spirit of inquiry, 
to keep it from becoming blas6 from overexcitement, 
wooden from routine, fossilized through dogmatic in- 
struction, or dissipated by random exercise upon trivial 
things. 

2. Suggestion 

Out of the subject-matter, whether rich or scanty, im 
portant or trivial, of present experience issue sugges 
tions, ideas, beliefs as to what is not yet given. The 
function of suggestion is not one that can be produced 
by teaching; while it may be modified for better or 
worse by conditions, it cannot be destroyed. Many a 
child has tried his best to see if he could not " stop 
thinking/' but the flow of suggestions goes on in spite 
of our will, quite as surely as " our bodies feel, where'er 
they be, against or with our will." Primarily, naturally, 
it is not we who think, in any actively responsible sense; 
thinking is rather something that happens in us. Only 
so far as one has acquired control of the method in 
which the function of suggestion occurs and has ac 
cepted responsibility for its consequences, can one truth 
fully say, "/think so and so." 

The aimen- The function of suggestion has a variety of aspects (or 
dimensions as we may term them), varying in different 
persons, both in themselves and in their mode of com 
bination. These dimensions are ease or promptness, 

(a) ease extent or variety, and depth or persistence, (a) The 
common classification of persons into the dull and the 
bright is made primarily on the basis of the readiness or 
facility with which suggestions follow upon the presenta- 



NATURAL RESOURCES IN TRAINING THOUGHT 35 

tion of obj ects and upon the happening of events. As the 
metaphor of dull and bright implies, some minds are im 
pervious, or else they absorb passively. Everything pre 
sented is lost in a drab monotony that gives nothing 
back. But others reflect, or give back in varied lights, 
all that strikes upon them. The dull make no response ; 
the bright flash back the fact with a changed quality. 
An inert or stupid mind requires a heavy jolt or an in 
tense shock to move it to suggestion ; the bright mind 
is quick, is alert to react with interpretation and sugges 
tion of consequences to follow. 

Yet the teacher is not entitled to assume stupidity or 
even dullness merely because of irresponsiveness to 
school subjects or to a lesson as presented by text-book 
or teacher. The pupil labeled hopeless may react in 
quick and lively fashion when the thing-in-hand seems 
to him worth while, as some out-of-school sport or social 
affair. Indeed, the school subject might move him, 
were it set in a different context and treated by a 
different method. A boy dull in geometry may prove 
quick enough when he takes up the subject in connec 
tion with manual training ; the girl who seems inacces 
sible to historical facts may respond promptly when it is a 
question of judging the character and deeds of people of 
her acquaintance or of fiction. Barring physical defect 
or disease, slowness and dullness in all directions are 
comparatively rare. 

(b) Irrespective of the difference in persons as to the (5) 
ease and promptness with which ideas respond to 
facts, there is a difference in the number or range of the 
suggestions that occur. We speak truly, in some cases, 
of the flood of suggestions; in others, there is but a 
slender trickle. Occasionally, slowness of outward 



36 HOW WE THINK 

response is due to a great variety of suggestions which 
check one another and lead to hesitation and suspense ; 
while a lively and prompt suggestion may take such 
possession of the mind as to preclude the development 
of others. Too few suggestions indicate a dry and 
meager mental habit; when this is joined to great learn 
ing, there results a^gedant or a Gradgrind. Such a 
person's mind rings hard ; he is likely to bore others 
with mere bulk of information. He contrasts with the 
person whom we call ripe, juicy, and mellow. 

A conclusion reached after consideration of a few 
alternatives may be formally correct, but it will not 
possess the fullness and richness of meaning of one ar 
rived at after comparison of a greater variety of alterna 
tive suggestions. On the other hand, suggestions may 
be too numerous and too varied for the best interests of 
mental habit. So many suggestions may rise that the 
person is at a loss to select among them. He finds it 
difficult to reach any definite conclusion and wanders 
more or less helplessly among them. So much suggests 
itself fro and con y one thing leads on to another so nat 
urally, that he finds it difficult to decide in practical affairs 
or to conclude in matters of theory. There is such a 
thing as too much thinking, as when action is paralyzed 
by the multiplicity of views suggested by a situation. 
Or again, the very number of suggestions may be hostile 
to tracing logical sequences among them, for it may 
tempt the mind away from the necessary but trying task 
of search for real connections, into the more congenial 
occupation of embroidering upon the given facts a 
tissue of agreeable fancies. The best mental, habit 
involves a balance between paucity and redundancy of 
suggestions. 



NATURAL RESOURCES IN TRAINING THOUGHT 37 

(c) Depth. We distinguish between people not only W P* - 
upon the basis of their quickness and fertility of intel- 
lectual response, but also with respect to the plane upon 
which it occurs the intrinsic quality of the response* 

One man's thought is profound while another's is su 
perficial ; one goes to the roots of the matter, and another 
touches lightly its most external aspects. This phase 
of thinking is perhaps the most untaught of all, and the 
least amenable to external influence whether for improve 
ment or harm. Nevertheless, the conditions of the 
pupil's contact with subject-matter may be such that he 
is compelled to come to quarters with its more signifi 
cant features, or such that he is encouraged to deal 
with it upon the basis of what is triviaL The common 
assumptions that, if the pupil only thinks, one thought is 
just as good for his mental discipline as another, and 
that the end of study is the amassing of information, 
both tend to foster superficial, at the expense of signifi 
cant, thought. Pupils who in matters of ordinary practi 
cal experience have a ready and acute perception of the 
difference between the significant and the meaningless, 
often reach in school subjects a point where all things 
seem equally important or equally unimportant ; where 
one thing is just as likely to be true as another, and 
where intellectual effort is expended not in discriminat 
ing between things, but in trying to make verbal con 
nections among words. 

Sometimes slowness and depth of response are inti- BaUac* 
mately connected. Time is required in order to digest * mind 
impressions, and translate them into substantial ideas, 
" Brightness " may be but a flash in the pan. The " slow 
but sure " person, whether man or child, is one in whom 
impressions sink and accumulate, so that thinking is done 



38 HOW WE THINK 

at a deeper level of value than with a slighter load 
Many a child is rebuked for "slowness," for not "an 
swering promptly," when his forces are taking time to 
gather themselves together to deal effectively with the 
problem at hand. In such cases, failure to afford time 
and leisure conduce to habits of speedy, but snapshot 
and superficial, judgment. The depth to which a sense 
of the problem, of the difficulty, sinks, determines the 
quality of the thinking that follows ; and any habit of 
teaching which encourages the pupil for the sake of a 
successful recitation or of a display of memorized in 
formation to glide over the thin ice of genuine problems 
reverses the true method of mind training. 

individual It is profitable to study the lives of men and women 
differences who ac hi eve j n a d u i t itf e g ne things in their respective 
callings, but who were called dull in then- school days. 
Sometimes the early wrong judgment was due mainly 
to the fact that the direction in which the child showed 
his ability was not one recognized by the good old 
standards in use, as in the case of Darwin's interest in 
beetles, snakes, and frogs. Sometimes it was due to 
the fact that the child dwelling habitually on a deeper 
plane of reflection than other pupils or than his 
teachers did not show to advantage when prompt 
answers of the usual sort were expected. Sometimes it 
was due to the fact that the pupil's natural mode of 
approach clashed habitually with that of the text or 
teacher, and the method of the latter was assumed as 
an absolute basis of estimate. 

Any subject In any event, it is desirable that the teacher should 
^ himself of the notion that "thinking" is a single, 
unalterable faculty ; that he should recognize that it is a 
term denoting the various ways in which things acquire 



NATURAL RESOURCES IN TRAINING THOUGHT 39 

significance. It is desirable to expel also the kindred no 
tion that some subjects are inherently " intellectual/' and 
hence possessed of an almost magical power to train the 
faculty of thought. Thinking is specific, not a machine- 
like, ready-made apparatus to be turned indifferently 
and at will upon all subjects, as a lantern may throw its 
light as it happens upon horses, streets, gardens, trees, 
or river. Thinking is specific, hi that different things 
suggest their own appropriate meanings, tell their own 
unique stories, and in that they do this in very differ 
ent ways with different persons. As the growth of 
the body is through the assimilation of food, so the 
growth of mind is through the logical organization 
of subject-matter. Thinking is not like a sausage 
machine which reduces all materials indifferently to one 
marketable commodity, but is a power of following up 
and linking together the specific suggestions that 
specific things arouse. Accordingly, any subject, from 
Greek to cooking, and from drawing to mathematics, is 
intellectual, if intellectual at all, not in its fixed inner 
structure, but in its function in its power to start and 
direct significant inquiry and reflection. What geometry 
does for one, the manipulation of laboratory apparatus, 
the mastery of a musical composition, or the conduct of 
a business affair, may do for another. 

3. Orderliness: Its Nature 

Facts, whether narrow or extensive, and conclusions 
suggested by them, whether many or few, do not con 
stitute, even when combined, reflective thought. The 
suggestions must be organized ; they must be arranged 
with reference to one another and with reference to 
the facts on which they depend for proof. When the 



4 o HOW WE THINK 

factors of facility, of fertility, and of depth are properly 
balanced or proportioned, we get as the outcome conti 
nuity of thought. We desire neither the slow mind nor 
yet the hasty. We wish neither random diffuseness 
ContinMHy nor fixed rigidity. Consecutiveness means flexibility 
and variety of materials, conjoined with singleness and 
definiteness of direction. It is opposed both to a me 
chanical routine uniformity and to a grasshopper-like 
movement. Of bright children, it is not infrequently 
said that " they might do anything, if only they settled 
down," so quick and apt are they in any particular re 
sponse. But, alas, they rarely settle. 

On the other hand, it is not enough not to be diverted. 
A deadly and fanatic consistency is not our goal. Con 
centration does not mean fixity, nor a cramped arrest or 
paralysis of the flow of suggestion. It means variety 
and change of ideas combined into a single steady trend 
moving toward a unified conclusion. Thoughts are con 
centrated not by being kept still and quiescent, but 
by being kept moving toward an object, as a general 
concentrates his troops for attack or defense. Holding 
the mind to a subject is like holding a ship to its course; 
it implies constant change of place combined with unity 
of direction. Consistent and orderly thinking is precisely 
such a change of subject-matter. Consistency is no 
more the mere absence of contradiction than concentra 
tion is the mere absence of diversion which exists in 
dull routine or in a person "fast asleep." All kinds of 
varied and incompatible suggestions may sprout and be 
followed in their growth, and yet thinking be consistent 
and orderly, provided each one of the suggestions is 
viewed in relation to the main topic. 

In the main, for most persons, the primary resource 



NATURAL RESOURCES IN TRAINING THOUGHT 41 

in the development of orderly habits of thought is in- Practical 
direct, not direct. Intellectual organization originates ^* 
and for a time grows as an accompaniment of the or- some degree 
ganization of the acts required to realize an end, not as 
the result of a direct appeal to thinking power. The 
need of thinking to accomplish something beyond think 
ing is more potent than thinking for its own sake. All 
people at the outset, and the majority of people probably 
all their lives, attain ordering of thought through order 
ing of action. Adults normally carry on some occupation, 
profession, pursuit ; and this furnishes the continuous 
axis about which their knowledge, their beliefs, and their 
habits of reaching and testing conclusions are organized. 
Observations that have to do with the efficient perform 
ance of their calling are extended and rendered precise. 
Information related to it is not merely amassed and 
then left in a heap ; it is classified and subdivided so as 
to be available as it is needed. Inferences are made by 
most men not from purely speculative motives, but be 
cause they are involved in the efficient performance 
of "the duties involved in their several callings." 
Thus their inferences are constantly tested by results 
achieved ; futile and scattering methods tend to be dis 
counted; orderly arrangements have a premium put 
upon them. The event, the issue, stands as a constant 
check on the thinking that has led up to it ; and this 
discipline by efficiency in action is the chief sanction, in 
practically all who are not scientific specialists, of order 
liness of thought 

Such a resource the main prop of disciplined think 
ing in adult life is not to be despised in training the 
young in right intellectual habits. There are, however, 
profound differences between the immature and the 



42 HOW WE THINK 

adult in the matter of organized activity differences 
which must be taken seriously into account in any 
educational use of activities : (/) The external achieve 
ment resulting from activity is a more urgent necessity 
with the adult, and hence is with him a more effective 
means of discipline of mind than with the child ; (//) The 
ends of adult activity are more specialized than those of 
child activity. 

**r (/) The selection and arrangement of appropriate 

lines of action Is a much more difficult problem as re- 

** spects youth than it is in the case of adults. With the 
latter, the main lines are more or less settled by circum 
stances. The social status of the adult, the fact that he 
is a citizen, a householder, a parent, one occupied in 
some regular industrial or professional calling, prescribes 
the chief features of the acts to be performed, and 
secures, somewhat automatically, as it were, appropriate 
and related modes of thinking. But with the child there 
is no such fixity of status and pursuit ; there is almost 
nothing to dictate that such and such a consecutive line 
of action, rather than another, should be followed, while 
the will of others, his own caprice, and circumstances 
about him tend to produce an isolated momentary act 
The absence of continued motivation cooperates with the 
inner plasticity of the immature to increase the importance 
of educational training and the difficulties in the way of 
finding consecutive modes of activities which may do for 
child and youth what serious vocations and functions do 
for the adult. In the case of children, the choice is so 
peculiarly exposed to arbitrary factors, to mere school 
traditions, to waves of pedagogical fad and fancy, to 
fluctuating social cross currents, that sometimes, in sheer 
disgust at the inadequacy of results, a reaction 



NATURAL RESOURCES IN TRAINING THOUGHT 43 

to the total neglect of overt activity as an educational 
factor, and a recourse to purely theoretical subjects and 
methods. 

(if) This very difficulty, however, points to the fact PecuKar 
that the opportunity for selecting truly educative activi 
ties is indefinitely greater in child life than in adult. 
The factor of external pressure is so strong with most 
adults that the educative value of the pursuit its reflex 
influence upon intelligence and character however 
genuine, is incidental, and frequently almost accidental. 
The problem and the opportunity with the young is 
selection of orderly and continuous modes of occupa 
tion, which, while they lead up to and prepare for the 
indispensable activities of adult life, have their own 
sufficient justification in their present reflex influence 
upon the formation of habits of thought. 

Educational practice shows a continual tendency to Action and 
oscillate between two extremes with respect to overt 
and exertive activities. One extreme is to neglect them 
almost entirely, on the ground that they are chaotic and 
fluctuating, mere diversions appealing to the transitory 
unformed taste and caprice of immature minds; or if 
they avoid this evil, are objectionable copies of the 
highly specialized, and more or less commercial, activ 
ities of adult life. If activities are admitted at all into 
the school, the admission is a grudging concession to 
the necessity of having occasional relief from the strain 
of constant intellectual work, or to the clamor of outside 
utilitarian demands upon the school The other extreme 
is an enthusiastic belief in the almost magical edu 
cative efficacy of any kind of activity, granted it is 
an activity and not a passive absorption of academk 
and theoretic material Tbe conceptions of play, of 



44 HOW WE THINK 

self-expression, of natural growth, are appealed to al 
most as if they meant that opportunity for any kind of 
spontaneous activity inevitably secures the due training 
of mental power ; or a mythological brain physiology is 
appealed to as proof that any exercise of the muscles 
trains power of thought. 

Locating the While we vibrate from one of these extremes to the 
^ er the most serious of all problems is ignored : 
the problem, namely, of discovering and arranging the 
forms of activity (a) which are most congenial, best 
adapted, to the immature stage of development; (b) which 
have the most ulterior promise as preparation for the 
social responsibilities of adult life ; and (c) which, at the 
same time, have the maximum of influence in forming 
habits of acute observation and of consecutive infer 
ence. As curiosity is related to the acquisition of ma 
terial of thought, as suggestion is related to flexibility 
and force of thought, so the ordering of activities, not 
themselves primarily intellectual, is related to the form- 
ing of intellectual powers of consecutiveness. 



CHAPTER FOUR 
SCHOOL CX3NBITIONS AND THE TRAnTDSTG OF THOUGHT 

i. Introductory: Methods and Conditions 

THE so-called faculty-psychology went hand in hand 
with the vogue of the formal-discipline idea in education. 
If thought is a distinct piece of mental machinery, 
separate from observation, memory, imagination, and 
common-sense judgments of persons and things, then 
thought should be trained by special exercises designed 
for the purpose, as one might devise special exercises 
for developing the biceps muscles. Certain subjects are 
then to be regarded as intellectual or logical subjects 
par excellence, possessed of a predestined fitness to exer 
cise the thought-faculty, just as certain machines are 
better than others for developing arm power. With 
these three notions goes the fourth, that method consists 
of a set of operations by which the machinery of thought 
is set going and kept at work upon any subject-matter. 

We have tried to make it clear in the previous chap- 
ters that there is no single and uniform power of j^^. 
thought, but a multitude of different ways in which 
specific things things observed, remembered, heard of, 
read about evoke suggestions or ideas that are per 
tinent to the occasion and fruitful in the sequel. Train 
ing is such development of curiosity, suggestion, and 
habits of exploring and testing, as increases their scope 

45 



4 6 HOW WE THINK 

and efficiency. A subject any subject is intellec* 
tual in the degree in which with any given person it 
succeeds in effecting this growth. On this view the 
fourth factor, method, is concerned with providing con- 
ditions so adapted to individual needs and powers as 
to make for the permanent improvement of observation, 
suggestion, and investigation. 

The teacher's problem is thus twofold. On the one 
side, he needs (as we saw in the last chapter) to be a 
student of individual traits and habits ; on the other side, 
he needs to be a student of the conditions that modify 
for better or worse the directions in which individual 
powers habitually express themselves. He needs to rec 
ognize that method covers not only what he intentionally 
devises and employs for the purpose of mental training, 
but also what he does without any conscious reference 
t o it, anything in the atmosphere and conduct of 
the school which reacts in any way upon the curiosity, 
the responsiveness, and the orderly activity of chil- 
Tro* and dren. The teacher who is an intelligent student both of 
faisynean- i D( jividual mental operations and of the effects of school 
method conditions upon those operations, can largely be trusted 
to develop for himself methods of instruction in their nar 
rower and more technical sense those best adapted to 
achieve results in particular subjects, such as reading, 
geography, or algebra. In the hands of one who is not 
intelligently aware of individual capacities and of the in 
fluence unconsciously exerted upon them by the entire 
environment, even the best of technical methods are 
likely to get an immediate result only at the expense of 
deep-seated and persistent habits. We may group the 
conditioning influences of the school environment under 
three heads : (i) the mental attitudes and habits of the 



SCHOOL CONDITIONS AND TRAINING THOUGHT 47 

persons with whom the child is in contact ; (2) the sub 
jects studied ; (3) current educational aims and ideals, 

2. Influence of the Habits of Others 

Bare reference to the imitativeness of human nature 
is enough to suggest how profoundly the mental habits 
of others affect the attitude of the one being trained 
Example is more potent than precept ; and a teacher's 
best conscious efforts may be more than counteracted by 
the influence of personal traits which he is unaware of 
or regards as unimportant. Methods of instruction and 
discipline that are technically faulty may be rendered 
practically innocuous by the inspiration of the personal 
method that lies back of them. 

To confine, however, the conditioning influence of the Release t 
educator, whether parent or teacher, to imitation is to 
get a very superficial view of the intellectual influence 
of others. Imitation is but one case of a deeper prin 
ciple that of stimulus and response. Everything ike 
teacher does, as well as the manner in which he does it, 
incites the child to respond in some way or other, and 
each response tends to set the child" $ attitude in someway 
or otJier* Even the inattention of the child to the adult 
is often a mode of response which is the result of un 
conscious training. 1 The teacher is rarely (and even 
then never entirely) a transparent medium of access by 
another mind to a subject With the young, the in 
fluence of the teacher's personality is intimately f used 
with that of the subject; the child does not separate 

* A cMd of &MT or fire wfao fead been repeatedly called to t&e boose 
by Ms motlier w&l* BO apparent response on las own part, was asked if fee 
<Kd mot &ear her. He replied quite jadkialy, Qfc, yes, bt sfee doesst 
call very mad yet," 



4 8 



HOW WE THINK 



Influence of 
teacher's 
own habits 



others by 
oarselves 



nor even distinguish the two. And as the child's re 
sponse is toward or away from anything presented, he 
keeps up a running commentary, of which he himself is 
hardly distinctly aware, of like and dislike, of sympathy 
and aversion, not merely to the acts of the teacher, but 
also to the subject with which the teacher is occupied. 

The extent and power of this influence upon morals 
and manners, upon character, upon habits of speech 
and social bearing, are almost universally recognized. 
But the tendency to conceive of thought as an isolated 
faculty has often blinded teachers to the fact that 
this influence is just as real and pervasive in intellec 
tual concerns. Teachers, as well as children, stick 
more or less to the main points, have more or less- 
wooden and rigid methods of response, and display more 
or less intellectual curiosity about matters that come up. 
And every trait of this kind is an inevitable part of the 
teacher's method of teaching. Merely to accept with 
out notice slipshod habits of speech, slovenly inferences, 
unimaginative and literal response, is to indorse these 
tendencies, and to ratify them into habits and so it 
goes throughout the whole range of contact between 
teacher and student. In this complex and intricate 
field, two or three points may well be singled out for 
special notice, (a) Most persons are quite unaware of 
the distinguishing peculiarities of their own mental 
habit. They take their own mental operations for 
granted, and unconsciously make them the standard for 
judging the mental processes of others. 1 Hence there 

1 People who have number-forms i.e. project number series into 
space and see them arranged in certain shapes when asked why they 
have not mentioned the fact before, often reply that it never occurred to 
tbcm; they supposed that everybody had the same power. 



SCHOOL CONDITIONS AND TRAINING THOUGHT 49 

is a tendency to encourage everything in the pupil 
which agrees with this attitude, and to neglect or fail 
to understand whatever is incongruous with it. The 
prevalent overestimation of the value, for mind-train- 4 
ing, of theoretic subjects as compared with practical 
pursuits, is doubtless due partly to the fact that the 
teacher's calling tends to select those in whom the 
theoretic interest is specially strong and to repel those 
in whom executive abilities are marked. Teachers 
sifted out on this basis judge pupils and subjects by a 
like standard, encouraging an intellectual one-sidedness 
in those to whom it is naturally congenial, and repelling 
from study those in whom practical instincts are more 
urgent. 

() Teachers and this holds especially of the stronger Exaggera- 
and better teachers tend to rely upon their personal ^^^ 
strong points to hold a child to his work, and thereby influence 
to substitute their personal influence for that of subject- 
matter as a motive for study. The teacher finds by 
experience that his own personality is often effective 
where the power of the subject to command attention 
is almost nil; then he utilizes the former more and 
more, until the pupil's relation to the teacher almost 
takes the place of his relation to the subject. In this 
way the teacher's personality may become a source of 
personal dependence and weakness, an influence that 
renders the pupil indifferent to the value of the subject 
for its own sake. 

(c) The operatipn of the teacher's own mental habit 
tends, unless carefully watched and guided, to make 
the child a student of the teacher's peculiarities rather "getting Ui 
than of the subjects that he is supposed to study. His ans '* rer 
chief concern is to accommodate himself to what the 



50 HOW WE THINK 

teacher expects of him, rather than to devote himself 
energetically to the problems of subject-matter. " Is this 
right ?" comes to mean "Will this answer or this pro 
cess satisfy the teacher? " instead of meaning, " Does 
it satisfy the inherent conditions of the problem ? " It 
would be folly to deny the legitimacy or the value of 
the study of human nature that children carry on in 
school ; but it is obviously undesirable that their chief 
intellectual problem should be that of producing an 
answer approved by the teacher, and their standard of 
success be successful adaptation to the requirements of 
another. 

3. Influence of the Nature of Studies 

Studies are conventionally and conveniently grouped 
of studies under these heads : (i) Those especially involving the 
acquisition of skill in performance the school arts, 
such as reading, writing, figuring, and music. (2) Those 
mainly concerned with acquiring knowledge "infor 
mational" studies, such as geography and history. (3) 
Those in which skill in doing and bulk of information 
are relatively less important, and appeal to abstract 
thinking, to "reasoning/* is most marked "disciplin 
ary" studies, such as arithmetic and formal grammar. 1 
Each of these groups of subjects has its own special 
pitfalls. 

Tfcftaiwtcaei (a) In the case of the so-called disciplinary or pre- 
eminently logical studies, there is danger of the isola 
tion of intellectual activity from the ordinary affairs 

1 Of course, any one subject has all three aspects : e& in arithmetic, 
cTOting writing, and reading numbers, rapid adding, etc., are cases of 
^IS la doing ; the tables of weights and measures are a matter of infor 
oaatkm, etc. 



SCHOOL CONDITIONS AND TRAINING THOUGHT 51 

of life. Teacher and student alike tend to set up a 
chasm between logical thought as something abstract 
and remote, and the specific and concrete demands of 
everyday events. The abstract tends to become so 
aloof, so far away from application, as to be cut loose 
from practical and moral bearing. The gullibility of 
specialized scholars when out of their own lines, their ex 
travagant habits of inference and speech, their ineptness 
in reaching conclusions in practical matters, their ego 
tistical engrossment in their own subjects, are extreme 
examples of the bad effects of severing studies com 
pletely from their ordinary connections in life. 

(ft) The danger in those studies where the main ern- Overdoing 
phasis is upon acquisition of skill is just the reverse, ^^f 1 * 1 
The tendency is to take^the shortest cuts possible to automatic 
gain the required end. ^This makes the subjects me 
chanical, and thus restrictive of intellectual power. In 
the mastery of reading, writing, drawing, laboratory tech 
nique, etc., the need of economy of time and material, 
of neatness and accuracy, of promptness and uniformity, 
is so great that these things tend to become ends in 
themselves, irrespective of their influence upon general 
mental attitude. |Sheer imitation, dictation of steps to 
be taken, mechanical drill, may give results most 
quickly and yet strengthen traits likely to be fatal 
to reflective power. The pupil is enjoined to do tins 
and that specific thing, with no knowledge of any rea 
son except that by so doing he gets his result most 
speedily; his mistakes are pointed out and corrected 
for him; he is kept at pure repetition of certain acts 
till they become automatic. Later, teachers wonder 
why the pupil reads with so little expression, and fig 
ures with so little intelligent consideration of the terms 



52 HOW WE THINK 

"Drill" of his problem. In some educational dogmas and prac 
tices, the very idea of training mind seems to be hope 
lessly confused with that of a drill which hardly touches 
mind at all or touches it for the worse since it is 
wholly taken up with training skill in external execution. 
This method reduces the "training" of human beings 
to the level of animal training. { Practical skill, modes 
of effective technique, can be intelligently, non-mechani- 
cally used, only when intelligence has played a part in 
their acquisition. 

Wisdom (c) Much the same sort of thing is to be said regard- 

versits j n g studies where emphasis traditionally falls upon 
information ~ . . J * 

bulk and accuracy of information. The distinction 

between information and wisdom is old, and yet requires 
constantly to be redrawn. Information is knowledge 
which is merely acquired and stored up; wisdom is knowl 
edge operating in the direction of powers to the better 
living of life. Information, merely as information, im 
plies no special training of intellectual capacity ; wisdom 
is the finest fruit of that training. In school, amassing 
information always tends to escape from the ideal of 
wisdom or good judgment. The aim often seems to be 
especially in such a subject as geography to make 
the pupil what has been called a " cyclopedia of useless 
information." "Covering the ground" is the primary 
necessity; the nurture of mind a bad second. Thinking 
cannot, of course, go on in a vacuum ; suggestions and 
inferences can occur only upon a basis of information 
as to matters of fact 

But there is all the difference in the world whether 
the acquisition of information is treated as an end in 
itself, or is made an integral portion of the training of 
thought The assumption that information which has 



SCHOOL CONDITIONS AND TRAINING THOUGHT 53 

been accumulated apart from use in the recognition and 
solution of a problem may later on be freely employed 
at will by thought is quite false, The skill at the ready 
command of intelligence is the skill acquired with 
the aid of intelligence; the only information which, 
otherwise than by accident, can be put to logical use is 
that acquired in the course of thinking. Because their 
knowledge has been achieved in connection with the 
needs of specific situations, men of little book-learning are 
often able to put to effective use every ounce of knowl 
edge they possess ; while men of vast erudition are often 
swamped by the mere bulk of their learning, because 
memory, rather than thinking, has been operative in 
obtaining it. 

4, The Influence of Current Aims and Ideals 

It is, of course, impossible to separate this somewhat 
intangible condition from the points just dealt with; 
for automatic skill and quantity of information are edu 
cational ideals which pervade the whole school. We 
may distinguish, however, certain tendencies, such as 
that to judge education from the standpoint of external 
results, instead of from that of the development of per 
sonal attitudes and habits. The ideal of the product, as 
against that of the mental process by which the product 
is attained, shows itself in both instruction and moral 
discipline. 

(a) In instruction, the external standard manifests itself External 
in the importance attached to the " correct answer." No 
one other thing, probably, works so fatally against focus- 
sing the attention of teachers upon the training of mind 
as the domination of their minds by the idea that the chief 
thing is to get pupils to recite their lessons correctly. 



54 HOW WE THINK 

As long as this end is uppermost (whether consciously 
or unconsciously), training of mind remains an incidental 
and secondary consideration. There is no great difficulty 
in understanding why this ideal has such vogue. The 
large number of pupils to be dealt with, and the tend 
ency of parents and school authorities to demand 
speedy and tangible evidence of progress, conspire to 
give it currency. Knowledge of subject-matter not 
of children is alone exacted of teachers by this aim ; 
and, moreover, knowledge of subject-matter only in 
portions definitely prescribed and laid out, and hence 
mastered with comparative ease. Education that takes 
as its standard the improvement of the intellectual atti 
tude and method of students demands more serious pre 
paratory training, for it exacts sympathetic and intelli 
gent insight into the workings of individual minds, and 
a very wide and flexible command of subject-matter so 
as to be able to select and apply just what is needed 
when it is needed. Finally, the securing of external 
results is an aim that lends itself naturally to the 
mechanics of school administration to examinations, 
marks, gradings, promotions, and so on. 

Reliance () With reference to behavior also, the external 

upon others j^^ jjas a great influence. Conformity of acts to pre 
cepts and rules is the easiest, because most mechanical, 
standard to employ. It is no part of our present task 
to tell just how far dogmatic instruction, or strict adher 
ence to custom, convention, and the commands of a 
social superior, should extend in moral training ; but 
since problems of conduct are the deepest and most 
common of all the problems of life, the ways in which 
they are met have an influence that radiates into every 
other mental attitude, even those far remote from any 



SCHOOL CONDITIONS AND TRAINING THOUGHT 55 

direct or conscious moral consideration. Indeed, the 
deepest plane of the mental attitude of every one is fixed 
by the *way*in which problems of behavior are treated. If 
the function of thought, of serious inquiry and reflection, 
is reduced to a minimum in dealing with them, it is not 
reasonable to expect habits of thought to exercise great 
influence in less important matters. Oh the other hand, 
habits of active inquiry and careful deliberation in the 
significant and vital problems of conduct afford the best 
guarantee that the general structure of mind will be 
reasonable. 



CHAPTER FIVE 



THE MEANS Ain> END OF MENTAL TRAINING: 
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND THE LOGICAL 



THE 



Special 
topic of 
this chapter 



Three 
senses of 
term laical 



The practi 
cal is the 



meaniagof 



I. Introductory: The Meaning of Logical 

IN the preceding chapters we have considered (z) what 
thinking is ; () the importance of its special training ; 
(iit) the natural tendencies that lend themselves to its 
training; and (iv) some of the special obstacles in the way 
of its training under school conditions. We come now 
to the relation of logic to the purpose of mental training. 

In its broadest sense, any thinking that ends in a 
conclusion is logical whether the conclusion reached 
be justified or fallacious ; that is, the term logical covers 
both the logically good and the illogical or the logically 
bad. In its narrowest sense, the term logical refers 
only to what is demonstrated to follow necessarily 
from premises that are definite in meaning and that are 
either self -evidently true, or that have been previously 
proved to be true. Stringency of proof is here the 
equivalent of the logical. In this sense mathematics 
and formal logic (perhaps as a branch of mathematics) 
alone are strictly logical. Logical, however, is used in 
a third sense, which is at once more vital and more 
practical; to denote, namely, the systematic care, nega 
tive and positive, taken to safeguard reflection so that it 
may yield the best results under the given conditions. 
If only the word artificial were associated with the idea 

56 



MEANS AND END OF MENTAL TRAINING 57 

of art, or expert skill gained through voluntary appren 
ticeship (instead of suggesting the factitious and unreal), 
we might say that logical refers to artificial thought 

In this sense, the word logical is synonymous with Cae, 
wide-awake, thorough, and careful reflection thought ^f 
in its best sense (ante, p. 5). Reflection is turning a exactness 
topic over in various aspects and in various lights so 
that nothing significant about it shall be overlooked 
almost as one might turn a stone over to see what its 
hidden side is like or what is covered by it Thoughtful- 
ness means, practically, the same thing as careful atten 
tion ; to give our mind to a subject is to give heed to it, 
to take pains with it. In speaking of reflection, we 
naturally use the words weigh, ponder, deliberate 
terms implying a certain delicate and scrupulous balanc 
ing of things against one another. Closely related names 
are scrutiny ', examination, consideration, inspection 
terms which imply close and careful vision. Again, to 
think is to relate things to one another definitely, to " put 
two and two together " as we say. Analogy with the 
accuracy and definiteness of mathematical combinations 
gives us such expressions as calculate, reckon, account 
for; and even reason itself ratio. Caution, careful 
ness, thoroughness, definiteness, exactness, orderliness, 
methodic arrangement, are, then, the traits by which we 
mark off the logical from what is random and casual 
on one side, and from what is academic and formal on 
the other. 

No argument is needed to point out that the edu- Whole 
cator is concerned with the logical in its practical and {^en^c 
vital sense. Argument is perhaps needed to show that education i 
the intellectual '(as distinct from the moral} end of educa- 
tion is entirely and only the logical in this sense ; namely \ 



58 



HOW WE THINK 



logical 



Opposing 
to thTio""cai 



the formation of careful, alert, and thorough habits of 
thinking. The chief difficulty in the way of recognition 
False oppo- of this principle is a false conception of the relation be- 
twee 11 tne psychological tendencies of an individual and 
his logical achievements. If it be assumed as it is so 
frequently that these have, intrinsically, nothing to do 
with each other, then logical training is inevitably re 
garded as something foreign and extraneous, something 
to be ingrafted upon the individual from without, so 
that it is absurd to identify the object of education with 
the development of logical power. 

The conception that the psychology of individuals 
has no intrinsic connections with logical methods and re 
sults is held, curiously enough, by two opposing schools 
of educational theory. To one school, the natural^ is 
" Primary anc * fundamental ; and its tendency is to make 
little of distinctly intellectual nurture. Its mottoes are 
freedom, self-expression, individuality, spontaneity, play, 
interest, natural unfolding, and so on. In its emphasis 
upon individual attitude and activity, it sets slight store 
upon organized subject-matter, or the material of study, 
and conceives method to consist of various devices for 
stimulating and evoking, in their natural order of growth, 
the native potentialities of individuals. 

Neglect of The other school estimates highly the value of the 

kjdcai*** logical, but conceives the natural tendency of individ- 

resources uals to be averse, or at least indifferent, to logical 

achievement. It relies upon subject-matter upon 

matter already defined and classified. Method, then, has 

to do with the devices by which these characteristics 

may be imported into a mind naturally reluctant and re- 

1 Denoting whatever has to do with the natural constitution and func 
tions of an individual 



MEANS AND END OF MENTAL TRAINING 59 

bellious. Hence its mottoes are discipline, instruction, 
restraint, voluntary or conscious effort, the necessity of 
tasks, and so on. From this point of view studies, identtfica- 
rather than attitudes and habits, embody the logical Jj ^.^ 
factor in education. The mind becomes logical only by subject- 
learning to conform to an external subject-matter. To 
produce this conformity, the study should first be ana 
lyzed (by text-book or teacher) into its logical elements; 
then each of these elements should be defined ; finally, 
all of the elements should be arranged in series or 
classes according to logical formulae or general prin 
ciples. Then the pupil learns the definitions one by 
one ; and progressively adding one to another builds up 
the logical system, and thereby is himself gradually 
imbued, from without, with logical quality. 

This description will gain meaning through an illus- illustration 
tration. Suppose the subject is geography. The first 
thing is to give its definition, marking it off from every 
other subject. Then the various abstract terms upon 
which depends the scientific development of the science 
are stated and defined one by one pole, equator, 
ecliptic, zone, from the simpler units to the more com 
plex which are formed out of them ; then the more con 
crete elements are taken in similar series: continent, 
island, coast, promontory, cape, isthmus, peninsula, 
ocean, lake, coast, gulf, bay, and so on. In acquiring 
this material, the mind is supposed not only to gain im 
portant information, but, by accommodating itself to 
ready-made logical definitions, generalizations, and clas 
sifications, gradually to acquire logical habits. 

This type of method has been applied to every sub- from 
ject taught in the schools reading, writing, music, 
physics, grammar, arithmetic. Drawing, for example, 



60 HOW WE THINK 

has been taught on the theory that since all pictorial 
representation is a matter of combining straight and 
curved lines, the simplest procedure is to have the pupil 
acquire the ability first to draw straight lines in various 
positions (horizontal, perpendicular, diagonals at various 
angles), then typical curves; and finally, to combine 
straight and curved lines in various permutations to con 
struct actual pictures. This seemed to give the ideal 
"logical" method, beginning with analysis into ele 
ments, and then proceeding in regular order to more 
and more complex syntheses, each element being de 
fined when used, and thereby clearly understood. 
Formal Even when this method in its extreme form is not fol 

lowed, few schools (especially of the middle or upper 
elementary grades) are free from an exaggerated atten 
tion to forms supposedly employed by the pupil if he 
gets his result logically. It is thought that there are 
certain steps arranged in a certain order, which express 
preeminently an understanding of the subject, and the 
pupil is made to "analyze" his procedure into these 
steps, i.e. to learn a certain routine formula of statement. 
While this method is usually at its height in grammar 
and arithmetic, it invades also history and even literature, 
which are then reduced, under plea of intellectual train 
ing, to "outlines," diagrams, and schemes of division 
and subdivision. In memorizing this simulated cut and 
dried copy of the logic of an adult, the child generally 
is induced to stultify his own subtle and vital logical 
movement The adoption by teachers of this miscon 
ception of logical method has probably done more than 
anything else to bring pedagogy into disrepute ; for to 
many persons "pedagogy*' means precisely a set of 
mechanical, self-conscious devices for replacing by some 



MEANS AND END OF MENTAL TRAINING 6 1 

cast-iron external scheme the personal mental move 
ment of the individual. 

A reaction inevitably occurs from the poor results Reaction 

that accrue from these professedly "logical" methods, f ?** 

f . . ,,,.,.? . , lackof fonn 

Lack of interest in study, habits of inattention and and method 

procrastination, positive aversion to intellectual applica 
tion, dependence upon sheer memorizing and mechan 
ical routine with only a modicum of understanding by 
the pupil of what he is about, show that the theory of 
logical definition, division, gradation, and system does 
not work out practically as it is theoretically supposed to 
work. The consequent disposition as in every reac 
tion is to go to the opposite extreme. The " logical" 
is thought to be wholly artificial and extraneous ; teacher 
and pupil alike are to turn their backs upon it, and to 
work toward the expression of existing aptitudes and 
tastes. Emphasis upon natural tendencies and powers 
as the only possible starting-point of development is 
indeed wholesome. But the reaction is false, and hence 
misleading, in what it ignores and denies : the presence 
of genuinely intellectual factors in existing powers and 
interests. 

What is conventionally termed logical (namely, the Logic of sub- 
logical from the standpoint of subject-matter) represents ^^^ 
in truth the logic of the trained adult mind. Ability to adult or 
divide a subject, to define its elements, and to group trained mind 
them into classes according to general principles repre 
sents logical capacity at its best point reached after 
thorough training. The mind that habitually exhibits 
skill in divisions, definitions, generalizations, and system 
atic recapitulations no longer needs training in logical 
methods. But it is absurd to suppose that a mind which 
needs training because it cannot perform these opera- 



HOW WE THINK 



The imma 
ture mind 
has its 
own logic 



Hence, the 
psycholog 
ical and the 
logical 
represent 
the two ends 
of the same 
movement 



tions can begin where the expert mind stops. The 
logical from the standpoint of subject-matter represents the 
goal^ the last term of training, not the point of departure. 
In truth, the mind at every stage of development has 
its own logic. The error of the notion that by appeal to 
spontaneous tendencies and by multiplication of materials 
we may completely dismiss logical considerations, lies in 
overlooking how large a part curiosity, inference, ex 
perimenting, and testing already play in the pupil's life. 
Therefore it underestimates the intellectual factor in the 
more spontaneous play and work of individuals the 
factor that alone is truly educative. Any teacher who 
is alive to the modes of thought naturally operative in 
the experience of the normal child will have no difficulty 
in avoiding the identification of the logical with a ready- 
made organization of subject-matter, as well as the no 
tion that the only way to escape this error is to pay no 
attention to logical considerations. Such a teacher will 
have no difficulty in seeing that the real problem of in 
tellectual education is the transformation of natural 
powers into expert, tested powers : the transformation 
of more or less casual curiosity and sporadic suggestion 
into attitudes of alert, cautious, and thorough inquiry. 
He will see that the psychological and the logical, in 
stead of being opposed to each other (or even independ 
ent of each other), are connected as the earlier and the 
later stages in one continuous process of normal growth. 
The natural or psychological activities, even when not 
consciously controlled by logical considerations, have 
their own intellectual function and integrity ; conscious 
and deliberate skill in thinking, when it is achieved, 
makes habitual or second nature. The first is already log 
ical in spirit; the last, in presenting an ingrained disposi- 



MEANS AND END OF MENTAL TRAINING 63 

tion and attitude, is then as psychological (as personal) 
as any caprice or chance impulse could be. 

2. Discipline and Freedom 

Discipline of mind is thus, in truth, a result rather 
than a cause. Any mind is disciplined in a subject in 
which independent intellectual initiative and control 
have been achieved. Discipline represents* original na 
tive endowment turned, through gradual exercise, into True and 
effective power. So far as a mind is disciplined, con- 
trol of method in a given subject has been attained 
so that the mind is able to manage itself independently 
without external tutelage. The aim of education is 
precisely to develop intelligence of this independent 
and effective type a disciplined mind. Discipline is 
positive and constructive. 

Discipline, however, is frequently regarded as some 
thing negative as a painfully disagreeable forcing of 
mind away from channels congenial to it into channels 
of constraint, a process grievous at the time but neces 
sary as preparation for a more or less remote future. 
Discipline is then generally identified with drill; and 



drill is conceived after the mechanical analogy of driv 
ing, by unremitting blows, a foreign substance into a 
resistant material ; or is imaged after the analogy of 
the mechanical routine by which raw recruits are trained 
to a soldierly bearing and habits that are naturally 
wholly foreign to their possessors. Training of this 
latter sort, whether it be called discipline or not, is not 
mental discipline. Its aim and result are not habits of 
thinking, but uniform external modes of action. By 
failing to ask what he means by discipline, many a 
teacher is misled into supposing that he is developing 



64 HOW WE THINK 

mental force and efficiency by methods which in fact 
restrict and deaden intellectual activity, and which tend 
to create mechanical routine, or mental passivity and 
servility. 

Asindepend- When discipline is conceived in intellectual terms (as 
orfreelom the habitual power of effective mental attack), it is iden 
tified with freedom in its true sense. For freedom of 
mind means mental power capable of independent ex- 
ercise, emancipated from the leading strings of others, 
not mere unhindered external operation. When spon 
taneity or naturalness is identified with more or less 
casual discharge of transitory impulses, the tendency of 
Freedom the educator is to supply a multitude of stimuli in order 
^at s P ontaneous activity may be kept up. All sorts of 
interesting materials, equipments, tools, modes of activity, 
are provided in order that there may be no flagging of 
free self-expression. This method overlooks some of 
the essential conditions of the attainment of genuine 
freedom. 

Some ob- (#) Direct immediate discharge or expression of an 

stacie neces- impulsive tendency is fatal to thinking. Only when the 
impulse is to some extent checked and thrown back 
upon itself does reflection ensue. It is, indeed, a stupid 
error to suppose that arbitrary tasks must be imposed 
from without in order to furnish the factor of perplexity 
and difficulty which is the necessary cue to thought. 
Every vital activity of any depth and range inevitably 
meets obstacles in the course of its effort to realize it* 
self a fact that renders the search for artificial or 
external problems quite superfluous. The difficulties 
that present themselves within the development of an 
experience are, however, to be cherished by the edu 
cator, not minimized, for they are the natural stimuli 



MEANS AND END OF MENTAL TRAINING 65 

to reflective inquiry. Freedom does not consist in keep 
ing up uninterrupted and unimpeded external activity, 
but is something achieved through conquering, by per 
sonal reflection, a way out of the difficulties that prevent 
an immediate overflow and a spontaneous success. 

() The method that emphasizes the psychological intellectual 
and natural, but yet fails to see what an important part 
of the natural tendencies is constituted at every period 
of growth by curiosity, inference, and the desire to test, 
cannot secure a natural development. In natural growth 
each successive stage of activity prepares unconsciously, 
but thoroughly, the conditions for the manifestation of 
the next stage as in the cycle of a plant's growth. 
There is no ground for assuming that "thinking" is a 
special, isolated natural tendency that will bloom in 
evitably in due season simply because various sense and 
motor activities have been freely manifested before ; or 
because observation, memory, imagination, and manual 
skill have been previously exercised without thought 
Only when thinking is constantly employed in using the 
senses and muscles for the guidance and application of 
observations and movements, is the way prepared for 
subsequent higher types of thinking. 

At present, the notion is current that childhood is Genesis of 
almost entirely unreflective a period of mere sensory, ^em^L 
motor, and memory development, while adolescence sud- ous with 
denly brings the manifestation of thought and reason. ^y^^aa 

Adolescence is not, however, a synonym for magic, mental 
Doubtless youth should bring with it an enlargement of ac V1 ^ 
the horizon of childhood, a susceptibility to larger con 
cerns and issues, a more generous and a more general 
standpoint toward nature and social life. This develop 
ment affords an opportunity for thinking of a more com- 



66 HOW WE THINK 

prehensive and abstract type than has previously obtained. 
But thinking itself remains just what it has been all the 
time : a matter of following up and testing the conclu 
sions suggested by the facts and events of life. Think 
ing begins as soon as the baby who has lost the ball 
that he is playing with begins to foresee the possibility 
of something not yet existing its recovery; and be 
gins to forecast steps toward the realization of this 
possibility, and, by experimentation, to guide his acts by 
his ideas and thereby also test the ideas. Only by 
making the most of the thought-factor, already active 
in the experiences of childhood, is there any promise 
or warrant for the emergence of superior reflective 
power at adolescence, or at any later period. 

Fixation (V) In any case positive habits are being formed: if not 

mental habits of careful looking into things, then habits of 
habits hasty, heedless, impatient glancing over the surface ; if 

not habits of consecutively following up the suggestions 
that occur, then habits of haphazard, grasshopper-like 
guessing; if not habits of suspending judgment till in 
ferences have been tested by the examination of evi 
dence, then habits of credulity alternating with flippant 
incredulity, belief or unbelief being based, in either case, 
upon whim, emotion, or accidental circumstances. The 
only way to achieve traits of carefulness, thoroughness, 
and continuity (traits that are, as we have seen, the 
elements of the " logical ") is by exercising these traits 
from the beginning, and by seeing to it that conditions 
call for their exercise. 

Genuine Genuine freedom, in short, is intellectual; it rests in 

freedom is the trained power of thought, in ability to "turn things 

mot external over," to look at matters deliberately, to judge whether 

the amount and kind of evidence requisite for decision 



MEANS AND END OF MENTAL TRAINING 67 

is at hand, and if not, to tell where and how to seek 
such evidence. If a man's actions are not guided by 
thoughtful conclusions, then they are guided by incon 
siderate impulse, unbalanced appetite, caprice, or the 
circumstances of the moment. To cultivate unhindered, 
unreflective external activity is to foster enslavement, 
for it leaves the person at the mercy of appetite, sense, 
and circumstance. 



PART TWO: LOGICAL CONSIDERA 
TIONS 



Object of 
Part Two 



A simple 
case of 
practical 
deliberation 



CHAPTER SIX 
THE ANALYSIS OF A COMPLETE ACT OF THOUGHT 

AFTER a brief consideration in the first chapter of the 
nature of reflective thinking, we turned, in the second, 
to the need for its training. Then we took up the 
resources, the difficulties, and the aim of its training. 
The purpose of this discussion was to set before the 
student the general problem of the training of mind. 
The purport of the second part, upon which we are 
now entering, is giving a fuller statement of the nature 
and normal growth of thinking, preparatory to con 
sidering in the concluding part the special problems 
that arise in connection with its education. 

In this chapter we shall make an analysis of the 
process of thinking into its steps or elementary constitu 
ents, basing the analysis upon descriptions of a num 
ber of extremely simple, but genuine, cases of reflective 
experience. 1 

i. "The other day when I was down town on i6th 
Street a clock caught my eye. I saw that the hands 
pointed to 12.20. This suggested that I had an engage 
ment at 1 24th Street, at one o'clock. I reasoned that 

1 These are taken, almost verbatim, from the class papers of students. 

68 



ANALYSIS OF A COMPLETE ACT OF THOUGHT 69 

as it had taken me an hour to come down on a surface 
car, I should probably be twenty minutes late if I re 
turned the same way. I might save twenty minutes by 
a subway express. But was there a station near ? If 
not, I might lose more than twenty minutes in looking 
for one. Then I thought of the elevated, and I saw 
there was such a line within two blocks. But where 
was the station ? If it were several blocks above or 
below the street I was on, I should lose time instead of 
gaining it. My mind went back to the subway express 
as quicker than the elevated ; furthermore, I remem 
bered that it went nearer than the elevated to the part 
of 1 24th Street I wished to reach, so that time would 
be saved at the end of the journey. I concluded in 
favor of the subway, and reached my destination by one 
o'clock." 

2. "Projecting nearly horizontally from the upper A simple 
deck of the ferryboat on which I daily cross the river. ca ? e of . 

J J reflection 

is a long white pole, bearing a gilded ball at its tip. It upon an 
suggested a flagpole when I first saw it; its color, ob8ervati a 
shape, and gilded ball agreed with this idea, and these 
reasons seemed to justify me in this belief. But soon 
difficulties presented themselves. The pole was nearly 
horizontal, an unusual position for a flagpole; in the 
next place, there was no pulley, ring, or cord by which 
to attach a flag ; finally, there were elsewhere two verti 
cal staffs from which flags were occasionally flown. It 
seemed probable that the pole was not there for flag- 
flying. 

" I then tried to imagine all possible purposes of such 
a pole, and to consider for which of these it was best 
suited : (a) Possibly it was an ornament. But as ail the 
ferryboats and even the tugboats carried like poles, 



HOW WE THINK 



A simple 
case of 
reflection 
involving 
experiment 



this hypothesis was rejected. () Possibly it was the 
terminal of a wireless telegraph. But the same consid 
erations made this improbable. Besides, the more nat 
ural place for such a terminal would be the highest 
part of the boat, on top of the pilot house, (c) Its pur 
pose might be to point out the direction in which the 
boat is moving. 

" In support of this conclusion, I discovered that the 
pole was lower than the pilot house, so that the steers 
man could easily see it. Moreover, the tip was enough 
higher than the base, so that, from the pilot's position, 
it must appear to project far out in front of the boat 
Moreover, the pilot being near the front of the boat, he 
would need some such guide as to its direction. Tugboats 
would also need poles for such a purpose. This hy 
pothesis was so much more probable than the others 
that I accepted it. I formed the conclusion that the 
pole was set up for the purpose of showing the pilot 
the direction in which the boat pointed, to enable him 
to steer correctly." 

3. "In washing tumblers in hot soapsuds and placing 
them mouth downward on a plate, bubbles appeared 
on the outside of the mouth of the tumblers and 
then went inside. Why? The presence of bubbles 
suggests air, which I note must come from inside the 
tumbler. I see that the soapy water on the plate pre 
vents escape of the air save as it may be caught in bubbles. 
But why should air leave the tumbler ? There was no 
substance entering to force it out. It must have ex 
panded. It expands by increase of heat or by de 
crease of pressure, or by both. Could the air have 
become heated after the tumbler was taken from the hot 
suds ? Clearly not the air that was already entangled 



ANALYSIS OF A COMPLETE ACT OF THOUGHT 71 

in the water. If heated air was the cause, cold air 
must have entered in transferring the tumblers from 
the suds to the plate. I test to see if this supposition 
is true by taking several more tumblers out. Some 
I shake so as to make sure of entrapping cold air in 
them. Some I take out holding mouth downward in 
order to prevent cold air from entering. Bubbles ap 
pear on the outside of every one of the former and on 
none of the latter. I must be right in my inference. 
Air from the outside must have been expanded by the 
heat of the tumbler, which explains the appearance of 
the bubbles on the outside. 

" But why do they then go inside ? Cold contracts. 
The tumbler cooled and also the air inside it. Tension 
was removed, and hence bubbles appeared inside. To 
be sure of this, I test by placing a cup of ice on the 
tumbler while the bubbles are still forming outside. 
They soon reverse." 

These three cases have been purposely selected so as The three 
to form a series from the more rudimentary to more 
complicated cases of reflection. The first illustrates the 
kind of thinking done by every one during the day's 
business, in which neither the data, nor the ways of 
dealing with them, take one outside the limits of every 
day experience. The last furnishes a case in which 
neither problem nor mode of solution would have been 
likely to occur except to one with some prior scientific 
training. The second case forms a natural transition ; 
its materials lie well within the bounds of everyday, 
unspecialized experience ; but the problem, instead of 
being directly involved in the person's business, arises 
indirectly out of his activity, and accordingly appeals 
to a somewhat theoretic and impartial interest We 



HOW WE THINK 



ttve distinct 
steps in 
reflection 



i. The occur 
rence of a 
difficulty 



(a) in the 
lack of 
adaptation 
of means 
to end 



shall deal, in a later chapter, with the evolution of 
abstract thinking out of that which is relatively practical 
and direct ; here we are concerned only with the com 
mon elements found in all the types. 

Upon examination, each instance reveals, more or less 
clearly, five logically distinct steps : (z) a felt difficulty ; 
(zY) its location and definition ; (iii) suggestion of pos 
sible solution ; (iv) development by reasoning of the 
bearings of the suggestion ; (v) further observation and 
experiment leading to its acceptance or rejection; that 
is, the conclusion of belief or disbelief. 

i. The first and second steps frequently fuse into 
one. The difficulty may be felt with sufficient definite- 
ness as to set the mind at once speculating upon its 
probable solution, or an undefined uneasiness and shock 
may come first, leading only later to definite attempt to 
find out what is the matter. Whether the two steps 
are distinct or blended, there is the factor emphasized 
in our original account of reflection viz. the perplexity 
W QJ- problem. In the first of the three cases cited, the 
difficulty resides in the conflict between conditions at 
hand and a desired and intended result, between an end 
and the means for reaching it. The purpose of keep 
ing an engagement at a certain time, and the existing 
hour taken in connection with the location, are not con 
gruous. The object of thinking is to introduce con- 
gruity between the two. The given conditions cannot 
themselves be altered ; time will not go backward nor 
will the distance between i6th Street and I24th Street 
shorten itself. The problem is the discovery of inter 
vening terms which when inserted between the remoter 
end and the given means will harmonize them with each 
other. 



ANALYSIS OF A COMPLETE ACT OF THOUGHT 73 

In the second case, the difficulty experienced is the () 
incompatibility of a suggested and (temporarily) ac- 
cepted belief that the pole is a flagpole, with certain an object 
other facts. Suppose we symbolize the qualities that 
suggest flagpole by the letters a, b, c\ those that op 
pose this suggestion by the letters /, q, r. There is, of 
course, nothing inconsistent in the qualities themselves ; 
but in pulling the mind to different and incongruous 
conclusions they conflict hence the problem. Here 
the object is the discovery of some object ((7), of which 
a, b, c, and/, q, r, may all be appropriate traits just 
as, in our first case, it is to discover a course of action 
which will combine existing conditions and a remoter re 
sult in a single whole. The method of solution is also 
the same : discovery of intermediate qualities (the posi 
tion of the pilot house, of the pole, the need of an index 
to the boat's direction) symbolized by d, g, /, <?, which 
bind together otherwise incompatible traits. 

In the third case, an observer trained to the idea of fc) in ex- 
natural laws or uniformities finds something odd or ex- 
ceptional in the behavior of the bubbles. The problem event 
is to reduce the apparent anomalies to instances of well- 
established laws. Here the method of solution is also 
to seek for intermediary terms which will connect, by 
regular linkage, the seemingly extraordinary movements 
of the bubbles with the conditions known to follow from 
processes supposed to be operative. 

2. As already noted, the first two steps, the feeling 2. Definition 
of a discrepancy, or difficulty, and the acts of observa- 
tion that serve to define the character of the difficulty 
may, in a given instance, telescope together. In cases 
of striking novelty or unusual perplexity, the difficulty, 
however, is likely to present itself at first as a shock, as 



74 HOW WE THINK 

emotional disturbance, as a more or less vague feeling 
of the unexpected, of something queer, strange, funny, 
or disconcerting. In such instances, there are neces 
sary observations deliberately calculated to bring to 
light just what is the trouble, or to make clear the spe 
cific character of the problem. In large measure, the 
existence or non-existence of this step makes the differ 
ence between reflection proper, or safeguarded critical 
inference and uncontrolled thinking. Where sufficient 
pains to locate the difficulty are not taken, suggestions for 
its resolution must be more or less random. Imagine a 
doctor called in to prescribe for a patient. The patient 
tells him some things that are wrong ; his experienced 
eye, at a glance, takes in other signs of a certain dis 
ease. But if he permits the suggestion of this special 
disease to take possession prematurely of his mind, to 
become an accepted conclusion, his scientific thinking is 
by that much cut short. A large part of his technique, 
as a skilled practitioner, is to prevent the acceptance of 
the first suggestions that arise ; even, indeed, to postpone 
the occurrence of any very definite suggestion till the 
trouble the nature of the problem has been thor 
oughly explored. In the case of a physician this pro 
ceeding is known as diagnosis, but a similar inspection 
is required in every novel and complicated situation to 
prevent rushing to a conclusion. The essence of criti 
cal thinking is suspended judgment; and the essence 
of this suspense is inquiry to determine the nature of 
the problem before proceeding to attempts at its solu 
tion. This, more than any other thing, transforms mere 
inference into tested inference, suggested conclusions 
into proof. 

3. The third factor is suggestion. The situation in 



ANALYSIS OF A COMPLETE ACT OF THOUGHT 75 

which the perplexity occurs calls up something not 3* Occur- 
present to the senses : the present location, the thought sug g e sted 
of subway or elevated train; the stick before the eyes, explanation 

r r r POSSlble 

the idea of a flagpole, an ornament, an apparatus tor solution 
wireless telegraphy ; the soap bubbles, the law of expan 
sion of bodies through heat and of their contraction 
through cold, (a) Suggestion is the very heart of in 
ference ; it involves going from what is present to some 
thing absent Hence, it is more or less speculative, 
adventurous. Since inference goes beyond what is ac 
tually present, it involves a leap, a jump, the propriety 
of which cannot be absolutely warranted in advance, no 
matter what precautions be taken. Its control is in 
direct, on the one hand, involving the formation of habits 
of mind which are at once enterprising and cautious ; 
and on the other hand, involving the selection and 
arrangement of the particular facts upon perception of 
which suggestion issues. () The suggested conclusion 
so far as it is not accepted but only tentatively enter 
tained constitutes an idea. Synonyms for this are sup- 
position> conjecture^ guess, hypothesis, and (in elaborate 
cases) theory. Since suspended belief, or the postpone 
ment of a final conclusion pending further evidence, 
depends partly upon the presence of rival conjectures 
as to the best course to pursue or the probable explana 
tion to favor, cultivation of a variety of alternative 
suggestions is an important factor in good thinking. 

4. The process of developing the bearings or, as 4 . 
they are more technically termed, the implications of 
any idea with respect to any problem, is termed reason- of an idea 
ing. 1 As an idea is inferred from given facts, so reasoning 

1 This term is sometimes extended to denote the entire reflective pro 
cess just as inference (which in the sense of test is best reserved for 



?6 HOW WJE THINK 

sets out from an Idea. The idea of elevated road Is de 
veloped into the idea of difficulty of locating station, length 
of time occupied on the journey, distance of station at 
the other end from place to be reached. In the second 
case, the implication of a flagpole is seen to be a verti 
cal position ; of a wireless apparatus, location on a high 
part of the ship and, moreover, absence from every 
casual tugboat ; while the idea of index to direction in 
which the boat moves, when developed, is found to cover 
all the details of the case. 

Reasoning has the same effect upon a suggested 
solution as more intimate and extensive observation has 
upon the original problem. Acceptance of the sugges 
tion in its first form is prevented by looking into it more 
thoroughly. Conjectures that seem plausible at first 
sight are often found unfit or even absurd when their 
full consequences are traced out. Even when reason 
ing out the bearings of a supposition does not lead to re 
jection, it develops the idea into a form in which it is 
more apposite to the problem. Only when, for example, 
the conjecture that a pole was an index-pole had been 
thought out into its bearings could its particular appli 
cability to the case in hand be judged. Suggestions 
at first seemingly remote and wild are frequently so 
transformed by being elaborated into what follows from 
them as to become apt and fruitful. The development 
of an idea through reasoning helps at least to supply 
the intervening or intermediate terms that link together 
into a consistent whole apparently discrepant extremes 
(ante, p. 72). 

the third step) is sometimes used in the same broad sense. But reasoning 
(or ratiocination) seems to be peculiarly adapted to express what the 
older writers called the ** notional ** or ** dialectic " process of developing 
the meaning of a given idea. 



ANALYSIS OF A COMPLETE ACT OF THOUGHT 77 

5. The concluding and conclusive step is some kind 5. Corrob- 
of experimental corroboration, or verification, of the ^ a ^^ d 
conjectural idea. Reasoning shows that if the idea be formation of 
adopted, certain consequences follow. So far the con- 
elusion is hypothetical or conditional. If we look and 
find present all the conditions demanded by the theory, 
and if we find the characteristic traits called for by 
rival alternatives to be lacking, the tendency to believe, 
to accept, is almost irresistible. Sometimes direct 
observation furnishes corroboration, as in the case of 
the pole on the boat. In other cases, as in that of the 
bubbles, experiment is required ; that is, conditions are 
deliberately arranged in accord with the requirements of 
an idea or hypothesis to see if the results theoretically 
indicated by the idea actually occur. If it is found that 
the experimental results agree with the theoretical, 
or rationally deduced, results, and if there is reason to 
believe that only the conditions in question would yield 
such results, the confirmation is so strong as to induce a 
conclusion at least until contrary facts shall indicate 
the advisability of its revision. 

Observation exists at the beginning and again at the Thinking 
1 end of the process : at the beginning, to determine more 



definitely and precisely the nature of the difficulty to be observations 
dealt with ; at the end, to test the value of some hypo- ginning and 
thetically entertained conclusion. Between those two at the end 
termini of observation, we find the more distinctively 
mental aspects of the entire thought-cycle : (f) inference, 
the suggestion of an explanation or solution; and 
(if) reasoning, the development of the bearings and im 
plications of the suggestion. Reasoning requires some 
experimental observation to confirm it, while experi 
ment can be economically and fruitfully conducted only 



HOW WK THINK 



The trained 
mind one 
that judges 
the extent 
of each step 
advisable in 
a given 
situation 



on the basis of an idea that has been tentatively devel 
oped by reasoning. 

The disciplined, or logically trained, mind the aim of 
the educative process is the mind able to judge how 
far each of these steps needs to be carried in any par 
ticular situation. No cast-iron rules can be laid down. 
Each case has to be dealt with as it arises, on the basis 
of its importance and of the context in which it occurs. 
To take too much pains in one case is as foolish as 
illogical as to take too little in another. At one 
extreme, almost any conclusion that insures prompt 
and unified action may be better than any long delayed 
conclusion ; while at the other, decision may have to 
be postponed for a long period perhaps for a life 
time. The trained mind is the one that best grasps the 
degree of observation, forming of ideas, reasoning, and 
experimental testing required in any special case, and that 
profits the most, in future thinking, by mistakes made in 
the past. What is important is that the mind should 
be sensitive to problems and skilled in methods of attack 
and solution. 



CHAPTER SEVEN 

SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE: INDUCTION AND DE 
DUCTION 

i. The Double Movement of Reflection 

THE characteristic outcome of thinking we saw to be 
the organization of facts and conditions which, just as 
they stand, are isolated, fragmentary, and discrepant, the 
organization being effected through the introduction of 
connecting links, or middle terms. The facts as they 
stand are the data, the raw material of reflection ; their 
lack of coherence perplexes and stimulates to reflection. 
There follows the suggestion of some meaning which, if 
it can be substantiated, will give a whole in which vari 
ous fragmentary and seemingly incompatible data find 
their proper place. The meaning suggested supplies a 
mental platform, an intellectual point of view, from 
which to note and define the data more carefully, to 
seek for additional observations, and to institute, experi 
mentally, changed conditions. 

There is thus a double movement in all reflection : a 
movement from the given partial and confused data to 
a suggested comprehensive (or inclusive) entire situation; 
and back from this suggested whole which as sug 
gested is a meaning, an idea to the particular facts, 
so as to connect these with one another and with addi 
tional facts to which the suggestion has directed atten 
tion. Roughly speaking, the first of these movements 

79 



8o 



HOW WE THINK 



Htuiy versus 
caution 



Continuity 
of relation 
ship the 
mark of 
the latter 



is inductive ; the second deductive. A complete act of 
thought involves both it involves, that is, a fruitful 
interaction of observed (or recollected) particular con 
siderations and of inclusive and far-reaching (general) 
meanings. 

This double movement to and from a meaning may 
occur, however, in a casual, uncritical way, or in a cautious 
and regulated manner. To think means, in any case, to 
bridge a gap in experience, to bind together facts or 
deeds otherwise isolated. But we may make only a 
hurried jump from one consideration to another, allow 
ing our aversion to mental disquietude to override the 
gaps ; or, we may insist upon noting the road traveled 
in making connections. We may, in short, accept 
readily any suggestion that seems plausible ; or we may 
hunt out additional factors, new difficulties, to see whether 
the suggested conclusion really ends the matter. The 
latter method involves definite formulation of the con 
necting links ; the statement of a principle, or, in logical 
phrase, the use of a universal. If we thus formulate the 
whole situation, the original data are transformed into 
premises of reasoning; the final belief is a logical or 
rational conclusion, not a mere de facto termination. 

The importance of connections binding isolated items 
into a coherent single whole is embodied in all the phrases 
that denote the relation of premises and conclusions to 
each other, (i) The premises are called grounds, 
foundations, bases, and are said to underlie, uphold, 
support the conclusion. (2) We "descend" from the 
premises to the conclusion, and " ascend " or " mount " 
in the opposite direction as a river may be continuously 
traced from source to sea or vice versa. So the con 
clusion springs, flows, or is drawn from its premises. 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 8l 

(3) The conclusion as the word itself implies closes, 
shuts in, locks up together the various factors stated 
in the premises. We say that the premises " contain " 
the conclusion, and that the conclusion " contains " the 
premises, thereby marking our sense of the inclusive 
and comprehensive unity in which the elements of 
reasoning are bound tightly together. 1 Systematic in 
ference, in short, means the recognition of definite 
relations of interdependence between considerations pre 
viously unorganized and disconnected, this recognition 
being brought about by the discovery and insertion of 
new facts and properties . 

This more systematic thinking is, however, like the Scientific 
cruder forms in its double movement, the movement ^ uction 
toward the suggestion or hypothesis and the movement deduction 
back to facts. The difference is in the greater conscious 
care with which each phase of the process is performed. 
The conditions under which sitggestions are allowed to 
spring up and develop are regulated. Hasty acceptance 
of any idea that is plausible, that seems to solve the 
difficulty, is changed into a conditional acceptance 
pending further inquiry. The idea is accepted as a 
working hypothesis^ as something to guide investigation 
and bring to light new facts, not as a final conclusion. 
When pains are taken to make each aspect of the move 
ment as accurate as possible, the movement toward 
building up the idea is known as inductive discovery 
(induction, for short) ; the movement toward developing, 
applying, and testing, as deductive proof (deduction, for 
short). 

While induction moves from fragmentary details (or 

1 See Vailati, Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 
Vol. V, No. 12. 



82 



HOW WE THINK 



Illustration 
from every 
day ex 
perience 



Particular particulars) to a connected view of a situation (universal), 
deduction begins with the latter and works back again 
to particulars, connecting them and binding them to 
gether. The inductive movement is toward discovery of 
a binding principle; the deductive toward its testing 
confirming, refuting, modifying it on the basis of its ca 
pacity to interpret isolated details into a unified expe 
rience. So far as we conduct each of these processes in 
the light of the other, we get valid discovery or verified 
critical thinking. 

A commonplace illustration may enforce the points 
of this formula. A man who has left his rooms in order 
finds them upon his return in a state of confusion, arti 
cles being scattered at random. Automatically, the no 
tion comes to his mind that burglary would account for 
the disorder. He has not seen the burglars; their pres 
ence is not a fact of observation, but is a thought, an 
idea. Moreover, the man has no special burglars in 
mind ; it is the relation^ the meaning of burglary some 
thing general that comes to mind. The state of his 
room is perceived and is particular, definite, exactly 
as it is ; burglars are inferred, and have a general sta 
tus. The state of the room is &fact, certain and speak 
ing for itself; the presence of burglars is a possible 
meaning which may explain the facts. 

of induction, So far there is an inductive tendency, suggested by 
particular and present facts. In the same inductive 
way, it occurs to him that his children are mischievous, 
and that they may have thrown the things about. This 
rival hypothesis (or conditional principle of explanation) 
prevents him from dogmatically accepting the first sug 
gestion. Judgment is held in suspense and a positive 
conclusion postponed. 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 83 

Then deductive movement begins. Further observa- of deduction 
tions, recollections, reasonings are conducted on the 
basis of a development of the ideas suggested : if bur 
glars were responsible, such and such things would have 
happened ; articles of value would be missing. Here the 
man is going from a general principle or relation to spe 
cial features that accompany it, to particulars, not back, 
however, merely to the original particulars (which would 
be fruitless or take him in a circle), but to new details, 
the actual discovery or nondiscovery of which will test 
the principle. The man turns to a box of valuables ; 
some things are gone; some, however, are still there. 
Perhaps he has himself removed the missing articles, 
but has forgotten it. His experiment is not a decisive 
test. He thinks of the silver in the sideboard the 
children would not have taken that nor would he absent- 
mindedly have changed its place. He looks ; all the 
solid ware is gone. The conception of burglars is con 
firmed ; examination of windows and doors shows that 
they have been tampered with. Belief culminates ; the 
original isolated facts have been woven into a coherent 
fabric. The idea first suggested (inductively) has been 
employed to reason out hypothetically certain addi 
tional particulars not yet experienced, that ought to be 
there, if the suggestion is correct. Then new acts of 
observation have shown that the particulars theoretically 
called for are present, and by this process the hypoth 
esis is strengthened, corroborated. This moving back 
and forth between the observed facts and the conditional 
idea is kept up till a coherent experience of an object is 
substituted for the experience of conflicting details or 
else the whole matter is given up as a bad job. 

Sciences exemplify similar attitudes and operations, 



8 4 



HOW WE THINK 



Science is 
the same 
operations 
carefully 
performed 



Guidance 
is indirect 



but with a higher degree of elaboration of the instru 
ments of caution, exactness and thoroughness. This 
greater elaboration brings about specialization, an ac 
curate marking off of various types of problems from 
one another, and a corresponding segregation and classi 
fication of the materials of experience associated with 
each type of problem. We shall devote the remainder 
of this chapter to a consideration of the devices by which 
the discovery, the development, and the testing of mean 
ings are scientifically carried on. 

2. Guidance of the Inductive Movement 

Control of the formation of suggestion is necessarily 
indirect, not direct; imperfect, not perfect. Just be 
cause all discovery, all apprehension involving thought 
of the new, goes from the known, the present, to the 
unknown and absent, no rules can be stated that will 
guarantee correct inference. Just what is suggested 
to a person in a given situation depends upon his native 
constitution (his originality, his genius), temperament, 
the prevalent direction of his interests, his early environ 
ment, the general tenor of his past experiences, his 
special training, the things that have recently occupied 
him continuously or vividly, and so on; to some extent 
even upon an accidental conjunction of present circum 
stances. These matters, so far as they lie in the past 
or in external conditions, clearly escape regulation. A 
suggestion simply does or does not occur ; this or that 
suggestion just happens, occurs, springs up. If, how 
ever, prior experience and training have developed an 
attitude of patience in a condition of doubt, a capac 
ity for suspended judgment, and a liking for inquiry, 
indirect control of the course of suggestions is possible. 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 8$ 

The individual may return upon, revise, restate, enlarge, 
and analyze the facts out of which suggestion springs. 
Inductive methods, in the technical sense, all have to 
do with regulating the conditions under which observa 
tion, memory, and the acceptance of the testimony of 
others (the operations supplying the raw data) proceed. 

Given the facts A B C D on one side and certain in- Method 
dividual habits on the other, suggestion occurs automat- regulation 
ically. But if the facts A B C D are carefully looked 
into and thereby resolved into the facts A f B n R S, a 
suggestion will automatically present itself different 
from that called up by the facts in their first form. To 
inventory the facts, to describe exactly and minutely 
their respective traits, to magnify artificially those that 
are obscure and feeble, to reduce artificially those that 
are so conspicuous and glaring as to be distracting, 
these are ways of modifying the facts that exercise sug 
gestive force, and thereby indirectly guiding the forma 
tion of suggested inferences. 

Consider, for example, how a physician makes his illustration 
diagnosis his inductive interpretation. If he is scien- 
tifically trained, he suspends postpones reaching a 
conclusion in order that he may not be led by superficial 
occurrences into a snap judgment. Certain conspicuous 
phenomena may forcibly suggest typhoid, but he avoids 
a conclusion, or even any strong preference for this or 
that conclusion until he has greatly (f) enlarged the 
scope of his data, and (if) rendered them more minute* 
He not only questions the patient as to his feelings and 
as to his acts prior to the disease, but by various manipu 
lations with his hands (and with instruments made for 
the purpose) brings to light a large number of facts of 
which the patient is quite unaware. The state of tern- 



86 HOW WE THINK 

perature, respiration, and heart-action is accurately 
noted, and their fluctuations from time to time are ex 
actly recorded. Until this examination has worked out 
toward a wider collection and in toward a minuter scru 
tiny of details, inference is deferred. 

Scientific induction means, in short, all the processes 
scientific f ^y w fo c k ^ ie observing and amassing of data are regu* 
induction lated with a view to facilitating the formation of explan 
atory conceptions and theories. These devices are all 
directed toward selecting the precise facts to which 
weight and significance shall attach in forming sugges 
tions or ideas. Specifically, this selective determination 
involves devices of (i) elimination by analysis of what 
is likely to be misleading and irrelevant, (2) emphasis 
of the important by collection and comparison of cases, 
(3) deliberate construction of data by experimental 
variation. 

Elimination (i) It is a common saying that one must learn to dis- 
laeai^gs* 11 * cr iminate between observed facts and judgments based 
upon them. Taken literally, such advice cannot be 
carried out; in every observed thing there is if the 
thing have any meaning at all some consolidation of 
meaning with what is sensibly and physically present, 
such that, if this were entirely excluded, what is left 
would have no sense. A says: "I saw my brother." 
The term brother, however, involves a relation that can 
not be sensibly or physically observed ; it is inferential 
in status. If A contents himself with saying, " I saw a 
man," the factor of classification, of intellectual refer 
ence, is less complex, but still exists. If, as a last re 
sort, A were to say, " Anyway, I saw a colored object," 
some relationship, though more rudimentary and unde 
fined, still subsists. Theoretically, it is possible that no 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 87 

object was there, only an unusual mode of nerve stimu 
lation. None the less, the advice to discriminate what 
is observed from what is inferred is sound practical 
advice. Its working import is that one should eliminate 
or exclude those inferences as to which experience has 
shown that there is greatest liability to error. This, of 
course, is a relative matter. Under ordinary circum 
stances no reasonable doubt would attach to the obser 
vation, "I see my brother"; it would be pedantic and 
silly to resolve this recognition back into a more ele 
mentary form. Under other circumstances it might be 
a perfectly genuine question as to whether A saw even 
a colored thing, or whether the color was due to a stim 
ulation of the sensory optical apparatus (like " seeing 
stars " upon a blow) or to a disordered circulation. In 
general, the scientific man is one who knows that he is 
likely to be hurried to a conclusion, and that part of 
this precipitancy is due to certain habits which tend to 
make him "read" certain meanings into the situation 
that confronts him, so that he must be on the lookout 
against errors arising from his interests, habits, and 
current preconceptions. 

The technique of scientific inquiry thus consists in The tech- 
various processes that tend to exclude over-hasty " read- 
ing in " of meanings ; devices that aim to give a purely 
"objective" unbiased rendering of the data to be in 
terpreted. Flushed cheeks usually mean heightened 
temperature; paleness means lowered temperature. 
The clinical thermometer records automatically the ac 
tual temperature and hence checks up the habitual 
associations that might lead to error in a given 
case. All the instrumentalities of observation the 
various -meters and -graphs and -scopes fill a part 



88 HOW WE THINK 

of their scientific rdle in helping to eliminate meanings 
supplied because of habit, prejudice, the strong mo 
mentary preoccupation of excitement and anticipation, 
and by the vogue of existing theories. Photographs, 
phonographs, kymographs, actinographs, seismographs, 
plethysmographs, and the like, moreover, give records 
that are permanent, so that they can be employed by 
different persons, and by the same person in different 
states of mind, i.e. under the influence of varying ex 
pectations and dominant beliefs. Thus purely personal 
prepossessions (due to habit, to desire, to after-effects of 
recent experience) may be largely eliminated. In ordi 
nary language, the facts are objectively, rather than 
subjectively, determined. In this way tendencies to 
premature interpretation are held in check. 

Collection (2) Another important method of control consists in 
o instances ^^ multiplication of cases or instances. If I doubt 
whether a certain handful gives a fair sample, or repre 
sentative, for purposes of judging value, of a whole car 
load of grain, I take a number of handfuls from various 
parts of the car and compare them. If they agree in 
quality, well and good ; if they disagree, we try to get 
enough samples so that when they are thoroughly mixed 
the result will be a fair basis for an evaluation. This 
illustration represents roughly the value of that aspect 
of scientific control in induction which insists upon 
multiplying observations instead of basing the conclu 
sion upon one or a few cases. 

Tnis method So prominent, indeed, is this aspect of inductive 
method that it is frequently treated as the whole of in- 
duction. It is supposed that all inductive inference is 
based upon collecting and comparing a number of like 
cases. But in fact such comparison and collection is a 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 89 

secondary development within the process of securing 
a correct conclusion in some single case. If a man in 
fers from a single sample of grain as to the grade of 
wheat of the car as a whole, it is induction and, under 
certain circumstances, a sound induction; other cases 
are resorted to simply for the sake of rendering that 
induction more guarded, and more probably correct. 
In like fashion, the reasoning that led up to the bur 
glary idea in the instance already cited (p. 83) was in 
ductive, though there was but one single case examined. 
The particulars upon which the general meaning (or 
relation) of burglary was grounded were simply the sum 
total of the unlike items and qualities that made up the 
one case examined. Had this case presented very great 
obscurities and difficulties, recourse might then have 
been had to examination of a number of similar cases. 
But this comparison would not make inductive a process 
which was not previously of that character; it would 
only render induction more wary and adequate. The 
object of bringing into consideration a multitude of cases 
is to facilitate the selection of the evidential or significant 
features upon which to base inference in some single case. 

Accordingly, points of unlikeness are as important as contrast as 
points of likeness among the cases examined. Compari- 
son, without contrast, does not amount to anything log 
ically. In the degree in which other cases observed or 
remembered merely duplicate the case in question, we 
are no better off for purposes of inference than if we 
had permitted our single original fact to dictate a con 
clusion. In the case of the various samples of grain, it 
is the fact that the samples are unlike, at least in the 
part of the carload from which they are taken, that is 
important Were it not for this unlikeness, their like- 



90 



HOW WE THINK 



importance 



ness in quality would be of no avail in assisting infer 
ence. 1 If we are endeavoring to get a child to regulate 
his conclusions about the germination of a seed by tak 
ing into account a number of instances, very little is 
gained if the conditions in all these instances closely 
approximate one another. But if one seed is placed in 
pure sand, another in loam, and another on blotting- 
paper, and if in each case there are two conditions, one 
with and another without moisture, the unlike factors 
tend to throw into relief the factors that are significant 
(or "essential") for reaching a conclusion. Unless, in 
short, the observer takes care to have the differences in 
the observed cases as extreme as conditions allow, and 
unless he notes unlikenesses as carefully as likenesses, 
he has no way of determining the evidential force of 
the data that confront him. 

Another way of bringing out this importance of un- 
likeness is the emphasis put by the scientist upon nega- 
live cases upon instances which it would seem ought 
to fall into line but which as matter of fact do not. 
Anomalies, exceptions, things which agree in most re 
spects but disagree in some crucial point, are so impor 
tant that many of the devices of scientific technique are 
designed purely to detect, record, and impress upon 
memory contrasting cases. Darwin remarked that so 
easy is it to pass over cases that oppose a favorite 
generalization, that he had made it a habit not merely 
to hunt for contrary instances, but also to write down 
any exception he noted or thought of as otherwise it 
was almost sure to be forgotten. 

1 In terms of the phrases used in logical treatises, the so-called " methods 
of agreement" (comparison) and ** difference " (contrast) must accompany 
each other or constitute a "joint method" in order to be of logical use. 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 91 

3. Experimental Variation of Conditions 

We have already trenched upon this factor of indue- Experiment 
five method, the one that is the most important of all |j^*^f 
wherever it is feasible. Theoretically, one sample case introducing 
of the right kind will be as good a basis for an inference 
as a thousand cases; but cases of the "right kind" 
rarely turn up spontaneously. We have to search for 
them, and we may have to make them. If we take 
cases just as we find them whether one case or many 
cases they contain much that is irrelevant to the prob 
lem in hand, while much that is relevant is obscure, hid 
den. The object of experimentation is the construction, 
by regular stefs taken on the basis of a flan thought out 
in advance ', of a typical, crucial case, a case formed with 
express reference to throwing light on the difficulty in 
question. All inductive methods rest (as already stated, 
p. 85) upon regulation of the conditions of observation 
and memory ; experiment is simply the most adequate 
regulation possible of these conditions. We try to make 
the observation such that every factor entering into 
it, together with the mode and the amount of its opera 
tion, may be open to recognition. Such making of ob 
servations constitutes experiment. 

Such observations have many and obvious advantages Three ad- 
over observations no matter how extensive with re- 
spect to which we simply wait for an event to happen 
or an object to present itself. Experiment overcomes 
the defects due to (a} the rarity, (b) the subtlety and 
minuteness (or the violence), and (c) the rigid fixity of 
facts as we ordinarily experience them. The following 
quotations from Jevons's Elementary Lessons in Logic 
bring out all these points : 

(i) " We might have to wait years or centuries to meet 



92 HOW WE THINK 

accidentally with facts which we can readily produce at 
any moment in a laboratory ; and it is probable that most 
of the chemical substances now known, and many ex 
cessively useful products would never have been dis 
covered at all by waiting till nature presented them 
spontaneously to our observation." 

This quotation refers to the infrequency or rarity of 
certain facts of nature, even very important ones. The 
passage then goes on to speak of the minuteness of many 
phenomena which makes them escape ordinary experi 
ence: 

(if) " Electricity doubtless operates in every particle 
of matter, perhaps at every moment of time ; and even 
the ancients could not but notice its action in the load 
stone, in lightning, in the Aurora Borealis, or in a piece 
of rubbed amber. But in lightning electricity was too 
intense and dangerous ; in the other cases it was too 
feeble to be properly understood. The science of elec 
tricity and magnetism could only advance by getting 
regular supplies of electricity from the common electric 
machine or the galvanic battery and by making powerful 
electromagnets. Most, if not all, the effects which elec 
tricity produces must go on in nature, but altogether too 
obscurely for observation." 

Jevons then deals with the fact that, under ordinary 
conditions of experience, phenomena which can be 
understood only by seeing them under varying condi 
tions are presented in a fixed and uniform way. 

(iii) " Thus carbonic acid is only met in the form of 
a gas, proceeding from the combustion of carbon ; but 
when exposed to extreme pressure and cold, it is con 
densed into a liquid, and may even be converted into a 
snowlike solid substance. Many otner gases nave in 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 93 

like manner been liquefied or solidified, and there is 
reason to believe that every substance is capable of 
taking all three forms of solid, liquid, and gas, if only 
the conditions of temperature and pressure can be 
sufficiently varied. Mere observation of nature would 
have led us, on the contrary, to suppose that nearly all 
substances were fixed in one condition only, and could 
not be converted from solid into liquid and from liquid 
into gas." 

Many volumes would be required to describe in detail 
all the methods that investigators have developed in 
various subjects for analyzing and restating the facts 
of ordinary experience so that we may escape from 
capricious and routine suggestions, and may get the 
iacts in such a form and in such a light (or context) 
that exact and far-reaching explanations may be sug 
gested in place of vague and limited ones. But these 
various devices of inductive inquiry all have one goal in 
view : the indirect regulation of the function of sugges 
tion, or formation of ideas ; and, in the main, they will 
be found to reduce to some combination of the three 
types of selecting and arranging subject-matter just 
described. 

4. Guidance of the Deductive Movement 

Before dealing directly with this topic, we must note Value of 
that systematic regulation of induction depends upon f^^ 
the possession of a body of general principles that induction 
may be applied deductively to the examination or con 
struction of particular cases as they come up. If the 
physician does not know the general laws of the physi 
ology of the human body, he has little way of tell 
ing what is either peculiarly significant or peculiarly 



94 HOW WE THINK 

exceptional in any particular case that he is called upon 
to treat. If he knows the laws of circulation, digestion, 
and respiration, he can deduce the conditions that 
should normally be found in a given case. These con 
siderations give a base line from which the deviations 
and abnormalities of a particular case may be measured. 
In this way, the nature of the problem at hand is located 
and defined. Attention is not wasted upon features 
which though conspicuous have nothing to do with the 
case; it is concentrated upon just those traits which 
are out of the way and hence require explanation. A 
question well put is half answered; i.e. a difficulty 
clearly apprehended is likely to suggest its own solu 
tion, while a vague and miscellaneous perception 
of the problem leads to groping and fumbling. De 
ductive systems are necessary in order to put the 
question in a fruitful form. 

"Reasoning The control of the origin and development of hypoth- 
a thing out 11 eges ^y deduction does not cease, however, with locating 
the problem. Ideas as they first present themselves are 
inchoate and incomplete. Deduction is their elabora 
tion into fullness and completeness of meaning (see p. 76). 
The phenomena which the physician isolates from the 
total mass of facts that exist in front of him suggest, 
we will say, typhoid fever. Now this conception of 
typhoid fever is one that is capable of development. 
If there is typhoid, wherever there is typhoid, there are 
certain results, certain characteristic symptoms. By 
going over mentally the full bearing of the concept of 
typhoid, the scientist is instructed as to further phe 
nomena to be found. Its development gives him an 
instrument of inquiry, of observation and experimenta 
tion. He can go to work deliberately to see whether 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 95 

the case presents those features that it should have if 
the supposition is valid. The deduced results form a 
basis for comparison with observed results. Except 
where there is a system of principles capable of being 
elaborated by theoretical reasoning, the process of 
testing (or proof) of a hypothesis is incomplete and 
haphazard. 

These considerations indicate the method by which Such reason* 
the deductive movement is guided. Deduction requires ^ema-** 

a system of allied ideas which may be translated into *&** 

. knowledge* 
one another by regular or graded steps. The question 

is whether the facts that confront us can be identified 
as typhoid fever. To all appearances, there is a great 
gap between them and typhoid. But if we can, by 
some method of substitutions, go through a series of 
intermediary terms (see p. 72), the gap may, after all, 
be easily bridged. Typhoid may mean/ which in turn 
means o, which means n which means m, which is very 
similar to the data selected as the key to the problem. 

One of the chief objects of science is to provide for or definition 
every typical branch of subject-matter a set of meanings 
and principles so closely interknit that any one implies 
some other according to definite conditions, which 
under certain other conditions implies another, and so 
on. In this way, various substitutions of equivalents 
are possible, and reasoning can trace out, without having 
recourse to specific observations, very remote conse 
quences of any suggested principle. Definition, general 
formulae, and classification are the devices by which the 
fixation and elaboration of a meaning into its detailed 
ramifications are carried on. They are not ends hi them 
selves as they are frequently regarded even in ele 
mentary education but instrumentalities for facilitating 



96 



HOW WE THINK 



The final 



Educational 



logical 



isolation 
of" facts" 



the development of a conception into the form where 
its applicability to given facts may best be tested. 1 

The final test of deduction lies in experimental ob- 
servation. Elaboration by reasoning may make a sug 
gested idea very rich and very plausible, but it will not 
settle the validity of that idea. Only if facts can be 
observed (by methods either of collection or of experi 
mentation), that agree in detail and without exception 
with the deduced results, are we justified in accepting 
the deduction as giving a valid conclusion. Thinking, 
in short, must end as well as begin in the domain of 
concrete observations, if it is to be complete thinking. 
And the ultimate educative value of all deductive pro 
cesses is measured by the degree to which they become 
working tools in the creation and development of new 
experiences. 

5. Some Educational Bearings of the Discussion 

Some of the points of the foregoing logical analysis 
ma y ^ e clinched by a consideration of their educational 
implications, especially with reference to certain prac- 
tices that grow out of a false separation by which each 
is thought to be independent of the other and complete 
in itself, (z) In some school subjects, or at all events 
j n some topics or in some lessons, the pupils are im 
mersed in details ; their minds are loaded with discon 
nected items (whether gleaned by observation and 
memory, or accepted on hearsay and authority). In 
duction is treated as beginning and ending with the 
amassing of facts, of particular isolated pieces of in 
formation. That these items are educative only as 
suggesting a view of some larger situation in which the 
1 These processes are further discussed in Chapter IX. 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 97 

particulars are included, and thereby accounted for, Is 
ignored. In object lessons in elementary education and 
in laboratory instruction in higher education, the sub 
ject is often so treated that the student fails to "see 
the forest on account of the trees." Things and their 
qualities are retailed and detailed, without reference to 
a more general character which they stand for and 
mean. Or, in the laboratory, the student becomes 
engrossed in the processes of manipulation, irrespec 
tive of the reason for their performance, without recog 
nizing a typical problem for the solution of which they 
afford the appropriate method. Only deduction brings 
out and emphasizes consecutive relationships, and only 
when relationships are held in view does learning be 
come more than a miscellaneous scrap-bag. 

(ii) Again, the mind is allowed to hurry on to a vague Failure to 
notion of the whole of which the fragmentary facts are reasoning 
portions, without any attempt to become conscious of 
how they are bound together as parts of this whole. The 
student feels that " in a general way," as we say, the 
facts of the history or geography lesson are related 
thus and so; but "in a general way" here stands only 
for "in a vague way," somehow or other, with no clear 
recognition of just how. 

The pupil is encouraged to form, on the basis of the 
particular facts, a general notion, a conception of how 
they stand related ; but no pains are taken to make the 
student follow up the notion, to elaborate it and see just 
what its bearings are upon the case in hand and upon 
similar cases. The inductive inference, the guess, is 
formed by the student ; if it happens to be correct, it is 
at once accepted by the teacher ; or if it is false, it is re 
jected. If any amplification of the idea occurs, it is 



9 8 



HOW WE THINK 



Isolation of 
deduction 
by com 
mencing 
with it 



quite likely carried through by the teacher, who thereby 
assumes the responsibility for its intellectual develop 
ment But a complete, an integral, act of thought re 
quires that the person making the suggestion (the 
guess) be responsible also for reasoning out its bearings 
upon the problem in hand ; that he develop the sugges 
tion at least enough to indicate the ways in which it 
applies to and accounts for the specific data of the case. 
Too often when a recitation does not consist in simply 
testing the ability of the student to display some form of 
technical skill, or to repeat facts and principles accepted 
on the authority of textbook or lecturer, the teacher 
goes to the opposite extreme ; and after calling out the 
spontaneous reflections of the pupils, their guesses or 
ideas about the matter, merely accepts or rejects them, 
assuming himself the responsibility for their elaboration. 
In this way, the function of suggestion and of interpre 
tation is excited, but it is not directed and trained. In 
duction is stimulated but is not carried over into the 
reasoning phase necessary to complete it. 

In other subjects and topics, the deductive phase is 
isolated, and is treated as if it were complete in itself. 
This false isolation may show itself in either (and both) 
of two points ; namely, at the beginning or at the end 
of the resort to general intellectual procedure. 

(Y) Beginning with definitions, rules, general princi 
ples, classifications, and the like, is a common form 
of the first error. This method has been such a uni 
form object of attack on the part of all educational re 
formers that it is not necessary to dwell upon it further 
than to note that the mistake is, logically, due to the 
attempt to introduce deductive considerations without 
first making acquaintance with the particular facts that 



SYSTEMATIC INFERENCE 99 

create a need for the generalizing rational devices. 
Unfortunately, the reformer sometimes carries his objec 
tion too far, or rather locates it in the wrong place. He 
is led into a tirade against all definition, all systematiza- 
tion, all use of general principles, instead of confining 
himself to pointing out their futility and their deadness 
when not properly motivated by familiarity with con 
crete experiences. 

(w) The isolation of deduction is seen, at the other end, isolation of 
wherever there is failure to clinch and test the results 



of the general reasoning processes by application to new tion of new 

T>I_ .c i -^r^iljja.- j observations 
concrete cases. The final point of the deductive devices 

lies in their use in assimilating and comprehending in 
dividual cases. No one understands a general principle 
fully no matter how adequately he can demonstrate 
it, to say nothing of repeating it till he can employ it 
in the mastery of new situations, which, if they are new, 
differ in manifestation from the cases used in reaching the 
generalization. Too often the textbook or teacher is 
contented with a series of somewhat perfunctory ex 
amples and illustrations, and the student is not forced to 
carry the principle that he has formulated over into 
further cases of his own experience. In so far, the 
principle is inert and dead. 

(v) It is only a variation upon this same theme to Lack of puo- 
say that every complete act of reflective inquiry makes 
provision for experimentation for testing suggested tation 
and accepted principles by employing them for the 
active construction of new cases, in which new qualities 
emerge. Only slowly do our schools accommodate 
themselves to the general advance of scientific method. 
From the scientific side, it is demonstrated that effective 
and integral thinking is possible only where the experi- 



100 HOW WE THINK 

mental method in some form is used. Some recog 
nition of this principle is evinced in higher institutions 
of learning-, colleges and high schools. But in elemen 
tary education, it is still assumed, for the most part, 
that the pupil's natural range of observations, supple 
mented by what he accepts on hearsay, is adequate for 
intellectual growth. Of course it is not necessary that 
laboratories shall be introduced under that name, much 
less that elaborate apparatus be secured; but the en 
tire scientific history of humanity demonstrates that 
the conditions for complete mental activity will not be 
obtained till adequate provision is made for the carrying 
on of activities that actually modify physical conditions, 
and that books, pictures, and even objects that are pas 
sively observed but not manipulated do not furnish the 
provision required. 



CHAPTER EIGHT 
JUDGMENT: THE INTERPRETATION OF FACTS 

i. The Three Factors of Judging 

A MAN of good judgment in a given set of affairs is a Good 
man in so far educated, trained, whatever may be his 
literacy. And if our schools turn out their pupils in 
that attitude of mind which is conducive to good judg 
ment in any department of affairs in which the pupils 
are placed, they have done more than if they sent out 
their pupils merely possessed of vast stores of informa 
tion, or high degrees of skill in specialized branches. 
To know what is good judgment we need first to know 
what judgment is. 

That there is an intimate connection between judg- judgment 
ment and inference is obvious enough. The aim of in- 
ference is to terminate itself in an adequate judgment 
of a situation, and the course of inference goes on through 
a series of partial and tentative judgments. What are 
these units, these terms of inference when we examine 
them on their own account? Their significant traits 
may be readily gathered from a consideration of the 
operations to which the word judgment was originally 
applied : namely, the authoritative decision of matters in 
legal controversy the procedure of the judge on the 
bench. There are three such features: (i) a contro 
versy, consisting of opposite claims regarding the same 
objective situation; (2) a process of defining and elabo 
rating these claims and of sifting the facts adduced to 

joi 



102 



HOW WE THINK 



Uncertainty 
the ante 
cedent of 
judgment 



Judgment 
defines 
the issue, 



support them ; (3) a final decision, or sentence, closing 
the particular matter in dispute and also serving as a 
rule or principle for deciding future cases. 

1. Unless there is something doubtful, the situation 
is read off at a glance; it is taken in on sight, i.e. there 
is merely apprehension, perception, recognition, not 
judgment. If the matter is wholly doubtful, if it is dark 
and obscure throughout, there is a blind mystery and 
again no judgment occurs. But if it suggests, however 
vaguely, different meanings, rival possible interpreta 
tions, there is some point at issue, some matter at stake. 
Doubt takes the form of dispute, controversy; different 
sides compete for a conclusion in their favor. Cases 
brought to trial before a judge illustrate neatly and un 
ambiguously this strife of alternative interpretations ; 
but any case of trying to clear up intellectually a doubt 
ful situation exemplifies the same traits. A moving 
blur catches our eye in the distance ; we ask ourselves : 
"What is it? Is it a cloud of whirling dust? a tree 
waving its branches ? a man signaling to us ? " Some 
thing in the total situation suggests each of these pos 
sible meanings. Only one of them can possibly be 
sound ; perhaps none of them is appropriate ; yet some 
meaning the thing in question surely has. Which of 
the alternative suggested meanings has the rightful 
claim ? What does the perception really mean ? How 
is it to be interpreted, estimated, appraised, placed? 
Every judgment proceeds from some such situation. 

2. The hearing of the controversy, the trial, i.e. the 
weighing of alternative claims, divides into two branches, 
either of which, in a given case, may be more conspicu 
ous than the other. In the consideration of a legal dis 
pute, these two branches are sifting the evidence and 



JUDGMENT: INTERPRETATION OF FACTS 103 

selecting the rules that are applicable ; they are " the 
facts " and "the law" of the case. In judgment they 
are (a) the determination of the data that are impor 
tant in the given case (compare the inductive move 
ment); and (b) the elaboration of the conceptions or 
meanings suggested by the crude data (compare the 
deductive movement), (a) What portions or aspects of 
the situation are significant in controlling the formation 
of the interpretation ? (b) Just what is the full meaning 
and bearing of the conception that is used as a method 
of interpretation ? These questions are strictly correla 
tive ; the answer to each depends upon the answer to 
the other. We may, however, for convenience, consider 
them separately. 

(a) In every actual occurrence, there are many de- 60 *>y 
tails which are part of the total occurrence, but which ^t facts 
nevertheless are not significant in relation to the point are 
at issue. All parts of an experience are equally pres 
ent, but they are very far from being of equal value as 
signs or as evidences. Nor is there any tag or label on 
any trait saying: "This is important," or "This is 
trivial." Nor is intensity, or vividness or conspicuous- 
ness, a safe measure of indicative and proving value. 
The glaring thing may be totally insignificant in this 
particular situation, and the key to the understanding 
of the whole matter may be modest or hidden (compare 
p. 74). Features that are not significant are distracting ; 
they proffer their claims to be regarded as clues and 
cues to interpretation, while traits that are significant do 
not appear on the surface at all. Hence, judgment is 
required even in reference to the situation or event that 
is present to the senses ; elimination or rejection, selec 
tion, discovery, or bringing to light must take place. 



1O4 



HOW WE THINK 



Expertness 
in selecting 
evidence 



Intuitive 
judgments 



Till we have reached a final conclusion, rejection and 
selection must be tentative or conditional. We select 
the things that we hope or trust are cues to meaning. 
But if they do not suggest a situation that accepts and 
includes them (see p. 81), we reconstitute our data, the 
facts of the case; for we mean, intellectually, by the 
facts of the case those traits that are used as evidence 
in reaching a conclusion or forming a decision. 

No hard and fast rules for this operation of selecting 
and rejecting, or fixing upon the facts, can be given. It 
all comes back, as we say, to the good judgment, the 
good sense, of the one judging. To be a good judge is 
to have a sense of the relative indicative or signifying 
values of the various features of the perplexing situa 
tion ; to know what to let go as of no account ; what to 
eliminate as irrelevant ; what to retain as conducive to 
outcome ; what to emphasize as a clue to the difficulty. 1 
This power in ordinary matters we call knack, tact, clev 
erness ; in more important affairs, insight, discernment. 
In part it is instinctive or inborn ; but it also represents 
the funded outcome of long familiarity with like opera 
tions in the past. Possession of this ability to seize 
what is evidential or significant and to let the rest go is 
the mark of the expert, the connoisseur, the judge, iq 
any matter. 

Mill cites the following case, which is worth noting as 
an instance of the extreme delicacy and accuracy to 
which may be developed this power of sizing up the 
significant factors of a situation. " A Scotch manufac 
turer procured from England, at a high rate of wages, 
a working dyer, famous for producing very fine colors, 
with the view of teaching to his other workmen the same 

1 Compare what was said about analysis. 



JUDGMENT: INTERPRETATION OF FACTS 105 

skill. The workman came ; but his method of propor 
tioning the ingredients, in which lay the secret of the 
effects he produced, was by taking them up in handfuls, 
while the common method was to weigh them. The 
manufacturer sought to make him turn his handling 
system into an equivalent weighing system, that the 
general principles of his peculiar mode of proceeding 
might be ascertained. This, however, the man found 
himself quite unable to do, and could therefore impart 
his own skill to nobody. He had, from individual cases 
of his own experience, established a connection in his 
mind between fine effects of color and tactual percep 
tions in handling his dyeing materials ; and from these 
perceptions he could, in any particular case,] infer the 
means to be employed and the effects which would be 
produced." Long brooding over conditions, intimate 
contact associated with keen interest, thorough absorp 
tion in a multiplicity of allied experiences, tend to bring 
about those judgments which we then call intuitive ; but 
they are true judgments because they are based on intel 
ligent selection and estimation, with the solution of a 
problem as the controlling standard. Possession of this 
capacity makes the difference between the artist and the 
intellectual bungler. 

Such is judging ability, in its completes t form, as to 
the data of the decision to be reached. But in any case 
there is a certain feeling along for the way to be fol 
lowed ; a constant tentative picking out of certain qual 
ities to see what emphasis upon them would lead to ; a 
willingness to hold final selection in suspense ; and to 
reject the factors entirely or relegate them to a different 
position in the evidential scheme if other features yield 
more solvent suggestions. Alertness, flexibility, curios- 



io6 



HOW WE THINK 



0) To de- 



priate prin 
ciples must 
also be 
selected 



ity are the essentials; dogmatism, rigidity, prejudice, 
caprice, arising from routine, passion, and flippancy are 
fatal 

(b} This selection of data is, of course, for the sake 
of controlling the development and elaboration of the sug 
gested meaning in the light of which they are to be inter 
preted (compare p. 76). An evolution of conceptions 
thus goes on simultaneously with the determination of the 
facts ; one possible meaning after another is held before 
the mind, considered in relation to the data to which it 
is applied, is developed into its more detailed bearings 
upon the data, is dropped or tentatively accepted and 
used. We do not approach any problem with a wholly 
naYve or virgin mind ; we approach it with certain ac 
quired habitual modes of understanding, with a certain 
store of previously evolved meanings, or at least of ex 
periences from which meanings may be educed. If the 
circumstances are such that a habitual response is called 
directly into play, there is an immediate grasp of mean 
ing. If the habit is checked, and inhibited from easy 
application, a possible meaning for the facts in question 
presents itself. No hard and fast rules decide whether 
a meaning suggested is the right and proper meaning to 
follow up. The individual's own good (or bad) judg 
ment is the guide. There is no label on any given idea 
or principle which says automatically, "Use me in 
this situation " as the magic cakes of Alice in Won 
derland were inscribed " Eat me." The thinker has to 
decide, to choose ; and there is always a risk, so that the 
prudent thinker selects warily, subject, that is, to con 
firmation or frustration by later events. If one is not 
able to estimate wisely what is relevant to the interpre 
tation of a given perplexing or doubtful issue, it avails 



JUDGMENT: INTERPRETATION OF FACTS 1 07 

little that arduous learning has built up a large stock of 
concepts. For learning is not wisdom ; information does 
not guarantee good judgment. Memory may provide an 
antiseptic refrigerator in which to store a stock of mean 
ings for future use, but judgment selects and adopts the 
one used in a given emergency and without an emer 
gency (some crisis, slight or great) there is no call for 
judgment. No conception, even if it is carefully and 
firmly established in the abstract, can at first safely be 
more than a candidate for the office of interpreter. Only 
greater success than that of its rivals in clarifying dark 
spots, untying hard knots, reconciling discrepancies, can 
elect it or prove it a valid idea for the given situation. 

3. The judgment when formed is a decision ; it closes Judging 
(or concludes) the question at issue. This determination inTS^um 
not only settles that particular case, but it helps fix a r statement 
rule or method for deciding similar matters in the future ; 
as the sentence of the judge on the bench both termi 
nates that dispute and also forms a precedent for future 
decisions. If the interpretation settled upon is not con 
troverted by subsequent events, a presumption is built 
up in favor of similar interpretation in other cases where 
the features are not so obviously unlike as to make it 
inappropriate. In this way, principles 'of judging are 
gradually built up ; a certain manner of interpretation 
gets weight, authority. In short, meanings get stand 
ardized, they become logical concepts (see below, p. 1 18). 

2. The Origin and Nature of Ideas 

This brings us to the question of ideas in relation to ideas are 
judgments^ Something in an obscure situation sug- employed* 

1 The term idea is also used popularly to denote (a) a mere fancy, () m JU ^^ 
an accepted belief, and also (^) judgment itself. But logically it denotes a 
certain factor in judgment, as explained in the text. 



108 HOW WE THINK 

gests something else as its meaning. If this meaning is 
at once accepted, there is no reflective thinking, no 
genuine judging. Thought is cut short uncritically ; 
dogmatic belief, with all its attending risks, takes place. 
But if the meaning suggested is held in suspense, pend 
ing examination and inquiry, there is true judgment 
We stop and think, we de-fer conclusion in order to 
in-fer more thoroughly. In this process of being only 
conditionally accepted, accepted only for examination, 
meanings become ideas. That is to say, an idea is a 
meaning that is tentatively entertained, formed, and 
used with reference to its fitness to decide a per 
plexing situation, a meaning used as a tool of 
judgment. 

Or tools Let us recur, to our instance of a blur in motion 

appearing at a distance. We wonder what the thing is, 
i.e. what the blur means. A man waving his arms, a 
friend beckoning to us, are suggested as possibilities. 
To accept at once either alternative* is to arrest judg 
ment. But if we treat what is suggested as only a sug 
gestion, a supposition, a possibility, it becomes an idea, 
having the following traits : (a) As merely a suggestion, 
it is a conjecture, a guess, which in cases of greater dig 
nity we call a hypothesis or a theory. That is to say, 
it is a possible but as yet doubtful mode of interpretation, 
(b) Even though doubtful, it has an office to perform ; 
namely, that of directing inquiry and examination. If 
this blur means a friend beckoning, then careful obser* 
vation should show certain other traits. If it is a man 
driving unruly cattle, certain other traits should be 
found. Let us look and see if these traits are found. 
Taken merely as a doubt, an idea would paralyze in 
quiry. Taken merely as a certainty, it would arrest 



JUDGMENT: INTERPRETATION OF FACTS 109 

inquiry. Taken as a doubtful possibility, it affords a 
standpoint, a platform, a method of inquiry. 

Ideas are not then genuine ideas unless they are tools Pseudo-ideas 
in a reflective examination which tends to solve a 
problem. Suppose it is a question of having the 
pupil grasp the idea of the sphericity of the earth. 
This is different from teaching him its sphericity as a 
fact. He may be shown (or reminded of) a ball or a 
globe, and be told that the earth is round like those 
things ; he may then be made to repeat that statement 
day after day till the shape of the earth and the shape 
of the ball are welded together in his mind. But he has 
not thereby acquired any idea of the earth's sphericity ; 
at most, he has had a certain image of a sphere and 
has finally managed to image the earth after the analogy 
of his ball image. To grasp sphericity as an idea, the 
pupil must first have realized certain perplexities or 
confusing features in observed facts and have had the 
idea of spherical shape suggested to him as a possible 
way of accounting for the phenomena in question. 
Only by use as a method of interpreting data so as to 
give them fuller meaning does sphericity become a gen 
uine idea. There may be a vivid image and no idea ; 
or there may be a fleeting, obscure image and yet an 
idea, if that image performs the function of instigating 
and directing the observation and relation of facts. 

Logical ideas are like keys which are shaping with 
reference to opening a lock. Pike, separated by a 
glass partition from the fish upon which they ordinarily "hit or 
prey, will so it is said butt their heads against the 
glass until it is literally beaten into them that they cannot 
get at their food. Animals learn (when they learn at 
all) by a " cut and try " method ; by doing at random 



HO HOW WE THINK 

first one thing and another thing and then preserving 
the things that happen to succeed. Action directed 
consciously by ideas by suggested meanings accepted 
for the sake of experimenting with them is the 
sole alternative both to bull-headed stupidity and 
to learning bought from that dear teacher chance 
experience. 

They are It is significant that many words for intelligence 

S^ect S f suggest the idea of circuitous, evasive activity often 
attack with a sort of intimation of even moral obliquity. The 
bluff, hearty man goes straight (and stupidly, it is im 
plied) at some work. The intelligent man is cunning, 
shrewd (crooked), wily, subtle, crafty, artful, designing 
the idea of indirection is involved. 1 An idea is a 
method of evading, circumventing, or surmounting 
through reflection obstacles that otherwise would have 
to be attacked by brute force. But ideas may lose their 
intellectual quality as they are habitually used. When 
a child was first learning to recognize, in some hesitat 
ing suspense, cats, dogs, houses, marbles, trees, shoes, 
and other objects, ideas conscious and tentative mean 
ings intervened as methods of identification. Now, 
as a rule, the thing and the meaning are so completely 
fused that there is no judgment and no idea proper, but 
only automatic recognition. On the other hand, things 
that are, as a rule, directly apprehended and familiar 
become subjects of judgment when they present them 
selves in unusual contexts : as forms, distances, sizes, 
positions when we attempt to draw them ; triangles, 
squares, and circles when they turn up, not in connec 
tion with familiar toys, implements, and utensils, but 
as problems in geometry. 

1 See Ward, Psychic Factors of Civilization, p. 153. 



JUDGMENT: INTERPRETATION OF FACTS in 

3. Analysis and Synthesis 

Through judging confused data are cleared up, and Judging 
seemingly incoherent and disconnected facts brought thi^s? P 
together. Things may have a peculiar feeling for us, analysis 
they may make a certain indescribable impression upon 
us ; the thing nay feel round (that is, present a quality 
which we afterwards define as round), an act may seem 
rude (or what we afterwards classify as rude), and yet 
this quality may be lost, absorbed, blended in the total 
value of the situation. Only as; we need to use just that 
aspect of the original situation as a tool of grasping 
something perplexing or obscure in another situation, 
do we abstract or detach the quality so that it becomes 
individualized. Only because we need to characterize 
the shape of some new object or the moral quality of 
some new act, does the element of roundness or rudeness 
in the old experience detach itself, and stand out as a 
distinctive feature. If the element thus selected clears 
up what is otherwise obscure in the new experience, if 
it settles what is uncertain, it thereby itself gains in 
positiveness and definiteness of meaning. This point 
will meet us again in the following chapter; here we 
shall speak of the matter only as it bears upon the 
questions of analysis and synthesis. 

Even when it is definitely stated that intellectual and Mental 
physical analyses are different sorts of operations, in- 



tellectual analysis is often treated after the analogy of physical 
physical ; as if it were the breaking up of a whole into 
all its constituent parts in the mind instead of in space. 
As nobody can possibly tell what breaking a whole into 
its parts in the mind means, this conception leads to the 
further notion that logical analysis is a mere enumera 
tion and listing of all conceivable qualities and relations. 



112 



HOW WE THINK 



Misappre 
hension of 
analysis in 
education 



Effects of 
premature 
formulation 



The influence upon education of this conception has 
been very great. 1 Every subject in the curriculum has 
passed through or still remains in what may be 
called the phase of anatomical or morphological method : 
the stage in which understanding the subject is thought 
to consist of multiplying distinctions of quality, form, 
relation, and so on, and attaching some name to each 
distinguished element. In normal growth, specific 
properties are emphasized and so individualized only 
when they serve to clear up a present difficulty. Only 
as they are involved in judging some specific situation 
is there any motive or use for analyses, i.e. for emphasis 
upon some element or relation as peculiarly significant 
The same putting the cart before the horse, the prod 
uct before the process, is found in that overconscious 
formulation of methods of procedure so current in ele 
mentary instruction. (See p. 60.) The method that 
is employed in discovery, in reflective inquiry, cannot 
possibly be identified with the method that emerges 
after the discovery is made. In the genuine operation 
of inference, the mind is in the attitude of search, of 
hunting, of projection, of trying this and that ; when the 
conclusion is reached, the search is at an end. The 
Greeks used to discuss : " How is learning (or inquiry) 
possible? For either we know already what we are 
after, and then we do not learn or inquire; or we do 
not know, and then we cannot inquire, for we do not 
know what to look for." The dilemma is at least sug 
gestive, for it points to the true alternative : the use in 
inquiry of doubt, of tentative suggestion, of experimen- 

1 Thus arise all those falsely analytic methods in geography, reading, 
writing, drawing, botany, arithmetic, which we have already considered in 
another connection. (See p. 59.) 



JUDGMENT: INTERPRETATION OF FACTS 113 

tation. After we have reached the conclusion, a recon 
sideration of the steps of the process to see what is 
helpful, what is harmful, what is merely useless, will 
assist in dealing more promptly and efficaciously with 
analogous problems in the future. In this way, more or 
less explicit method is gradually built up. (Compare 
the earlier discussion on p. 62 of the psychological and 
the logical.) 

It is, however, a common assumption that unless the Method 
pupil from the outset consciously recognises and explicitly before it8 
'states the method logically implied in the result he is to formulation 
reach, he will have no method, and his mind will work 
confusedly or anarchically ; while if he accompanies his 
performance with conscious statement of some form of 
procedure (outline, topical analysis, list of headings and 
subheadings, uniform formula) his mind is safeguarded 
and strengthened. As a matter of fact, the develop 
ment of an unconscioiis logical attitude and habit must 
come first. A conscious setting forth of the method 
logically adapted for reaching an end is possible only 
after the result has first been reached by more uncon 
scious and tentative methods, while it is valuable only 
when a review of the method that achieved success in a 
given case will throw light upon a new, similar case. 
The ability to fasten upon and single out (abstract, 
analyze) those features of one experience which are 
logically best is hindered by premature insistence upon 
their explicit formulation. It is repeated use that gives 
a method definiteness ; and given this definiteness, pre 
cipitation into formulated statement should follow natu 
rally. But because teachers find that the things which 
they themselves best understand are marked off and de 
fined in clear-cut ways, our schoolrooms are pervaded 



HOW WE THINK 



Judgment 
reveals the 
bearing or 
significance 
of facts : 
synthesis 



Analysis and 
synthesis 
are cor 
relative 



with the superstition that children are to begin with 
already crystallized formulae of method. 

As analysis is conceived to be a sort of picking to 
pieces, so synthesis is thought to be a sort of physical 
piecing together; and so imagined, it also becomes a 
mystery. In fact, synthesis takes place wherever we 
grasp the bearing of facts on a conclusion, or of a prin 
ciple on facts. As analysis is emphasis, so synthesis is 
placing; the one causes the emphasized fact or property 
to stand out as significant; the other gives what is se 
lected its context, or its connection with what is signified. 
Every judgment is analytic in so far as it involves dis 
cernment, discrimination, marking off the trivial from 
the important, the irrelevant from what points to a con 
clusion; and it is synthetic in so far as it leaves the mind 
with an inclusive situation within which the selected 
facts are placed. 

Educational methods that pride themselves on being 
exclusively analytic or exclusively synthetic are therefore 
(so far as they carry out their boasts) incompatible with 
normal operations of judgment Discussions have taken 
place, for example, as to whether the teaching of geogra 
phy should be analytic or synthetic. The synthetic 
method is supposed to begin with the partial, limited 
portion of the earth's surface already familiar to the 
pupil, and then gradually piece on adjacent regions (the 
county, the country, the continent, and so on) till an 
idea of the entire globe is reached, or of the solar system 
that includes the globe. The analytic method is supposed 
to begin with the physical whole, the solar system or 
globe, and to work down through its constituent portions 
till the immediate environment is reached. The under* 
lying conceptions are of physical wholes and physical 



JUDGMENT: INTERPRETATION OF FACTS 115 

parts. As matter of fact, we cannot assume that the 
portion of the earth already familiar to the child is such 
a definite object, mentally, that he can at once begin with 
it ; his knowledge of it is misty and vague as well as in 
complete. Accordingly, mental progress will involve 
analysis of it emphasis of the features that are signifi 
cant, so that they will stand out clearly. Moreover, his 
own locality is not sharply marked off, neatly bounded, 
and measured. His experience of it is already an ex 
perience that involves sun, moon, and stars as parts of 
the scene he surveys ; it involves a changing horizon 
line as he moves about; that is, even his more limited 
and local experience involves far-reaching factors that 
take his imagination clear beyond his own street and 
village. Connection, relationship with a larger whole, is 
already involved. But his recognition of these relations 
is inadequate, vague, incorrect. He needs to utilize the 
features of the local environment which are understood 
to help clarify and enlarge his conceptions of the larger 
geographical scene to which they belong. At the same 
time, not till he has grasped the larger scene will many 
of even the commonest features of his environment 
become intelligible. Analysis leads to synthesis ; while 
synthesis perfects analysis. As the pupil grows in com 
prehension of the vast complicated earth in its setting in 
space, he also sees more definitely the meaning of the 
familiar local details. This intimate interaction between 
selective emphasis and interpretation of what is selected 
is found wherever reflection proceeds normally. Hence 
the folly of trying to set analysis and synthesis over 
against each other. 



CHAPTER NINE 



Meaning 
is centra] 



To under 
stand is 
to grasp 
meaning 



MEANING: OR CONCEPTIONS AND UNDERSTANDING 

I. The Place of Meanings in Mental Life 

As in our discussion of judgment we were making 
more explicit what is involved in inference, so in the 
discussion of meaning we are only recurring to the 
central function of all reflection. For one thing to 
mean, signify, betoken, indicate, or point to, another we 
saw at the outset to be the essential mark of thinking 
(see p. 8). To find out what facts, just as they stand, 
mean, is the object of all discovery; to find out what 
facts will carry out, substantiate, support a given mean 
ing, is the object of all testing. When an inference 
reaches a satisfactory conclusion, we attain a goal of 
meaning. The act of judging involves both the growth 
and the application of meanings. In short, in this chap 
ter we are not introducing a new topic ; we are only 
coming to closer quarters with what hitherto has been 
constantly assumed. In the first section, we shall con 
sider the equivalence of meaning and understanding, 
and the two types of understanding, direct and indirect 

I. MEANING AND UNDERSTANDING 

If a person comes suddenly into your room and calls 

out " Paper," various alternatives are possible. If you 

do not understand the English language, there is simply 

a noise which may or may not act as a physical stimulus 

116 



MEANING 117 

and irritant. But the noise is not an intellectual obj ect ; it 
does not have intellectual value. (Compare above, p. 1 5.) 
To say that you do not understand it and that it has no 
meaning are equivalents. If the cry is the usual ac 
companiment of the delivery of the morning paper, the 
sound will have meaning, intellectual content ; you will 
understand it. Or if you are eagerly awaiting the re 
ceipt of some important document, you may assume 
that the cry means an announcement of its arrival. If 
(in the third place) you understand the English lan 
guage, but no context suggests itself from your habits 
and expectations, the word has meaning, but not the 
whole event. You are then perplexed and incited to 
think out, to hunt for, some explanation of the appar 
ently meaningless occurrence. If you find something 
that accounts for the performance, it gets meaning ; you 
come to understand it. As intelligent beings, we pre 
sume the existence of meaning, and its absence is an 
anomaly. Hence, if it should turn out that the person 
merely meant to inform you that there was a scrap of 
paper on the sidewalk, or that paper existed somewhere 
in the universe, you would think him crazy or your 
self the victim of a poor joke. To grasp a meaning, to 
understand, to identify a thing in a situation in which 
it is important, are thus equivalent terms ; they express 
the nerves of our intellectual life. Without them 
there is (a) lack of intellectual content, or (ff) intellec 
tual confusion and perplexity, or else (c) intellectual 
perversion nonsense, insanity. 

All knowledge, all science, thus aims to grasp the Knowledge 

... , and meaning 

meaning of objects and events, and this process always 

consists in taking them out of their apparent brute iso 
lation as events, and finding them to be parts of some 



HOW WE THINK 



Direct and 
circuitous 
under 
standing 



larger whole suggested by them, which, in turn, accounts 
for, explains, interprets them ; i.e. renders them signifi 
cant. (Compare above, p. 75.) Suppose that a stone 
with peculiar markings has been found. What do these 
scratches mean ? So far as the object forces the raising 
of this question, it is not understood ; while so far as 
the color and form that we see mean to us a stone, the 
object is understood. It is such peculiar combinations 
of the understood and the nonunderstood that provoke 
thought. If at the end of the inquiry, the markings 
are decided to mean glacial scratches, obscure and 
perplexing traits have been translated into meanings 
already understood : namely, the moving and grinding 
power of large bodies of ice and the friction thus 
induced of one rock upon another. Something al 
ready understood in one situation has been transferred 
and applied to what is strange and perplexing in another, 
and thereby the latter has become plain and familiar, i.e. 
understood. This summary illustration discloses that 
our power to think effectively depends upon possession 
of a capital fund of meanings which may be applied 
when desired. (Compare what was said about deduction, 
P- 94-) 

II. DIRECT AND INDIRECT UNDERSTANDING 

In the above illustrations two types of grasping of 
meaning are exemplified. When the English language 
is understood, the person grasps at once the meaning of 
"paper." He may not, however, see any meaning or 
sense in the performance as a whole. Similarly, the 
person identifies the object on sight as a stone ; there 
is no secret, no mystery, no perplexity about that. But 
he does not understand the markings on it. They have 



MEANING 



119 



some meaning, but what is it? In one case, owing to 
familiar acquaintance, the thing and its meaning, up to 
a certain point, are one. In the other, the thing and its 
meaning are, temporarily at least, sundered, and meaning 
has to be sought in order to understand the thing. In 
one case understanding is direct, prompt, immediate ; in 
the other, it is roundabout and delayed. 

Most languages have two sets of words to express interaction 

these two modes of understanding : one for the direct of the 
, , . _ . two types 

taking in or grasp of meaning, the other for its circui 
tous apprehension, thus : yu&vai and dUvai in Greek ; 
noscere and scire in Latin ; kennen and wissen in German ; 
connaitre and savoir in French ; while in English to be 
acquainted with and to know of or about have been sug 
gested as equivalents. 1 Now our intellectual life con 
sists of a peculiar interaction between these two types of 
understanding. All judgment, all reflective inference, 
presupposes some lack of understanding, a partial 
absence of meaning. We reflect in order that we may 
get hold of the full and adequate significance of what 
happens. Nevertheless, something must be already 
understood, the mind must be in possession of some 
meaning which it has mastered, or else thinking is im 
possible. We think in order to grasp meaning, but 
none the less every extension of knowledge makes us 
aware of blind and opaque spots, where with less knowl 
edge all had seemed obvious and natural. A scientist 
brought into a new district will find many things that 
he does not understand, where the native savage or 

1 James, Principles of Psychology ^ vol. I, p. 221. To know and to 
know that are perhaps more precise equivalents; compare "I know him" 
and " I know that he has gone home. " The former expresses a fact 
simply; for the latter, evidence might be demanded and supplied. 



120 HOW WE THINK 

rustic will be wholly oblivious to any meanings beyond 
those directly apparent. Some Indians brought to a 
large city remained stolid at the sight of mechanical 
wonders of bridge, trolley, and telephone, but were held 
spellbound by the sight of workmen climbing poles to 
repair wires. Increase of the store of meanings makes 
us conscious of new problems, while only through trans 
lation of the new perplexities into what is already familiar 
and plain do we understand or solve these problems. 
This is the constant spiral movement of knowledge, 
intellectual Our progress in genuine knowledge always consists in 
$ art * n ^ discovery of something not understood in what 
had previously been taken for granted as plain, obvioit,s y 
matter-of-course, and in part in the tise of meanings that 
are directly grasped without question, as instntments 
for getting hold of obscure, doubtfitl, and perplexing 
meanings. No object is so familiar, so obvious, so 
commonplace that it may not unexpectedly present, in a 
novel situation, some problem, and thus arouse reflec 
tion in order to understand it. No object or principle is 
so strange, peculiar, or remote that it may not be dwelt 
upon till its meaning becomes familiar taken in on 
sight without reflection. We may come to see, perceive, 
recognize, grasp, seize, lay hold ^/principles, laws, abstract 
truths i.e. to understand their meaning in very im 
mediate fashion. Our intellectual progress consists, as 
has been said, in a rhythm of direct understanding 
technically called ^/prehension with indirect, mediated 
understanding technically called ^reprehension. 

2. The Process of Acquiring Meanings 

Familiarity The first problem that comes up in connection with 
direct understanding is how a store of directly apprehen* 



MEANING 121 

sible meanings is built up. How do we learn to view things 
on sight as significant members of a situation, or as 
having, as a matter of course, specific meanings ? Our 
chief difficulty in answering this question lies in the 
thoroughness with which the lesson of familiar things 
has been learnt. Thought can more easily traverse an 
unexplored region than it can undo what has been so 
thoroughly done as to be ingrained in unconscious 
habit. We apprehend chairs, tables, books, trees, 
horses, clouds, stars, rain, so promptly and directly that 
it is hard to realize that as meanings they had once to 
be acquired, the meanings are now so much parts of 
the things themselves. 

In an often quoted passage, Mr. James has said : "The Confusion 
baby, assailed by eyes, ears, nose, skin, and entrails at 
once, feels it all as one great blooming, buzzing con 
fusion." l Mr. James is speaking of a baby's world 
taken as a whole ; the description, however, is equally 
applicable to the way any new thing strikes an adult, so 
far as the thing is really new and strange. To the tra 
ditional " cat in a strange garret," everything is blurred 
and confused ; the wonted marks that label things so as 
to separate them from one another are lacking. Foreign 
languages that we do not understand always seem jab- 
berings, babblings, in which it is impossible to fix a defi 
nite, clear-cut, individualized group of sounds. The 
countryman in the crowded city street, the landlubber 
at sea, the ignoramus in sport at a contest between ex 
perts in a complicated game, are further instances. Put 
an unexperienced man in a factory, and at first the work 
seems to him a meaningless medley. All strangers of 
another race proverbially look alike to the visiting 

1 Principles of Psychology, vol. I, p. 488. 



122 HOW WE THINK 

foreigner. Only gross differences of size or color are 
perceived by an outsider in a flock of sheep, each of 
which is perfectly individualized to the shepherd. A 
diffusive blur and an indiscriminately shifting suction 
characterize what we do not understand. The problem 
of the acquisition of meaning by things, or (stated in 
another way) of forming habits of simple apprehension, 
is thus the problem of introducing (z) definiteness and 
distinction and (zY) consistency or stability of meaning 
into what is otherwise vague and wavering. 

Practical The acquisition of definiteness and of coherency (or 

responses ^ * ,. . ....... .. r ^ . 

clarify constancy) of meanings is derived primarily from practi- 

confusion ca j activities. By rolling an object, the child makes its 
roundness appreciable; by bouncing it, he singles out 
its elasticity ; by throwing it, he makes weight its conspic 
uous distinctive factor. Not through the senses, but by 
means of the reaction, the responsive adjustment, is the 
impression made distinctive, and given a character 
marked off from other qualities that call out unlike re 
actions. Children, for example, are usually quite slow 
in apprehending differences of color. Differences from 
the standpoint of the adult so glaring that it is impossible 
not to note them are recognized and recalled with great 
difficulty. Doubtless they do not all/**/ alike, but there 
is no intellectual recognition of what makes the differ 
ence. The redness or greenness or blueness of the object 
does not tend to call out a reaction that is sufficiently 
peculiar to give prominence or distinction to the color 
trait. Gradually, however, certain characteristic habitual 
responses associate themselves with certain things ; the 
white becomes the sign, say, of milk and sugar, to which 
the child reacts favorably ; blue becomes the sign of a 
dress that the child likes to wear, and so on ; and the 



MEANING 123 

distinctive reactions tend to single out color qualities 
from other things in which they had been submerged. 

Take another example. We have little difficulty in We identify 
distinguishing from one another rakes, hoes, plows and 
harrows, shovels and spades. Each has its own associ 
ated characteristic use and function. We may have, 
however, great difficulty in recalling the difference be 
tween serrate and dentate, ovoid and obovoid, in the 
shapes and edges of leaves, or between acids in ic and 
in ous. There is some difference ; but just what ? Or, 
we know what the difference is ; but which is which ? 
Variations in form, size, color, and arrangement of parts 
have much less to do, and the uses, purposes, and func 
tions of things and of their parts much more to do, 
with distinctness of character and meaning than we 
should be likely to think. What misleads us is the fact 
that the qualities of form, size, color, and so on, are 
now so distinct that we fail to see that the problem is 
precisely to account for the way in which they origi 
nally obtained their definiteness and conspicuousness. 
So far as we sit passive before objects, they are not dis 
tinguished out of a vague blur which swallows them all. 
Differences in the pitch and intensity of sounds leave 
behind a different feeling, but until we assume different 
attitudes toward them, or do something special in refer 
ence to them, their vague difference cannot be intel 
lectually gripped and retained. 

Children's drawings afford a further exemplification Children's 
of the same principle. Perspective does not exist, for j^J^fJ 
the child's interest is not in pictorial representation, but domination 
in the things represented ; and while perspective is y v 
essential to the former, it is no part of the characteristic 
uses and values of the things themselves. The house 



124 HOW WE THINK 

is drawn with transparent walls, because the rooms, 
chairs, beds, people inside, are the important things in 
the house-meaning; smoke always comes out of the 
chimney otherwise, why have a chimney at all ? At 
Christmas time, the stockings may be drawn almost as 
large as the house or even so large that they have to be 
put outside of it : in any case, it is the scale of values 
in use that furnishes the scale for their qualities, the pic 
tures being diagrammatic reminders of these values, not 
impartial records of physical and sensory qualities. One 
of the chief difficulties felt by most persons in learn 
ing the art of pictorial representation is that habitual uses 
and results of use have become so intimately read into 
the character of things that it is practically impossible to 
shut them out at will. 

Asdosounds The acquiring of meaning by sounds, in virtue of which 
language ^7 become words, is perhaps the most striking illustra- 
tion that can be found of the way in which mere sensory 
stimuli acquire definiteness and constancy of meaning 
and are thereby themselves defined and interconnected 
for purposes of recognition. Language is a specially 
good example because there are hundreds or even thou 
sands of words in which meaning is now so thoroughly 
consolidated with physical qualities as to be directly 
apprehended, while in the case of words it is easier 
to recognize that this connection has been gradually and 
laboriously acquired than in the case of physical objects 
such as chairs, tables, buttons, trees, stones, hills, flowers, 
and so on, where it seems as if the union of intellectual 
character and meaning with the physical fact were abo 
riginal, and thrust upon us passively rather than acquired 
through active explorations. And in the case of the 
meaning of words, we see readily that it is by making 



MEANING 125 

sounds and noting the results which follow, by listening 
to the sounds of others and watching the activities 
which accompany them, that a given sound finally 
becomes the stable bearer of a meaning. 

Familiar acquaintance with meanings thus signifies Summary 
that we have acquired in the presence of objects definite 
attitudes of response which lead us, without reflection, 
to anticipate certain possible consequences. The defi- 
niteness of the expectation defines the meaning or takes 
it out of the vague and pulpy; its habitual, recurrent 
character gives the meaning constancy, stability, con 
sistency, or takes it out of the fluctuating and wavering. 

3. Conceptions and Meaning 

The word meaning 1 is a familiar everyday term ; the A conccp- 
words conception, notion, are both popular and technical J^J" 
terms. Strictly speaking, they involve, however, noth- meaning 
ing new ; any meaning sufficiently individualized to be 
directly grasped and readily used, and thus fixed by a 
word, is a conception or notion. Linguistically, every 
common noun is the carrier of a meaning, while proper 
nouns and common nouns with the word this or that pre 
fixed, refer to the things in which the meanings are ex 
emplified. That thinking both employs and expands 
notions, conceptions, is then simply saying that in infer 
ence and judgment we use meanings, and that this use 
also corrects and widens them. 

Various persons talk about an object not physically which is 
present, and yet all get the same material of belief. 
The same person in different moments often refers to the 
same object or kind of objects. The sense experience, 
the physical conditions, the psychological conditions, 
vary, but the same meaning is conserved. If pounds 



126 



HOW WE THINK 



6y it we 
identify the 
unknown 



and supple 
ment the 
sensibly 
present 



arbitrarily changed their weight, and foot rules their 
length, while we were using them, obviously we could 
not weigh nor measure. This would be our intellectual 
position if meanings could not be maintained with a cer 
tain stability and constancy through a variety of physical 
and personal changes. 

To insist upon the fundamental importance of concep 
tions would, accordingly, only repeat what has been 
said. We shall merely summarize, saying that concep 
tions, or standard meanings, are instruments (z) of iden 
tification, (if) of supplementation, and (iif) of placing 
in a system. Suppose a little speck of light hitherto 
unseen is detected in the heavens. Unless there is a 
store of meanings to fall back upon as tools of inquiry 
and reasoning, that speck of light will remain just what 
it is to the senses a mere speck of light For all that 
it leads to, it might as well be a mere irritation of the 
optic nerve. Given the stock of meanings acquired in 
prior experience, this speck of light is mentally attacked 
by means of appropriate concepts. Does it indicate 
asteroid, or comet, or a new-forming sun, or a nebula 
resulting from some cosmic collision or disintegration ? 
Each of these conceptions has its own specific and dif 
ferentiating characters, which are then sought for by 
minute and persistent inquiry. As a result, then, the 
speck is identified, we will say, as a comet. Through 
a standard meaning, it gets identity and stability of 
character. Supplementation then takes place. All 
the known qualities of comets are read into this par 
ticular thing, even though they have not been as yet 
observed. All that the astronomers of the past have 
learned about the paths and structure of comets be 
comes available capital with which to interpret the speck 



MEANING 127 

of light. Finally, this comet-meaning is itself not iso- and also 
lated; it is a related portion of the whole system of 
astronomic knowledge. Suns, planets, satellites, neb 
ulae, comets, meteors, star dust all these conceptions 
have a certain mutuality of reference and interaction, 
and when the speck of light is identified as meaning a 
comet, it is at once adopted as a full member in this vast 
kingdom of beliefs. 

Darwin, in an autobiographical sketch, says that importance 
when a youth he told the geologist, Sidgwick, of find- 
ing a tropical shell in a certain gravel pit. Thereupon 
Sidgwick said it must have been thrown there by some 
person, adding : " But if it were really embedded there, 
it would be the greatest misfortune to geology, because 
it would overthrow all that we know about the superficial 
deposits of the Midland Counties" since they were 
glacial. And then Darwin adds : " I was then utterly 
astonished at Sidgwick not being delighted at so won 
derful a fact as a tropical shell being found near the 
surface in the middle of England. Nothing before had 
made me thoroughly realize that science consists in group 
ing facts so that general laws or conclusions may be drawn 
from them"' This instance (which might, of course, be 
duplicated from any branch of science) indicates how 
scientific notions make explicit the systematizing tend 
ency involved in all use of concepts. 

4. What Conceptions are Not 

The idea that a conception is a meaning that sup- 
plies a standard rule for the identification and placing 
of particulars may be contrasted with some current mis 
apprehensions of its nature. 

I. Conceptions are not derived from a multitude of 



128 HOW WE THINK 

A concept different definite objects by leaving out the qualities in 
is not a bare w^k ^ e y faff er anc j retaining those in which they agree. 
The origin of concepts is sometimes described to be as 
if a child began with a lot of different particular things, 
say particular dogs ; his own Fido, his neighbor's Carlo, 
his cousin's Tray. Having all these different objects be 
fore him, he analyzes them into a lot of different quali 
ties, say (a) color, (<5) size, (c) shape, (d) number of legs, 
(<?) quantity and quality of hair, (/) digestive organs, 
and so on; and then strikes out all the unlike qualities 
(such as color, size, shape, hair), retaining traits such 
as quadruped and domesticated, which they all have in 
general. 

but an ac- As a matter of fact, the child begins with whatever 
tive attitude s ig n ifi cance he has got out of the one dog he has seen, 
heard, and handled. He has found that he can carry 
over from one experience of this object to subsequent 
experience certain expectations of certain characteristic 
modes of behavior may expect these even before 
they show themselves. He tends to assume this attitude 
of anticipation whenever any clue or stimulus presents 
itself; whenever the object gives him any excuse for 
it. Thus he might call cats little dogs, or horses 
big dogs. But finding that other expected traits and 
modes of behavior are not fulfilled, he is forced to 
throw out certain traits from the dog-meaning, while 
by contrast (see p. 90) certain other traits are selected 
and emphasized. As he further applies the meaning to 
other dogs, the dog-meaning gets still further defined 
and refined. He does not begin with a lot of ready- 
made objects from which he extracts a common mean 
ing ; he tries to apply to every new experience whatever 
from his old experience will help him understand it, 



MEANING 



129 



and as this process of constant assumption and experi 
mentation is fulfilled and refuted by results, his concep 
tions get body and clearness. 

2. Similarly, conceptions are general because of their it is general 
use and application, not because of their ingredients. f 'tsT u . 
The view of the origin of conception in an impossible cation 
sort of analysis has as its counterpart the idea that the 
conception is made up out of all the like elements that 
remain after dissection of a number of individuals. Not 
so ; the moment a meaning is gained, it is a working 
tool of further apprehensions, an instrument of under 
standing other things. Thereby the meaning is extended 
to cover them. Generality resides in application to the 
comprehension of new cases, not in constituent parts. 
A collection of traits left as the common residuum, the 
caput mortuum, of a million objects, would be merely a 
collection, an inventory or aggregate, not a general idea ; 
a striking trait emphasized in any one experience which 
then served to help understand some one other experi 
ence, would become, in virtue of that service of applica 
tion, in so far general. Synthesis is not a matter of 
mechanical addition, but of application of something 
discovered in one case to bring other cases into line. 

5. Definition and Organization of Meanings 

A being that cannot understand at all is at least pro- Definiteness 
tected from ^-understandings. But beings that get 
knowledge by means of inferring and interpreting, by 
judging what things signify in relation to one another, 
are constantly exposed to the danger of wz>-apprehension, 
^"^-understanding, mis-taking taking a thing amiss, 
A constant source of misunderstanding and mistake 
is indefiniteness of meaning. Through vagueness of 



130 



HOW WE THINK 



meaning we misunderstand other people, things, and our 
selves ; through its ambiguity we distort and pervert. 
Conscious distortion of meaning may be enjoyed as 
nonsense ; erroneous meanings, if clear-cut, may be 
followed up and got rid of. But vague meanings are 
too gelatinous to offer matter for analysis, and too 
pulpy to afford support to other beliefs. They evade test 
ing and responsibility. Vagueness disguises the uncon 
scious mixing together of different meanings, and fa 
cilitates the substitution of one meaning for another, and 
covers up the failure to have any precise meaning at all. 
It is the aboriginal logical sin the source from which 
flow most bad intellectual consequences. Totally to 
eliminate indefiniteness is impossible ; to reduce it in ex 
tent and in force requires sincerity and vigor. To be 
clear or perspicuous a meaning must be detached, single, 
self-contained, homogeneous as it were, throughout. 
The technical name for any meaning which is thus indi 
vidualized is intension. The process of arriving at such 
units of meaning (and of stating them when reached) is 
definition. The intension of the terms man, river, seed, 
honesty, capital, sitpreme court, is the meaning that 
exclusively and characteristically attaches to those terms. 
This meaning is set forth in the definitions of those 
words. The test of the distinctness of a meaning is 
application that it shall successfully mark off a group of things 
extension that exemplify the meaning from other groups, especially 
of those objects that convey nearly allied meanings. 
The river-meaning (or character) must serve to designate 
the Rhone, the Rhine, the Mississippi, the Hudson, the 
Wabash, in spite of their varieties of place, length, 
quality of water; and must be such as not to suggest 
ocean currents, ponds, or brooks. This use of a mean- 



in the 

abstract 
meaning is 
intension 



In its 



MEANING 131 

ing to mark off and group together a variety of distinct 
existences constitutes its extension. 

As definition sets forth intension, so division (or the Definition 
reverse process, classification) expounds extension. In- 
tension and extension, definition and division, are clearly 
correlative; in language previously used, intension is mean 
ing as a principle of identifying particulars ; extension is 
the group of particulars identified and distinguished. 
Meaning, as extension, would be wholly in the air or unreal, 
did it not point to some object or group of objects ; while 
objects would be as isolated and independent intellec 
tually as they seem to be spatially, were they not bound 
into groups or classes on the basis of characteristic 
meanings which they constantly suggest and exemplify. 
Taken together, definition and division put us in posses 
sion of individualized or definite meanings and indicate 
to what group of objects meanings refer. They typify 
the fixation and the organization of meanings. In the 
degree in which the meanings of any set of experiences 
are so cleared up as to serve as principles for grouping 
those experiences in relation to one another, that set of 
particulars becomes a science ; i.e. definition and classi 
fication are the marks of a science, as distinct from both 
unrelated heaps of miscellaneous information and from 
the habits that introduce coherence into our experience 
without our being aware of their operation. 

Definitions are of three types, denotative, expository, 
scientific. Of these, the first and third are logically 
important, while the expository type is socially and 
pedagogically important as an intervening step. 

I. Denotative. A blind man can never have an We define 
adequate understanding of the meaning of color and red; 
a seeing person can acquire the knowledge only by hav- 



132 



HOW WE THINK 



and also by 

combining 

what is 

already 

more 

definite, 



ing certain things designated in such a way as to fix at 
tention upon some of their qualities. This method of 
delimiting a meaning by calling out a certain attitude 
toward objects may be called denotative or indicative. 
It is required for all sense qualities sounds, tastes, 
colors and equally for all emotional and moral qualities. 
The meanings of honesty, sympathy p , hatred, fear, must be 
grasped by having them presented in an individual's 
first-hand experience. The reaction of educational refor 
mers against linguistic and bookish training has always 
taken the form of demanding recourse to personal ex 
perience. However advanced the person is in knowledge 
and in scientific training, understanding of a new subject, 
or a new aspect of an old subject, must always be through 
these acts of experiencing directly the existence or 
quality in question. 

2. Expository. Given a certain store of meanings 
which have been directly or denotatively marked out, 
language becomes a resource by which imaginative 
combinations and variations may be built up. A color 
may be defined to one who has not experienced it 
as lying between green and blue ; a tiger may be defined 
(i.e. the idea of it made more definite) by selecting some 
qualities from known members of the cat tribe and com 
bining them with qualities of size and weight derived 
from other objects. Illustrations are of the nature of 
expository definitions ; so are the accounts of meanings 
given in a dictionary. By taking better-known meanings 
and associating them, the attained store of meanings 
of the community in which one resides is put at one's 
disposal. But in themselves these definitions are second 
hand and conventional; there is danger that instead of 
inciting one to effort after personal experiences that 



MEANING 133 

will exemplify and verify them, they will be accepted on 
authority as substitutes. 

3. Scientific. Even popular definitions serve as rules and by dis- 
for identifying and classifying individuals, but the pur- ^Jod^f 
pose of such identifications and classifications is mainly production 
practical and social, not intellectual. To conceive the 
whale as a fish does not interfere with the success 
of whalers, nor does it prevent recognition of a whale 
when seen, while to conceive it not as fish but as 
mammal serves the practical end equally well, and also 
furnishes a much more valuable principle for scientific 
identification and classification. Popular definitions se 
lect certain fairly obvious traits as keys to classification. 
Scientific definitions select conditions of causation, pro- 
duction, and generation as their characteristic material. 
The traits used by the popular definition do not help 
us to understand why an object has its common mean 
ings and qualities; they simply state the fact that it 
does have them. Causal and genetic definitions fix 
upon the way an object is constructed as the key to 
its being a certain kind of object, and thereby explain 
why it has its class or common traits. 

If, for example, a layman of considerable practical Contrast of 
experience were asked what he meant or understood by ^cripSJe 
metal, he would probably reply in terms of the qualities definitions 
useful (i) in recognizing any given metal and (if) in the 
arts. Smoothness, hardness, glossiness, and brilliancy, 
heavy weight for its size, would probably be included 
in his definition, because such traits enable us to identify 
specific things when we see and touch them ; the ser 
viceable properties of capacity for being hammered and 
pulled without breaking, of being softened by heat and 
hardened by cold, of retaining the shape and form 



134 



HOW WE THINK 



Science is 
the most 
perfect type 
of knowl 
edge be 
cause it 
uses causal 
definitions 



given, of resistance to pressure and decay, would prob 
ably be included whether or not such terms as mal 
leable or fusible were used. Now a scientific concep 
tion, instead of using, even with additions, traits of this 
kind, determines meaning" on a different basis. The 
present definition of metal is about like this : Metal 
means any chemical element that enters into combina 
tion with oxygen so as to form a base, i.e. a compound 
that combines with an acid to form a salt. This sci 
entific definition is founded, not on directly perceived 
qualities nor on directly useful properties, but on the 
way in 'which certain things are caitsally related to othef 
things ; i.e. it denotes a relation. As chemical concepts 
become more and more those of relationships of inter 
action in constituting other substances, so physical con 
cepts express more and more relations of operation : 
mathematical, as expressing functions of dependence 
and order of grouping; biological, relations of differ 
entiation of descent, effected through adjustment of 
various environments ; and so on through the sphere of 
the sciences. In short, our conceptions attain a maxi 
mum of definite individuality and of generality (or appli 
cability) in the degree to which they show how things 
depend upon one another or influence one another, in 
stead of expressing the qualities that objects possess 
statically. The ideal of a system of scientific concep 
tions is to attain continuity, freedom, and flexibility of 
transition in passing from any fact and meaning to any 
other ; this demand is met in the degree in which we 
lay hold of the dynamic ties that hold things together 
in a continuously changing process a principle that 
states insight into mode of production or growth. 



CHAPTER TEN 
CONCRETE AND ABSTRACT THINKING 

THE maxim enjoined upon teachers, " to proceed from False 
the concrete to the abstract," is perhaps familiar rather 
than comprehended. Few who read and hear it gain a and abstract 
clear conception of the starting-point, the concrete ; of 
the nature of the goal, the abstract ; and of the exact 
nature of the path to be traversed in going from one to 
the other. At times the injunction is positively misun 
derstood, being taken to mean that education should 
advance from things to thought as if any dealing 
with things in which thinking is not involved could 
possibly be educative. So understood, the maxim en 
courages mechanical routine or sensuous excitation 
at one end of the educational scale the lower 
and academic and unapplied learning at the upper 
end. 

Actually, all dealing with things, even the child's, 
is immersed in inferences; things are clothed by the 
suggestions they arouse, and are significant as chal 
lenges to interpretation or as evidences to substantiate 
a belief. Nothing could be more unnatural than in 
struction in things without thought; in sense-percep 
tions without judgments based upon them. And if the 
abstract to which we are to proceed denotes thought 
apart from things, the goal recommended is formal and 



136 



HOW WE THINK 



Direct and 
indirect un 
derstanding 
again 



What is 
familiar is 
mentally 
concrete 



Practical 
things we 
familiar 



empty, for effective thought always refers, more or less 
directly, to things. 

Yet the maxim has a meaning which, understood and 
supplemented, states the line of development of logical 
capacity. What is this signification ? Concrete denotes 
a meaning definitely marked off from other meanings so 
that it is readily apprehended by itself. When we hear 
the words, table, chair, stove, coat, we do not have to 
reflect in order to grasp what is meant. The terms 
convey meaning so directly that no effort at translating 
is needed. The meanings of some terms and things, 
however, are grasped only by first calling to mind more 
familiar things and then tracing out connections be 
tween them and what we do not understand. Roughly 
speaking, the former kind of meanings is concrete ; the 
latter abstract. 

To one who is thoroughly at home in physics and 
chemistry, the notions of atom and molecule are fairly 
concrete. They are constantly used without involving 
any labor of thought in apprehending what they mean. 
But the layman and the beginner in science have first to 
remind themselves of things with which they already 
are well acquainted, and go through a process of slow 
translation \ the terms atom and molecule losing, more 
over, their hard-won meaning only too easily if familiar 
things, and the line of transition from them to the 
strange, drop out of mind. The same difference is 
illustrated by any technical terms : coefficient and exponent 
in algebra, triangle and square in their geometric as 
distinct from their popular meanings ; capital and value 
as used in political economy, and so on. 

The difference as noted is purely relative to the 
intellectual progress of an individual ; what is abstract 



CONCRETE AND ABSTRACT THINKING 137 

at one period of growth is concrete at another ; or even 
the contrary, as one finds that things supposed to be 
thoroughly familiar involve strange factors and unsolved 
problems. There is, nevertheless, a general line of 
cleavage which, deciding upon the whole what things 
fall within the limits of familiar acquaintance and what 
without, marks off the concrete and the abstract in a 
more permanent way. These limits are fixed mainly by 
the demands of practical life. Things such as sticks 
and stones, meat and potatoes, houses and trees, are 
such constant features of the environment of which we 
have to take account in order to live, that their im 
portant meanings are soon learnt, and indissolubly 
associated with objects. We are acquainted with a 
thing (or it is familiar to us) when we have so much to 
do with it that its strange and unexpected corners are 
rubbed off. The necessities of social intercourse con 
vey to adults a like concreteness upon such terms as 
taxes > elections, wages, the law, and so on. Things the 
meaning of which I personally do not take in directly, 
appliances of cook, carpenter, or weaver, for example, 
are nevertheless unhesitatingly classed as concrete, 
since they are so^ directly connected with our common 
social life. 

By contrast, the abstract is the theoretical, or that Thetheo- 
not intimately associated with practical concerns. The r ^^' ?*, 
abstract thinker (the man of pure science as he is some- teliectual, 
times called) deliberately abstracts from application in w atetract 
life; that is, he leaves practical uses out of account. 
This, however, is a merely negative statement. What 
remains when connections with use and application are 
excluded ? Evidently only what lias to do with knowing 
considered as an end in itself. Many notions of science 



138 



HOW WE THINK 



Contempt 
for theory 



But theory 
is highly 
practical 



are abstract, not only because they cannot be understood 
without a long apprenticeship in the science (which is 
equally true of technical matters in the arts), but also 
because the whole content of their meaning has been 
framed for the sole purpose of facilitating further knowl 
edge, inquiry, and speculation. When thinking is used 
as a means to some end, good, or value "beyond itself \ it is 
concrete; when it is employed simply as a means to 
more thinking, it is abstract. To a theorist an idea is 
adequate and self-contained just because it engages and 
rewards thought ; to a medical practitioner, an engineer, 
an artist, a merchant, a politician, it is complete only 
when employed in the furthering of some interest in 
life health, wealth, beauty, goodness, success, or what 
you will. 

For the great majority of men under ordinary cir 
cumstances, the practical exigencies of life are almost, 
if not quite, coercive. Their main business is the 
proper conduct ,of their affairs. Whatever is of signifi 
cance only as affording scope for thinking is pallid and 
remote almost artificial. Hence the contempt felt by 
the practical and successful executive for the "mere 
theorist"; hence his conviction that certain things may 
be all very well in theory, but that they will not do in 
practice; in general, the depreciatory way in which he 
uses the terms abstract, theoretical, and intellectual 
as distinct from intelligent. 

This attitude is justified, of course, under certain con 
ditions. But depreciation of theory does not contain 
the whole truth, as common or practical sense recog 
nizes. There is such a thing, even from the common- 
sense standpoint, as being "too practical/' as being so 
intent upon the immediately practical as not to see 



CONCRETE AND ABSTRACT THINKING 139 

beyond the end of one's nose or as to cut off the limb 
upon which one is sitting. The question is one of 
limits, of degrees and adjustments, rather than one of 
absolute separation. Truly practical men give their 
minds free play about a subject without asking too 
closely at every point for the advantage to be gained ; 
exclusive preoccupation with matters of use and appli 
cation so narrows the horizon as in the long run to de 
feat itself. It does not pay to tether one's thoughts to 
the post of use with too short a rope. Power in action 
requires some largeness and imaginativeness of vision. 
Men must at least have enough interest in thinking for 
the sake of thinking to escape the limits of routine and 
custom. Interest in knowledge for the sake of knowl 
edge, in thinking for the sake of the free play of thought, 
is necessary then to the emancipation of practical life 
to make it rich and progressive. 

We may now recur to the pedagogic maxim of going 
from the concrete to the abstract 

i. Since the concrete denotes thinking applied to Begin with 
activities for the sake of dealing effectively with the ^ s n b c e r g^ 
difficulties that present themselves practically, " begin- with practi- 
ning with the concrete " signifies that we should at the 
outset make much of doing ; especially, make much in 
occupations that are not of a routine and mechanical 
kind and hence require intelligent selection and adapta 
tion of means and materials. We do not " follow the 
order of nature " when we multiply mere sensations or 
accumulate physical objects. Instruction in number is 
not concrete merely because splints or beans or dots are 
employed, while whenever the use and bearing of number 
relations are clearly perceived, the number idea is con 
crete even if figures alone are used. Just what sort of 



140 



HOW WE THINK 



symbol it is best to use at a given time whether blocks, 
or lines, or figures is entirely a matter of adjustment 
to the given case. If physical things used in teaching 
number or geography or anything else do not leave the 
mind illuminated with recognition of a meaning beyond 
themselves, the instruction that uses them is as abstract 
as that which doles out ready-made definitions and rules ; 
for it distracts attention from ideas to mere physical 
excitations. 

Confusion The conception that we have only to put before the 
ereteVith" senses particular physical objects in order to impress 
the sensibly certain ideas upon the mind amounts almost to a super- 
isolated stition. The introduction of object lessons and sense- 
training scored a distinct advance over the prior method 
of linguistic symbols, and this advance tended to blind 
educators to the fact that only a halfway step had been 
taken. Things and sensations develop the child, indeed, 
but only because he uses them in mastering his body and 
in the scheme of his activities. Appropriate contin 
uous occupations or activities involve the use of natural 
materials, tools, modes of energy, and do it in a way 
that compels thinking as to what they mean, how they 
are related to one another and to the realization of ends ; 
while the mere isolated presentation of things remains 
barren and dead. A few generations ago the great ob 
stacle in the way of reform of primary education was 
belief in the almost magical efficacy of the symbols of lan 
guage (including number) to produce mental training ; 
at present, belief in the efficacy of objects just as objects, 
blocks the way. As frequently happens, the better is 
an enemy of the best. 

Transfer of 2. The interest in results, in the successful carrying on 
interest to o an ac ^ v ^y y should be gradually transferred to study 



CONCRETE AND ABSTRACT THINKING 141 

of objects their properties, consequences, structures, intellectual 
causes, and effects. The adult when at work in his life matters 
calling is rarely free to devote time or energy beyond 
the necessities of his immediate action to the study of 
what he deals with. (Ante, p. 43.) The educative activ 
ities of childhood should be so arranged that direct 
interest in the activity and its outcome create a demand 
for attention to matters that have a more and more in 
direct and remote connection with the original activity. 
The direct interest in carpentering or shop work should 
yield organically and gradually an interest in geometric 
and mechanical problems. The interest in cooking 
should grow into an interest in chemical experimentation 
and in the physiology and hygiene of bodily growth. 
The making of pictures should pass to an interest in the 
technique of representation and the aesthetics of appreci 
ation, and so on. This development is what the term 
go signifies in the maxim "go from the concrete to the 
abstract " ; it represents the dynamic and truly educative 
factor of the process. 

3. The outcome, the abstract to which education is to Deveiop- 
proceed, is an interest in intellectual matters for their JJ^f^ 
own sake, a delight in thinking for the sake of thinking, the activity 
It is an old story that acts and processes which at the * mg 
outset are incidental to something else develop and 
maintain an absorbing value of their own. So it is with 
thinking and with knowledge ; at first incidental to re 
sults and adjustments beyond themselves, they attract 
more and more attention to themselves till they become 
ends, not means. Children engage, unconstrainedly 
and continually, in reflective inspection and testing for 
the sake of what they are interested in doing successfully. 
Habits of thinking thus generated may increase in volume 



142 



HOW WE THINK 



Examples 
of the 
transition 



Theoretical 
knowledge 
never the 
whole end 



and extent till they become of importance on their own 
account. 

The three instances cited in Chapter Six represented 
an ascending cycle from the practical to the theoretical. 
Taking thought to keep a personal engagement is ob 
viously of the concrete kind. Endeavoring to work out 
the meaning of a certain part of a boat is an instance of 
an intermediate kind. The reason for the existence and 
position of the pole is a practical reason, so that to the 
architect the problem was purely concrete the main 
tenance of a certain system of action. But for the pas 
senger on the boat, the problem was theoretical, more 
or less speculative. It made no difference to his reach 
ing his destination whether he worked out the meaning 
of the pole. The third case, that of the appearance and 
movement of the bubbles, illustrates a strictly theoreti 
cal or abstract case. No overcoming of physical ob 
stacles, no adjustment of external means to ends, is at 
stake. Curiosity, intellectual curiosity, is challenged by 
a seemingly anomalous occurrence ; and thinking tries 
simply to account for an apparent exception in terms of 
recognized principles. 

(Y) Abstract thinking, it should be noted, represents 
an end, not the end. The power of sustained thinking 
on matters remote from direct use is an outgrowth of 
practical and immediate modes of thought, but not a 
substitute for them. The educational end is not the de 
struction of power to think so as to surmount obstacles 
and adjust means and ends ; it is not its replacement by 
abstract reflection. Nor is theoretical thinking a higher 
type of thinking than practical A person who has at 
command both types of thinking is of a higher order 
than he who possesses only one. Methods that in de- 



CONCRETE AND ABSTRACT THINKING 143 

veloping abstract intellectual abilities weaken habits of 
practical or concrete thinking, fall as much short of the 
educational ideal as do the methods that in cultivating 
ability to plan, to invent, to arrange, to forecast, fail to 
secure some delight in thinking irrespective of practical 
consequences. 

(if) Educators should also note the very great indi- Nor that 
vidual differences that exist ; they should not try to force ^aTt^t 
one pattern and model upon all In many (probably majority 
the majority) the executive tendency, the habit of mind pup 
that thinks for purposes of conduct and achievement, 
not for the sake of knowing, remains dominant to the 
end. Engineers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, are much 
more numerous in adult life than scholars, scientists, 
and philosophers. While education should strive to 
make men who, however prominent their professional 
interests and aims, partake of the spirit of the scholar, 
philosopher, and scientist, no good reason appears why 
education should esteem the one mental habit inhe 
rently superior to the other, and deliberately try to 
transform the type from practical to theoretical. Have 
not our schools (as already suggested, p. 49) been one- 
sidedly devoted to the more abstract type of thinking, 
thus doing injustice to the majority of pupils ? Has not 
the idea of a " liberal " and " humane " education tended 
too often in practice to the production of technical, be 
cause overspecialized, thinkers ? 

The aim of education should be to secure a balanced Aim of 
interaction of the two types of mental attitude, having ^worki^ 
sufficient regard to the disposition of the individual not balance 
to hamper and cripple whatever powers are naturally 
strong in him. The narrowness of individuals of strong 
concrete bent needs to be liberalized. Every oppor- 



144 HOW WE THINK 

tunity that occurs -within their practical activities for 
developing curiosity and susceptibility to intellectual 
problems should be seized. Violence is not done to 
natural disposition, but the latter is broadened. As re 
gards the smaller number of those who have a taste 
for abstract, purely intellectual topics, pains should be 
taken to multiply opportunities and demands for the 
application of ideas ; for translating symbolic truths into 
terms of social life and its ends. Every human being 
has both capabilities, and every individual will be more 
effective and happier if both powers are developed in 
easy and close interaction with each other. 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 
EMPIRICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING 

I. Empirical Thinking 

Apart from the development of scientific method, Empirical 



inferences depend upon habits that have been built up 
under the influence of a number of particular experi- past habits 
ences not themselves arranged for logical purposes. 
A says, " It will probably rain to-morrow." B asks, 
" Why do you think so ? " and A replies, " Because the 
sky was lowering at sunset." When B asks, "What has 
that to do with it ? " A responds, " I do not know, but 
it generally does rain after such a sunset." He does not 
perceive any connection between the appearance of the 
sky and coming rain ; he is not aware of any continuity 
in the facts themselves any law or principle, as we 
usually say. He simply, from frequently recurring con 
junctions of the events, has associated them so that 
when he sees one he thinks of the other. One suggests 
the other, or is associated with it. A man may believe 
it will rain to-morrow because he has consulted the ba 
rometer; but if he has no conception how the height of 
the mercury column (or the position of an index moved 
by its rise and fall) is connected with variations of at 
mospheric pressure, and how these in turn are connected 
with the amount of moisture in the air, his belief in the 
likelihood of rain is purely empirical. When men lived 
in the open and got their living by hunting, fishing, or 

H5 



146 



HOW WE THINK 



It is fairly 
adequate in 
some 
matters. 



pasturing flocks, the detection of the signs and indica 
tions of weather changes was a matter of great impor 
tance. A body of proverbs and maxims, forming an 
extensive section of traditionary folklore, was developed. 
But as long as there was no understanding why or how 
certain events were signs, as long as foresight and 
weather shrewdness rested simply upon repeated con 
junction among facts, beliefs about the weather were 
thoroughly empirical. 

In similar fashion learned men in the Orient learned 
to predict, with considerable accuracy, the recurrent 
positions of the planets, the sun and the moon, and to 
foretell the time of eclipses, without understanding in 
any degree the laws of the movements of heavenly 
bodies that is, without having a notion of the con 
tinuities existing among the facts themselves. They 
had learned from repeated observations that things hap 
pened in about such and such a fashion. Till a compara 
tively recent time, the truths of medicine were mainly in 
the same condition. Experience had shown that " upon 
the whole/' "as a rule," "generally or usually speak 
ing," certain results followed certain remedies, when 
symptoms were given. Our beliefs about human na 
ture in individuals (psychology) and in masses (sociol 
ogy) are still very largely of a purely empirical sort. 
Even the science of geometry, now frequently reckoned 
a typical rational science, began, among the Egyptians, 
as an accumulation of recorded observations about 
methods of approximate mensuration of land surfaces ; 
and only gradually assumed, among the Greeks, scien 
tific form. 

The disadvantages of purely empirical thinking are 
obvious. 



EMPIRICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING 147 

1. While many empirical conclusions are, roughly but is very 
speaking, correct ; while they are exact enough to be of f se beHefs 
great help in practical life ; while the presages of a 
weatherwise sailor or hunter may be more accurate, 

within a certain restricted range, than those of a scien 
tist who relies wholly upon scientific observations and 
tests ; while, indeed, empirical observations and records 
furnish the raw or crude material of scientific knowl 
edge, yet the empirical method affords no way of 
discriminating between right and wrong conclusions. 
Hence it is responsible for a multitude of false beliefs. 
The technical designation for one of the commonest 
fallacies is post hoc, ergo propter hoc ; the belief that be 
cause one thing comes after another, it comes because 
of the other. Now this fallacy of method is the animat 
ing principle of empirical conclusions, even when correct 
the correctness being almost as much a matter of 
good luck as of method. That potatoes should be 
planted only during the crescent moon, that near the sea 
people are born at high tide and die at low tide, that a 
comet is an omen of danger, that bad luck follows the 
cracking of a mirror, that a patent medicine cures a 
disease these and a thousand like notions are as 
severated on the basis of empirical coincidence and 
conjunction. Moreover, habits of expectation and be 
lief are formed otherwise than by a number of repeated 
similar cases. 

2. The more numerous the experienced instances and and does 
the closer the watch kept upon them, the greater is ^^^ 
the trustworthiness of constant conjunction as evidence with the 
of connection among the things themselves. Many of novel 
our most important beliefs still have only this sort of 
warrant No one can yet tell, with certainty, the neces- 



148 HOW WE THINK 

sary cause of old age or of death which are empirically 
the most certain of all expectations. But even the most 
reliable beliefs of this type fail when they confront the 
novel. Since they rest upon past uniformities, they are 
useless when further experience departs in any consider 
able measure from ancient incident and wonted prece 
dent. Empirical inference follows the grooves and ruts 
that custom wears, and has no track to follow when the 
groove disappears. So important is this aspect of the 
matter that Clifford found the difference between ordi 
nary skill and scientific thought right here. "Skill 
enables a man to deal with the same circumstances that 
he has met before, scientific thought enables him to deal 
with different circumstances that he has never met 
before." And he goes so far as to define scientific 
thinking as "the application of old experience to new 
circumstances." 

and leads to 3. We have not yet made the acquaintance of the most 
harmful feature of the empirical method. Mental in 
ertia, laziness, unjustifiable conservatism, are its probable 
accompaniments. Its general effect upon mental attitude 
is more serious than even the specific wrong conclusions 
in which it has landed. Wherever the chief dependence 
in forming inferences is upon the conjunctions observed 
in past experience, failures to agree with the usual order 
are slurred over, cases of successful confirmation are 
exaggerated. Since the mind naturally demands some 
principle of continuity, some connecting link between 
separate facts and causes, forces are arbitrarily invented 
for that purpose. Fantastic and mythological explana 
tions are resorted to in order to supply missing links. 
The pump brings water because nature abhors a 
vacuum ; opium makes men sleep because it has a dormi- 



EMPIRICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING 149 

tive potency ; we recollect a past event because we have 
a faculty of memory. In the history of the progress of 
human knowledge, out and out myths accompany the 
first stage of empiricism ; while " hidden essences " and 
" occult forces " mark its second stage. By their very- 
nature, these " causes " escape observation, so that their 
explanatory value can be neither confirmed nor refuted 
by further observation or experience. Hence belief in 
them becomes purely traditionary. They give rise to 
doctrines which, inculcated and handed down, become 
dogmas ; subsequent inquiry and reflection are actually 
stifled. (Ante, p. 23.) 

Certain men or classes of men come to be the accepted and to _ 
guardians and transmitters instructors of established d s matism 
doctrines. To question the beliefs is to question their 
authority ; to accept the beliefs is evidence of loyalty to 
the powers that be, a proof of good citizenship. Pas 
sivity, docility, acquiescence, come to be primal intellec 
tual virtues. Facts and events presenting novelty and 
variety are slighted, or are sheared down till they fit 
into the Procrustean bed of habitual belief. Inquiry 
and doubt are silenced by citation of ancient laws or a 
multitude of miscellaneous and unsifted cases. This 
attitude of mind generates dislike of change, and the 
resulting aversion to novelty is fatal to progress. What 
will not fit into the established canons is outlawed ; men 
who make new discoveries are objects of suspicion and 
even of persecution. Beliefs that perhaps originally 
were the products of fairly extensive and careful obser 
vation are stereotyped into fixed traditions and semi- 
sacred dogmas accepted simply upon authority, and 
are mixed with fantastic conceptions that happen to 
have won the acceptance of authorities. 



ISO 



HOW WE THINK 



Scientific 
thinking 
analyzes the 
present case 



Illustration 
from suction, 
of empirical 
method, 



of scientific 
method 



Relies on 
differences, 



2. Scientific Method 

In contrast with the empirical method stands the 
scientific. Scientific method replaces the repeated con 
junction or coincidence of separate facts by discovery of 
a single comprehensive fact, effecting this replacement 
by breaking up the coarse or gross facts of observation into 
a number of minuter processes not directly accessible to 
perception. 

If a layman were asked why water rises from the 
cistern when an ordinary pump is worked, he would 
doubtless answer, " By suction." Suction is regarded 
as a force like heat or pressure. If such a person is 
confronted by the fact that water rises with a suction 
pump only about thirty-three feet, he easily disposes of 
the difficulty on the ground that all forces vary in their 
intensities and finally reach a limit at which they cease 
to operate. The variation with elevation above the 
sea level of the height to which water can be pumped 
is either unnoticed, or, if noted, is dismissed as one of 
the curious anomalies in which nature abounds. 

Now the scientist advances by assuming that what 
seems to observation to be a single total fact is in truth 
complex. He attempts, therefore, to break up the 
single fact of water-rising-in-the-pipe into a number of 
lesser facts. His method of proceeding is by varying 
conditions one by one so far as possible, and noting just 
what happens when a given condition is eliminated. 
There are two methods for varying conditions. 1 The 
first is an extension of the empirical method of observa 
tion. It consists in comparing very carefully the results 
of a great number of observations which have occurred 

1 The next two paragraphs repeat, for purposes of the present discussion, 
what we have already noted in a different context See p. 88 and p. 99. 



EMPIRICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING 151 

under accidentally different conditions. The difference 
in the rise of the water at different heights above the 
sea level, and its total cessation when the distance to be 
lifted is, even at sea level, more than thirty-three feet, 
are emphasized, instead of being slurred over. The 
purpose is to find out what special conditions are present 
when the effect occurs and absent when it fails to 
occur. These special conditions are then substituted 
for the gross fact, or regarded as its principle the 
key to understanding it. 

The method of analysis by comparing cases is, how- and creates 
ever, badly handicapped ; it can do nothing until it is diffewnces 
presented with a certain number of diversified cases. 
And even when different cases are at hand, it will be 
questionable whether they vary in just these respects in 
which it is important that they should vary in order to 
throw light upon the question at issue. The method is 
passive and dependent upon external accidents. Hence 
the superiority of the active or experimental method. 
Even a small number of observations may suggest an 
explanation a hypothesis or theory. Working upon 
this suggestion, the scientist may then intentionally 
vary conditions and note what happens. If the empir 
ical observations have suggested to him the possibility 
of a connection between air pressure on the water and 
the rising of the water in the tube where air pressure is 
absent, he deliberately empties the air out of the vessel 
in which the water is contained and notes that suction 
no longer works ; or he intentionally increases atmos 
pheric pressure on the water and notes the result. He 
institutes experiments to calculate the weight of air at 
the sea level and at various levels above, and compares 
the results of reasoning based upon the pressure of air 



152 HOW WE THINK 

of these various weights upon a certain volume of water 
with the results actually obtained by observation. Ob* 
nervations formed by variation of conditions on the basis 
of some idea or theory constitute experiment. Experiment 
is the chief resource in scientific reasoning because it 
facilitates the picking out of significant elements in a 
gross, vague whole. 

Analysis Experimental thinking, or scientific reasoning, is thus 

S again a cottjohit process of analysis and synthesis, or, in less 
technical language, of discrimination and assimilation 
or identification. The gross fact of water rising when 
the suction valve is worked is resolved or discriminated 
into a number of independent variables, some of which 
had never before been observed or even thought of in 
connection with the fact. One of these facts, the 
weight of the atmosphere, is then selectively seized upon 
as the key to the entire phenomenon. This disentan 
gling constitutes analysis. But atmosphere and its pres 
sure or weight is a fact not confined to this single 
instance. It is a fact familiar or at least discoverable 
as operative in a great number of other events. In fixing 
upon this imperceptible and minute fact as the essence 
or key to the elevation of water by the pump, the pump- 
fact has thus been assimilated to a whole group of ordi 
nary facts from which it was previously isolated. This 
assimilation constitutes synthesis. Moreover, the fact 
of atmospheric pressure is itself a case of one of the 
commonest of all facts weight or gravitational force. 
Conclusions that apply to the common fact of weight 
are thus transferable to the consideration and inter 
pretation of the relatively rare and exceptional case of 
the suction of water. The suction pump is seen to be 
a case of the same kind or sort as the siphon, the 



EMPIRICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING 153 

barometer, the rising of the balloon, and a multitude of 
other things with which at first sight it has no connec 
tion at all This is another instance of the synthetic or 
assimilative phase of scientific thinking. 

If we revert to the advantages of scientific over em 
pirical thinking, we find that we now have the clue to 
them. 

(a) The increased security, the added factor of cer- Lessened 
tainty or proof, is due to the substitution of the detailed 

and specific fact of atmospheric pressure for the gross 
and total and relatively miscellaneous fact of suction. 
The latter is complex, and its complexity is due to many 
unknown and unspecified factors ; hence, any state 
ment about it is more or less random, and likely to be 
defeated by any unforeseen variation of circumstances. 
Comparatively^ at least, the minute and detailed fact of 
air pressure is a measurable and definite fact one 
that can be picked out and managed with assurance. 

(b) As analysis accounts for the added certainty, so Ability te 
synthesis accounts for ability to cope with the novel 

and variable. Weight is a much commoner fact than 
atmospheric weight, and this in turn is a much com 
moner fact than the workings of the suction pump. 
To be able to substitute the common and frequent fact 
for that which is relatively rare and peculiar is to reduce 
the seemingly novel and exceptional to cases of a gen 
eral and familiar principle, and thus to bring them 
under control for interpretation and prediction. 

As Professor James says : " Think of heat as motion 
and whatever is true of motion will be true of heat ; but 
we have a hundred experiences of motion for every one 
of heat. Think of rays passing through this lens as 
cases of bending toward the perpendicular, and you 



154 



HOW WE THINK 



Interest in 
the future 
or in 
progress 



Physical 
versus 
logical force 



substitute for the comparatively unfamiliar lens the very 
familiar notion of a particular change in direction of a 
line, of which notion every day brings us countless 
examples." 1 

(c) The change of attitude from conservative reliance 
upon the past, upon routine and custom, to faith in prog 
ress through the intelligent regulation of existing condi 
tions, is, of course, the reflex of the scientific method of 
experimentation. The empirical method inevitably mag 
nifies the influences of the past ; the experimental method 
throws into relief the possibilities of the future. The 
empirical method says, " Wait till there is a sufficient 
number of cases ; " the experimental method says, "Pro 
duce the cases." The former depends upon nature's 
accidentally happening to present us with certain con 
junctions of circumstances ; the latter deliberately and 
intentionally endeavors to bring about the conjunction. 
By this method the notion of progress secures scientific 
warrant. 

Ordinary experience is controlled largely by the direct 
strength and intensity of various occurrences. What is 
bright, sudden, loud, secures notice and is given a con 
spicuous rating. What is dim, feeble, and continuous 
gets ignored, or is regarded as of slight importance. 
Customary experience tends to the control of thinking 
by considerations of direct and immediate strength rather 
than by those of importance in the long run. Animals 
without the power of forecast and planning must, upon 
the whole, respond to the stimuli that are most urgent 
at the moment, or cease to exist. These stimuli lose 
nothing of their direct urgency and clamorous insistency 
when the thinking power develops; and yet thinking 
1 Psychology * vol. II. p. 342. 



EMPIRICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING 155 

demands the subordination of the immediate stimulus to 
the remote and distant. The feeble and the minute may 
be of much greater importance than the glaring and the 
big. The latter may be signs of a force that is already 
exhausting itself; the former may indicate the begin 
nings of a process in which the whole fortune of the 
individual is involved. The prime necessity for scien 
tific thought is that the thinker be freed from the tyr 
anny of sense stimuli and habit, and this emancipation 
is also the necessary condition of progress. 

Consider the following quotation : "When it first oc- illustration 
curred to a reflecting mind that moving water had a ? ommov - 
property identical with human or brute force, namely, mgwater 
the property of setting other masses in motion, over 
coming inertia and resistance, when the sight of the 
stream suggested through this point of likeness the 
power of the animal, a new addition was made to 
the class of prime movers, and when circumstances per 
mitted, this power could become a substitute for the 
others. It may seem to the modern understanding, 
familiar with water wheels and drifting rafts, that the 
similarity here was an extremely obvious one. But if 
we put ourselves back into an early state of mind, when 
running water affected the mind by its brilliancy, its roar 
and irregular devastation, we may easily suppose that 
to identify this with animal muscular energy was by no 
means an obvious effort." * 

If we add to these obvious sensory features the vari- Value of 
ous social customs and expectations which fix the atti- abstr action 
tude of the individual, the evil of the subjection of free 
and fertile suggestion to empirical considerations be- 

1 Bain, The Senses and Intellect, third American ed., 1879, p. 492 (italics 
not in original) . 



156 HOW WE THINK 

comes clear. A certain power of abstraction, of de 
liberate turning away from the habitual responses to a 
situation, was required before men could be emancipated 
to follow up suggestions that in the end are fruitful. 
Experience In short, the term experience may be interpreted either 
witil Deference to the empirical or the experimental atti 
tude of mind. Experience is not a rigid and closed 
thing ; it is vital, and hence growing. When dominated 
by the past, by custom and routine, it is often opposed 
to the reasonable, the thoughtful. But experience also 
includes the reflection that sets us free from the limiting 
influence of sense, appetite, and tradition. Experience 
may welcome and assimilate all that the most exact and 
penetrating thought discovers. Indeed, the business of 
education might be defined as just such an emancipation 
and enlargement of experience. Education takes the 
individual while he is relatively plastic, before he has 
become so indurated by isolated experiences as to be 
rendered hopelessly empirical in his habit of mind. The 
attitude of childhood is naive, wondering, experimental ; 
the world of man and nature is new. Right methods of 
education preserve and perfect this attitude, and thereby 
short-circuit for the individual the slow progress of the 
race, eliminating the waste that comes from inert routine. 



PART THREE: THE TRAINING OF 
THOUGHT 

CHAPTER TWELVE 
ACTIVITY AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 

IN this chapter we shall gather together and amplify 
considerations that have already been advanced, in vari 
ous passages of the preceding pages, concerning the re 
lation of action to thought. We shall follow, though not 
with exactness, the order of development in the unfold 
ing human being. 

i. The Early Stage of Activity 

The sight of a baby often calls out the question : i. The 
"What do you suppose he is thinking about? " By the 
nature of the case, the question is unanswerable in de- mines MS 
tail ; but, also by the nature of the case, we may be sure * g 
about a baby's chief interest. His primary problem is 
mastery of his body as a tool of securing comfortable and 
effective adjustments to his surroundings, physical and 
social. The child has to learn to do almost everything : 
to see, to hear, to reach, to handle, to balance the body, 
to creep, to walk, and so on. Even if it be true that 
human beings have even more instinctive reactions than 
lower animals, it is also true that instinctive tendencies 
are much less perfect in men, and that most of them are 



I 5 8 



HOW WE THINK 



Mastery of 
the body is 
an intellec 
tual prob 
lem 



of little use till they are intelligently combined and di 
rected. A little chick just out of the shell will after a 
few trials peck at and grasp grains of food with its beak 
as well as at any later time. This involves a complicated 
coordination of the eye and the head. An infant does 
not even begin to reach definitely for things that the 
eye sees till he is several months old, and even then 
several weeks' practice is required before he learns 
the adjustment so as neither to overreach nor to under- 
reach. It may not be literally true that the child will 
grasp for the moon, but it is true that he needs much 
practice before he can tell whether an object is within 
reach or not The arm is thrust out instinctively in re 
sponse to a stimulus from the eye, and this tendency is 
the origin of the ability to reach and grasp exactly and 
quickly; but nevertheless final mastery requires ob 
serving and selecting the successful movements, and 
arranging them in view of an end. These operations of 
conscious selection and arrangement constitute thinking, 
though of a rudimentary type. 

Since mastery of the bodily organs is necessary for 
all later developments, such problems are both interest 
ing and important, and solving them supplies a very 
genuine training of thinking power. The joy the child 
shows in learning to use his limbs, to translate what he 
sees into what he handles, to connect sounds with sights, 
sights with taste and touch, and the rapidity with which 
intelligence grows in the first year and a half of life (the 
time during which the more fundamental problems of 
the use of the organism are mastered), are sufficient evi 
dence that the development of physical control is not a 
physical but an intellectual achievement. 

Although in the early months the child is mainly oc- 



ACTIVITY AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 159 

cupied in learning to use his body to accommodate him- 2. Theprob* 
self to physical conditions in a comfortable way and to ^dLstment 
use things skillfully and effectively, yet social adjust- and inter 
ments are very important. In connection with parents, C01irse 
nurse, brother, and sister, the child learns the signs of 
satisfaction of hunger, of removal of discomfort, of the 
approach of agreeable light, color, sound, and so on. 
His contact with physical things is regulated by persons, 
and he soon distinguishes persons as the most important 
and interesting of all the objects with which he has to do. 
Speech, the accurate adaptation of sounds heard to the 
movements of tongue and lips, is, however, the great 
instrument of social adaptation ; and with the develop 
ment of speech (usually in the second year) adapta 
tion of the baby's activities to and with those of other 
persons gives the keynote of mental life. His range 
of possible activities is indefinitely widened as he 
watches what other persons do, and as he tries to under 
stand and to do what they encourage him to attempt. 
The outline pattern of mental life is thus set in the 
first four or five years. Years, centuries, generations 
of invention and planning, may have gone to the develop 
ment of the performances and occupations of the adults 
surrounding the child. Yet for him their activities are 
direct stimuli ; they are part of his natural environment ; 
they are carried on in physical terms that appeal to his 
eye, ear, and touch. He cannot, of course, appropriate 
their meaning directly through his senses; but they 
furnish stimuli to which he responds, so that his atten 
tion is focussed upon a higher order of materials and of 
problems. Were it not for this process by which the 
achievements of one generation form the stimuli that 
direct the activities of the next, the story of civilization 



i6o 



HOW WE THINK 



Social ad 
justment 
results in 
imitation 
but is not 
caused 
by it 



would be writ in water, and each generation would have 
laboriously to make for itself, if it could, its way out of 
savagery. 

Imitation is one (though only one, see p. 47) of the 
means by which the activities of adults supply stimuli 
which are so interesting, so varied, so complex, and so 
novel, as to occasion a rapid progress of thought Mere 
imitation, however, would not give rise to thinking ; if 
we could learn like parrots by simply copying the out 
ward acts of others, we should never have to think ; nor 
should we know, after we had mastered the copied act, 
what was the meaning of the thing we had done. Ed 
ucators (and psychologists) have often assumed that 
acts which reproduce the behavior of others are acquired 
merely by imitation. But a child rarely learns by con 
scious imitation ; and to say that his imitation is uncon 
scious is to say that it is not from his standpoint imitation 
at all. The word, the gesture, the act, the occupation 
of another, falls in line with some impulse already active 
and suggests some satisfactory mode of expression, some 
end in which it may find fulfillment. Having this 
end of his own, the child then notes other persons, 
as he notes natural events, to get further suggestions 
as to means of its realization. He selects some of 
the means he observes, tries them on, finds them suc 
cessful or unsuccessful, is confirmed or weakened in his 
belief in their value, and so continues selecting, arrang 
ing, adapting, testing, till he can accomplish what he 
wishes. The onlooker may then observe the resem 
blance of this act to some act of an adult, and conclude 
that it was acquired by imitation, while as a matter of 
fact it was acquired by attention, observation, selection, 
experimentation, and confirmation by results. Only 



ACTIVITY AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 161 

because this method is employed is there intellectual 
discipline and an educative result. The presence of 
adult activities plays an enormous r61e in the intellec 
tual growth of the child because they add to the natural 
stimuli of the world new stimuli which are more exactly 
adapted to the needs of a human being, which are richer, 
better organized, more complex in range, permitting 
more flexible adaptations, and calling out novel reactions. 
But in utilizing these stimuli the child follows the same 
methods that he uses when he is forced to think in order 
to master his body. 

2. Play, Work, and Allied Forms of Activity 

When things become signs, when they gain a repre- piay indi- 
sentative capacity as standing for other things, play is ate ! **": 
transformed from mere physical exuberance into an of activity 
activity involving a mental factor. A little girl who 
had broken her doll was seen to perform with the leg 
of the doll all the operations of washing, putting to 
bed, and fondling, that she had been accustomed to per 
form with the entire doll. The part stood for the whole ; 
she reacted not to the stimulus sensibly present, but to 
the meaning suggested by the sense object. So chil 
dren use a stone for a table, leaves for plates, acorns 
for cups. So they use their dolls, their trains, their 
blocks, their other toys. In manipulating them, they 
are living not with the physical things, but in the large 
world of meanings, natural and social, evoked by these 
things. So when children play horse, play store, play 
house or making calls, they are subordinating the phys 
ically present to the ideally signified. In this way, a 
world of meanings, a store of concepts (so fundamental 
to all intellectual achievement), is defined and built up. 



162 



HOW WE THINK 



Organiza- 



play 



The playful 
attitude 



Moreover, not only do meanings thus become familiar 
acquaintances, but they are organized, arranged in 
groups, made to cohere in connected ways. A play 
and a story blend insensibly into each other. The most 
fanciful plays of children rarely lose all touch with the 
mutual fitness and pertinency of various meanings to 
one another ; the " freest J> plays observe some principles 
of coherence and unification. They have a beginning, 
middle, and end. In games, rules of order run through 
various minor acts and bind them into a connected 
whole. The rhythm, the competition, and coopera 
tion involved in most plays and games also introduce 
organization. There is, then, nothing mysterious or 
mystical in the discovery made by Plato and remade by 
Froebel that play is the chief, almost the only, mode of 
education for the child in the years of later infancy. 

Playfulness is a more important consideration than 
pj a ^ jj ie f ormer j s an attitude of mind ; the latter is 
a passing outward manifestation of this attitude. When 
things are treated simply as vehicles of suggestion, 
what is suggested overrides the thing. Hence the 
playful attitude is one of freedom. The person is 
not bound to the physical traits of things, nor does he 
care whether a thing really means (as we say) what he 
takes it to represent. When the child plays horse with 
a broom and cars with chairs, the fact that the broom 
does not really represent a horse, or a chair a locomo 
tive, is of no account. In order, then, that playfulness 
may not terminate in arbitrary fancifulness and in build 
ing up an imaginary world alongside the world of 
actual things, it is necessary that the play attitude should 
gradually pass into a work attitude. 

What is work work not as mere external perform- 



ACTIVITY AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 163 

ance, but as attitude of mind? It signifies that the The work 
person is not content longer to accept and to act upon ^itute * 

j i . . _ . * lHt6r6StCu. 

the meanings that things suggest, but demands congru- in means 
ity of meaning with the things themselves. In the andends 
natural course of growth, children come to find irrespon 
sible make-believe plays inadequate. A fiction is too 
easy a way out to afford content. There is not enough 
stimulus to call forth satisfactory mental response. When 
this point is reached, the ideas that things suggest must 
be applied to the things with some regard to fitness. A 
small cart, resembling a "real" cart, with "real" wheels, 
tongue, and body, meets the mental demand better than 
merely making believe that anything which comes to 
hand is a cart. Occasionally to take part in setting a 
"real** table with "real" dishes brings more reward 
than forever to make believe a flat stone is a table and 
that leaves are dishes. The interest may still center in 
the meanings, the things may be of importance only as 
amplifying a certain meaning. So far the attitude is 
one of play. But the meaning is now of such a character 
that it must find appropriate embodiment in actual 
things. 

The dictionary does not permit us to call such activities 
work. Nevertheless, they represent a genuine passage 
of play into work. For work (as a mental attitude, not 
as mere external performance) means interest in the ade 
quate embodiment of a meaning (a suggestion, purpose, 
aim) in objective form through the use of appropriate ma 
terials and appliances. Such an attitude takes advantage 
of the meanings aroused and built up in free play, but 
controls their development by seeing to it that they are ap 
plied to things in ways consistent with the observable 
structure of the things themselves. 



164 



HOW WE THINK 



and in pro 
cesses on 
account 
of their 
results 



Conse 
quences of 
the sharp 
separation 
of play and 
work 



The point of this distinction between play and work 
may be cleared up by comparing it with a more usual way 
of stating the difference. In play activity, it is said, the 
interest is in the activity for its own sake ; in work, it is 
in the product or result in which the activity terminates. 
Hence the former is purely free, while the latter is tied 
down by the end to be achieved. When the difference 
is stated in this sharp fashion, there is almost always 
introduced a false, unnatural separation between process 
and product, between activity and its achieved outcome. 
The true distinction is not between an interest in activity 
for its own sake and interest in the external result of that 
activity, but between an interest in an activity just as it 
flows on from moment to moment, and an interest in an 
activity as tending to a culmination, to an outcome, and 
therefore possessing a thread of continuity binding to 
gether its successive stages. Both may equally exem 
plify interest in an activity "for its own sake" ; but in 
one case the activity in which the interest resides is more 
or less casual, following the accident of circumstance and 
whim, or of dictation ; in the other, the activity is enriched 
by the sense that it leads somewhere, that it amounts to 
something. 

Were it not that the false theory of the relation of the 
play and the work attitudes has been connected with 
unfortunate modes of school practice, insistence upon a 
truer view might seem an unnecessary refinement. But 
the sharp break that unfortunately prevails between 
the kindergarten and the grades is evidence that 
the theoretical distinction has practical implications. 
Under the title of play, the former is rendered unduly 
symbolic, fanciful, sentimental, and arbitrary; while 
under the antithetical caption of work the latter con- 



ACTIVITY AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 165 

tains many tasks externally assigned. The former has 
no end and the latter an end so remote that only the 
educator, not the child, is aware that it is an end. 

There comes a time when children must extend and 
make more exact their acquaintance with existing things ; 
must conceive ends and consequences with sufficient 
definiteness to guide their actions by them, and must 
acquire some technical skill in selecting and arranging 
means to realize these ends. Unless these factors are 
gradually introduced in the earlier play period, they 
must be introduced later abruptly and arbitrarily, to the 
manifest disadvantage of both the earlier and the later 
stages. 

The sharp opposition of play and work is usually 
associated with false notions of utility and imagination, ^agination 
Activity that is directed upon matters of home and and utility 
neighborhood interest is depreciated as merely utilita 
rian. To let the child wash dishes, set the table, engage 
in cooking, cut and sew dolls' clothes, make boxes 
that will hold "real things," and construct his own 
playthings by using hammer and nails, excludes, so 
it is said, the aesthetic and appreciative factor, elim 
inates imagination, and subjects the child's development 
to material and practical concerns ; while (so it is said) 
to reproduce symbolically the domestic relationships of 
birds and other animals, of human father and mother 
and child, of workman and tradesman, of knight, soldier, 
and magistrate, secures a liberal exercise of mind, of 
great moral as well as intellectual value. It has been 
even stated that it is over-physical and utilitarian if a 
child plants seeds and takes care of growing plants in 
the kindergarten; while reproducing dramatically oper 
ations of planting, cultivating, reaping, and so on, either 



i66 



HOW WE THINK 



Imagination 
a medium 
of realizing 
the absent 
and 
significant 



Only the 
already 
experienced 
can be 
symbolized 



with no physical materials or with symbolic represent 
atives, is highly educative to the imagination and to 
spiritual appreciation. Toy dolls, trains of cars, boats, and 
engines are rigidly excluded, and the employ of cubes, 
balls, and other symbols for representing these social 
activities is recommended on the same ground. The 
more unfitted the physical object for its imagined pur* 
pose, such as a cube for a boat, the greater is the 
supposed appeal to the imagination. 

There are several fallacies in this way of thinking. 
(a) The healthy imagination deals not with the unreal, 
but with the mental realization of what is suggested. 
Its exercise is not a flight into the purely fanciful and 
ideal, but a method of expanding and filling in what is 
real. To the child the homely activities going on about 
him are not utilitarian devices for accomplishing physical 
ends ; they exemplify a wonderful world the depths of 
which he has not sounded, a world full of the mystery 
and promise that attend all the doings of the grown-ups 
whom he admires. However prosaic this world may be 
to the adults who find its duties routine affairs, to the 
child it is fraught with social meaning. To engage in 
it is to exercise the imagination in constructing an ex 
perience of wider value than any the child has yet 
mastered. 

(#) Educators sometimes think children are reacting 
to a great moral or spiritual truth when the children's 
reactions are largely physical and sensational. Children 
have great powers of dramatic simulation, and their 
physical bearing may seem (to adults prepossessed with 
a philosophic theory) to indicate they have been im 
pressed with some lesson of chivalry, devotion, or nobil 
ity, when the children themselves are occupied only 



ACTIVITY AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 167 

with transitory physical excitations. To symbolize great 
truths far beyond the child's range of actual experience 
is an impossibility, and to attempt it is to invite love of 
momentary stimulation. 

(V) Just as the opponents of play in education always Useful work 
conceive of play as mere amusement, so the opponents glrtyUboT 
of direct and useful activities confuse occupation with 
labor. The adult is acquainted with responsible labor 
upon which serious financial results depend. Conse 
quently he seeks relief, relaxation, amusement Unless 
children have prematurely worked for hire, unless they 
have come under the blight of child labor, no such divi 
sion exists for them. Whatever appeals to them at all, 
appeals directly on its own account. There is no con 
trast between doing things for utility and for fun. Their 
life is more united and more wholesome. To suppose 
that activities customarily performed by adults only 
under the pressure of utility may not be done perfectly 
freely and joyously by children indicates a lack of im 
agination. Not the thing done but the quality of mind 
that goes into the doing settles what is utilitarian and 
what is unconstrained and educative. 

3. Constructive Occupations 

The history of culture shows that mankind's scientific The historic 
knowledge and technical abilities have developed, espe- SaSs^t 
cially in all their earlier stages, out of the fundamental of occupa- 
problems of life. Anatomy and physiology grew out of tions 
the practical needs of keeping healthy and active ; ge 
ometry and mechanics out of demands for measuring 
land, for building, and for making labor-saving machines ; 
astronomy has been closely connected with navigation, 
keeping record of the passage of time ; botany grew out 



168 HOW WE THINK 

of the requirements of medicine and of agronomy; 
chemistry has been associated with dyeing, metallurgy, 
and other industrial pursuits. In turn, modern industry 
is almost wholly a matter of applied science ; year by 
year the domain of routine and crude empiricism is nar 
rowed by the translation of scientific discovery into 
industrial invention. The trolley, the telephone, the 
electric light, the steam engine, with all their revolu 
tionary consequences for social intercourse and control, 
are the fruits of science. 

The Intel- These f acts are full of educational significance. Most 
siMUtiesoT ^^ren are preeminently active in their tendencies, 
school occu- The schools have also taken on largely from utilita- 
r j an ^ ra ^] ier than f rom strictly educative reasons a large 
number of active pursuits commonly grouped under the 
head of manual training, including also school gardens, 
excursions, and various graphic arts. Perhaps the most 
pressing problem of education at the present moment is 
to organize and relate these subjects so that they will 
become instruments for forming alert, persistent, and 
fruitful intellectual habits. That they take hold of the 
more primary and native equipment of children (appeal 
ing to their desire to do) is generally recognized ; that 
they afford great opportunity for training in self-reliant 
and efficient social service is gaining acknowledgment. 
But they may also be used for presenting typical prob 
lems to be solved by personal reflection and experimen- 
tation, and by acquiring definite bodies of knowledge 
leading later to more specialized scientific knowledge. 
There is indeed no magic by which mere physical 
activity or deft manipulation will secure intellectual 
results. (See p. 43.) Manual subjects may be taught 
by routine, by dictation, or by convention as readily 



ACTIVITY AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 169 

as bookish subjects. But intelligent consecutive work 
in gardening, cooking, or weaving, or in elementary 
wood and iron, may be planned which will inevitably 
result in students not only amassing information of prac 
tical and scientific importance in botany, zoology, chem 
istry, physics, and other sciences, but (what is more 
significant) in their becoming versed in methods of ex 
perimental inquiry and proof. 

That the elementary curriculum is overloaded is a com- Reorganize 
mon complaint. The only alternative to a reactionary 
return to the educational traditions of the past lies in study 
working out the intellectual possibilities resident in the 
various arts, crafts, and occupations, and reorganizing 
the curriculum accordingly. Here, more than else 
where, are found the means by which the blind and 
routine experience of the race may be transformed into 
illuminated and emancipated experiment. 



CHAPTER THIRTEEN 



Ambiguous 
position of 
language 



Language 
a necessary 
tool of 
thinking, 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 

r. Language as the Tool of Thinking 

SPEECH has such a peculiarly intimate connection with 
thought as to require special discussion. Although the 
very word logic comes from logos (^0709), meaning in 
differently both word or speech, and thought or reason, 
yet "words, words, words " denote intellectual barrenness, 
a sham of thought. Although schooling has language 
as its chief instrument (and often as its chief matter) of 
study, educational reformers have for centuries brought 
their severest indictments against the current use of lan 
guage in the schools. The conviction that language is 
necessary to thinking (is even identical with it) is met 
by the contention that language perverts and conceals 
thought. 

Three typical views have been maintained regarding 
the relation of thought and language : first, that they 
are identical ; second, that words are the garb or clothing 
of thought, necessary not for thought but only for con 
veying it ; and third (the view we shall here maintain) 
that while language is not thought it is necessary for 
thinking as well as for its communication. When it is 
said, however, that thinking is impossible without lan 
guage, we must recall that language includes much more 
than oral and written speech. Gestures, pictures, monu 
ments, visual images, finger movements anything con- 

170 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 171 

sciously employed as a sign is, logically, language. To 
say that language is necessary for thinking is to say 
that signs are necessary. Thought deals not with bare 
things, but with their meanings, their suggestions; 
and meanings, in order to be apprehended, must be 
embodied in sensible and particular existences. With 
out meaning, things are nothing but blind stimuli or for it alone 
chance sources of pleasure and pain ; and since mean- f* 63 mea *- 
ings are not themselves tangible things, they must be 
anchored by attachment to some physical existence. 
Existences that are especially set aside to fixate and 
convey meanings are signs or symbols. If a man moves 
toward another to throw him out of the room, his move 
ment is not a sign. If, however, the man points to the 
door with his hand, or utters the sound go, his movement 
is reduced to a vehicle of meaning : it is a sign or symbol. 
In the case of signs we care nothing for what they are 
in themselves, but everything for what they signify and 
represent. Canis, hund, chien, dog it makes no differ 
ence what the outward thing is, so long as the meaning 
is presented. 

Natural objects are signs of other things and events. Limitations 
Clouds stand for rain ; a footprint represents game or 
an enemy; a projecting rock serves to indicate minerals 
below the surface. The limitations of natural signs are, 
however, great. (2) The physical or direct sense excita 
tion tends to distract attention from what is meant or 
indicated. 1 Almost every one will recall pointing out to 
a kitten or puppy some object of food, only to have the 
animal devote himself to the hand pointing, not to the 
thing pointed at. (if) Where natural signs alone exist, 
we are mainly at the mercy of external happenings ; we 

1 Compare the quotation from Bain on p. 155. 



172 HOW WE THINK 

have to wait until the natural event presents itself in 
order to be warned or advised of the possibility of some 
other event. (zYz) Natural signs, not being originally 
intended to be signs, are cumbrous, bulky, inconvenient, 
unmanageable. 

Artificial It is therefore indispensable for any high development 

coSe these ^ thought that there should be also intentional signs, 
restrictions. Speech supplies the requirement. Gestures, sounds, 
written or printed forms, are strictly physical existences, 
but their native value is intentionally subordinated to 
the value they acquire as representative of meanings. 
(f) The direct and sensible value of faint sounds and 
minute written or printed marks is very slight. 
Accordingly, attention is not distracted from their 
representative function. (zY) Their production is under 
our direct control so that they may be produced 
when needed. When we can make the word rain, we 
do not have to wait for some physical forerunner of rain 
to call our thoughts in that direction. We cannot make 
the cloud ; we can make the sound, and as a token of 
meaning the sound serves the purpose as well as the 
cloud, (zYz) Arbitrary linguistic signs are convenient 
and easy to manage. They are compact, portable, and 
delicate. As long as we live we breathe ; and modifica 
tions by the muscles of throat and mouth of the volume 
and quality of the air are simple, easy, and indefinitely 
controllable. Bodily postures and gestures of the hand 
and arm are also employed as signs, but they are coarse 
and unmanageable compared with modifications of breath 
to produce sounds. No wonder that oral speech has been 
selected as the main stuff of intentional intellectual signs. 
Sounds, while subtle, refined, and easily modifiable, are 
transitory. This defect is met by the system of written 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 173 

and printed words, appealing to the eye. Litera serif ta 
manet. 

Bearing in mind the intimate connection of meanings 
and signs (or language), we may note in more detail 
what language does (i) for specific meanings, and (2) for 
the organization of meanings. 

I. Individual Meanings. A verbal sign (a) selects, 
detaches, a meaning from what is otherwise a vague 
flux and blur (see p. 121); () it retains, registers, stores 
that meaning ; and (c) applies it, when needed, to the 
comprehension of other things. Combining these vari 
ous functions in a mixture of metaphors, we may say 
that a linguistic sign is a fence, a label, and a vehicle 
all in one. 

(a) Every one has experienced how learning an ap- A sign 
propriate name for what was dim and vague cleared up ^?* 
and crystallized the whole matter. Some meaning seems distinct 
almost within reach, but is elusive ; it refuses to condense 
into definite form ; the attaching of a word somehow 
(just how, it is almost impossible to say) puts limits 
around the meaning, draws it out from the void, makes 
it stand out as an entity on its own account. When 
Emerson said that he would almost rather know the true 
name, the poet's name, for a thing, than to know the 
thing itself, he presumably had this irradiating and il 
luminating function of language in mind. The delight 
that children take in demanding and learning the names 
of everything about them indicates that meanings are 
becoming concrete individuals to them, so that their 
commerce with things is passing from the physical to 
the intellectual plane. It is hardly surprising that sav 
ages attach a magic efficacy to words. To name any 
thing is to give it a title; to dignify and honor it by 



174 



HOW WE THINK 



A sign 
prMtnres a 
meaning 



A sign 
transfers a 
meaning 



raising it from a mere physical occurrence to a meaning 
that is distinct and permanent. To know the names of 
people and things and to be able to manipulate these 
names is, in savage lore, to be in possession of their 
dignity and worth, to master them. 

(b) Things come and go; or we come and go, and 
either way things escape our notice. Our direct sensible 
relation to things is very limited. The suggestion of 
meanings by natural signs is limited to occasions of di 
rect contact or vision. But a meaning fixed by a linguistic 
sign is conserved for future use. Even if the thing is not 
there to represent the meaning, the word may be pro 
duced so as to evoke the meaning. Since intellectual 
life depends on possession of a store of meanings, the 
importance of language as a tool of preserving meanings 
cannot be overstated. To be sure, the method of storage 
is not wholly aseptic ; words often corrupt and modify 
the meanings they are supposed to keep intact, but 
liability to infection is a price paid by every living thing 
for the privilege of living. 

(c) When a meaning is detached and fixed by a sign, 
it is possible to use that meaning in a new context and 
situation. This transfer and reapplication is the key to 
all judgment and inference. It would little profit a man 
to recognize that a given particular cloud was the pre- 
monitor of a given particular rainstorm if his recognition 
ended there, for he would then have to learn over and 
over again, since the next cloud and the next rain are differ 
ent events. No cumulative growth of intelligence would 
occur ; experience might form habits of physical adapta 
tion but it would not teach anything, for we should not 
be able to use a prior experience consciously to anticipate 
and regulate a further experience. To be able to use 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 175 

the past to judge and infer the new and unknown implies 
that, although the past thing has gone, its meaning 
abides in such a way as to be applicable in determining 
the character of the new. Speech forms are our great 
carriers : the easy-running vehicles by which meanings 
are transported from experiences that no longer concern 
us to those that are as yet dark and dubious. 

II. Organization of Meanings. In emphasizing the Logical or- 
importance of signs in relation to specific meanings, f^^ 011 
we have overlooked another aspect, equally valuable, upon signs 
Signs not only mark off specific or individual meanings, 
but they are also instruments of grouping meanings in 
relation to one another. Words are not only names or 
titles of single meanings ; they also f srmsentences in which 
meanings are organized in relation to one another. When 
we say " That book is a dictionary," or " That blur of 
light in the heavens is Halley's comet," we express a 
logical connection an act of classifying and defining 
that goes beyond the physical thing into the logical 
region of genera and species, things and attributes. Prop 
ositions, sentences, bear the same relation to judgments 
that distinct words, built up mainly by analyzing proposi 
tions in their various types, bear to meanings or concep 
tions; and just as words imply a sentence, so a sentence 
implies a larger whole of consecutive discourse into 
which it fits. As is often said, grammar expresses the 
unconscious logic of the popular mind. The chief intel 
lectual classifications that constitute the working capital 
of thought have been built up for us by ourmother tongue. 
Our very lack of explicit consciousness in using language 
that we are employing the intellectual systematizations 
of the race shows how thoroughly accustomed we have 
become to its logical distinctions and groupings. 



176 



HOW WE THINK 



Teaching 
merely 
things, not 
educative 



But words 
separated 
from things 
are not true 
signs 



2. The Abuse of Linguistic Methods in Education 

Taken literally, the maxim, " Teach things, not words," 
or " Teach things before words," would be the negation of 
education ; it would reduce mental life to mere physical 
and sensible adjustments. Learning, in the proper sense, 
is not learning things, but the meanings of things, and 
this process involves the use of signs, or language in its 
generic sense. In like fashion, the warfare of some 
educational reformers against symbols, if pushed to ex 
tremes, involves the destruction of the intellectual life, 
since this lives, moves, and has its being in those pro 
cesses of definition, abstraction, generalization, and 
classification that are made possible by symbols alone. 
Nevertheless, these contentions of educational reformers 
have been needed. The liability of a thing to abuse 
is in proportion to the value of its right use. 

Symbols are themselves, as pointed out above, partic 
ular, physical, sensible existences, like any other things. 
They are symbols only by virtue of what they suggest 
and represent, i.e. meanings, (i) They stand for these 
meanings to any individual only when he has had expe 
rience of some situation to which these meanings are 
actually relevant. Words can detach and preserve a 
meaning only when the meaning has been first involved in 
our own direct intercourse with things. To attempt to 
give a meaning through a word alone without any deal 
ings with a thing is to deprive the word of intelligible 
signification ; against this attempt, a tendency only too 
prevalent in education, reformers have protested. More 
over, there is a tendency to assume that whenever there 
is a definite word or form of speech there is also a defi 
nite idea ; while, as a matter of fact, adults and children 
alike are capable of using even precise verbal formulae 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 177 

with only the vaguest and most confused sense of what 
they mean. Genuine ignorance is more profitable be 
cause likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, 
and open-mindedness ; while ability to repeat catch- 
phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the 
conceit of learning and coats the mind with a varnish 
waterproof to new ideas. 

(ii) Again, although new combinations of words with- Language 
out the intervention of physical things may supply new ^f^** 
ideas, there are limits to this possibility. Lazy inertness sonai in- 
causes individuals to accept ideas that have currency reflection 
about them without personal inquiry and testing. A 
man uses thought, perhaps, to find out what others 
believe, and then stops. The ideas of others as em 
bodied in language become substitutes for one's own 
ideas. The use of linguistic studies and methods to 
halt the human mind on the level of the attainments 
of the past, to prevent new inquiry and discovery, to 
put the authority of tradition in place of the authority 
of natural facts and laws, to reduce the individual to a 
parasite living on the secondhand experience of others 
these things have been the source of the reformers' 
protest against the preeminence assigned to language in 
schools. 

Finally, words that originally stood for ideas come, Words as 
with repeated use, to be mere counters; they become 
physical things to be manipulated according to certain 
rules, or reacted to by certain operations without con 
sciousness of their meaning. Mr. Stout (who has called 
such terms " substitute signs ") remarks that " algebra 
ical and arithmetical signs are to a great extent used as 
mere substitute signs. ... It is possible to use signs 
of this kind whenever fixed and definite rules of opera- 



1/8 HOW WE THINK 

tion can be derived from the nature of the things sym 
bolized, so as to be applied in manipulating the signs, 
without further reference to their signification. A 
word is an instrument for thinking about the meaning 
which it expresses ; a substitute sign is a means of not 
thinking about the meaning which it symbolizes." The 
principle applies, however, to ordinary words, as well as 
to algebraic signs ; they also enable us to use meanings 
so as to get results without thinking. In many respects, 
signs that are means of not thinking are of great advan 
tage ; standing for the familiar, they release attention for 
meanings that, being novel, require conscious interpreta 
tion. Nevertheless, the premium put in the schoolroom 
upon attainment of technical facility, upon skill in 
producing external results (ante, p. 51), often changes 
this advantage into a positive detriment. In manipulat 
ing symbols so as to recite well, to get and give correct 
answers, to follow prescribed formulae of analysis, the 
pupil's attitude becomes mechanical, rather than thought 
ful; verbal memorizing is substituted for inquiry into 
the meaning of things. This danger is perhaps the one 
uppermost in mind when verbal methods of education 
are attacked. 

3. The Use of Language in its Educational Bearings 

Language stands in a twofold relation to the work of 
education. On the one hand, it is continually used in 
all studies as well as in all the social discipline of the 
school; on the other, it is a distinct object of study. 
We shall consider only the ordinary use of language, 
since its effects upon habits of thought are much deeper 
than those of conscious study. 

The common statement that " language is the expres- 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 179 

sion of thought " conveys only a half-truth, and a half- Language 
truth that is likely to result in positive error. Language 
does express thought, but not primarily, nor, at first, 
even consciously. The primary motive for language is puxpose 
to influence (through the expression of desire, emotion, 
and thought) the activity of others ; its secondary use is 
to enter into more intimate sociable relations with them ; 
its employment as a conscious vehicle of thought and 
knowledge is a tertiary, and relatively late, formation. 
The contrast is well brought out by the statement of 
John Locke that words have a double use, " civil " and 
" philosophical." " By their civil use, I mean such a 
communication of thoughts and ideas by words as may 
serve for the upholding of common conversation and 
commerce about the ordinary affairs and conveniences 
of civil life. . . . By the philosophical use of words, I 
mean such a use of them as may serve to convey the 
precise notions of things, and to express in general 
propositions certain and undoubted truths." 

This distinction of the practical and social from the Hence edu- 
intellectual use of language throws much light on the totransfonn 
problem of the school in respect to speech. That prob- it into an 

f . 7 . _, t . r , , r -^ r j intellectual 

lem is to direct pupils oral and written speech, used tool 
primarily for practical and social ends, so that gradually 
it shall become a conscious tool of conveying knowledge 
and assisting thought. How without checking the 
spontaneous, natural motives motives to which lan 
guage owes its vitality, force, vividness, and variety are 
we to modify speech habits so as to render them accu 
rate and flexible intellectual instruments? It is com 
paratively easy to encourage the original spontaneous 
flow and not make language over into a servant of re 
flective thought ; it is comparatively easy to check and 



i So 



HOW WE THINK 



To enlarge 
vocabulary, 
the fund of 
concepts 
should be 
enlarged 



almost destroy (so far as the schoolroom is concerned) 
native aim and interest, and to set up artificial and 
formal modes of expression in some isolated and techni 
cal matters. The difficulty lies in making over hahits 
that have to do with " ordinary affairs and conveniences " 
into habits concerned with " precise notions." The suc 
cessful accomplishing of the transformation requires 
(2) enlargement of the pupil's vocabulary ; (zY) rendering 
its terms more precise and accurate, and (iii) formation 
of habits of consecutive discourse. 

(i) Enlargement of vocabulary. This takes place, of 
course > ky wider intelligent contact with things and 
persons, and also vicariously, by gathering the meanings 
of words from the context in which they are heard or 
read. To grasp by either method a word in its meaning 
is to exercise intelligence, to perform an act of intelligent 
selection or analysis, and it is also to widen the fund of 
meanings or concepts readily available in further intel 
lectual enterprises (ante, p. 126). It is usual to distin 
guish between one's active and one's passive vocabulary, 
the latter being composed of the words that are under 
stood when they are heard or seen, the former of words 
that are used intelligently. The fact that the passive 
vocabulary is ordinarily much larger than the active 
indicates a certain amount of inert energy, of power not 
freely controlled by an individual. Failure to use mean 
ings that are nevertheless understood reveals dependence 
upon external stimulus, and lack of intellectual initiative. 
This mental laziness is to some extent an artificial prod 
uct of education. Small children usually attempt to 
put to use every new word they get hold of, but when 
they learn to read they are introduced to a large variety 
of terms that there is no ordinary opportunity to use. 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 181 

The result is a kind of mental suppression, if not smother 
ing. Moreover, the meaning of words not actively used 
in building up and conveying ideas is never quite clear- 
cut or complete. 

While a limited vocabulary may be due to a limited Looseness of 
range of experience, to a sphere of contact with persons ^5^f e s C ~ 
and things so narrow as not to suggest or require a full a limited 
store of words, it is also due to carelessness and vague- voca u ^ 
ness. A happy-go-lucky frame of mind makes the 
individual averse to clear discriminations, either in per 
ception or in his own speech. Words are used loosely 
in an indeterminate kind of reference to things, and 
the mind approaches a condition where practically 
everything is just a thing-um-bob or a what-do-you-call- 
it. Paucity of vocabulary on the part of those with 
whom the child associates, triviality and meagerness in 
the child's reading matter (as frequently even in his 
school readers and textbooks), tend to shut down the 
area of mental vision. 

We must note also the great difference between flow Command 
of words and command of language. Volubility is not j^JJ^ age 
necessarily a sign of a large vocabulary ; much talking command of 
or even ready speech is quite compatible with moving gs 
round and round in a circle of moderate radius. 
Most schoolrooms suffer from a lack of materials and 
appliances save perhaps books and even these are 
"written down" to the supposed capacity, or incapacity, 
of children. Occasion and demand for an enriched vo 
cabulary are accordingly restricted. The vocabulary of 
things studied in the schoolroom is very largely isolated; 
it does not link itself organically to the range of the 
ideas and words that are in vogue outside the school. 
Hence the enlargement that takes place is often nominal, 



1 82 HOW WE THINK 

adding to the inert, rather than to the active, fund of 
meanings and terms. 

(ii) Accuracy of vocabulary. One way in which the 
fund of words and concepts is increased is by discovering 
and naming shades of meaning that is to say, by mak 
ing the vocabulary more precise. Increase in definite- 
ness is as important relatively as is the enlargement of 
the capital stock absolutely. 

The general The first meanings of terms, since they are due to 
and a&ftut* su P er fi c i a l acquaintance with things, are general in the 
distinctly sense of being vague. The little child calls all men 
generic papa ; acquainted with a dog, he may call the first horse 
he sees a big dog. Differences of quantity and intensity 
are noted, but the fundamental meaning is so vague that 
it covers things that are far apart To many persons 
trees are just trees, being discriminated only into de 
ciduous trees and evergreens, with perhaps recognition 
of one or two kinds of each. Such vagueness tends to 
persist and to become a barrier to the advance of think 
ing. Terms that are miscellaneous in scope are clumsy 
tools at best ; in addition they are frequently treacherous, 
for their ambiguous reference causes us to confuse 
things that should be distinguished. 

Twofold The growth of precise terms out of original vague- 

woifefa* ness ta ^ es P^ce normally in two directions : toward 

sense or ^ words that stand for relationships and words that stand 

signification f Qr jjg^jy individualized traits (compare what was said 

about the development of meanings, p. 122); the first 

being associated with abstract, the second with concrete, 

thinking. Some Australian tribes are said to have no 

words for animal or for plant, while they have specific 

names for every variety of plant and animal in their 

neighborhoods. This minuteness of vocabulary repre- 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 183 

sents progress toward definiteness, but in a one-sided way. 
Specific properties are distinguished, but not relation 
ships. 1 On the other hand, students of philosophy and 
of the general aspects of natural and social science are 
apt to acquire a store of terms that signify relations 
without balancing them up with terms that designate 
specific individuals and traits. The ordinary use of 
such terms as causation, law, society, individual, capital, 
illustrates this tendency. 

In the history of language we find both aspects of the Words alter 
growth of vocabulary illustrated by changes in the sense flieir mean " 

r J i ..,,.,.,. . ings so as to 

oi words : some words originally wide in their applica- change their 



tion are narrowed to denote shades of meaning: others 

. ' functions 

originally specific are widened to express relationships. 
The term vernacular, now meaning mother speech, has 
been generalized from the word verna, meaning a slave 
born in the master's household. Publication has evolved 
its meaning of communication by means of print, through 
restricting an earlier meaning of any kind of communi 
cation although the wider meaning is retained in legal 
procedure, as publishing a libel. The sense of the word 
average has been generalized from a use connected with 
dividing loss by shipwreck proportionately among various 
sharers in an enterprise. 2 

These historical changes assist the educator to appre 
ciate the changes that occur with individuals together 
with advance in intellectual resources. In studying 

1 The term general is itself an ambiguous term, meaning (in its best 
logical sense) the related and also (in its natural usage) the indefinite, the 
vague. General, in the first sense, denotes the discrimination of a prin 
ciple or generic relation ; in the second sense, it denotes the absence of 
discrimination of specific or individual properties. 

* A large amount of material illustrating the twofold change in the sense 
of words will be found in Jevons, Lessons in Logic. 



1 84 



HOW WE THINK 



Similar 
changes 
occur in the 
vocabulary 
of every 
student 



The value 
of technical 
terms 



geometry, a pupil must learn both to narrow and to 
extend the meanings of such familiar words as line, sur 
face, angle, square, circle; to narrow them to the precise 
meanings involved in demonstrations; to extend them 
to cover generic relations not expressed in ordinary 
usage. Qualities of color and size must be excluded ; 
relations of direction, of variation in direction, of limit, 
must be definitely seized. A like transformation occurs, 
of course, in every subject of study. Just at this point 
lies the danger, alluded to above, of simply overlaying 
common meanings with new and isolated meanings in 
stead of effecting a genuine working-over of popular 
and practical meanings into adequate logical tools. 

Terms used with intentional exactness so as to ex 
press a meaning, the whole meaning, and only the mean 
ing, are called technical. For educational purposes, a 
technical term indicates something relative, not absolute; 
for a term is technical not because of its verbal form or 
its unusualness, but because it is employed to fix a 
meaning precisely. Ordinary words get a technical 
quality when used intentionally for this end. Whenever 
thought becomes more accurate, a (relatively) technical 
vocabulary grows up. Teachers are apt to oscillate 
between extremes in regard to technical terms. On the 
one hand, these are multiplied in every direction, seem 
ingly on the assumption that learning a new piece of 
terminology, accompanied by verbal description or 
definition, is equivalent to grasping a new idea. When 
it is seen how largely the net outcome is the accumula 
tion of an isolated set of words, a jargon or scholastic 
cant, and to what extent the natural power of judgment 
is clogged by this accumulation, there is a reaction to 
the opposite extreme. Technical terms are banished; 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 185 

" name words " exist but not nouns ; " action words " but 
not verbs; pupils may "take away/ 7 but not subtract; 
they may tell what four fives are, but not what four 
times five are, and so on. A sound instinct underlies this 
reaction aversion to words that give the pretense, but 
not the reality, of meaning. Yet the fundamental diffi 
culty is not with the word, but with the idea. If the 
idea is not grasped, nothing is gained by using a more 
familiar word ; if the idea is perceived, the use of the 
term that exactly names it may assist in fixing the idea. 
Terms denoting highly exact meanings should be intro 
duced only sparingly, that is, a few at a time; they 
should be led up to gradually, and great pains should be 
taken to secure the circumstances that render precision 
of meaning significant. 

(iii) Consecutive discourse. As we saw, language 
connects and organizes meanings as well as selects and 
fixes them. As every meaning is set in the context of 
some situation, so every word in concrete use belongs to 
some sentence (it may itself represent a condensed sen 
tence), and the sentence, in turn, belongs to some larger 
story, description, or reasoning process. It is unnecessary 
to repeat what has been said about the importance of 
continuity and ordering of meanings. We may, however, 
note some ways in which school practices tend to inter 
rupt consecutiveness of language and thereby interfere 
harmfully with systematic reflection, (a) Teachers have importance 
a habit of monopolizing continued discourse. Many, if ^ v ^ < ^! cu " 
not most, instructors would be surprised if informed at course 
the end of the day of the amount of time they have 
talked as compared with any pupil. Children's conver 
sation is often confined to answering questions in brief 
phrases, or in single disconnected sentences. Expatia- 



186 



HOW WE THINK 



Too minute 
questiomng 



Making 
avoidance 
of error the 
aim 



tion and explanation are reserved for the teacher, who 
often admits any hint at an answer on the part of the 
pupil, and then amplifies what he supposes the child must 
have meant. The habits of sporadic and fragmentary 
discourse thus promoted have inevitably a disintegrating 
intellectual influence. 

(#) Assignment of too short lessons when accom- 
pan j e( j ^ s ^ usua u v } s j n order to pass the time of the 
recitation period) by minute "analytic" questioning 
has the same effect. This evil is usually at its height 
in such subjects as history and literature, where not 
infrequently the material is so minutely subdivided as 
to break up the unity of meaning belonging to a given 
portion of the matter, to destroy perspective, and in 
effect to reduce the whole topic to an accumulation of 
disconnected details all upon the same level. More 
often than the teacher is aware, his mind carries and 
supplies the background of unity of meaning against 
which pupils project isolated scraps. 

(c) Insistence upon avoiding error instead of attain 
ing power tends also to interruption of continuous dis 
course and thought. Children who begin with something 
to say and with intellectual eagerness to say it are some 
times made so conscious of minor errors in substance 
and form that the energy that should go into constructive 
thinking is diverted into anxiety not to make mistakes, 
and even, in extreme cases, into passive quiescence as 
the best method of minimizing error. This tendency 
is especially marked in connection with the writing of 
compositions, essays, and themes. It has even been 
gravely recommended that little children should always 
write on trivial subjects and in short sentences because 
in that way they are less likely to make mistakes, while 



LANGUAGE AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 187 

the teaching of writing to high school and college 
students occasionally reduces itself to a technique for 
detecting and designating mistakes. The resulting self- 
consciousness and constraint are only part of the evU 
that comes from a negative ideal. 



CHAPTER FOURTEEN 



OBSERVATION AND INFORMATION IN THE TRAINING 
OF MIND 

THINKING is an ordering of subject-matter with ref 

erence to discovering what it signifies or indicates. 

Thinking no more exists apart from this arranging of 

subject-matter than digestion occurs apart from the 

Fo thinking assimilating of food. The way in which the subject- 

quS^^Tce" matter is furnished marks, therefore, a fundamental 

with facts point. If the subject-matter is provided in too scanty 

or too profuse fashion, if it comes in disordered array or 

in isolated scraps, the effect upon habits of thought is 

detrimental. If personal observation and communica 

tion of information by others (whether in books or 

speech) are rightly conducted, half the logical battle is 

won, for they are the channels of obtaining subject- 

matter. 

I. The Nature and Value of Observation 

The protest, mentioned in the last chapter, of educa 
tional reformers against the exaggerated and false use 
of language, insisted upon personal and direct observa 
tion as the proper alternative course. The reformers 
felt that the current emphasis upon the linguistic factor 
eliminate d a11 opportunity for first-hand acquaintance 
with real things; hence they appealed to sense-percep- 



Fallacy of 



end in 
thwnselves 



g 



enthusiastic zeal failed frequently to ask how and why 

188 



OBSERVATION AND INFORMATION 189 

observation is educative, and hence fell into the error of 
making observation an end in itself and was satisfied 
with any kind of material under any kind of conditions. 
Such isolation of observation is still manifested in the 
statement that this faculty develops first, then that of 
memory and imagination, and finally the faculty of 
thought. From this point of view, observation is re 
garded as furnishing crude masses of raw material, to 
which, later on, reflective processes may be applied. 
Our previous pages should have made obvious the fal 
lacy of this point of view by bringing out the fact that 
simple concrete thinking attends all our intercourse with 
things which is not on a purely physical level. 

I. All persons have a natural desire akin to curios- The syn^a- 
ity for a widening of their range of acquaintance 



with persons and things. The sign in art galleries that extending 
forbids the carrying of canes and umbrellas is obvious 
testimony to the fact that simply to see is not enough 
for many people ; there is a feeling of lack of acquaint 
ance until some direct contact is made. This demand 
for fuller and closer knowledge is quite different from 
any conscious interest in observation for its own sake. 
Desire for expansion, for " self-realization," is its motive. 
The interest is sympathetic, socially and aesthetically 
sympathetic, rather than cognitive. While the interest 
is especially keen in children (because their actual ex 
perience is so small and their possible experience so 
large), it still characterizes adults when routine has not 
blunted its edge. This sympathetic interest provides 
the medium for carrying and binding together what 
would otherwise be a multitude of items, diverse, discon 
nected, and of no intellectual use. These systems are 
indeed social and aesthetic rather than consciously intel- 



HOW WE THINK 



Analytic 
inspection 
for the sake 
of doing 



lectual ; but they provide the natural medium for more 
conscious intellectual explorations. Some educators have 
recommended that nature study in the elementary schools 
be conducted with a love of nature and a cultivation of 
aesthetic appreciation in view rather than in a purely 
analytic spirit Others have urged making much of the 
care of animals and plants. Both of these important 
recommendations have grown out of experience, not out 
of theory, but they afford excellent exemplifications of 
the theoretic point just made. 

II. In normal development, specific analytic observa 
tions are originally connected almost exclusively with 
the imperative need for noting means and ends in carry 
ing on activities. When one is doing something, one is 
compelled, if the work is to succeed (unless it is purely 
routine), to use eyes, ears, and sense of touch as guides 
to action. Without a constant and alert exercise of the 
senses, not even plays and games can go on; in any 
form of work, materials, obstacles, appliances, failures, 
and successes, must be intently watched. Sense-percep 
tion does not occur for its own sake or for purposes of 
training, but because it is an indispensable factor of suc 
cess in doing what one is interested in doing. Although 
not designed for sense-training, this method effects sense- 
training in the most economical and thoroughgoing way. 
Various schemes have been designed by teachers for 
cultivating sharp and prompt observation of forms, as 
by writing words, even in an unknown language, 
making arrangements of figures and geometrical forms, 
and having pupils reproduce them after a momentary 
glance. Children often attain great skill in quick see 
ing and full reproducing of even complicated meaning 
less combinations. But such methods of training 



OBSERVATION AND INFORMATION 191 

however valuable as occasional games and diversions 
compare very unfavorably with the training of eye and 
hand that comes as an incident of work with tools in 
wood or metals, or of gardening, cooking, or the care of 
animals. Training by isolated exercises leaves no de 
posit, leads nowhere ; and even the technical skill ac 
quired has little radiating power, or transferable value. 
Criticisms made upon the training of observation on the 
ground that many persons cannot correctly reproduce 
the forms and arrangement of the figures on the face of Direct and 
their watches misses the point because persons do not ^^ ct 
look at a watch to find out whether four o'clock is indi- training 
cated by III I or by IV, but to find out what time it is, 
and, if observation decides this matter, noting other de 
tails is irrelevant and a waste of time. In the training 
of observation the question of end and motive is all- 
important. 

III. The further, more intellectual or scientific, de- Scientific 
velopment of observation follows the line of the growth ^Hnked 
of practical into theoretical reflection already traced problems 
(ante, Chapter Ten). As problems emerge and are 
dwelt upon, observation is directed less to the facts 
that bear upon a practical aim and more upon what 
bears upon a problem as such. What makes observa 
tions in schools often intellectually ineffective is (more 
than anything else) that they are carried on independ 
ently of a sense of a problem that they serve to define 
or help to solve. The evil of this isolation is seen 
through the entire educational system, from the kin 
dergarten, through the elementary and high schools, to 
the college. Almost everywhere may be found, at some 
time, recourse to observations as if they were of com 
plete and final value in themselves, instead of the means 



192 HOW WE THINK 

Object- of getting material that bears upon some difficulty and 
rarey S " * ts s l ut i n - I* 1 tne kindergarten are heaped up obser- 
suppiy vations regarding geometrical forms, lines, surfaces, 
problems cu b es> colors, and so on. In the elementary school, under 
the name of "object-lessons," the form and properties 
of objects, apple, orange, chalk, selected almost at 
random, are minutely noted, while under the name of 
" nature study " similar observations are directed upon 
leaves, stones, insects, selected in almost equally arbitrary 
fashion. In high school and college, laboratory and mi 
croscopic observations are carried on as if the accumu 
lation of observed facts and the acquisition of skill in 
manipulation were educational ends in themselves. 

Compare with these methods of isolated observations 
the statement of Jevons that observation as conducted 
by scientific men is effective " only when excited and 
guided by hope of verifying a theory " ; and again, " the 
number of things which can be observed and experi 
mented upon are infinite, and if we merely set to work to 
record facts without any distinct purpose, our records will 
have no value." Strictly speaking, the first statement 
of Jevons is too narrow. Scientific men institute observa 
tions not merely to test an idea (or suggested explanatory 
meaning), but also to locate the nature of a problem and 
thereby guide the formation of a hypothesis. But the 
principle of his remark, namely, that scientific men never 
make the accumulation of observations an end in itself, 
but always a means to a general intellectual conclusion, 
is absolutely sound. Until the force of this principle is 
adequately recognized in education, observation will be 
largely a matter of uninteresting dead work or of acquir 
ing forms of technical skill that are not available as in 
tellectual resources. 



OBSERVATION AND INFORMATION 193 

2. Methods and Materials of Observation in the Schools 
The best methods in use in our schools furnish many 
suggestions for giving observation its right place in 
mental training. 

I. They rest upon the sound assumption that observa- Observation 
tion is an active process. Observation is exploration, ^JJJ^L"' 
inquiry for the sake of discovering something previously covery 
hidden and unknown, this something being needed in 

order to reach some end, practical or theoretical. Ob 
servation is to be discriminated from recognition, or 
perception of what is familiar. The identification of 
something already understood is, indeed, an indispen 
sable function of further investigation (ante, p. 119); but 
it is relatively automatic and passive, while observation 
proper is searching and deliberate. Recognition refers 
to the already mastered ; observation is concerned with 
mastering the unknown. The common notions that 
perception is like writing on a blank piece of paper, or 
like impressing an image on the mind as a seal is 
imprinted on wax or as a picture is formed on a photo 
graphic plate (notions that have played a disastrous r61e 
in educational methods), arise from a failure to distin 
guish between automatic recognition and the searching 
attitude of genuine observation. 

II. Much assistance in the selection of appropriate andsus- 
material for observation may be derived from consider- 

ing the eagerness and closeness of observation that attend change 
the following of a story or drama. Alertness of ob 
servation is at its height wherever there is "plot interest" 
Why ? Because of the balanced combination of the old 
and the new, of the familiar and the unexpected. We 
hang on the lips of the story-teller because of the 
element of mental suspense. Alternatives are suggested, 



194 HOW WE THINK 

but are left ambiguous, so that our whole being questions : 
What befell next? Which way did things turn out? 
Contrast the ease and fullness with which a child notes 
all the salient traits of a story, with the labor and 
inadequacy of his observation of some dead and static 
thing where nothing raises a question or suggests alter 
native outcomes. 

This " plot When an individual is engaged in doing or making 
manifested something (the activity not being of such a mechanical 
in activity, an( j habitual character that its outcome is assured), there 
is an analogous situation. Something is going to come 
of what is present to the sense, but just what is doubt 
ful. The plot is unfolding toward success or failure, 
but just when or how is uncertain. Hence the keen 
and tense observation of conditions and results that 
attends constructive manual operations. Where the 
subject-matter is of a more impersonal sort, the same 
principle of movement toward a denouement may apply. 
It is a commonplace that what is moving attracts notice 
when that which is at rest escapes it. Yet too often it 
would almost seem as if pains had been taken to deprive 
the material of school observations of all life and dra 
matic quality, to reduce it to a dead and inert form. 
Mere change is not enough, however. Vicissitude, 
alteration, motion, excite observation; but if they 
merely excite it, there is no thought. The changes 
must (like the incidents of a well-arranged story or plot) 
take place in a certain cumulative order ; each succes 
sive change must at once remind us of its predecessor 
and arouse interest in its successor if observations of 
change are to be logically fruitful. 

and in cycles Living beings, plants, and animals, fulfill the twofold 
of growth requirement to an extraordinary degree. Where there 



OBSERVATION AND INFORMATION 195 

is growth, there is motion, change, process ; and there is 
also arrangement of the changes in a cycle. The first 
arouses, the second organizes, observation. Much of the 
extraordinary interest that children take in planting 
seeds and watching the stages of their growth is due to 
the fact that a drama is enacting before their eyes; 
there is something doing, each step of which is impor 
tant in the destiny of the plant. The great practical 
improvements that have occurred of late years in the 
teaching of botany and zoology will be found, upon in 
spection, to involve treating plants and animals as beings 
that act, that do something, instead of as mere inert 
specimens having static properties to be inventoried, 
named, and registered. Treated in the latter fashion, 
observation is inevitably reduced to the falsely " analytic" 
(ante, p. 112), to mere dissection and enumeration. 

There is, of course, a place, and an important place, Observation 
for observation of the mere static qualities of objects. 



When, however, the primary interest is in function, hi of noting 
what the object does, there is a motive for more minute 
analytic study, for the observation of structure. Interest 
in noting an activity passes insensibly into noting how 
the activity is carried on ; the interest in what is accom 
plished passes over into an interest in the organs of its 
accomplishing. But when the beginning is made with 
the morphological, the anatomical, the noting of peculiar 
ities of form, size, color, and distribution of parts, the 
material is so cut off from significance as to be dead and 
dull. It is as natural for children to look intently for 
the stomata of a plant after they have become interested 
in its function of breathing, as it is repulsive to attend 
minutely to them when they are considered as isolated 
peculiarities of structure. 



196 



HOW WE THINK 



Scientific 
observation 



should be 
extensive 



and 
intensive 



III. As the center of interest of observations becomes 
less personal, less a matter of means for effecting one's 
own ends, and less aesthetic, less a matter of contribution 
of parts to a total emotional effect, observation becomes 
more consciously intellectual in quality. Pupils learn 
to observe for the sake (Y) of finding out what sort of 
perplexity confronts them ; (zY) of inferring hypothetical 
explanations for the puzzling features that observation 
reveals ; and (iii) of testing the ideas thus suggested. 

In short, observation becomes scientific in nature. 
Of such observations it may be said that they should 
follow a rhythm between the extensive and the intensive. 
Problems become definite, and suggested explanations 
significant by a certain alternation between a wide and 
somewhat loose soaking in of relevant facts and a mi 
nutely accurate study of a few selected facts. The 
wider, less exact observation is necessary to give the 
student a feeling for the reality of the field of inquiry, a 
sense of its bearings and possibilities, and to store his 
mind with materials that imagination may transform 
into suggestions. The intensive study is necessary for 
limiting the problem, and for securing the conditions of 
experimental testing. As the latter by itself is too 
specialized and technical to arouse intellectual growth, 
the former by itself is too superficial and scattering for 
control of intellectual development. In the sciences 
of life, field study, excursions, acquaintance with living 
things in their natural habitats, may alternate with 
microscopic and laboratory observation. In the physical 
sciences, phenomena of light, of heat, of electricity, of 
moisture, of gravity, in their broad setting in nature 
their physiographic setting should prepare for an exact 
study of selected facts under conditions of laboratory 



OBSERVATION AND INFORMATION 197 

control. In this way, the student gets the benefit of 
technical scientific methods of discovery and testing, 
while he retains his sense of the identity of the labora 
tory modes of energy with large out-of-door realities, 
thereby avoiding the impression (that so often accrues) 
that the facts studied are peculiar to the laboratory. 

3. Communication of Information 

When all is said and done the field of fact open to Importance 
any one observer by himself is narrow. Into every one of a^ 
our beliefs, even those that we have worked out under the 
conditions of utmost personal, first-hand acquaintance, 
much has insensibly entered from what we have heard 
or read of the observations and conclusions of others. 
In spite of the great extension of direct observation in 
our schools, the vast bulk of educational subject-matter 
is derived from other sources from text-book, lecture, 
and viva-voce interchange. No educational question is 
of greater import than how to get the most logical good 
out of learning through transmission from others. 

Doubtless the chief meaning associated with the 
word instruction is this conveying and instilling of the 
results of the observations and inferences of others* 
Doubtless the undue prominence in education of the 
ideal of amassing information (ante, p. 52) has its source 
in the prominence of the learning of other persons. 
The problem then is how to convert it into an intel 
lectual asset. In logical terms, the material supplied 
from the experience of others is testimony: that is to Logically, 
say, evidence submitted by others to be employed by ^^jj^ 
one's own judgment in reaching a conclusion. How denceor 
shall we treat the subject-matter supplied by text-book unan 7 
and teacher so that it shall rank as material for reflec- 



198 



HOW WE THINK 



Communi- 
cation by 
others 

should not 



should not 



tive inquiry, not as ready-made intellectual pabulum 
to be accepted and swallowed just as supplied by the 
store ? 

In reply to this question, we may say (i) that the com- 

tnunication of material should be needed. That is to say. 

J * 

it should be such as cannot readily be attained by per- 
sonal observation. For teacher or book to cram pupils 
with facts which, with little more trouble, they could 
discover by direct inquiry is to violate their intellectual 
integrity by cultivating mental servility. This does not 
mean that the material supplied through communication 
of others should be meager or scanty. With the utmost 
range of the senses, the world of nature and history 
stretches out almost infinitely beyond. But the fields 
within which direct observation is feasible should be 
carefully chosen and sacredly protected. 

(if) Material should be supplied by way of stimulus, 
not with dogmatic finality and rigidity. When pupils 
get the notion that any field of study has been definitely 
surveyed, that knowledge about it is exhaustive and final, 
they may continue docile pupils, but they cease to be 
students. All thinking whatsoever so be it is think 
ing contains a phase of originality. This originality 
does not imply that the student's conclusion varies from 
the conclusions of others, much less that it is a radically 
novel conclusion. His originality is not incompatible 
with large use of materials and suggestions contributed 
by others. Originality means personal interest in the 
question, personal initiative in turning over the sugges 
tions furnished by others, and sincerity in following 
them out to a tested conclusion. Literally, the phrase 
"Think for yourself" is tautological; any thinking is 
thinking for one's self. 



OBSERVATION AND INFORMATION 199 

(ii%) The material furnished by way of information should have 
should be relevant to a question that is vital in the ^0^** 
student's own experience. What has been said about problem, 
the evil of observations that begin and end in themselves 
may be transferred without change to communicated 
learning. Instruction in subject-matter that does not 
fit into any problem already stirring in the student's own 
experience, or that is not presented in such a way as to 
arouse a problem, is worse than useless for intellectual 
purposes. In that it fails to enter into any process of 
reflection, it is useless ; in that it remains in the mind as 
so much lumber and debris, it is a barrier, an obstruc 
tion in the way of effective thinking when a problem 
arises. 

Another way of stating the same principle is that andtoprio* 
material furnished by communication must be such 
as to enter into some existing system or organization of 
experience. All students of psychology are familiar 
with the principle of apperception that we assimilate 
new material with what we have digested and retained 
from prior experiences. Now the " apperceptive basis " 
of material furnished by teacher and text-book should 
be found, as far as possible, in what the learner has de 
rived from more direct forms of his own experience. 
There is a tendency to connect material of the school 
room simply with the material of prior school lessons, 
instead of linking it to what the pupil has acquired in 
his out-of-school experience. The teacher says, "Do 
you not remember what we learned from the book last 
week ? " instead of saying, " Do you not recall such 
and such a thing that you have seen or heard ? " As a 
result, there are built up detached and independent 
systems of school knowledge that inertly overlay the 



200 HOW WE THINK 

ordinary systems of experience instead of reacting to 
enlarge and refine them. Pupils are taught to live in 
two separate worlds, one the world of out-of-school ex 
perience, the other the world of books and lessons. 



CHAPTER FIFTEEN 
THE RECITATION AND THE TRAINING OF THOUGHT 

IN the recitation the teacher comes into his closest importance 
contact with the pupil. In the recitation focus the 
possibilities of guiding children's activities, influencing 
their language habits, and directing their observations. 
In discussing the significance of the recitation as an 
instrumentality of education, we are accordingly bring 
ing to a head the points considered in the last three 
chapters, rather than introducing a new topic. The 
method in which the recitation is carried on is a crucial 
test of a teacher's skill in diagnosing the intellectual 
state of his pupils and in supplying the conditions that 
will arouse serviceable mental responses : in short, of 
his art as a teacher. 

The use of the word recitation to designate the period Re-citing 
of most intimate intellectual contact of teacher with 
pupil and pupil with pupil is a fateful fact. To re-cite 
is to cite again, to repeat, to tell over and over. If we 
were to call this period reiteration, the designation 
would hardly bring out more clearly than does the word 
recitation, the complete domination of instruction by 
rehearsing of secondhand information, by memorizing 
for the sake of producing correct replies at the proper 
time. Everything that is said in this chapter is in 
significant in comparison with the primary truth that 
the recitation is a place and time for stimulating and 
directing reflection, and that reproducing memorized 



202 



HOW WE THINK 



Herbart's 
analysis 
of method 
of teaching 



Illustration 
of method 



matter is only an incident even though an indispen< 
sable incident in the process of cultivating a thought 
ful attitude. 

i. The Formal Steps of Instruction 

But few attempts have been made to formulate a 
method, resting on general principles, of conducting 
a recitation. One of these is of great importance and 
has probably had more and better influence upon the 
"hearing of lessons" than all others put together; 
namely, the analysis by Herbart of a recitation into 
five successive steps. The steps are commonly known 
as "the formal steps of instruction." The underlying 
notion is that no matter how subjects vary in scope and 
detail there is one and only one best way of mastering 
them, since there is a single "general method" uni 
formly followed by the mind in effective attack upon 
any subject. Whether it be a first-grade child master 
ing the rudiments of number, a grammar-school pupil 
studying history, or a college student dealing with 
philology, in each case the first step is preparation, 
the second presentation, followed in turn by comparison 
and generalization, ending in the application of the 
generalizations to specific and new instances. 

By preparation is meant asking questions to remind 
pupils of familiar experiences of their own that will be 
useful in acquiring the new topic. What one already 
knows supplies the means with which one apprehends 
the unknown. Hence the process of learning the new 
will be made easier if related ideas in the pupil's mind 
are aroused to activity are brought to the foreground 
of consciousness. When pupils take up the study of 
rivers, they are first questioned about streams or brooks 



RECITATION AND TRAINING OF THOUGHT 203 

with which they are already acquainted ; if they have 
never seen any, they may be asked about water running 
in gutters. Somehow " apperceptive masses " are stirred 
that will assist in getting hold of the new subject The 
step of preparation ends with statement of the aim of 
the lesson. Old knowledge having been made active, 
new material is then " presented " to the pupils. Pic 
tures and relief models of rivers are shown ; vivid oral 
descriptions are given ; if possible, the children are 
taken to see an actual river. These two steps termi 
nate the acquisition of particular facts. 

The next two steps are directed toward getting a 
general principle or conception. The local river is 
compared with, perhaps, the Amazon, the St. Law 
rence, the Rhine; by this comparison accidental and 
unessential features are eliminated and the river concept is 
formed : the elements involved in the river-meaning are 
gathered together and formulated. This done, the re 
sulting principle is fixed in mind and is clarified by 
being applied to other streams, say to the Thames/ihe 
Po, the Connecticut. 

If we compare this account of the methods of in- Comparison 
struction with our own analysis of a complete operation ^.^^ 
of thinking, we are struck by obvious resemblances. In sis of 
our statement (compare Chapter Six) the "steps" are reflection 
the occurrence of a problem or a puzzling phenom 
enon ; then observation, inspection of facts, to locate 
and clear up the problem ; then the formation of a 
hypothesis or the suggestion of a possible solution 
together with its elaboration by reasoning; then the 
testing of the elaborated idea by using it as a guide 
to new observations and experimentations. In each 
account, there is the sequence of (*) specific facts and 



2O4 



HOW WE THINK 



The formal 
steps con 
cern the 
teacher's 
preparation 
rather than 
the recita 
tion itself 



The 

teacher's 

problem 



events, (it) ideas and reasonings, and (iif) application of 
their result to specific facts. In each case, the move 
ment is inductive-deductive. We are struck also by one 
difference : the Herbartian method makes no reference 
to a difficulty, a discrepancy requiring explanation, as 
the origin and stimulus of the whole process. As a 
consequence, it often seems as if the Herbartian method 
deals with thought simply as an incident in the process 
of acquiring information, instead of treating the latter 
as an incident in the process of developing thought. 

Before following up this comparison in more detail, 
we may raise the question whether the recitation should, 
ir any case, follow a uniform prescribed series of steps 
: even if it be admitted that this series expresses the 
normal logical order. In reply, it may be said that just 
because the order is logical, it represents the survey of 
subject-matter made by one who already understands 
it, rot the path of progress followed by a mind that is 
learning. The former may describe a uniform straight 
way course, the latter must be a series of tacks, of zig 
zag movements back and forth. In short, the formal 
steps indicate the points that should be covered by the 
teacher in preparing to conduct a recitation, but should 
not prescribe the actual course of teaching. 

Lack of any preparation on the part of a teacher 
leads, of course, to a random, haphazard recitation, its 
success depending on the inspiration of the moment, 
which may or may not come. Preparation in simply 
the subject-matter conduces to a rigid order, the teacher 
examining pupils on their exact knowledge of their text 
But the teacher's problem as a teacher does. not 
reside in mastering a subject-matter, but in adjusting 
a subject-matter to the nurture of thought Now the 



RECITATION AND TRAINING OF THOUGHT 2O$ 

formal steps indicate excellently well the questions a 
teacher should ask in working out the problem of teach 
ing a topic. What preparation have my pupils for at 
tacking this subject ? What familiar experiences of 
theirs are available ? What have they already learned 
that will come to their assistance ? How shall I present 
the matter so as to fit economically and effectively into 
their present equipment ? What pictures shall I show ? 
To what objects shall I call their attention ? What inci 
dents shall I relate? What comparisons shall I lead 
them to draw, what similarities to recognize? What 
is the general principle toward which the whole dis 
cussion should point as its conclusion? By what ap 
plications shall I try to fix, to clear up, and to make 
real their grasp of this general principle? What 
activities of their own may bring it home to them as 
a genuinely significant principle ? 

No teacher can fail to teach better if he has con- 
sidered such questions somewhat systematically. But 
the more the teacher has reflected upon pupils* probable gives a 
intellectual response to a topic from the various stand- 
points indicated by the five formal steps, the more he 
will be prepared to conduct the recitation in a flexible 
and free way, and yet not let the subject go to 
pieces and the pupils' attention drift in all directions ; 
the less necessary will he find it, in order to preserve a 
semblance of intellectual order, to follow some one 
uniform scheme. He will be ready to take advantage 
of any sign of vital response that shows itself from any 
direction. One pupil may already have some inkling 
probably erroneous of a general principle. Applica 
tion may then come at the very beginning in order to 
show that the principle will not work, and thereby 



206 HOW WE THINK 

Any step induce search for new facts and a new generalization. 

may come Q r ^ a ^ rU p^ presentation of some fact or object may 
so stimulate the minds of pupils as to render quite 
superfluous any preliminary preparation. If pupils' 
minds are at work at all, it is quite impossible that they 
should wait until the teacher has conscientiously taken 
them through the steps of preparation, presentation, and 
comparison before they form at least a working hypothe 
sis or generalization. Moreover, unless comparison of 
the familiar and the unfamiliar is introduced at the 
beginning, both preparation and presentation will be 
aimless and without logical motive, isolated, and in 
so far meaningless. The student's mind cannot be 
prepared at large, but only for something in par 
ticular, and presentation is usually the best way of 
evoking associations. The emphasis may fall now on 
the familiar concept that will help grasp the new, now 
on the new facts that frame the problem ; but in either 
case it is comparison and contrast with the other term 
of the pair which gives either its force. In short, 
to transfer the logical steps from the points that the 
teacher needs to consider to uniform successive steps 
in the conduct of a recitation, is to impose the logical 
review of a mind that already understands the subject, 
upon the mind that is struggling to comprehend it, and 
thereby to obstruct the logic of the student's own mind. 

2. The Factors in the Recitation 

Bearing in mind that the formal steps represent inter 
twined factors of a student's progress and not mileposts 
on a beaten highway, we may consider each by itself. 
In so doing, it will be convenient to follow the example 
of many of the Herbartians and reduce the steps to 



RECITATION AND TRAINING OF THOUGHT 2O/ 

three : first, the apprehension of specific or particular 
facts ; second, rational generalization ; third, application 
and verification. 

I. The processes having to do with particular facts Preparation 
are preparation and presentation. The best, indeed the ^f g^f of 
only preparation is arousal to a perception of something a problem 
that needs explanation, something unexpected, puzzling, 
peculiar. When the feeling of a genuine perplexity lays 
hold of any mind (no matter how the feeling arises), that 
mind is alert and inquiring, because stimulated from 
within. The shock, the bite, of a question will force the 
mind to go wherever it is capable of going, better than 
will the most ingenious pedagogical devices unaccom 
panied by this mental ardor. It is the sense of a 
problem that forces the mind to a survey and recall of 
the past to discover what the question means and how 
it may be dealt with. 

The teacher in his more deliberate attempts to call Ktfafls in 
into play the familiar elements in a student's experience, 
must guard against certain dangers, (i) The step of 
preparation must not be too long continued or too ex 
haustive, or it defeats its own end. The pupil loses in 
terest and is bored, when a plunge in medias res might 
have braced him to his work. The preparation part of 
the recitation period of some conscientious teachers re 
minds one of the boy who takes so long a run in order 
to gain headway for a jump that when he reaches the 
line, he is too tired to jump far. (if) The organs by 
which we apprehend new material are our habits. To 
insist too minutely upon turning over habitual disposi 
tions into conscious ideas is to interfere with their be$t 
workings. Some factors of familiar experience must in 
deed be brought to conscious recognition, just as trans- 



208 



HOW WE THINK 



Statement 
of aim of 
lesson 



How much 
the teacher 
should tell 
or show 



planting is necessary for the best growth of some plants. 
But it is fatal to be forever digging up either experiences 
or plants to see how they are getting along. Constraint, 
self-consciousness, embarrassment, are the consequence of 
too much conscious refurbishing of familiar experiences. 

Strict Herbartians generally lay it down that state 
ment by the teacher of the aim of a lesson is an 
indispensable part of preparation. This preliminary 
statement of the aim of the lesson hardly seems more 
intellectual in character, however, than tapping a bell 
or giving any other signal for attention and transfer of 
thoughts from diverting subjects. To the teacher the 
statement of an end is significant, because he has already 
been at the end ; from a pupil's standpoint the statement 
of what he is going to learn is something of an Irish 
bull. If the statement of the aim is taken too seriously 
by the instructor, as meaning more than a signal to at 
tention, its probable result is forestalling the pupil's own 
reaction, relieving him of the responsibility of develop 
ing a problem and thus arresting his mental initiative. 

It is unnecessary to discuss at length presentation as 
a factor in the recitation, because our last chapter 
covered the topic under the captions of observation and 
communication. The function of presentation is to sup 
ply materials that force home the nature of a problem 
and furnish suggestions for dealing with it. The prac 
tical problem of the teacher is to preserve a balance be 
tween so little showing and telling as to fail to stimulate 
reflection and so much as to choke thought Provided 
the student is genuinely engaged upon a topic, and pro 
vided the teacher is willing to give the student a good 
deal of leeway as to what he assimilates and retains (not 
requiring rigidly that everything be grasped or repro- 



RECITATION AND TRAINING OF THOUGHT 209 

duced), there is comparatively little danger that one who 
is himself enthusiastic will communicate too much con 
cerning a topic. 

II. The distinctively rational phase of reflective in- The pupil's 
quiry consists, as we have already seen, in the elabora- f 63 ? 0118 ^ 

ity for Tnftip* 

tion of an idea, or working hypothesis, through conjoint ing out a 
comparison and contrast, terminating in definition or reasonatle 
formulation, (z) So far as the recitation is concerned, 
the primary requirement is that the student be held 
responsible for working out mentally every suggested 
principle so as to show what he means by it, how 
it bears upon the facts at hand, and how the facts 
bear upon it. Unless the pupil is made responsible for 
developing on his own account the reasonableness of the 
guess he puts forth, the recitation counts for practically 
nothing in the training of reasoning power. A clever 
teacher easily acquires great skill in dropping out the 
inept and senseless contributions of pupils, and in select 
ing and emphasizing those in line with the result he 
wishes to reach. But this method (sometimes called 
"suggestive questioning ") relieves the pupils of intel 
lectual responsibility, save for acrobatic agility in follow 
ing the teacher's lead. 

(if) The working over of a vague and more or less The nc*es< 
casual idea into coherent and definite form is impossible j^^JJ 
without a pause, without freedom from distraction, leisure 
We say " Stop and think " ; well, all reflection involves, 
at some point, stopping external observations and re 
actions so that an idea may mature. Meditation, with 
drawal or abstraction from clamorous assailants of the 
senses and from demands for overt action, is as necessary 
at the reasoning stage, as are observation and experi 
ment at other periods. The metaphors of digestion and 



HOW WE THINK 



Atypical 
central 
object nec 
essary 



Importance 
of types 



assimilation, that so readily occur to mind in connection 
with rational elaboration, are highly instructive. A 
silent, uninterrupted working-over of considerations by 
comparing and weighing alternative suggestions, is 
indispensable for the development of coherent and com 
pact conclusions. Reasoning is no more akin to disput 
ing or arguing, or to the abrupt seizing and dropping of 
suggestions, than digestion is to a noisy champing of the 
jaws. The teacher must secure opportunity for leisurely 
mental digestion. 

(iii) In the process of comparison, the teacher must 
avert the distraction that ensues from putting before 
the mind a number of facts on the same level of im 
portance. Since attention is selective, some one object 
normally claims thought and furnishes the center of 
departure and reference. This fact is fatal to the suc 
cess of the pedagogical methods that endeavor to con 
duct comparison on the basis of putting before the mind 
a row of objects of equal importance. In comparing, 
the mind does not naturally begin with objects #, , c, d, 
and try to find the respect in which they agree. It be 
gins with a single object or situation more or less vague 
and inchoate in meaning, and makes excursions to other 
objects in order to render understanding of the central 
object consistent and clear. The mere multiplication 
of objects of comparison is adverse to successful reason 
ing. Each fact brought within the field of comparison 
should clear up some obscure feature or extend some 
fragmentary trait of the primary object. 

In short, pains should be taken to see that the object 
on which thought centers is typical: material being typi 
cal when, although individual or specific, it is such as 
readily and fruitfully suggests the principles of an en- 



RECITATION AND TRAINING OF THOUGHT 211 

tire class of facts. No sane person begins to think 
about rivers wholesale or at large. He begins with the 
one river that has presented some puzzling trait. Then 
he studies other rivers to get light upon the baffling 
features of this one, and at the same time he employs 
the characteristic traits of his original object to reduce to 
order the multifarious details that appear in connection 
with other rivers. This working back and forth pre 
serves unity of meaning, while protecting it from mo 
notony and narrowness. Contrast, unlikeness, throws 
significant features into relief, and these become instru 
ments for binding together into an organized or coher 
ent meaning dissimilar characters. The mind is de 
fended against the deadening influence of many isolated 
particulars and also against the barrenness of a merely 
formal principle. Particular cases and properties sup 
ply emphasis and concreteness ; general principles con 
vert the particulars into a single system. 

(z) Hence generalization is not a separate and single All insight 
act ; it is rather a constant tendency and function of the ^g e ffectT 
entire discussion or recitation. Every step forward generaiiz- 
toward an idea that comprehends, that explains, that 
unites what was isolated and therefore puzzling, gener 
alizes. The little child generalizes as truly as the adoles 
cent or adult, even though he does not arrive at the 
same generalities. If he is studying a river basin, his 
knowledge is generalized in so far as the various details 
that he apprehends are found to be the effects of a sin 
gle force, as that of water pushing downward from 
gravity, or are seen to be successive stages of a single his 
tory of formation. Even if there were acquaintance 
with only one river, knowledge of it under such condi 
tions would be generalized knowledge. 



212 



HOW WE THINK 



insight into 

Squire? 
formulation 



GeneraUza- 



application 
e new 



fossilized 

flexible 
principles 



The factor of formulation, of conscious stating, involved 
* n generalization, should also be a constant function, 
not a single formal act. Definition means essentially 
the growth of a meaning out of vagueness into definite- 
ness. Such final verbal definition as takes place should 
be only the culmination of a steady growth in distinct 
ness. In the reaction against ready-made verbal defini 
tions and rules, the pendulum should never swing to the 
opposite extreme, that of neglecting to summarize the 
net meaning that emerges from dealing with particular 
facts. Only as general summaries are made from time 
to time does the mind reach a conclusion or a resting 
place ; and only as conclusions are reached is there an 
intellectual deposit available in future understanding. 

III. As the last words indicate, application and gen- 
eralization lie close together. Mechanical skill for fur- 
ther use may be achieved without any explicit recogni- 
t j on ^ ^ principle ; nay, in routine and narrow technical 
matters, conscious formulation may be a hindrance. 
But without recognition of a principle, without general 
ization, the power gained cannot be transferred to new 
and dissimilar matters. The inherent significance of 
generalization is that it frees a meaning from local re 
strictions; rather, generalization is meaning so freed; 
it is meaning emancipated from accidental features so 
as to be available in new cases. The surest test for de 
tecting a spurious generalization (a statement general in 
verbal form but not accompanied by discernment of 
meaning), is the failure of the so-called principle spon 
taneously to extend itself. The essence of the general 
is application. (Ante, p. 29.) 

^e true P ur P se f exercises that apply rules and 
principles is, then, not so much to drive or drill them 



RECITATION AND TRAINING OF THOUGHT 213 

in as to give adequate insight into an idea or prin 
ciple. To treat application as a separate final step is 
disastrous. In every judgment some meaning is em 
ployed as a basis for estimating and interpreting some 
fact ; by this application the meaning is itself enlarged 
and tested. When the general meaning is regarded as 
complete in itself, application is treated as an external, 
non-intellectual use to which, for practical purposes alone, 
it is advisable to put the meaning. The principle is one 
self-contained thing ; its use is another and independent 
thing. When this divorce occurs, principles become 
fossilized and rigid ; they lose their inherent vitality, 
their self -impelling power. 

A true conception is a 'moving idea, and it seeks out- Seif-appH- 
let, or application to the interpretation of particulars and ^^ n ^ 
the guidance of action, as naturally as water runs down- genuine 
hill. In fine, just as reflective thought requires particu- 
lar facts of observation and events of action for its 
origination, so it also requires particular facts and deeds 
for its own consummation. " Glittering generalities " 
are inert because they are spurious. Application is 
as much an intrinsic part of genuine reflective inquiry 
as is alert observation or reasoning itself. Truly gen 
eral principles tend to apply themselves. The teacher 
needs, indeed, to supply conditions favorable to use and 
exercise ; but something is wrong when artificial tasks 
have arbitrarily to be invented in order to secure ap 
plication for principles. 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN 



The 

understood 

as the tin- 
consciously 
assumed 



Inquiry as 
conscious 
formulation 



SOME GENERAL CONCLUSIONS 

WE shall conclude our survey of how we think and 
how we should think by presenting some factors of 
thinking which should balance each other, but which con 
stantly tend to become so isolated that they work against 
each other instead of cooperating to make reflective in 
quiry efficient. 

i. The Unconscious and the Conscious 

It is significant that one meaning of the term under- 
stood is something so thoroughly mastered, so completely 
agreed upon, as to be assumed ; that is to say, taken as a 
matter of course without explicit statement. The familiar 
"goes without saying'* means "it is understood." If 
two persons can converse intelligently with each other, it 
is because a common experience supplies a background 
of mutual understanding upon which their respective re 
marks are projected. To dig up and to formulate this 
common background would be imbecile ; it is " under 
stood" ; that is, it is silently sup-plied and im-plied as the 
taken-f or-granted medium of intelligent exchange of ideas. 

If, however, the two persons find themselves at cross- 
purposes, it is necessary to dig up and compare the pre 
suppositions, the implied context, on the basis of which 
each is speaking. The im-plicit is made ex-plicit ; what 
was unconsciously assumed is exposed to the light of 
conscious day. In this way, the root of the misunder- 

214 



SOME GENERAL CONCLUSIONS 215 

standing is removed. Some such rhythm of the uncon 
scious and the conscious is involved in all fruitful 
thinking. A person in pursuing a consecutive train of 
thoughts takes some system of ideas for granted (which 
accordingly he leaves unexpressed, "unconscious ") as 
surely as he does in conversing with others. Some con 
text, some situation, some controlling purpose dominates 
his explicit ideas so thoroughly that it does not need 
to be consciously formulated and expounded. Explicit 
thinking goes on within the limits of what is implied or 
understood. Yet the fact that reflection originates in a 
problem makes it necessary at some points consciously 
to inspect and examine this familiar background. We 
have to turn upon some unconscious assumption and 
make it explicit. 

No rules can be laid down for attaining the due balance Rules can- 
and rhythm of these two phases of mental life. No or- ^^^^ 
dinance can prescribe at just what point the spontaneous fog * 
working of some unconscious attitude and habit is to be 
checked till we have made explicit what is implied in it. 
No one can tell in detail just how far the analytic in 
spection and formulation are to be carried. We can say 
that they must be carried far enough so that the individual 
will know what he is about and be able to guide his 
thinking ; but in a given case just how far is that? We 
can say that they must be carried far enough to detect and 
guard against the source of some false perception or 
reasoning, and to get a leverage on the investigation ; 
but such statements only restate the original difficulty. 
Since our reliance must be upon the disposition and tact 
of the individual in the particular case, there is no test 
of the success of an education more important than the 
extent to which it nurtures a type of mind competent to 



2l6 



HOW WE THINK 



avoided 



maintain an economical balance of the unconscious and 
the conscious. 

The over- The ways of teaching criticised in the foregoing pages 
as fal se " analytic " methods of instruction (ante, p. 112), 
all reduce themselves to the mistake of directing explicit 
attention and formulation to what would work better if 
left an unconscious attitude and working assumption. 
To pry into the familiar, the usual, the automatic, simply 
for the sake of making it conscious, simply for the sake of 
formulating it, is both an impertinent interference, and 
a source of boredom. To be forced to dwell consciously 
upon the accustomed is the essence of ennui; to pursue 
methods of instruction that have that tendency is de 
liberately to cultivate lack of interest 

The detec- On the other hand, what has been said in criticism of 

^ctoch-*' merel y routine forms of skill, what has been said about 

ing of truth, the importance of having a genuine problem, of intro- 

consciotis ducin the novel, and of reaching a deposit of gen- 

statement eral meaning weighs on the other side of the scales. 

It is as fatal to good thinking to fail to make con 

scious the standing source of some error or failure as 

it is to pry needlessly into what works smoothly. To 

over-simplify, to exclude the novel for the sake of 

prompt skill, to avoid obstacles for the sake of averting 

errors, is as detrimental as to try to get pupils to formu 

late everything they know and to state every step of the 

process employed in getting a result. Where the shoe 

pinches, analytic examination is indicated. When a 

topic is to be clinched so that knowledge of it will carry 

over into an effective resource in further topics, conscious 

condensation and summarizing are imperative. In the 

early stage of acquaintance with a subject, a good deal of 

unconstrained unconscious mental play about it may be 



SOME GENERAL CONCLUSIONS 217 

permitted, even at the risk of some random experiment 
ing ; in the later stages, conscious formulation and re 
view may be encouraged. Projection and reflection, 
going directly ahead and turning back in scrutiny, should 
alternate. Unconsciousness gives spontaneity and fresh 
ness ; consciousness, conviction and control. 

2. Process and Product 

A like balance in mental life characterizes process and piay and 
product. We met one important phase of this adjust- 
ment in considering play and work. In play, interest cen 
ters in activity, without much reference to its outcome. 
The sequence of deeds, images, emotions, suffices on 
its own account. In work, the end holds attention and 
controls the notice given to means. Since the difference 
is one of direction of interest, the contrast is one of em 
phasis, not of cleavage. When comparative prominence 
in consciousness 6f activity or outcome is transformed 
into isolation of one from the other, play degenerates 
into fooling, and work into drudgery. 

By " fooling" we understand a series of disconnected Play should 
temporary overflows of energy dependent upon whim 
and accident. When all reference to outcome is elimi 
nated from the sequence of ideas and acts that make 
play, each member of the sequence is cut loose from 
every other and becomes fantastic, arbitrary, aimless; 
mere fooling follows. There is some inveterate tend 
ency to fool in children as well as in animals ; nor is tha 
tendency wholly evil, for at least it militates against 
falling into ruts. But when it is excessive in amount; 
dissipation and disintegration follow ; and the only way 
of preventing> this consequence is to make regard for 
results enter into even the freest play activity. 



218 



HOW WE THINK 



nor work, 
drudgery 



Balance of 
playfulness 
and serious 
ness the 
intellectual 
ideal 



Exclusive interest in the result alters work to drudg 
ery. For by drudgery is meant those activities in 
which the interest in the outcome does not suffuse the 
means of getting the result. Whenever a piece of work 
becomes drudgery, the process of doing loses all value 
for the doer ; he cares solely for what is to be had at 
the end of it The work itself, the putting forth of en 
ergy, is hateful; it is just a necessary evil, since without 
it some important end would be missed. Now it is a 
commonplace that in the work of the world many things 
have to be done the doing of which is not intrinsically 
very interesting. However, the argument that children 
should be kept doing drudgery-tasks because thereby 
they acquire power to be faithful to distasteful duties, is 
wholly fallacious. Repulsion, shirking, and evasion are 
the consequences of having the repulsive imposed 
not loyal love of duty. Willingness to work for ends by 
means of acts not naturally attractive is best attained by 
securing such an appreciation of the value of the end 
that a sense of its value is transferred to its means of 
accomplishment. Not interesting in themselves, they 
borrow interest from the result with which they are 
associated. 

The intellectual harm accruing from divorce of work 
and play, product and process, is evidenced in the 
proverb, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull 
boy." That the obverse is true is perhaps sufficiently 
signalized in the fact that fooling is so near to foolish 
ness. To be playful and serious at the same time 
is possible, and it defines the ideal mental condition. 
Absence of dogmatism and prejudice, presence of intel 
lectual curiosity and flexibility, are manifest in the free 
play of the mind upon a topic. To give the mind this 



SOME GENERAL CONCLUSIONS 2 19 

free play is not to encourage toying with a subject, 
but is to be interested in the unfolding of the subject 
on its own account, apart from its subservience to a 
preconceived belief or habitual aim. Mental play is 
open-mindedness, faith in the power of thought to Free play 
preserve its own integrity without external supports and of mind 
arbitrary restrictions. Hence free mental play involves 
seriousness, the earnest following of the development of 
subject-matter. It is incompatible with carelessness or 
flippancy, for it exacts accurate noting of every result 
reached in order that every conclusion may be put to 
further use. What is termed the interest in truth for 
its own sake is certainly a serious matter, yet this pure 
interest in truth coincides with love of the free play of is normal in 

childhood 

thought 

In spite of many appearances to the contrary usu 
ally due to social conditions of either undue superfluity 
that induces idle fooling or undue economic pressure 
that compels drudgery childhood normally realizes the 
ideal of conjoint free mental play and thoughtfulness. 
Successful portrayals of children have always made 
their wistful intentness at least as obvious as their lack 
of worry for the morrow. To live in the present is 
compatible with condensation of far-reaching meanings 
in the present. Such enrichment of the present for its 
own sake is the just heritage of childhood and the best 
insurer of future growth. The child forced into pre 
mature concern with economic remote results may de 
velop a surprising sharpening of wits in a particular 
direction, but this precocious specialization is always 
paid for by later apathy and dullness. ^ 

That art originated in play is a common saying, 
Whether or not the saying is historically correct, it artist 



220 HOW WE THINK 

suggests that harmony of mental playfulness and seri 
ousness describes the artistic ideal. When the artist is 
preoccupied overmuch with means and materials, he 
may achieve wonderful technique, but not the artistic 
spirit far excellence. When the animating idea is in ex 
cess of the command of method, aesthetic feeling may be 
indicated, but the art of presentation is too defective 
to express the feeling thoroughly. When the thought 
of the end becomes so adequate that it compels transla 
tion into the means that embody it, or when attention 
to means is inspired by recognition of the end they 
serve, we have the attitude typical of the artist, an atti 
tude that may be displayed in all activities, even though 
not conventionally designated arts. 
The art of That teaching is an art and the true teacher an artist is 
a familiar saying. Now the teacher's own claim to rank 



in nurturing as an artist is measured by his ability to foster the attitude 
of the artist in those who study with him, whether they 
be youth or little children. Some succeed in arousing 
enthusiasm, in communicating large ideas, in evoking 
energy. So far, well ; but the final test is whether the 
stimulus thus given to wider aims succeeds in transform 
ing itself into power, that is to say, into the attention to 
detail that ensures mastery over means of execution. 
If not, the zeal flags, the interest dies out, the ideal be 
comes a clouded memory. Other teachers succeed in 
training facility, skill, mastery of the technique of sub 
jects. Again it is well so far. But unless enlarge 
ment of mental vision, power of increased discrimination 
of final values, a sense for ideas for principles 
accompanies this training, forms of skill ready to be 
put indifferently to any end may be the result Such 
modes of technical skill may display themselves, accord- 



SOME GENERAL CONCLUSIONS 221 

ing to circumstances, as cleverness in serving self-inter 
est, as docility in carrying out the purposes of others, or 
as unimaginative plodding in ruts. To nurture inspir 
ing aim and executive means into harmony with each 
other is at once the difficulty and the reward of the 
teacher. 

3. The Far and the Near 

Teachers who have heard that they should avoid "Familiar- 
matters foreign to pupils' experience, are frequently 
surprised to find pupils wake up when something beyond 
their ken is introduced, while they remain apathetic in 
considering the familiar. In geography, the child upon 
the plains seems perversely irresponsive to the intel 
lectual charms of his local environment, and fascinated 
by whatever concerns mountains or the sea. Teachers 
who have struggled with little avail to extract from 
pupils essays describing the details of things with which 
they are well acquainted, sometimes find them eager 
to write on lofty or imaginary themes. A woman of 
education, who has recorded her experience as a factory 
worker, tried retelling Little Women to some factory girls 
during their working hours. They cared little for it, 
saying, " Those girls had no more interesting experience 
than we have/' and demanded stories of millionaires and 
society leaders. A man interested in the mental con 
dition of those engaged in routine labor asked a Scotch 
girl in a cotton factory what she thought about all 
day. She replied that as soon as her mind was free 
from starting the machinery, she married a duke, and 
their fortunes occupied her for the remainder of the day. 
Naturally, these incidents are not told in order to en 
courage methods of teaching that appeal to the sensa- 



222 



HOW WE THINK 



since only 
the novel 
demands 
attention, 



which, in 
turn, can be 
given only 
through the 
old 



The given 
and the 
suggested 



tional, the extraordinary, or the incomprehensible. 
They are told, however, to enforce the point that the 
familiar and the near do not excite or repay thought on 
their own account, but only as they are adjusted to 
mastering the strange and remote. It is a common 
place of psychology that we do not attend to the old, 
nor consciously mind that to which we are thoroughly 
accustomed. For this, there is good reason : to devote 
attention to the old, when new circumstances are con 
stantly arising to which we should adjust ourselves, 
would be wasteful and dangerous. Thought must be 
reserved for the new, the precarious, the problematic. 
Hence the mental constraint, the sense of being lost, 
that comes to pupils when they are invited to turn their 
thoughts upon that with which they are already familiar, 
The old, the near, the accustomed, is not that to which 
but that with which we attend ; it does not furnish the 
material of a problem, but of its solution. 

The last sentence has brought us to the balancing of 
new and old, of the far and that close by, involved in re 
flection. The more remote supplies the stimulus and the 
motive ; the nearer at hand furnishes the point of ap 
proach and the available resources. This principle may 
also be stated in this form : the best thinking occurs 
when the easy and the difficult are duly proportioned to 
each other. The easy and the familiar are equivalents, 
as are the strange and the difficult. Too much that is 
easy gives no ground for inquiry ; too much of the hard 
renders inquiry hopeless. 

The necessity of the interaction of the near and the 
far follows directly from the nature of thinking. Where 
there is thought, something present suggests and indi 
cates something absent. Accordingly unless the familiar 



SOME GENERAL CONCLUSIONS 223 

Is presented under conditions that are in some respect 
unusual, it gives no jog to thinking, it makes no demand 
upon what is not present in order to be understood. 
And if the subject presented is totally strange, there is 
no basis upon which it may suggest anything service 
able for its comprehension. When a person first has to 
do with fractions, for example, they will be wholly 
baffling so far as they do not signify to him some rela 
tion that he has already mastered in. dealing with whole 
numbers. When fractions have become thoroughly 
familiar, his perception of them acts simply as a signal 
to do certain things; they are a "substitute sign," to 
which he can react without thinking. (Ante, p. 178.) 
If, nevertheless, the situation as a whole presents some 
thing novel and hence uncertain, the entire response is 
not mechanical, because this mechanical operation is put 
to use in solving a problem. There is no end to this 
spiral process : foreign subject-matter transformed 
through thinking into a familiar possession becomes a 
resource for judging and assimilating additional foreign 
subject-matter. 

The need for both imagination and observation in observation 
every mental enterprise illustrates another aspect of the J^^JJ^Sj 
same principle. Teachers who have tried object-lessons nation 
of the conventional type have usually found that when the remoto 
the lessons were new, pupils were attracted to them as 
a diversion, but as soon as they became matters of 
course they were as dull and wearisome as was ever the 
most mechanical study of mere symbols. Imagination 
could not play about the objects so as to enrich them. 
The feeling that instruction in " facts, facts " produces 
a narrow Gradgrind is justified not because facts in 
themselves are limiting, but because facts are dealt out 



224 



HOW WE THINK 



Experience 
through 
communi 
cation of 
others' 
experience 



as such hard and fast ready-made articles as to leave 
no room to imagination. Let the facts be presented so 
as to stimulate imagination, and culture ensues naturally 
enough. The converse is equally true. The imagina 
tive is not necessarily the imaginary ; that is, the unreal 
The proper function of imagination is vision of realities 
that cannot be exhibited under existing conditions of 
sense-perception. Clear insight into the remote, the 
absent, the obscure is its aim. History, literature, and 
geography, the principles of science, nay, even geometry 
and arithmetic, are full of matters that must be imagi 
natively realized if they are realized at all. Imagination 
supplements and deepens observation; only when it 
turns into the fanciful does it become a substitute for 
observation and lose logical force. 

A final exemplification of the required balance be 
tween near and far is found in the relation that obtains 
between the narrower field of experience realized in an 
individual's own contact with persons and things, and 
the wider experience of the race that may become 
his through communication. Instruction always runs 
the risk of swamping the pupil's own vital, though nar 
row, experience under masses of communicated material. 
The instructor ceases and the teacher begins at the 
point where communicated matter stimulates into fuller 
and more significant life that which has entered by 
the strait and narrow gate of sense-perception and 
motor activity. Genuine communication involves con 
tagion ; its name should not be taken in vain by terming 
communication that which produces no community of 
thought and purpose between the child and the race 
of which he is the heir. 



INDEX 



Abstract, i35~*44 
Abstraction, 155 f. 

Action, activity, activities, 46, 
140 f., 157-1^9, 190 f. 

Active attitude and the con 
cept, 128 

Analysis, 1 1 x-i 1 5 > 1 5 2 f * 5 in 
education, 112 

Apperception, 199; appercep- 
tive masses, 203 

Application, 129 f., 212 f. 

Apprehension, H9f.; see Un 
derstanding. 

Artist, attitude of, 219 f. 

Articulation, 3 

Authority, 4? 25 

Bacon, 22, 25, 33 

Bain, 155 

Balance, 38 

Behavior, 5, 42-4, S4I-J see 
Action, Occupations 

Belief, x, 3~7; reached in 
directly, 1 8 

Central factor in thinking, 7 

Children, 42 f . 

Clifford, 148 

Coherence, 3, 80 

Comparison, 89 f ,, 202 

Comprehension, 120; see Un 
derstanding. 

Concentration, 40 

Concept, conception, 107, 125- 
9, 213; see Meaning. 



Conclusion, 3, 5 f., 40? 77, 80 f.; 

technique of, 87 f. 
Concrete, I35~44 
Congruity, 3, 72 
Connection, 7; see Relation. 
Consecutive, 2, 40, 42 
Consequence, consequential, 2; 

consequences, 5 
Consistency, 40 
Continuity, 3, 40, 80 
Control, 18-28; of deduction, 

93-100; of induction, 84-93; 

of suggestion, 84 f., 93; see 

Regulation. 
Corroborate, corroboration, 9, 

77 
Curiosity, 31 ff., 105 

Darwin, 38, 90, 127 

Data, 79 f-, 95, *3 *-> I0<5 

Decision, 107 

Deduction, 79* 93-*> I0 3; 

control of, 93-100 
Definition, 130!; definitions, 

131-4, 212 
Development, of ideas, 83; see 

Elaboration, Ratiocination, 

Reasoning. 
Discipline, 63, 78; formal, 45, 

5 

Discourse, consecutive, 185 f. 
Discovery, inductive, 81, 116 
Division, 131 
Dogmatism, X49> *9 8 
Doing, 139? 



225 



226 



HOW WE THINK 



Doubt, 6, 9, 13, 102; see Per 
plexity, Uncertainty. 
Drill, 52, 63 
Drudgery, 218 

Education, intellectual, 57, 62; 
aim of, 143 f., 156 

Elaboration, of ideas, 75 f., 84, 
94 f., 103, 106, 209; see 
Development, Ratiocina 
tion, Reasoning. 

Emerson, 173 

Emotion, 4, n, 74 

Emphasis, 112, ii4f. 

Empirical thinking, 145-9 

End, ir f. 

Evidence, 5, 7 f., 27, 103 f.; 
see Grounds. 

Experience, 132, 156, 199 f., 
224 

Experiment, experimental, 70 f ., 
77, 91 f,, 99 f., I5if.,t IS4 

Extension, 130 f . 

Fact vs. idea, 109; facts, 3, 5 
Faculty psychology, 45 
Familiar, familiarity, 120-25, 

136 f., 206, 214 f,, 221 f. 
Fooling, 217 

Formalism; see Discipline. 
Formal steps of instruction, 

202, 206 
Formulation, 112 f., 209, 212, 

214-17 

Freedom, 64 f . ; intellectual, 66 
Function, 123; function of 

signifying, 7, 15 

General, 80, 82, 99, 182 f.; see 

Principles, Universal. 
Generality, 129, 134 



Generalization, 211 f. 
Grounds, i, 4-8, So; see Evi 
dence. 
Guiding factor in reflection, n 

Habits; see Action. 
Herbart, 202 

Hcrbartian method, 202-6 
Hobhouse, 31 

Hypothesis, 5, 75, 77, 81 f., 
94 f ., 108, 209 

Idea, 75, 77, 79> 107-10; see 

Meaning. 
Idle thinking, 2 
Image, 109 

Imagination, 165 f., 223 f. 
Imitation, 47, 51, 160 
Implication, 5, 75, 77 
Impulse, 64 
Induction, 79-93, 103; control 

of, 84-93; scientific, 86 
Inference, 26 f., 75, 77, 101; 

critical, 74, 82; systematic, 

81 

Information, 52 f., 197-200 
Inquiry, 5, 9 f . 
Intellect, intellectual activity, 

44, So, 62 
Intension, 130 f. 
Internal congruity, 3 
Isolation, 96-100, 117, 191 

James, 119, 121, 153 f. 

Jevons, 91 f., 183, 192 

Judgment, 5; factors of, 101; 
good judgment, 101, 103, 
106 f.; and inference, 101 ft.; 
.intuitive, 104 f.; principles 
of, 106 f . ; suspended, 74, 82, 
105, 108; tentative, 101 



INDEX 



227 



Knowledge, 3 f ., 6, 95 ; spiral 
movement of, 120, 223 

Language, 170-87; and educa 
tion, 176-87; and meaning, 
171; technical, 184 f.; as a 
tool of thought, 170 fL, 179 

Leap, in inference, 26, 75 

Leisure, 209 f. 

Locke, 19 n., 22-5 

Logical, 56 f.; vs. psychologi 
cal, 62 f. 

Meaning, meanings, 7, 17, 79 f., 
82, 94, 116-34; capital fund 
of, store of, 118, 120, 126, 
i6r, 174, 1 80; individual, 
173!".; organization of, 175, 
185; as tools, keys, instru 
ments, io8f., 120, 125 f., 
129. See Concept. 

Memory, 107 

Method, 46-50, 58; analytic 
and synthetic, 114; formal, 60 

Mill, 18 n. 

Mood, 5 

Motivation, 42 

Negative cases, 90 
Notion. See Concept. 

Object lessons, 140, 192 
Observation, 3, 7, 69 f., 76 f., 

85, 91, 96, 188-97, 223!; 

in schools, 193-7; scientific, 

196 
Occupation, occupations, 43, 

99, 167 f. 

Openmindedness, 219 
Order, orderliness, 2, 39, 41, 

46? 57; see Consecutive. 



Organization, 39, 41; of sub 
ject matter, 62 
Originality, 198 

Particulars, 80, 82; cf. General, 
Universal. 

Passion, 4, 23, 25, 106 

Perception, 3, 190; cf. Obser 
vation. 

Perplexity, 9, 11, 72 

Placing, 114, 126 

Play, 161-7, 217-21; of mind, 
219 

Playfulness, 162, 218 f. 

Practical deliberation, 68 f . 

Prejudice, 4 

Principles, 212 f. 

Problem, 9, 12, 33, 72, 74, 76, 
109, 120, 191 f., 199, 207 

Proof, 7, 27, 8 1 

Pseudo-idea, 109 

Psychological (vs. logical), 62 f. 

Purpose, ii 

Ratiocination, 75 f., 83 
Reason, reasoning, 75-8, 94f-> 

98 

Reasons, 5 f . 
Recitation, 201-13; factors in, 

206-13 
Reflection, 2 f., 5!; central 

function of, 116; double 

movement of, 79-84; five 

steps in, 72-8, 203 f. 
Regulation, 18-28; see Control. 
Relation, relationship, 82, 97; 

see Connection. 

Scientific thinking, 145-6 
Sense training, 190-97 
Sequence, 2; cf. Consequence. 



228 



HOW WE THINK 



Sidgwick, 127 

Signify, 7, I S 

Signs, 1 6, 171-6 

Spiral movement, see Knowl 
edge. 

Stimulus-response, 47 

Studies, types of, 50 

Subject matter, sSf,; intel 
lectual, 45 f-J logical, 61 f.; 
practical, 49; theoretical, 49; 
and the teacher, 204 f . 

Substitute signs, 177 f-> 223 

Succession, 3 

Suggestion, 7, 12, 27, 74 f- 84 *> 
control of, 84 f ., 93 ; dimen 
sions of, 3 4 7 

Supposition, 4, 9 

Suspense of judgment, 13, 74? 82 

Symbols, se0 Signs. 

Synthesis, 114 f- 

Terms, 3, 72 f., 76, 79> 95 
Testing, 9, 13, 4*7 82, 116; of 

deduction, 96, 99 
Theory, 138 
Theoretical, 137 
Thinking, complete, 96, 98 f., 



100; see Reasoning, Reflec 
tion. 

Thought, 8 f . ; educative value 
of, 2; reflective, 2; train of, 
3; types of, i 

Truth, truths, 3 

Uncertainty, see Doubt, Per 
plexity. 

Unconscious, 214 E. 

Uncritical thinking, 12 

Understanding, 116-20; direct 
and indirect, 11820, 136 

Universal, 9 

Vagueness, 129 f., 182, 212 
Vailati, 81 n. 
Venn, 17 
Verification, 77 
Vocabulary, 180-4 

Ward, no n. 
Warrant, 7 
Wisdom, 52 
Wonder, 31, 33 f- 
Wordsworth, 31 
Work, 162-7, 217-19 



1 04 680 



a)