Infomotions, Inc.A new interpretation of Herbart's psychology and educational theory through the philosophy of Leibniz / by John Davidson. / Davidson, John, 1861-1947




Author: Davidson, John, 1861-1947
Title: A new interpretation of Herbart's psychology and educational theory through the philosophy of Leibniz / by John Davidson.
Publisher: Edinburgh : Blackwood, 1906.
Tag(s): leibniz, gottfried wilhelm, freiherr von, 1646-1716; educational psychology; herbart, johann friedrich, 1776-1841; herbart; monad; leibniz; theory; herbart's theory; activity; herbartian theory; soul; interpretation; perception; herbart's psychological; psychological standpoint; herbart's concept; new interpretation
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A NEW INTERPRETATION OF 

HEKBAET'S PSYCHOLOGY AND 
EDUCATIONAL THEORY 



A NEW INTERPRETATION OF 

HERBART'S PSYCHOLOGY 



AND 



EDUCATIONAL THEORY 



THROUGH 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF LEIBNIZ 



BY 



JOHN DAVIDSON, M.A., D.Phil. (Edin.) 

FELLOW OF THE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SCOTLANB ; 
FORMERLY LKCTDREK ON PSYCHOLOGY AND EDUCATIONAL METHOD IN THE 

^,^^,^^j;,g£g£AliijUyh^^HiArtMaMMnfKEDiNBUROE ; headmaster 




OF THE HIGH SCHOCt, STRANRAER 



LIBRAR 



JAN 23 1981 

THE ONTARIO INSTITUTE 
FOR STUDIES IN EDUCATION 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MCMVI 



All Eights reserved 



JOZtD 



PREFACE. 



The following pages represent an attempt to give a 
general and, it is believed, a new interpretation of 
Herbart's psychological and educational theories so as 
to show the adequacy of his fundamental conceptions 
to meet at least some of the demands of a science of 
education. In particular, there is an attempt to show, 
first, that Herbart's psychological standpoint is the only 
intelligible and workable standpoint for the practical 
teacher ; and second, that from this standpoint such 
definite connotations can be given to the terms soul 
or mind, knowing, feeUng, desiring, will, interest, and 
habit, that the terms so connoted become scientific 
and guiding concepts for educational practice. 

N"o one can be more aware than the writer of the 
many imperfections of his interpretation. Thus, for 
example, in connection with the Leibnizian philosophy 
through which the interpretation of Herbart is reached, 
there are ultimate metaphysical questions which he has 
left severely alone, and which the philosophic critic 
may compel him to answer before allowing him to 



VI PREFACE. 

pass on. Yet he has excuse. Were the educator to 
wait on the solution of all ultimate metaphysical ques- 
tions for his educational concepts he would wait for 
ever, whilst all the time practical needs would be 
urging him to get forward somehow. With an eye 
therefore on practical issues, the writer has tried to 
steer a course through metaphysical difliculties by the 
way of least resistance, and has been led to conclusions, 
either Herbartian or implicit in Herbart, which on the 
whole seem to him to be in harmony with the results 
of long personal observation and experiment in the 
schoolroom. 

It would be a lengthy task for the writer to ac- 
knowledge his indebtedness to all those whose works 
have helped him towards his interpretation. Amongst 
those to whose writings he is more specially indebted 
should be mentioned his old chief Professor Laurie, 
and Professor Darroch — the philosophical antagonism 
of both to Herbart's educational theory forming a guide 
as well as an inspiration to the argument ; Professors 
Latta and Stout, whose masterly expositions of Leibniz 
and Herbart respectively were of constant service ; the 
late Professor Adamson of Glasgow ; Professor James ; 
and, of Herbartian educational writers, Professor Adams 
of London University, and Dr F. H. Hayward, whose 
enthusiastic work ' The Critics of Herbartianism ' is a 
veritable " vade-mecum " to a student of Herbart. Most 
of all the writer has 1)een dependent on the original 
works of Leibniz and Herbart, as well as on those of 



PREFACE. VU 

the Herbartiaii critics Ostermann, Natorp, Hubatsch, 
and others. In the numerous quotations from these 
writers ticlelity to the thought rather than elegance of 
translation has been rightly aimed at. 

In conclusion, it may be permissible to state that 
the treatise as now published is practically what was 
accepted by the Senatus of Edinburgh University in 
1905 as a Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Phil- 
osophy. Whatever improvements have been made upon 
it since then are almost entirely due to the sympathetic 
and suggestive criticism of Professor Welton of Leeds 
University, the additional examiner for the degree of 
D.Phil. 



SYNOPSIS. 



CHAPTER I. 

INTRODUCTION. 



PAGE 



Herbart's theory of education is recognised as of 
" practical " value so far as it goes, though inconsistent 
with his psychological and ethical theories , . 1-3 

An educational theory that "works" in practice must 
be prepared to justify itself on philosophical grounds. 

The practical truth of the Herbartian theory justifies 
an attempt to interpret Herbart's philosophy in such a 
way as to reconcile the pedagogy with the philosophy . 3, 4 

Herbart's philosophy, like every other philosophy, 
must be interpreted from its own standpoint. This 
standpoint is found, not in the Kantian, but in the 
Leibnizian philosophy ..... 5-7 



CHAPTER II. 

THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 

Objections to the Cartesian theory that " extension " 
is the essence and explanation of " matter " 8-10 



X SYNOPSIS. 

Hence the need of some other and higher conception 
to explain " matter." A non-material conception is the 
only kind of conception that will avoid the difficul- 
ties of the Cartesian and Atomistic explanations of 
"matter" 10-17 

This non-material conception is found in the "monad." 
The monad is a spiritual force representative, in each 
of its moments, of the whole universe. Hence ai'ise 
the conceptions of '■^organism" and ^'functioning" . 17-19 

Through " appetition " and " perception " the monad 
unfolds itself by an analytic process, and in this way 
knows more and more of the universe implicitly con- 
tained within itself. 

Hence the monad is a spiritual principle immanent 
in amdi constitutive of " m.diiiG.x " .... 19-26 

Harmony between the independent knowledge (per- 
ceptions) of the several monads is secured by (the theory 
of) a " pre-established harmony " . . . . 26-29 

Leibniz's theory of knowledge as found in the above 
principles . . . . . . . 29, 30 

Is subjective idealism the inevitable outcome of 
Leibniz's psychological standpoint? . . . 30-37 



CHAPTER III. 

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STANDPOINT IMPLICIT IN THE 
PHILOSOPHICAL PKINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 

The external world, or "matter," is within the monad's 
own self : it is a mode of its own activity, and therefore 
constituted hy this activity. The " appetition " of the 
monad does not point to a soul antecedent to its mani- 
festation in activity, but is a principle postulated to ac- 
count fur this activity. Perceiving activity and object 
perceived are two inseparable factors of one and the 
same thing . . . . . . . 38, 39 



SYNOPSIS. XI 

Hence, if the individuality of the monad is not in- 
compatible with its interaction with other monads, 
there arises the conception of a monad, mind, or soul 
that is immanent in and constitutive of a real external 
world. Hence the distinction hettoeen "subject per- 
ceiving" and "object perceived " is only abstract . 40, 41 

The late Professor Adarason's interpretation of the 
Kantian "pure Ego" is in line with the above con- 
clusion 42-44 

CHAPTER IV. 

Leibniz's theory of feeling and will. 

Feeling. Pleasure (non-bodily) is the feeling which 
accompanies free activity of soul. This free activity is 
clear and distinct perception. 

Pain is the feeling which accompanies hindered 
activity or confused perception. 

Since perceptive activity is the essence of soul-life, 
pleasure must be regarded, not so much as the aim, as 
the resultant of soul-activity. This conclusion proved 
by Leibniz's further definition of pleasure as the feeling 
resulting from the freeing ourselves from pain. Feel- 
ing is thus dependent on knoivledge (perception). Ob- 
jection to this conclusion considered . . . 45-48 

Will. The evolution of will proceeds pari passu, 
with the evolution of perception. 

Freedom of will exists only in the sense that the 
soul-life can choose to follow one of several perceptions, 
whilst it is determined by, or must follow the lead of, 
some one previous perception. 

Willing therefore is the outcome of perception. This 
is the germ of the Herbartian theory that "will springs 
out of the circle of thought." 

A theory of habit is implicit in Leibniz, and is de- 
veloped in Herbart's doctrine of " interest " . . 48-54 



XU SYNOPSIS. 

CHAPTER V. 

herbart's psychological standpoint. 

Herbart's definition of " soul " is intended to be a 
negative one. 

The " self-preservation " of Herbart, like the " ap- 
petition " of Leibniz, is a principle jMstulated to account 
for the soul-atitive. The first "self-preserving" act is 
not the act of a soul which, after thus acting, stands 
aside from the play of presentation. The act is the 
soul-life at the moment of acting. The real soul — the 
only soul that the psychologist and the educator can 
deal with — exif^ts onhj in and through its presentations 
or activities ....... .55-61 

First objection : 

The positing of a metaphysical soul or pure ego is the 
only hypothesis that will account for (1) the unity and 
identity that we attribute to external things, and (2) the 
consciousness of the unity and identity of " self. " 

Eeply : 

Ajyassing activity or a passing state is capable, through 
the conception of "organic functioning," of accounting 
for both (1) and (2) 61-66 

Second objection : 

Granted that the conception of "function" may ex- 
plain any other state than the first, it does not explain 
the first state. 

Reply : 

In positing a metaphysical entity as the ground of 
unity and identity, we have still to seek for the ground 
of this entity, and then the ground of this ground, and 
so on ad infinitum. Hence, in respect of accounting 
for the first soul state the one hypothesis is as good as 
the other ....... 66 



SYNOPSIS. Xlll 



Further interpretation of the notions " self-preserva- 
tion," " presentation," and " clearness " . . . 67-71 



CHAPTEE VI. 

herbart's theory of presentation. 

The apparently mechanical opposition, complication, 
and blending amongst the Herbartian presentations are 
interpretable in terms of soul-activity or soul-functioning 72-74 

Metaphysical interpretation of the interaction of 
presentations . . . . . . . 74, 75 

The interaction of presentations gives rise in course 
of time to a " circle of thought " or " apperception 
mass," whose constituent parts are connected in a living 
organic whole . . . . . . . 75, 76 

Consideration of criticisms .... 76-79 



CHAPTER YII. 
heebart's theory of feeling. 

Feelings are " changeable conditions of presenta- 
tions" — that is, in terms of our interpretation of 
Herbart's psychological standpoint, the soul-life function- 
ing in and through presentations at the same time ex- 
periences or has feelings. 

Pleasure is the feeling which accompanies the 
movement of a presentation, when this movement is 
helped or " favoured " by other presentations ; that is, 
the soul when freely active in presentations is ipso 
facto in a pleasurable state. 



Xiv SYNOPSIS. 

Interpretation of the notion of "favouring." 
Hence — 

(1) Feeling is dependent on presentations or 

knowledge 80-84 

Consideration of the objection that the soul may 
function as feeling independent of knowledge 84 

(2) Pleasure must be measured by a purely quantita- 

tive standard. 
Consideration of objections .... 85-95 



CHAPTER VIIL 

hehbart's theory of desire. 

Desire is the " moving forward of a presentation to 
full clearness " — that is, desire is a soul-activity in and 
through some presentation which the soul wills to 
make clear or to fully realise. 

Desire, like feeling, is the outcome of, and therefore 
dependent on, presentations. 

The most important source of desire is that mental 
condition which is the resultant of the soul's being 
habituated to function in certain series of presenta- 
tions ; that is, the chief source of desire is a hahit of 
presentation, a hahit of knowing .... 96-102 

Objection considered. Educational corollary , . 102-105 



CHAPTEE IX. 

herbart's theory of will. 

" Will is desire accompanied by the supposition of 
the attainability of that which is desired." Analysis 
of definition ....... 106-109 



SYNOPSIS. XV 

Through the soul's habit of living in certain series 
of presentations, the soul's desire to make a certain 
presentation clear no sooner appears than willing fol- 
lows as the natural outcome of the series to which the 
given presentation belongs. 

"Will is thus not a force separable from the presenta- 
tive activity of the soul, but is the soul present ativelij 
active and conscious of the attainability of the end it 
desires. Hence Herbart's dictum that " will springs 
out of the circle of thought" .... 109-112 

Relation between the " will " and the first " soul- 
reaction" of Herbart's metaphysical theory . . 113 

Analysis of Herbart's conceptions of "self-control" 
and "morality" 114-121 



CHAPTER X. 

herbaet's concept of "inteeest." 

What is only indirectly or mediately interesting to 
the child is not organically connected with the soul- 
life of the child 122-124 

Consideration of the educational value of the appeal 
to indirect interest. 

Conclusion : Psychologically there is no such thin;/ 
as indirect interest ...... 124-129 

Analysis of Herbart's concept of " interest." 
1. It implies (1) a concentration or absorption of the 
soul-life in several directions, (2) ability on 
the part of the soul-life to reflect on, and co- 
ordinate in its own unity, the several acts of 
concentration ..... 129-133 

Herbartian method of instruction as determined 

by these psychological moments of "interest" 133, 134 



XVI SYNOPSIS. 

2. Further proof that "interest" \& a, psychological 

process or movement — that it is a different 

thing from the objects of "interest" . 135, 136 

3. That the psychological movement — "interest" — 

is an automatiralhj unfolding one produced hy 
habit proved by 

(1) An analysis of Herbart's contrast be- 

tween "interest" and "desire, &c." 136-144 

(2) Herbart's words : To the educator mor- 

ality is an occurrence — a natural 
occurrence . . . . .145 

(3) An analysis of Herbart's conception, 

Memory of the Will . . . 145-148 

4. Conclusion. Apperceptive, many-sided "interest" 

is a psychological organon or instrument of 
soul-life produced through habituated knowing 
activities. 

Hence " interest " is an educational end in 

itself 148, 149 

Consideration of criticisms .... 149-157 



CHAPTER XL 

THE FALLACY OF FORMAL EDUCATION. 

The educational formalist maintains — and past edu- 
cational practice in school has been based on the 
assumption — that certain subjects of study impart to 
the mind a power that can be utilised in the acquisi- 
tion and use of any other kind of knowledge. 

But, First : The power of an instrument as that in- 
strument is non-transferable ; and the mental power 
developed say by grammatical study is not transfer- 
able to the study say of agriculture . . . 158-164 

Second : It cannot be maintained that the presenta- 



SYNOPSIS. XVll 

tions of the formal subject call forth a hetter kind of 
discipline, for there is no common qualitative standard 
whereby to decide between the power that works in 
and through the concrete and that which operates in 
and through the abstract . . . . . 164 

Third : The real ground of the formalist's argument 
seems to be the assumption that mind is an entity that 
stands outside of knowledge, and that the exercise- 
effect produced on it by working on one subject staijs 
with it and can be utilised in its working on a different 
subject. Practical test . . . . 165, 166 

Fourth : The severe discipline of the abstract or 
formal studies is not necessarily the better discipline 166, 167 

Conclusion : Currinda must he determined, not by 
the so-called formal disciplinary value of subjects, but 
by environment and j^'t'cictical interests . . . 167 

Through a curriculum thus determined a natural 
and true culture is secured .... 168-170 



CHAPTER XII. 

INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED " INTEEEST." 

The reconciliation between individuality and the 
Herbartian interestformed character . . .171-180 

The theory of "concentration of studies" in its 
extreme form is not implied in Herbart's psychology 180, 181 

Educational corollaries : 

1. When the child is taken in hand by the teacher 

his mental content should be more or less ac- 
curately knoion. To secure this 

2. There must be more systematic parental educa- 

tion than at present, and a correlation be- 
tween parental and school education. 

3. Individuality must be encouraged and strength- 



XVlll SYNOPSIS. 

enecl by a state -regulated differentiation of 
the education suitable for diflerent individuals 
and comnninities in the state — this differentia- 
tion to be based on ivhat the pupil already is 
by birth and environment .... 182-186 



CHAPTER XIII. 



(( 



INTEREST VERSUS "SELF-REALISATION AS THE FIRST 
PRINCIPLE OF EDUCATION. 

1. Every educational concept should be sufficiently 
definite and scientific to afford practical guidance to 
the teacher. 

But in the concept " self-realisation " neither the 
" self " nor the " realising " has any definite con- 
notation. 

Herbart's concept of " interest " connotes definitely 
and with some scientific precision both the seZ/and the 
realisimj. 

Hence the principle of "self-realisation" cannot, as 
a working concept, have precedence of the principle of 
"interest" 187-189 

2. The principle of " self-realisation," by leading the 
individual falsely to identify the direct interest in self 
with the moral life, is apt to be self-defeating. 

The concept of " interest," connoting a soul-life 
which is directly interested in something "other," 
constantly points away from the "self." 

Hence the ])rinciple of "interest," as pointing to 
the most definite and intelligible, and the highest 
kind of self-realisation, must take precedence of the 
principle of "self-realisation" . . . .189-191 



A NEW INTERPRETATION OF 

HEEBAET'S PSYCHOLOGY AND 
EDUCATIONAL THEOEY. 



C H A P T E E I. 



INTRODUCTION. 



The highest aim of education, whether this aim includes 
all lower aims or not, is the formation of character. 
The great problem is, How to form character. Answers 
to the problem are found in various educational the- 
ories, ancient and modern. Of modern answers none 
has been subjected to more adverse criticism than 
that of Herbart, viz., that character is formed through 
apperceptive many-sided interest. This many-sided 
interest, which, according to Herbart, will make men 
moral, is to be roused through " educative instruction," 
that is, an instruction in knowledge which shall be at 
the same time a training of heart and will. Herbart 
seeks to show that if a child is taught right knowledge 
in the right way he cannot but feel and will aright. 
With Herbart, as with Socrates, the ignorant man 
cannot be truly virtuous; and the work of the edu- 

A 



2 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

cator is to impart knowledge in such a way that the 
knowledge passes over — how, we shall see later — into 
virtue. The peculiar, and at first sight somewhat per- 
plexing, character of the theory is that feeling, habit, 
and all else that we are accustomed to associate with 
the development of the moral life, seem to be ranked 
as secondary to knowing, and we are presented with 
an apparently easy solution of the problem that has 
baffled human thought and action — the conquest of 
evil. 

The theory is accepted by many, not because it is 
based on a sound psychology and ethics, but simply 
because as a whole, and particularly in its explanation 
of how mind grows, it is a theory that works in prac- 
tice.'^ By opponents the theory is condemned on the 
ground that the apperceptive process as expounded by 
Herbart is nothing but a psychological mechanism in 
which ah extra presentations, as the units of the mental 
life, become amalgamated into an apperceptive mass 
according to mechanical laws. Herbart, his critics say, 
has thus ehminated the " self " from the apperceptive 
process, which has thereby become a dead mechanism, 
and robbed his educational theory of the fundamental 
postulate of self-activity. The German critics Natorp, 
Ostermann, Vogel, Dittes, and others, as well as that 
Agamemnon of British education. Professor Laurie, has 
emphasised this elimination of the self as the crucial 
defect of Herbart's psychology and pedagogy. And 
even such redoubtable champions of Herbart as Dr 
F. H. Hayward admit the incompleteness if not erro- 
neousness of Herbart's metaphysics and psychology. 

^ Dr F. H. Hayward's The Critics of Herbartianism, p. 214. 



INTRODUCTION. 3 

Yet Dr Hayward and the class of Herbartians of 
whom he may fairly be reckoned as typical maintain 
that no sort of criticism of Herbart's philosophy mili- 
tates against the practical value of his educational 
doctrines ; that as these last were not deduced from 
the philosophy, all criticism of the philosophy which is 
intended as an indirect attack on the pedagogy is 
irrelevant and futile. 

Now, in the first place, granting there is or can be a 
science of education, it is unfortunate that any seeming 
divorce should be set up by Herbartians between Her- 
bart's educational theory and Herbart's philosophy. One 
may readily admit with Dr Hayward that " education is 
more an art than a science," and that " a system of 
education must be judged by its fruits." ^ But as every 
art implicitly contains an underlying science consciously 
or unconsciously apprehended, the art of education must 
be prepared to justify to thought the grounds of its 
procedure. Only thus can any art — the art of educa- 
tion included — hope to produce a rational and steady 
confidence in the minds of those who practise the art. 

But, in the second place, if the Herbartian theory of 
education " works," then this very fact implies that the 
practice of Herbartian education involves a psychological 
theory which must be true. In successful art right 
theory is and must be imbedded. Instead, therefore, 
of admitting that Herbart's psychological and ethical 
theories are false whilst his educational system is 
" practically " true, it might be better to ask if we 
have given the right interpretation to the Herbartian 
philosophy on which, according to some critics, the 

^ The Critics of Herbartianism, p. 214. 



4 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

educational theoiy is based. The contention of such 
a critic as Professor Darroch ^ that Herbart's theory of 
education must be judged alongside of the psychology, 
coupled with our presumption that Herbart as an 
enthusiastic practical teacher could not have ignored 
the self as a fundamental factor in education, should 
be further inducement to us to ask if we have inter- 
preted Herbart's psychological standpoint aright. The 
attempt to separate Herbart's educational theory from 
his philosophical principles would not, in our opinion, 
have found favour with Herbart himself. True, Her- 
bart did not deduce his educational theory from his 
psychological : the difficulties that met him in the 
daily experience of the schoolroom pointed him to the 
theory that underlay his successful struggle with those 
difficulties ; still, theory in turn pointed out to him the 
further lines along which the educator might look for 
successful practice. That the central positions of the 
Herbartian pedagogy are based on Herbart's psychology 
and ethics, and that the latter are in turn of such a 
character as to meet the demands of a science and art 
of education, it will be our task to attempt to prove 
as we proceed. We entertain the hope of being able 
to show that the conception of " mechanism," applied 
with such condemnatory signification against the Her- 
bartian psychology, must give place to such conceptions 
as " organism " and " function," as being the real cate- 
gories implied in the theory ; that these categories point 
far more definitely than the category of " self -activity " 
to that law of mental activity according to which the 

1 Herbart and the Herbartian Theory of Education — a Criticism. 
Lecture I., passim. 



INTKODUCTION. 6 

most highly efficient minds in any department of life 
work; and finally, that, instead of being at variance 
with or contradictory of the category of self-activity, 
they indicate the only way in which the self can find 
its highest and best realisation. 

It is almost a truism that to understand a theory — 
to see it whole — one must view it from the inside, 
that is, from its point of departure. In the light of 
Herbart's own language it can scarcely be said that 
Herbart's critics have viewed Herbart's presentation 
theory from the standpoint of Herbart. Herbart re- 
jects as meaningless for psychological procedure the 
Kantian doctrine of a transcendental ego and transcen- 
dental freedom ; and as this doctrine has been recognised 
as fundamental to the Kantian philosophy, it might 
be at least suspected that the Kantian philosophy was 
not the point of departure for Herbart's psychology. 
Starting from the Leibnizian principle of " appetition," 
Kant developed the idea of spontaneity, and concluded 
that " the conjunction of a manifold in intuition never 
can be given us by the senses ; it cannot therefore be 
contained in the pure form of sensuous intuition, for it 
is a spontaneous act of the faculty of representation." ^ 
Herbart says that this very plausible assertion is, from 
its nature, speculative, and that " everything like this 
Kantian assertion must completely disappear from the 
theorems of psychology." ^ And speaking of psychology 
generally, Herbart says, " In regard to this science 
Locke and Leibniz were both on a better path than 
that along which we have been farther led by Wolff 

^ Critique of Pure Reason, Meiklejohn's trans., p. 80. 
^ Lehrbuch zur Psychologie, Hartenstein's ed., p. 49. 



6 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HEKBART, 

and Kant." ^ Hence it would appear that Herbart will 
find a better interpretation through Leibniz than through 
Kant. The less developed thought of Leibniz is the 
better starting-point for an interpretation of a psycho- 
logical theory which, in rejecting Kant, refers so often, 
as Herbart's does, to the principles of Leibniz. Any 
criticism therefore of Herbartian psychology which seems 
to be directed more from the Kantian than from the 
Leibnizian standpoint must be regarded, comparatively 
speaking, as a criticism directed from the outside ; and 
in so far as it is thus directed, in so far must it fall 
short of an adequate interpretation of the theory. 

Of the critics who have assailed Herbart from the 
standpoint of Kant, Professor Natorp of Marburg may be 
regarded as the foremost. In a course of eight lectures 
on " Herbart, Pestalozzi, and Modern Educational Prob- 
lems," " delivered in the Marburg Holiday Courses of 
1897 and 1898, lie insisted on the inseparability of the 
Herbartian pedagogy and psychology, and tried to show, 
from an extreme Kantian or neo-Kantian view, that 
the theoretical foundations of Herbart's pedagogy are 
thoroughly unstable. In tlie first, fifth, sixth, and 
seventh lectures of the course Professor ISTatorp drew 
out in detail the contrast between Herbart and Herbart's 
predecessor, Pestalozzi ; and instead of agreeing with 
those critics who believe that " the best of Pestalozzi 
is also found in Herbart," he sought to show that 
Herbart adopted Pestalozzi's central thoughts and modi- 
fied them to suit his own psychological and ethical 

' Lehrbuch zur Psychologie, Hartenstein'a ed., p. 13. 
^ Herbart, Pestalozzi, und die heutigen Aufgaben der Erziehungs-lebre, 
p. 5. 



INTEODUCTION. 7 

theories. Dr Hayward, in referring to this contrast, 
suggests that, in place of Natorp's illegitimate formula, 
" Herbart or Pestalozzi," we should adopt the formula 
" Herbart and Pestalozzi." ^ Now, whilst the latter 
formula may do more justice to Herbart than Natorp's, 
yet if it does not indicate a view of Herbartianism from 
Herbart's own standpoint it is insufficient. In place of 
the formula " Herbart or Pestalozzi," or the formula 
" Herbart and Pestalozzi," neither of which, in our 
opinion, points to the real source of the Herbartian 
psychology, we would employ the formula, " Leibniz 
and Herbart." This last formula is the one by which, 
as we shall try to show, the Herbartian theory of 
education can be viewed from the inside and estimated 
at its true value. 

In order to make good our contention that Herbart's 
theory finds an adequate interpretation through the 
philosophy of Leibniz, it is necessary to examine gener- 
ally the principles of the Leibnizian philosophy, and 
to indicate those that seem to have constituted the 
nucleus for the developments of Herbart. If our ex- 
amination of Leibniz's principles should seem to delay 
somewhat the discussion of Herbart's theory, we can 
only plead that in our view the connection between the 
two thinkers is fundamentally so close that to do justice 
to Herbart a more or less cursory examination of his 
predecessor's \dews is necessary. 

^ The Critics of Herbartianism, p. 187. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE PHILOSOPHICAL PllINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 

According to Descartes, the essential attribute of body 
or matter — that is, the something on which all its 
properties, such as colour, smell, taste, hardness, depend — 
is extension. As regards any piece of matter whatsoever, 
we can conceive of it deprived of all sensible qualities ; 
we cannot conceive of it as without extension or as not 
occupying space. But as extension consists in having 
parts, not in having qualities, it must be regarded as 
something homogeneous — a something whose parts are 
all alike. Hence if the endless variety of qualities ob- 
servable in matter is to be derived from the attribute 
" extension," this variety must be due to the various 
arrangements that the parts which constitute the exten- 
sion can assume. In other words, the movement amongst 
the parts will produce the various qualities. Extension 
and movement are thus the principles which account 
for " matter," and which, to use Descartes' own words, 
would enable him to construct the world. But this 
Cartesian world, whose essence was " extension," did not 
include mind, which Descartes regarded as unextended 
and outside of matter. Thus a gap was set up between 
extended matter and unextended mind ; and the philos- 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 9 

ophic question arose how an imextended mind could come 
to know an extended matter. The answers of Descartes 
and his followers were unsatisfactory to Leibniz, who 
sought a solution through a reconsideration of the mean- 
ing of such terms as " substance," " essence," " reality." 

Leibniz first examines the Cartesian notion of " ex- 
tension." One objection to the Cartesian theory lies 
in this, that it fails to distinguish between " exten- 
sion " and the " extended " — between extension as the 
quality or attribute and the extended as that which 
has the quality or attribute. " Philosophers who are 
not Cartesians will not allow that it is enough to have 
extension in order to form body ; they will demand 
something else which the ancients called ' antitupia,' or 
what makes one body impenetrable to the other ; and 
according to them bare extension will be only the place 
or the space in which bodies are found." ^ " Extension 
is nothing else than an abstraction, and requires some- 
thing to be extended. It requires a subject, it is some- 
thing relative to this subject like duration. It even 
supposes something of a prior nature in this subject. 
It supposes some quality, some attribute, some nature 
in this subject which extends, which expands v/ith the 
subject and which continues itself. Extension is the 
diffusion of this quality or nature ; for example, in milk 
there is an extension or diffusion of whiteness, in the 
diamond an extension or diffusion of hardness ; in body 
in general an extension or diffusion of ' antitupia ' or 
materiality." " " Extension when it is the attribute of 
space is the diffusion or the continuation of the situa- 

1 Examen des Principes du R. P. Malebranche, Erdmann's ed,, p. 691. 

2 Ibid., p. 692. 



10 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

tion or the locality, as the extension of body is the 
diffusion of ' antitupia ' or materiality."^ Thus, according 
to Leibniz, the repetition of mere points of space so as 
to make a continuum gives an abstract as opposed zo 
a concrete result ; and in order to reach a concrete result 
we must postulate some other attribute for the con- 
tinuum than mere repetition or extension. 

Again, " if the essence of bodies consisted in exten- 
sion alone, this extension ought to be capable of explain- 
ing all the properties of bodies. But extension does not 
explain that property in a body by which the body resists 
being moved, and which we call natural inertia. If body 
A in motion meets body B at rest, then if B were in- 
different to motion or rest it would allow itself to be 
pushed by A without resisting A and without diminish- 
ing the speed or changing the direction of A's motion. 
But this is not the case in nature ; for the larger B is, 
the more it will diminish the speed of A's motion." ^ 
If body B were purely passive or essentially extension it 
would not diminish A's motion. The fact that it does 
compels us to add to the notion of extension " some 
higher or metaphysical conception, namely, that of sub- 
stance, action, and force. These conceptions imply that 
everything which suffers must act reciprocally, and that 
everything which acts must suffer some reaction." ^ 
Here Leibniz draws a clear distinction between a 
mechanical and a non-mechanical, a material and an 
immaterial, explanation of matter. He does not, how- 
ever, refuse a place to mechanical explanations, for al- 

^ Examen des Principes, p. 693. 

^ Lettre sur la question si I'essence du corps consiste dans I'etendue, 
Erdmann, p. 112. ^ Ibid., p. 113. 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PEINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 11 

though he is " persuaded that everything in corporeal 
nature works mechanically, he cannot but believe that 
the principles even of mechanics, that is to say the 
first laws of motion, have a more sublime origin than 
the laws of pure mathematics." ^ The laws of space and 
number can explain matter in respect of its extension ; 
they do not account for the motion of matter. 

The new and higher conception of " force " which 
Leibniz recognises as the true " essence " of matter 
calls for some further consideration. Descartes main- 
tained that motion means simply a changing or trans- 
ference of parts, hence that motion is the property 
of body only so long as it is moving. In this way 
motion was set over against absolute rest or cessation 
of motion. Leibniz agrees with Descartes that motion 
is nothing else than changing of positions, but denies 
that it belongs to the body as a positive quality of 
the body. " Just as in astronomy the same phenomena 
can be explained by different hypotheses, so we may 
attribute real motion either to the one or the other 
of these things whose relative position changes." ^ Thus 
the phenomena of sunrise and sunset might be accounted 
for on the hypothesis that the sun moved round the 
earth or vice versa. The movement of A towards B 
amounts to the same result as the movement of B 
towards A. Motion and rest therefore are relative 
to one another, and are not properties inherent in 
bodies, any more than perpendicularity is inherent in 
a straight line. " Hence there is no real motion. 



"O* 



^ Lettre sur la question si I'essence du corps consiste dans I'etendue, 
Erdmann, p. 113. 

^ Animad. in p. g. Princip. Cartes, Gerhardt's ed., vol. iv. p. 369. 



12 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

And SO in order that something may be said to be 
moNed, it is necessary that there should be not only 
a change of position relative to other bodies, but a 
cause of change, force, action, within itself." ^ Descartes 
admitted, or rather postulated, a cause of change, but 
sought for it outside matter, not within it. To Descartes 
God was the only cause : matter in itself was dead, and 
to produce movement amongst the parts of matter the 
active interference of God was necessary. To Leibniz 
matter was in itself, in its essence, alive ; and the 
movement or interaction amongst its parts was caused 
by the living principle at its heart — force, and not by 
any active and direct interference of God. But in 
the thought of Leibniz " life," " being," " existence," if 
these terms are to connote more than mere abstractions, 
must be regarded as synonymous with activity. That 
which is absolutely void of any degree of activity is 
dead, non-existent. Hence he argues that if matter is 
essentially alive, it can be so only if in some sense 
or other it is always active. In explaining this sense 
Leibniz has recourse to the Law of Continuity, which 
he maintains to be universally true. According to 
this Law there is no such thing as a gap or a leap 
in nature. The Law is stated thus : " When the differ- 
ence between two cases can be diminished below any 
magnitude given in datis or in that which is posited, 
it will necessarily also be diminished below any magni- 
tude given in qucesitis, or in that which results. Or to 
put it more simply : when the cases (or what is given) 
continually approach and at last lose themselves in one 
another, the consequences or results (or what is re- 

^ Animad. in p. g. Princip. Cartes, p. 369. 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PKINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 13 

quired) must do so also." ^ Thus a geometrical line 
may be regarded as made up of an infinite number 
of points that approach one another so closely that 
they merge into and are lost in one another. The 
same can be said of all numbers and geometrical magni- 
tudes. " The same principle," Leibniz continues, " ap- 
plies to Physics ; for example, rest may be considered 
as an infinitely small velocity or as an infinite slowness. 
Hence whatever is true of slowness or velocity in 
general, ought also to be true of rest thus under- 
stood ; so that the law of rest ought to be considered 
as a particular case of the law of motion." ^ There 
is no such thing, therefore, as absolute rest or absolute 
motion. Wlien we say that a piece of matter is at 
rest, we must mean that its motion has been reduced 
to an infinitely small degree. In every piece of matter 
there is present a something that is constantly active 
to a greater or less degree ; and it is this constant 
activity, this ever active principle, that is the essence 
of the piece of matter, and which determines its various 
manifestations. This activity or force is the reality 
present in what we call a " thing." The difficulty that 
naturally presents itself is that this " force " or activity 
is not always evident, and when not in evidence may 
therefore be non-existent. The table on which I am 
writing is, in common language, quite stationary ; it 
is at rest. Is there then no " force " present ? The 
difficulty is met by Leibniz's description of " force." 
" Meanwhile I may say that the conception virium 
seu virtutis (which the Germans call Kraft, the French 

^ Extrait d'une Lettre a M. Bayle, Erdmann, p. 105. 
2 Ibid. 



14 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

' la force ') . . . contributes very considerably towards 
the understanding of the conception of substance. For 
active force differs from the bare potency commonly 
recognised by the schools, for the active potency or 
faculty of the scholastics is nothing else than the 
mere possibility of acting, which nevertheless requires 
an outer excitation and stimulus, as it were, in order 
to be turned into activity. But active force contains 
a certain activity or ' entelecheia,' and is a mean 
between the faculty of acting and action itself. It 
includes effort, and by itself passes into operation, re- 
quiring no aids but only the removal of any hindrance." ■^ 
Whilst therefore the table is at rest, the active force of 
the Leibnizian theory is in operation, for it is the effort 
implied in the pressure of the table upon the floor, which 
effort on the sudden sinking of the floor would pass 
over into the visible downward movement of the table. 
Leibniz illustrates the conception of " effort " by refer- 
ence to a stretched rope supporting some heavy hang- 
ing body. Force, then, is neither the bare capacity for 
being moved, nor is it actual visible motion. It is not 
the bare capacity for being moved, for it is the mover 
or producer of movement. It is not the motion itself, 
for it is in existence before and after the motion. It is 
a something between the two : it is an effort, a striv- 
ing, a straming to act, yet a straining that already in- 
volves activity. 

But if this " force " is a something that is in exist- 
ence before and after the sensible motion, it is evident 
that it cannot be described or explained in quantitative 

^ De Primae Philosophiae emendatione et de Notione Substantiae, 
Erdmaun, p. 122. 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 15 

terms like the Cartesian motion. Hence Leibniz is led 
to seek for a non-quantitative or non-material inter- 
pretation of this "force" which to him is the "real" 
in matter. He finds this interpretation through a 
further criticism of the Cartesian and Atomistic inter- 
pretations of material substance. Cartesianism declares 
that the " real " in matter is extension. But extension 
is continuous, that is, it has no really separate parts, 
although we may speak of it as infinitely divisible. 
" There is no magnitude so small that we cannot con- 
ceive in it an infinity of divisions which will never 
be exhausted." ^ A line an inch long can be con- 
ceived as being divided into ten equal parts; each of 
these parts in turn can be conceived as being divided 
into ten equal parts, and so on ad infinitum. We can 
never in thought reach a physical part that is not com- 
posed of other parts. In other words, we never reach 
a physical or material part that is nothing but a part; 
hence we never reach a physical or material part that 
is real. The parts we speak of, therefore, be they ever 
so small, are only arbitrary : they are mentally ab- 
stracted from their physical or material context, and 
are therefore abstractions. Leibniz's argument, then, 
against the Cartesian definition of substance as essen- 
tially " extension " amounts to this, that if the whole 
of matter, the whole of the physical world, be really 
continuous, then the parts of this world are only ar- 
bitrary, not real. But such a conclusion, Leibniz im- 
plies, is at variance with the deliverance of thought 
that the whole of matter and each of its parts are 
equally real. 

^ Lettre a M. Foucher, Erdmann, p. 115. 



16 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF IIERBART. 

The Atomistic philosophy, again, declares that the 
essence of matter is found in physical atoms whose in- 
finite hardness renders them indivisible and real. But, 
in the first place, if the parts are real and indivisible, 
then the whole which is made up of these separate and 
indivisible parts must be a mere aggregate, not a con- 
tinuum ; that is, there can be no real whole. Hence, 
whilst in tlie Cartesian theory the whole is real and 
the parts unreal, in the Atomistic theory the parts are 
real and the whole is unreal. In the second place, the 
Law of Continuity implies that there is no absolute hard- 
ness any more than there is absolute motion. Hardness 
is entirely relative ; hence, if hardness is to be taken as 
the ground on which the atom rests its claim to in- 
divisibility, there can be no real indivisibility. Leibniz 
cannot conceive of " physical indivisibles without miracle, 
and I think that nature can reduce bodies to that 
smallness which geometry can consider." ^ And again, 
" atoms of matter are contrary to reason ; besides that 
they are still composed of parts, since the invincible 
attachment of one part to the other (when that could 
be rationally conceived or supposed) would not do away 
with the difference of the parts." ^ If, then, there is no 
such thing as a physical indivisible atom, the reality 
of the atom will depend on its being not indivisible. 
Hence, so long as we confine our consideration to physical 
atoms, we can never reach a unity that is indivisible. 
But, according to Leibniz, we want a unit of substance 
whose reality shall be consistent with its indivisibility ; 
that is, a unit whose whole and parts shall be equally 

^ Lettre a M. Foucher, Erdmann, p. 115. 

2 Syst6me Nouveau, Gerhardt, vol. iv. p. 482. 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PEINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 17 

real. And this brings us once more to the higher 
thought of Leibniz, that the " force " which he claims 
to be the essence of " matter " is a spiritual principle. 
Only through such a principle, he argues, can we avoid 
the dilemma of Cartesianism and Atomism and secure 
reality to the whole and to every part of " matter." 
His use of the term " entelecheia " points us back to the 
Aristotelian " form." This " form " is the principle of 
a thing, in virtue of which the thing becomes what it is. 
Whether Aristotle really regarded this " form " as some- 
thing dead or not, Leibniz in his use of the principle 
regards it as an active, living principle, whose activity 
determines all the future states of the thing. " It is a 
certain striving or primitive force of action which itself 
is an inborn law impressed by a divine decree." ^ 

In view of our later interpretation of Herbart's 
theory, it is important to note several points regard- 
ing this principle of force as above defined by Leibniz. 
The force is primitive in the sense that its Jlrst mani- 
festation is due, not to a preceding force, but to a 
divine decree, or a divine creative act. The first 
manifestation of this " force " or " monad " is its coming 
into being. Then the " force " or " monad " is said to be 
" impressed." This cannot mean impressed on matter, 
for this would imply that there was a matter existing 
previous to the impression on it of the " force," and so 
the problem of finding the essence would have to be 
carried back to this previously existing matter. Besides, 
if the " force " is the essence of matter, then matter 
must follow on the impression of the law as determined 
by the divine decree. And the impression " inborn " 

^ De ipsa natura, Eidmann, p. 158, 12. 
B 



18 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERB ART. 

(insiia) may seem to imply that there must be a some- 
thing antecedent to the " force " ; that there must be a 
something, call it matter or aught else, into which the 
" force " may be put by the " divine decree." But 
Leibniz regarded " matter " and " force " as starting even, 
and the expression " inborn " means no more than this, 
that the " force," the monad, is embedded in matter with 
which in some sense or other it comes into beingr. This 
relationship between "matter" and the monad, which 
to Leibniz is so close that one is " inborn " with the 
other, follows, as will be seen, from his new interpreta- 
tion of whole and part — an interpretation which, by 
means of a spiritual principle, secures reality to both 
whole and part. 

Now a spiritual, that is a non-material or non-spatial 
principle, whilst it may determine the whole, cannot 
give us the whole in its full or actual completeness. 
Thus a geometrical point, which is non-spatial, may be 
said to determine the whole of a line, although it does 
not give us the line in its full completeness. Yet with- 
out the point there could be no line, and the line there- 
fore may be said to be implicitly contained in the point. 
From one point of view the point has in it the line : 
the point as developed will become the line. From 
another point of view the line is the point developed. 
The Kne is the growth of a point and not a simple sum 
total of points. It is a growth in which the whole 
is determined by and dependent on the parts, and the 
parts determined by and dependent on the whole. We 
may illustrate the idea by the modern conception of 
organism. The living body, in discharging the various 
functions of eating, drinking, walking, &c., is really ex- 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PEINGIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 19 

pressing itself, representing itself, in different aspects. 
Just as the whole line may be said to be expressing 
itself in points, so the organic body may be said to be 
expressing itself in some function ; or just as the point 
is inseparable from the line, so the function of a part of 
the body is inseparable from the functioning of the body 
as a whole. The whole being of the body expresses itself 
at one time in the lifting of an arm, at another time 
in the winking of an eye. In either case the whole 
body is functioning. To look at the conception of 
functioning from another point of view, we may say 
that the lifting of the arm, for example, is so connected 
with the body as a whole that a complete analysis or 
explanation of the movement would involve a reference 
to every part of the body. In the lifting of the arm 
may be seen, by an analytic process, the whole body, 
which therefore may be said to be expressed, represented, 
or, to use Leibniz's expression, " mirrored," in the move- 
ment of the arm. Whole and part therefore are equally 
real, not through a mere mechanical but through a 
dynamical connection. Such is the interpretation which, 
according to Leibniz, must be given to the whole and to 
the parts of the universe, if the whole and the parts are 
to be real. The unit of substance therefore must be this 
" force " or " monad " which, as a real non-spatial indi- 
visible part, can yet express or represent the whole 
world. These monads or immaterial unities are " the 
true atoms of nature, and, in a word, the elements of 
things." ^ They are the only reals in the world, or 
rather the totality of these monads constitutes the 
world. 

^ La Monadologie, Erdmann, p. 705, 3. 



20 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

But if the only realities are these apparently meta- 
physical entities or monads that have no extended parts 
or extension, what is the meaning and purpose of the 
extended things of our experience ? What is the re- 
lation between the monads and the phenomena of the 
world ? The answer is given by Leibniz in ' The 
Monadology ' or ' Principles of Philosophy,' and in the 
' Principles of Nature and Grace.' The following is the 
line of argument. As the monad is a simple indivisible 
substance without parts, it cannot come into being ex- 
cept by some creative act ; for that which comes into 
being nahorally must do so by a composition, or the 
adding of part to part. For a similar reason no monad 
can come to an end except by annihilation. In con- 
sequence of the simple nature of the monad " there is 
no way of explaining how a monad can be altered or 
changed in its interior by any other created thing, since 
it is impossible to transpose anything in it or to con- 
ceive in it any internal motion which could be produced, 
directed, increased, or diminished therein, as can happen 
in the case of compounds in which there is change 
among the parts. The monads have no windows by 
which anything could go in or out." ^ Now, since the 
monads are simple, and unchanging so far as quantity 
is concerned, they would be indistinguishable from one 
another unless they possessed some qualities. With- 
out a difference either in quantity or quality there 
would be no means of perceiving change in things as 
we actually do. Leibniz " takes it for granted that 
every created being, and consequently the created 
monad, is subject to change, and further, that this 

^ La Monadologie, Erdmann, p. 705, 7. 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 21 

change is continuous in each." ^ But, since no external 
cause can intiuence the monad, " the natural changes 
of the monad come from an internal principle." ^ This 
internal principle he calls " appetition." But besides 
this principle of change " there must be a particular 
series of changes (in the changing being) in order to 
make, so to speak, the specific nature and variety of 
the simple substances. This series should involve a 
multiplicity in the unit or what is simple. For as 
every natural change takes place by degrees, something 
changes and something remains unchanged ; and conse- 
quently in a simple substance there must be a plurality 
of affections and relations although there are no parts 
(that is, quantitative parts) in it. The passing condi- 
tion which involves and represents a multiplicity in the 
unity or simple substance is nothing but what is called 
Perception." And that this theory of perception is no 
mere hypothesis, framed to get over the difficulty of 
reconciling a real whole and real parts, seems to be 
proved by the fact that " we find that the least thought 
of which we are conscious involves variety in the object 
(of that thought)." '^ " I believe that one may say that 
these ideas sensible (sensations of sight, &c.) are simple 
in appearance because, being confused, they do not afford 
the mind the means of distinguishing (from one another) 
those things of which they are composed. It is some- 
thing like the round appearance which distant objects 
present because we cannot discern the angles although 
we receive some confused impression. It is clear, for 
example, that green is a product of blue and yellow, 

^ La Monad ologie, Erdmann, p. 705, 10. 
2 Ibid., 11. 3 Ibid., 16. 



22 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBAKT. 

mixed together ; and hence we may believe that the 
idea of green is made up of those two ideas (of green 
and yellow)." ^ " And so all those who admit that the 
soul is a simple substance should admit this multiplicity 
in the monad." "" If this theory does not account for 
perception, perception " is inexplicable on mechanical 
grounds, tliat is to say, by means of figures and mo- 
tions. And supposing there were a machine whose 
structure enabled it to think, feel, and have percep- 
tion, it might be conceived as increased in size whilst 
keeping the same proportions, so that one might go into 
it as into a mill. And that being granted, we should, 
on examining its interior, find nothing but parts work- 
ing upon one another, and never anything whereby to 
explain a perception." ^ Simple substances or monads, 
therefore, alone have perception. The full definition of 
the monad is thus a simple, self-sufficient or independ- 
ent, appetitive, percipient being. 

Leibniz distinguishes between different kinds of 
monads. Eecognising that feeling (probably = con- 
sciousness in general) is something more than mere 
perception, he thinks " that the general name of monads 
or entelechies should suffice for simple substances which 
have nothing but perception, and that the name of Soul 
should be given only to those substances whose percep- 
tion is more distinct and accompanied by memory." * 
The third and highest class he refers to in the follow- 
ing terms. " It is also through the knowledge of neces- 
sary truths and through their abstractions that we rise 

1 Nouveaux Essais, Erdmann, p. 227, cap. ii. 

'^ La Monadologie, § 16. 

■' Ibid., § 17. " Ibid., § 19. 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 23 

to axis of rejlection which make us think of that which 
is called /, and observe that this or that is within us." ^ 
Thus the series of monads whose totality composes the 
world includes first,, monads percipient but without 
consciousness of what is perceived ; second, monads 
percipient and conscious of what is perceived ; third, 
monads percipient and conscious both of what is per- 
ceived and of themselves as perceiving, that is, self- 
conscious monads. 

The perception of the monad is continuous, " for one 
perception can come in a natural way (that is, without 
a creative ab extra act) only from another perception, as 
one motion can come in a natural way only from 
another motion." " This continuity of the monad's 
perception necessarily involves an infinite number of 
different perceptions more or less perfect. According 
to Leibniz, the marks of a perfect perception are clear- 
ness and distinctness. But as the continuity of per- 
ception implies a totality of perceptions varying infin- 
itely in their degrees of clearness and distinctness, there 
is no essential separation between distinctness and con- 
fusedness, confusedness being simply a low degree of 
distinctness. Now perception is the activity of the 
monad ; it is the monad's life ; only in perception does 
the monad live. Perfect perception then means per- 
fect activity, that is, absolutely unhindered activity. 
No monad, except the highest monad God, has this 
perfect perception or absolutely free activity. The 
imperfect perception of all other monads means a 
hindered activity or incomplete living. This imperfect 
perception or hindered activity of the monad expresses 

1 La Monadologie, § 30. ^ jbid., § 23. 



24 A NEW INTEKPKETATION OF HERBART. 

itself in the form of " matter." " Matter," then, is the 
imperfect mode in which the monad, as a real, per- 
ceives the universe or the totality of other reals. To 
the extent the monad perceives the real whole of the 
universe, to that extent it has a clear and distinct per- 
ception of the universe. 

But if the only reals are the monads, and if each 
monad is absolutely separate from and independent of 
all other monads, how can the monad ever perceive in 
any degree the real universe which is composed of the 
totality of monads ? Leaving Leibniz's answer aside in 
the meantime, we must note how he definitely relates 
extended matter to the monad's perception. All matter 
is not equally related to this perception at any one 
moment. " The whole universe is a plenum (and thus 
all matter is Ijound together), and, as in the plenum 
every motion has some effect upon distant bodies in pro- 
portion to their distance, so that each body is not only 
affected by those which touch it and in some way feels 
the effect of all that happens to them, but also through 
their means is affected by bodies adjoining those which 
touch the first ones with which it is itself in immediate 
contact, it follows that this intercommunication of things 
extends to any distance however great." " Hence, al- 
though each created monad represents the whole universe, 
it represents more distinctly the body which specially 
belongs to it and of which it forms the ' entelechy ' ; and 
as this body expresses the whole universe through the 
connection of all matter in the plenum, the soul also 
represents the whole universe in representing this body 
which belongs to it in a special manner." ^ Just as from 

1 La Monadologie, §§ 61, 62. 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 25 

the physical point of view eveiy movement or change in 
the material world affects the whole, so that the whole 
at a given moment may be said to be read in the part 
though very imperfectly, so in every perception of the 
monad the whole world may be read imperfectly. The 
perception of the moment is, in Leibniz's language, " Ijig 
with the future." ^ The part of the whole which is near- 
est, if we may use the expression, and w^hich more 
specially belongs to the monad, is the body, through 
which the monad interprets to itself the rest of the 
universe. This body, whilst it is better known or more 
distinctly represented or perceived than the rest of the 
universe, is still " matter." Everything, then, which the 
monad perceives, including its own body, in an imperfect 
way, is perceived in the form of " matter " ; and so, the 
more clearly the monad perceives, or, which is the same 
thing, the more freely it acts, the less does it perceive 
things in the form of matter or the less is it encumbered 
with matter. 

But whilst " matter " is a form or mode of perception, 
and is thus of a phenomenal character, it indicates the 
presence of a real, for it is a phenomenon " hcnc 
fundatum " ; it is the real world confusedly perceived. 
Now this real world which the monad imperfectly per- 
ceives is not a world external to the monad's self : the 
simplicity and indivisibility of the monad renders this 
impossible. The monad can know absolutely nothing 
of all the other monads, and therefore Leibniz concludes 
that it must perceive and know the universe through an 
internal unfolding or analytic process. The first percep- 
tion of the monad is a confused perception of the ivhole 

^ La Monadologie, § '22. 



26 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART, 

universe, and the life progress of the monad consists 
in making this perception clearer and clearer, in filling 
out the details of which it is confusedly percipient. In 
this way does Leibniz seek to fill up the gap between 
the Cartesian extended something and the unextended 
mind. The extended and the unextended are in reality 
inseparable : the former is the mode in which the latter 
perceives, and only by abstraction can we think of an 
activity and the mode of an activity as being really 
separated. But such a theory seems to idealise matter 
and strip it of all externality. At least we cannot 
apply to the Leibnizian " matter " the term externality 
in the sense of something separated from and independ- 
ent of the monad. The full import of this conclusion 
will perhaps be evident as we proceed. 

One great objection to the theory of the independence 
of the monad was fully evident to Leibniz. The diffi- 
culty may be stated thus. The totality of the reals or 
monads, or, to put it in another way, the totality of 
all the perceptions of all the monads, constitutes the 
universe. All these perceptions differ from one another 
by infinitely small degrees, and form a plenum or con- 
tinuum. But each monad is independent of all other 
monads, and perceives the universe independently of 
the perceptions of the other monads. If, then, at any 
one moment the infinite totality of the perceptions of 
the monads makes the continuum of the universe, the 
change in a simple monad from one perception to another 
would destroy the continuum. If in a line one point is 
supposed to change its position, the continuum of the 
line will be broken unless some other point changes 
places with the first point, for continuity implies that 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 27 

there is no vacant space where the changing point could 
take up a new position. Again, if one atom of a gas in 
a closed vessel changes its place the vacated place is 
simply occupied by some other atom, and by a process 
of readjustment which affects every atom in the vessel 
the continuity is preserved. In the case, then, of a 
quantitative continuum change takes place by a simple 
readjustment of the parts. But in the case of percep- 
tion the continuum is non-spatial, so that there can be 
no action and reaction in the ordinary sense of these 
terms. Hence the only supposition under which a per- 
ception can be thought to change so as to preserve the 
continuum of the universe is that there is a qualitative 
change, that is, a change in the qualities of clearness and 
distinctness. Thus, if at a particular moment the per- 
ception of one monad increases in distinctness, then the 
continuity of the universe can only be preserved by a 
change in the distinctness of the perceptions of all other 
monads at that moment. 

Such a change Leibniz postulates in his theory of a 
pre-established harmony, according to which the monads 
are pre-determined by the Divine Will to act in harmony. 
Descartes had explained the harmony between soul and 
body by the theory that both are under the ceaseless 
direction of God, who from moment to moment adjusts 
the movements of the one to those of the other. Leibniz 
rejects this hypothesis of " occasionalism," and holds that 
it is " to introduce a deAis ex machind in a natural and 
ordinary matter, in which it is reasonable that God 
should intervene only in the way in which He sustains 
all other things in nature." ^ That is, if all things, ex- 

^ Troisieme Eclaircissement du Nouveau Systeme, Erdmaun, p. 135. 



28 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERB ART. 

cepting soul and body, work harmoniously according to 
laws imposed upon them from the beginning, why should 
not soul and body also work under similar conditions ? 
Leibniz describes his own hypothesis as " the way of the 
harmony pre-established by a divinely fore-seeing con- 
trivance, which from the beginning has formed each of 
these substances (soul and matter) in a manner so perfect 
and regulated with so much exactness that, by merely 
following its own laws which it received on coming into 
being, each substance is yet in harmony with the other, 
just as if there were a mutual influence between them, 
or as if God were always putting His hand upon them 
in addition to His general support." ^ This ideal nature 
of action and reaction is emphasised by Leibniz. " It is 
true that in my opinion there are forces in all substances ; 
but these forces are, properly speaking, only in the 
substance itself, and what follows from them in other 
substances is only in \drtue of a harmony pre-established, 
if I may be permitted to use the word, and not in any 
way by a real [ — natural, physical] influence or by a 
transmission of some species or quality." ^ Again, " the 
created thing is said to act outwardly in so far as it 
has perfection, and to be passive in relation to another 
in so far as it is imperfect. Thus activity is attributed 
to the monad in so far as it has distinct perceptions, 
and passivity in so far as it has confused perceptions. 
And one created thing is more perfect than another in 
this, that there is found in it that which serves to 
explain a priori what takes place in the other, and it 
is on that account that we say the former acts on the 

1 Erdmann, p. 135. - Gerhardt, iv. p. 496, § 18. 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 29 

latter. But in simple substances this is only an ideal 
influence of one monad on the other." ^ 

If our account of the principles of the Leibnizian 
metaphysic is in the main true, then the theory of 
mental growth as embodied in the metaphysic may be 
summarised as follows : — 

First: The mind is a monad — a non- spatial, im- 
material, or spiritual entity whose life consists in 
" appetition " and " perception." 
Second : The object of this perception is the uni- 
verse implicitly contained within the monad's 
own life. 
Third : The monad mirrors, represents, or perceives, 
from the very beginning of its existence, the whole 
universe, but in a very confused manner ; and 
progress in knowledge means that the mind makes 
its first perception of the universe clearer and 
clearer through a more and more detailed analysis 
of this first perception which implicitly contains 
the whole of knowledge. 
Fourth : What is known as external matter is nothing 
but the confused mode in which the monad per- 
ceives the universe. Matter and mind are thus 
inextricably bound together. 
Fifth : Interaction between the monad and other 
monads is only seemingly real, being produced by 
a pre-established harmony. This independence of 
the moDPd constitutes its individuality. 
From the point of view of our interpretation of 
Herbart, what is of chief importance in this theory 

1 La Monadologie, Erdmann, p. 709, §§ 49, 50, 51. 



30 A NEW INTERPEETATION OF HERB ART. 

of knowledge is the psychological standpoint implicit 
in the theory. The standpoint is this, that " subject " 
and " object " stand over against each other only in 
the sense of being two inseparables, neither of which 
has meaning by itself. This standpoint is apt to be 
obscured in the atmosphere of subjective idealism into 
which the Leibnizian monadology leads us. Yet the 
standpoint is there, as we shall try to show, in spite 
of the absolute subjectivity of the theory. At the 
same time, it will strengthen our faith in the stand- 
point if it can be shown that the Leibnizian meta- 
pliysic whicli is evolved from it, and which squares 
with the convictions of common-sense only through the 
deus ex machind of a " pre-established harmony," is not 
the inevitable consequence of adopting such a stand- 
point. This we shall attempt to show briefly and then 
proceed to the elucidation of the psychological stand- 
point itself. 

The independent and ideal nature of the monad 
Leibniz deduces from his definition of the monad as 
a simple and indivisible being. According to him 
interaction could take place only by an interchange 
of quantitative parts. But the monad has no such 
parts ; hence " it is impossible to transpose anything 
in it or to conceive in it any internal motion which 
could be produced, directed, increased, or diminished 
therein, as can happen in the case of compounds in 
which there is change among the parts. The monads 
have no windows by which anything could go in or 
out." To Leibniz it is evident that no other kind of 
interaction than a quantitative one is conceivable, and 
hence the inconceivability of a qualitative one neces- 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 31 

sitated the theory of the pre-established harmony in 
order to explain the a'p'parent interaction. 

Now, in the first place, is it a necessity of thought 
that the inconceivable should be regarded as impossible ? 
We can conceive of quantitative interaction, for such 
interaction is presented to us in our experience of 
physical phenomena. Or, rather, we interpret the 
movements amongst physical phenomena as interaction. 
Here conceivability follows on and seems to be de- 
pendent on experience. The experience determines or 
renders possible the conceivability, not conceivability 
the experience. 

In the second place, the inability of Leibniz to conceive 
how interaction can take place seems to follow from his 
separation of the mechanical and the spiritual aspects of 
the universe. If the mechanical aspect as quantitative 
and the spiritual aspect as qualitative are regarded as 
independent of each other, the lioxi: of their interaction, 
if there is interaction, cannot well be conceived in 
terms of the understanding. But, as Professor Busse 
argues, is it a necessity of thought that every physical 
event should be physically explicable ? ^ We may be 
compelled to read our experience through the category 
of cause ; but so long as human action cannot be inter- 
preted in terms of mechanism, the hypothesis that every 
physical event is physically caused cannot be admitted 
to be universally valid. If every action of man could 
be calculated in terms of magnitude and anticipated 
with the same precision as any natural phenomenon is 
anticipated, then the hypothesis would be universally 
valid. Up till now no such calculation can be made. 

1 Geist und Korper, Seele und Leib, p. 386, &c. (Leipzig, 1903). 



32 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

But if we admit the possibility of interaction between 
minds, which involves interaction between physical and 
psychical elements, it seems that we must also admit 
the possibility of the doctrine of the conservation of 
energy being untrue. For, if there is an exchange of 
activities between physical and psychical elements, the 
sum total of the energy in the physical world will be 
at one time a " constant " plus so much psychical energy, 
at another time the same constant minus so much 
psychical energy. Xow the doctrine of the conservation 
of energy is ostensibly based on the assumption that 
nature, or the sum total of physical phenomena, con- 
stitutes a closed system that neither expands nor con- 
tracts. And it is further asserted that, without this 
assumption, the quantitative methods of science would 
lack a fixed standard and would therefore be valueless. 
But quantity is not something absolute — it is entirely 
relative ; and if the closed system of the physicist were 
assumed to expand or contract by the addition or sub- 
traction of physical energy the quantitative method 
would still apply, if we take account of the conception 
of equivalence or equilibrium which was held equally 
by Leibniz as by the modern physicists. The increment 
of energy would affect the whole system proportionally ; 
and thus, while the whole system might change as to 
absolute quantum, the relationship between the units 
would remain the same. But so long as the relation- 
ships remain constant, the quantitative methods of the 
physicist — which are based not on absolutely fixed but 
on relative standards — will hold good, although the 
system measured may vary in c^uantum. 

It may be objected to such a reconcilement of the 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 33 

physical and the psychical, that it tacitly assumes that 
(the) physical energy and (the) psychical energy are of 
the same kind, for otherwise the sum total of the two 
energies would be neither a physical nor a psychical re- 
sult. Quantitative methods which are applicable only to 
physical energy would not apply to a totality of energy 
which is neither physical nor psychical. But it has yet 
to be proved that physical energy and psychical energy 
are, in an ultimate analysis, essentially different kinds of 
energy. I am conscious of and know my own energy, 
and I have more or less secure ground on which to base 
my inference as to the existence of energy like to, and 
other than, my own ; but as to any othei' kind of energy, 
I know it only as hypothetical. Moreover, science seeks 
and is seeking not unsuccessfully to reduce all the forms 
of physical energy to a single form, and the ultimate 
unity of physical energy and psychical energy is at least 
not demonstrably false. Again, if we give up the con- 
ception of the closed system of the physicist and retain 
the conceptions of continuity and equivalence, then the 
identity of physical and psychical energy — that is, the 
reduction of all energy to one form — is quite compatible 
wich all the quantitative results of physical science. 
From the point of view of the Leibnizian theory of 
perception these results are true as far as they go — they 
are the records of the manifestations of a central force 
which is real — they are the records of the " phenomena 
bene fwndata." If, then, a real divorce cannot be set up 
between the physical and the psychical, the conceivability 
of how the monad can know anything or be affected by 
anything outside itself without losing its individuality is 
not so impossible. 

G 



3i A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

In the third place, conceivability in Leibniz's sense is 
not the only test of what is. Conceivability, according 
to Leibniz, is evidently equivalent to the power of per- 
ceiving. But this perceiving is always more or less 
imperfect — that is, no perception is ever entirely free 
of encumbering matter. If, therefore, we limit the in- 
dividual's power to perceive or to know to this kind 
of conceivability, we may have to admit that there can 
be no proof that there is interaction between mind and 
" matter." But if we extend the definition of conceiv- 
ability, we may believe that in certain cases of ex- 
perience what we call intuition (the feeling, intuition 
or immediate knowledge of the " self," for example) may 
be a true test of reality, even though we may be unable 
to explain by a ratiocinative process the how of our ex- 
perience. It may be that the common intuition that 
there is a something different from and in a sense external 
to ourselves, is the perfect or clear perception of the 
Leibnizian theory. Into such a perception no matter 
enters : it is the perception of another real as real, and 
not as " sicklied o'er " with matter. AVhat we call the 
understanding is in the last analysis a method of know- 
ing through the medium of matter ; and so, following out 
the thought of Leibniz, we may say that the method of 
cognition through the understanding is only a stage on 
the way to the method whereby we " clearly " perceive. 
Hence, though we may not be able to conceive of inter- 
action in the narrower meaning of the term conceive, we 
may know it as a fact in a higher and more perfect way 
than through the medium of an intellectual perception. 
When " matter " has disappeared, we are in contact with 
reality ; we knoiv reality then, we do not understand it, 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 35 

for as there is no necessity for " understanding " it there 
is no meaning in understanding it. 

In the fourth place, the Monadology itself seems to 
point to a solution of the difficulty. In accordance with 
the Law of Continuity and the analytic character of the 
monad's progress, every perception is determined by some 
previous perception. Hence to account for the percep- 
tions that are in consciousness Leibniz postulates the ex- 
istence of unperceived "petites perceptions" which, whilst 
outside the sphere of consciousness, are yet operative in 
producing what is in consciousness. " It is also by the 
unconscious perceptions that I explain that wonderful 
pre-established harmony of soul and body, and indeed of 
all monads or simple substances, which takes the place 
of the untenable theory of the influence of one upon 
another." And again, " After this I should add little if 
I were to say that it is these ' petites perceptions ' which 
determine us on many occasions without our thinking it, 
and which deceive people by the appearance of an indif- 
ference of eqicilihrium as if, for instance, we were indiffer- 
ent whether to turn to the right or to the left. It is 
also unnecessary for me to point out . . . that they 
cause that uneasiness which I show to consist in some- 
thing which differs from pain only as the small from the 
great, and which, nevertheless, often constitutes our de- 
sire and even our pleasure, giving to it a kind of stimu- 
lating relish." ^ From the above it seems that Leibniz 
thinks that two perceptions in the same individual monad 
determine or influence each other in a way other than 
by a pre-estabhshed harmony. The " petites perceptions" 
" determine us " and " they cause uneasiness." This 

^ Nouveaux Essais, Erdmann, p. 197. 



36 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

seems to imply more than a harmony between a " petite 
perception," which is a very confused perception, and the 
perception of uneasiness, which as uneasiness is clear. 
Uneasiness is a third something superimposed on the 
merely intellectual perception. It is as if the deter- 
mined perception luul two sides — an intellectual and an 
emotional ; or, to express the idea more in accordance 
with the thought of Leibniz, it is as if the determined 
perception instantaneously rose from a more or less con- 
fused degree of clearness to one of perfect clearness. 
But such a transition is not explicable by the theory 
of a pre-established harmony. Hence it would seem that 
in the same monad one perception really influences the 
other. If, then, in the same monad one perception can 
influence another, is it impossible that the same kind of 
influence could operate between two different monads ? 
The life of every monad is one of perceptive activity. 
The differences between perceptions are differences of de- 
gree, not of kind. And so if one perception really influ- 
ences or determines another perception in the same monad, 
it is not impossible that the perception of one monad 
should really influence the perception of another monad. 
From the point of view of Leibniz it may be objected 
that the conclusion we have just suggested destroys the 
indivisibility and individuality of the monad. Now, in 
influencing one another through their perceptions, the 
monads are not being added to or taken from in the 
sense in which Leibniz urged the objection to inter- 
action. Or let us suppose that something is being added 
or subtracted. This something cannot l)e anything but 
perceptive activity, perceptive energy. If we represent 
the monad's activity at any given moment as x, then the 



THE PHILOSOPHICAL PKINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 37 

next moment, through the interaction of some other 
monad, it may be x + a or x — a, where a represents the 
activity added or subtracted. In the case of x + a it is 
evident that x persists, and if the monad knows itself 
as an individual unity in x, it will still know itself 
as an individual unity in x + a. The x which was still 
persists ; and this, as we shall try to show later on,^ is 
all that can be claimed for the idea of individuality. In 
the case of x — a, x determines the difference ; it enters 
into the result as part and parcel of it, and thus persists 
in the change implied in the form x — a. In both cases 
X functions through a series of changes which may tend 
to disguise it but cannot destroy it. And we are con- 
scious in some measure of such change. We speak of 
fuller and more abundant life, and we are conscious of 
gains and losses to our soul-life. When the x diminishes 
almost to vanishing point, it is still conscious of itself in 
the form of loss ; from a certain point of view it functions 
largely as a minus quantity. But what is minus or loss 
in one set of conditions may be plus or gain in another 
set of conditions. When x apparently sinks to zero, 
it may be really rising anew ; when x — a becomes x — x 
then x — x has become 0, or x has become x. 

From the foregoing considerations it would appear 
that the simplicity, indivisibility, and individuality of 
the monad is not incompatible with a real interaction 
between itself and other monads ; that there is a real 
interaction in some way not accounted for solely by a 
theory of pre-established harmony ; and that Leibniz's 
own principles are capable of being enlisted in support 
of the theory of real, as opposed to ideal, interaction. 

1 Cap. V. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STANDPOINT IMPLICIT IN THE 
PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES OF LEIBNIZ. 

ACCORDIXG to Leibniz, the real is spiritual. But the 
spiritual with him is not the antithesis of matter. 
Matter is not a something set over against the " force " 
called " monad." Matter is simply an imperfect or 
confused perception ; and the clearer and more distinct 
the monad's perception becomes, the less does it perceive 
the universe in the guise of matter. But even with 
Leibniz's admission that what we call external matter is 
" phenomena bene fundaia," the theory still seems to be 
one of subjective idealism, whereby the universe is re- 
solved into a series of perceptions which, being evolved 
from each monad hy itself, have nothing about them 
v/hich could be called objective or at least " external." 
The perceptions are operations or activities of the 
monad ; and if matter is simply a name for the im- 
perfect modes of these activities, we seem to be pre- 
sented with a theory that explains the meaning of 
" external " by denying that there is externality. 

Now, according to the theory, the life of the monad 
consists in its perceptions. But these are not abstract 
perceptions ; they are perceptions of the universe, even 



THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STANDPOINT OF LEIBNIZ. 39 

though it is a universe within the monad itself. There 
is, first, a perceiving activity of the monad ; and second, 
an object perceived. But the perceiving activity is 
not an activity that stands over against and may be 
separated from a something acted upon. The very 
essence of the so-called individualism of Leibniz is that 
the perceiving activity is meaningless apart from the 
result of that activity. Leibniz does not consider the 
question as to what the monad is previous to its mani- 
festation in perceptive activity ; to him the monad is 
activity. In a remarkable passage which seems to antici- 
pate the modern conception of a functional psychology, 
and in particular the functional theory of Professor James, 
Leibniz clearly indicates that monad, force, activity, 
perception, are synonymous terms ; and that a monad, 
a mind, a soul apart from activity, is an abstraction. 
" These unfelt perceptions," he says, " still mark and 
constitute the same individual who is characterised by 
the traces which these perceptions preserve of the 
preceding states of this individual, whilst they make 
the connection between his past and present state." ^ 
That is, the essence, reality, substratum which previous 
philosophies had been in quest of, is the activity named 
" monad." The perceiving activity is not the activity of 
a mind that might perceive or not perceive just as it 
pleased; it is not a soul that can somehow or other 
live apart from its manifesting perceptive activity. 

It may be objected that the " appetition " of the 
naonad points to a something existing before its manifest- 
ation as perceptive activity. But the " appetition " is 
simply a principle postulated to account for the activity. 

1 Nouveaux Essais, Erdmann, p. 197. 



40 A NEAV INTERPRETATION OF HEKBAllT. 

To say that the nature of the monad is appetitive is to 
say that the Divine being has created a " force " that 
must he force. The nature is not a something separable 
from the activity. To separate the principle of appeti- 
tion from the perceiving activity, and to hypostatise it 
as an entity antecedent to the perceiving activity, is as 
meaningless as to separate law from its exemplifications. 
God " impressed " or created the monad — a spiritual per- 
ceiving activity that may be said to desire or seek after 
further activity because it is always doing so. To urge, 
then, that " appetition " points to a monad, mind, soul, 
antecedent to its manifestation, is to urge that the 
monad exists before it is created. Hence, if the monad 
as perceiving activity cannot be separated from the result 
of that activity, it follows that the life of the monad 
at anj one moment is the unity made up of the two 
inseparable factors perceiving activity and thing perceived. 
We have, then, the suggestion that mental activity is not 
so much an activity that operates on " things " as an 
activity that constitutes, and is constituted by, " things." 
Further, if we pass beyond the limits of the Leibnizian 
conceptions of independence and individuality, and assume, 
what we have already tried to show, that the monad's 
individuality is not incompatible with its interaction 
with other monads, we secure for the object of the 
monad's perception that concreteness and externality 
which seem to be denied it by the limitations of Leibniz. 
Assuming, then, the compatibility of independence and 
interaction, we may interpret " externality " in the terms 
of Leibniz's theory. The world is a world of monads in 
various stages of development. When one monad per- 
ceives other monads it is perceiving realities. But it 



THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STANDPOINT OF LEIBNIZ. 41 

perceives these reals more or less indistinctly or con- 
fusedly ; and these confusedly perceived reals are the 
things of sense which we term " concrete." One monad 
never does perceive another monad except clothed, as 
it were, in matter. And the self-conscious monad knows 
this. But the matter through which monad A perceives 
another monad B is niade hy A : it is A's imperfect 
perception of monad B. And if the various perceptive 
activities and their results are just the monad at various 
stages of its existence, then the world of matter is such 
a thought-process as the theory of Leibniz suggests it 
to be. Such a thought-process, so far from destroying 
the concreteness and externality of things, is really 
responsible for the existence of such concreteness and 
externality. It is a concreteness which, while phen- 
omenal, has yet behind it the reality of the imperfectly 
perceived reals or monads. Thus whilst the theory 
directly leads to the destruction or at least the idealising 
of the external world, it seems capable, under a wider 
interpretation of individuality, of contributing to such 
a view of externality as seems to secure for that ex- 
ternality all the reality that each of us is cognisant of 
when we make use of the expression " myself." 

The psychological standpoint which we have tried to 
show is implicit in the Leibnizian philosophy seems to us 
to be the standpoint of the late Professor Adamson, and to 
be closely akin to the functional view of Professor James. 
We shall return to Professor James's theory when we 
come to a consideration of Herbart. Meanwhile, in 
order to strengthen our position as far as we have gone, 
we shall briefly indicate the line of reasoning by which 
Professor Adamson seeks to establish his psychological 



42 A NEW INTEKPKETA'JION OF HERB ART. 

Wew. The Kantian conception of a " pure Ego " is 
credited with setting up a distinction and a separation 
between subject and object. Professor Adamson thinks 
that Kant intended no such separation. " I do not 
myself believe that in the term ' pure Ego ' we have 
more than Kant's peculiar and unhappy way of naming 
the fundamental characteristic of experience, that it is 
expressible only in terms of consciousness, of mind." ^ 
Professor Adamson proceeds to develop this interpreta- 
tion of the " pure Ego " as follows. " Wherever there is 
a fact of mind, as we shall call it for the moment, there 
is a mode of what, for want of a better expression, I 
term heing for self. There is implied therefore a duality 
of nature, which is not, however, to be conceived as a 
combination of two isolated or independent existences. 
The simplest phase of inner life, the first dim obscure 
stirrings of feeling, are ways in which there is apprehen- 
sion, awareness of a certain content. The content may 
be as indefinite as one pleases, it is probably (almost 
certainly) never simple, but it is there as defining the 
phase of mind or fact of consciousness. And the general 
character of facts of mind remains the same, however 
complicated or developed they may be. It is a totally 
false abstraction, based on the analogy of our conception 
of external things, to give to the content of these modes 
of apprehension a fictitious independence, and to identify 
the act of apprehending which makes them, with a kind 
of inner vision directed upon them." That is to say, 
there is no ego existing apart from that which is to 
become a fact to it. The ego and the fact of mind are 
inseparable. The fact of mind, if it is to be dis- 

^ The Development of Modern Philosophy, vol. ii. pp. 56, 57. 



THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STANDPOINT OF LEIBNIZ. 43 

tinguished from a physical fact, can mean nothing bnt 
a mental, psychical, or soul state or mode. But a 
psychical state cannot mean a state in mind but a state 
of mind. And a mental fact must mean not a fact in 
mind but a fact of mind. Hence the state or the fact 
cannot have an existence apart from that of which it 
is the state or the fact. Hence, too, we must not speak 
of the mind being conscious of a state, liut conscious 
through a state. The fact or state is that in and 
through which the ego works. The ego's activity makes 
the fact or state, and yet, apart from the facts or the 
states the ego is as meaningless as an activity that does 
nothing. 

But whilst the mind activity or apprehending act is 
inseparable from the state or fact of mind, the state is 
not the object of which the mind is aware ; otherwise, as 
Professor Adamson evidently implies, we shall be in- 
volved in a theory of subjective idealism. " An act of 
apprehension has not its own content as the object to 
which reference is made." ^ Again, " a presentation or 
idea is not to be regarded as an act of inner knowing 
which has for its object the presentation or idea itself. 
Kegarded from the side of their existence, these acts or 
modes of consciousness are not objects of which the 
finite subject is aware ; they are successive modes of his 
own inner life, of which inner life as such the subject 
in turn becomes aware through the help of distinctions 
that are given in the content of the presentations and 
ideas." " In the first quotation a distinction is made 
between three things : (1) the act of apprehension, (2) the 

^ The Development of Modern Philosophy, vol. i. p. 187. 
2 Ibid., p. 288. 



44: A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

content of that act, (3) the object to which the act of 
apprehension refers or points. Now the apprehending 
activity and the content or fact of mind form an in- 
dissoluble unity or act of consciousness. This act of 
consciousness does not set before itself as object one of 
the inseparable factors of which it itself is composed. 
The object apprehended through the act of consciousness 
is that something which " helps " to make the content 
of the apprehending act. This act, whilst it is in- 
separably imited to its content, does not yet wholly 
make that content. Distinctions are " given " in the 
content of the presentations and ideas ; that is, the 
distinctions do not arise from the apprehending activity 
itself, but outwith that act. The distinction that is 
" given " is not to be thought of as taken up and changed 
somehow into part of the act of consciousness. This 
would mean idealism once more. The " given " is present 
as one indispensable condition of the act of conscious- 
ness, but is not absorbed into it. It helps to make up 
the act of consciousness, yet is not of that act. Now 
the act of consciousness is simply a " mode of the inner 
life " ; hence the given stands outside of that life and 
yet helps to make or constitute it. If this is a true 
interpretation of Professor Adamson's meaning, then the 
theory is just that which we have shown to be implicit 
in the monadology of Leibniz. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Leibniz's theory of feeling and will. 

We have now to consider the ethical theory of Leibniz to 
find whether it can be interpreted in harmony with our 
interpretation of his theory of knowledge. If we can 
arrive at such an interpretation, we shall be emboldened 
to regard this as so much further support for tiie inter- 
pretation we hope to give of Herbart's psychology. 

First, as to the motives of action. Accordino; to 
Leibniz all perception is motived or at least accom- 
panied by feelings, although we are not always conscious 
of the feeling. " I believe there are no perceptions which 
are quite indifferent to us, but it is enough that their 
effect is not noticed by us to allow us to call them 
indifferent." Feelings imply pleasure or pain, and 
" pleasure and pain seem to consist in an observable 
help or hindrance [of the monad's activity]." This 
definition of pleasure and pain Leibniz does not put 
forward as a strict one. He further defines them as 
follows : " I believe that at bottom pleasure is a feeling 
of perfection, and pain a feeling of imperfection, pro- 
vided it is sufficiently observable to make us aware of 
it." ^ These two definitions indicate two aspects of the 

1 Erdmann, p. 261. 



46 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

same thing. In the first form of definition the monad's 
aim or end, implied in the expression " observable help 
or hindrance," is defined as free or unimpeded activity in 
the realisation of some result. In the second, the result 
aimed at is defined as perfection of activity. But per- 
fection of activity is clear and distinct perception, and 
clear and distinct perception is pure activity — activity 
that has in it no element of passivity ; hence a feeling 
of perfection is a feeling of full and unrestrained per- 
ceptive activity. And since pleasure is this feeling of 
perfection or unrestrained activity, it would appear that 
the monad's development consists in the pursuit of 
pleasure. The end of conduct therefore would seem to 
be at once the highest degree of freedom and the highest 
degree of pleasure. But, if activity is the essence of the 
monad, we must regard pleasure not so much as the aim 
as the accompaniment of the monad's activity. And that 
this is the thought of Leibniz is proved by the fact that 
pleasure, according to him, is not so much something 
positive as the absence of pain. " Most frequently the 
goad [to action] is those little unfelt perceptions which 
we might call imperceptible pains were it not that the 
notion of pain implies apperception [awareness ?]. These 
little impulses consist in the continual freeing of ourselves 
from little hindrances at which our nature works without 
thinking of it. In this really consists that uneasiness 
which we feel without knowing it, and which makes us 
act in passion as well as when we appear most tranquil, 
for we are never without some activity and motion, which 
comes merely from this, that nature is always working so 
as to put herself more at her ease." ^ Thus the prime 

^ Erdmann, p. 258. 



Leibniz's theory of feeling and will. 47 

motive to activity is the desire to get rid of the infini- 
tesimal degrees of pain, pleasure being the resultant of 
the freed activity. The monad on account of its nature 
strives towards unimpeded activity. The moment it feels 
its activity hindered it feels pain, it strives to get rid of 
the impeding agency, and if the result is successful feels 
pleasure. The steps of the process are — free activity, 
restraint, pain, freedom, pleasure. This negative view of 
pleasure is at one with Herbart's, as will be seen later. 

The objection to the Leibnizian view of feeling that at 
once presents itself is that feeling is made to depend on 
perception — on knowledge. The same objection is urged 
against the theory of Herbart. One must know before 
he can feel. The ignorant man cannot feel. The ignor- 
ant man cannot be virtuous. When expressed in these 
and similar forms, the theory certainly seems to stand 
condemned by experience. The objection is tacitly based 
on the assumption that the knower, and the knowledge, 
are separate distinct things. But if we adopt the view 
already advanced of the identity of the monad with its 
activity, of the knower with his knowledge, feeling will 
then secure as fundamental a position in the Leibnizian 
theory as the objection claims for it. Under any theory 
of mind feeling can only be at the very most an accom- 
paniment of the life activity, unless we are prepared to 
admit that this life activity may consist of feeling, with- 
out our knowing that we have the feeling. At any one 
moment the perceiving activity or life activity of the 
monad has a value to the monad's self as feeling ; and to 
say that the monad can function as feeling independent 
of its functioning as perceptive activity is to say that 
feeling can exist apart from a life that feels. But if this 



48 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERB ART. 

view of feeling contains any truth, then we may be pre- 
pared to see some truth in the Socratic identification of 
knowledge and virtue. The development of this idea, 
implicit in Leibniz, is found in the Herbartian theory 
of education. 

In Leibniz's theory of will we have the genesis of the 
most contentious doctrine of the Herbartian philosophy, 
that " will springs out of the circle of thought." In 
accordance with his threefold division of the monads, 
Leibniz classifies the monad's appetitions into three 
principal varieties, " There are inclinations unfelt and 
unperceived ; there are inclinations felt whose existence 
and object we know but whose formation we are not 
aware of, and there are confused inclinations which we 
attribute to the body, although there is always in the 
mind something corresponding to them ; finally there 
are distinct inclinations which reason gives us, and of 
whose force and formation we are aware." ^ Here there 
is a rough distinction between blind impulse which 
accompanies unconscious perception ; irrational desire 
which accompanies conscious but confused perception ; 
and rational desire, self-conscious desire or will, which 
accompanies relatively clear and distinct perception. 
All the degrees are found in the nature of man, and 
progress means a continuous passing from confused per- 
ception and blind impulse to clear and distinct percep- 
tion and rational will. To Leibniz the evolution of the 
soul's appetition is the evolution of will ; the evolution 
of will proceeds pari passu with the evolution of percep- 
tion ; and alongside of this evolution of perception and 
will there is a corresponding evolution of feeling de- 

1 Erdmann, p. 261 . 



LEIBNIZ'S THEORY OF FEELING AND WILL. 



49 



pendent on the evolution of the other two factors which 
with feehng constitute the totality of the monad's life. 
The theory of the monad's progress may be represented 
by the following diagram, in which perception, feeling, 
and will, as different functions of the one indivisible 
life, are shown as advancing pari passu with, and de- 
pendent on, each other : — 

MONAD'S EVOLUTION. 



Perception (Knowledge) 

from 

obscure and confused 

to 

clear and distinct 

(the ideal). 



Appetition. 



Will 

from 

low degree of freedom 

to 



Feeling 

from 

low form of pleasure 

to 



highest degree of freedom highest form of pleasure 
(the ideal). (the ideal). 



Ideal of Willing 

or 

Morality. 

According to the theory of Leibniz, then, the end of 
conduct is to be able to act with the highest degree of 
freedom, and this implies the highest degree of perception 
or knowledge and the highest degree of pleasure. The 
question as to what we are to understand by the highest 
degree of pleasure will be considered in connection with 
Herbart's development of the Leibnizian theory. 

The question which calls for treatment here as bearing 
closely on the Herbartian ethics is the close relationship 
of perception and will in the theory of Leibniz. In the 
first place, Leibniz draws the distinction between willing 

D 



50 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HEKBART. 

and action. " When one reasons about freedom of will 
or free choice, one does not ask if a man can do that 
which he wishes, but if there is sufficient independence 
in his will itself. One does not ask if a man has free 
legs or free arms, but if he has a free mind, and in 
what this consists." ^ That is, will is an internal, 
mental, or soul movement ; action is a bodily or physi- 
cal movement. To will a thing does not necessarily 
imply that action will follow. " I can believe that one 
can suspend his choice, and that that is often done, 
especially when other thoughts interrupt deliberation. 
Thus, though it is necessary that the action on which 
one deliberates should exist or nut, it docs not follow 
that w^e must necessarily determine its existence or non- 
existence, for the non-existence may happen in spite 
of the determination." ^ The only thing, then, that can 
be called morally good or morally bad is the will, not 
the external action, which may be dependent on some- 
thing beyond the control of the individual willing the 
action. 

In the second place, Leibniz does not believe in that 
freedom which means an absolutely undetermined choice. 
Such a definition of freedom is in direct opposition to 
his theory of the continuity of soul life through an 
endless series of perceptions. The supporters of the 
theory of what, through Kant's work, is now called 
transcendental freedom maintain "that after having known 
and considered everything, it is still in their power to 
will not only what pleases them most, but also the 
entire opposite, just to show their freedom."^ But 
" this very caprice or obstinacy, or at least this reason 

1 Erdmann, p. 255. ^ jbi^. s xbid., pp. 255, 256. 



LEIBNIZ'S THEORY OF FEELING AND WILL. 51 

which prevents them from obeying other reasons, enters 
into the balance and makes pleasing to them that which 
would not otherwise please them at all, and thus their 
choice is always determined by perception. Thus we do 
not will only what we will but what pleases us, although 
the will may contribute indirectly and, as it were, from 
afar to make a thing pleasing or not." ^ For Leibniz, 
then, rational will is determined by intelligence ; and 
freedom of will consists in the being able to make choice 
between two or more perceptions. He who chooses to 
follow the clearest and most distinct of these perceptions 
is the freest. More freedom of will no man can have. 
This " determined " character of the will is further ex- 
plained through the conception of the " petites percep- 
tions." " Several perceptions and inclinations conspire 
towards complete volition, which is the result of their 
conflict. There are perceptions and inclinations which 
are individually imperceptible, but the sum of which 
causes an inquietude which impels us without our seeing 
the ground of it ; several of these when joined together 
lead us towards some object or away from it and then 
we have desire or fear, accompanied also by an uneasi- 
ness which does not always amount to pleasure [or pain]. 
Finally, there are impulses actually accompanied by 
pleasure and pain, and all these perceptions are either 
new sensations or images remaining from some past 
sensation, accompanied or unaccompanied by memory. . . . 
From all these impulses there finally results the prevail- 
ing effort which constitutes the full volition." "^ In these 
words are found the suggestions of the later Herbartian 
theory of apperception and apperceptive interest, accord- 

1 Erdinann, p. 256. ^ Ibid., p. 260. 



52 A XEAV IXTEKPRETATION OF HERBART. 

ing to which the sum-total of the soul's past experiences 
determines the present activity of the soul. Leibniz 
further explains, in accordance with his view of freedom, 
how the determination works. " As the result of weigh- 
ing constitutes the final determination, I should think 
that it may happen that the most pressing uneasiness 
does not prevail, for even though it might prevail over 
each of the opposite inclinations taken singly, it may be 
that the others in combination overcome it. The mind 
may even make use of the method of dichotomy to make 
now one now another set of inclinations prevail, as in 
an assembly w^e can make one or another part prevail 
by a majority of votes, according to the order in which 
we put the questions." ^ 

If the meaning which we have attachef" to the monad 
is correct, Leibniz's reference to the mind's use of the 
principle of dichotomy does not point to any meta- 
physical entity standing apart from and between two 
sets of motives. We may anticipate what we shall 
have to say in connection with Herbart's theory of will, 
and express in the language of Herbart what is implicit 
in the theory of Leibniz, that " the reason to which a 
man gives heed and the desire which rouses and allures 
him are not in reality outside him but in him, and he 
himself is no third standing beside the other two, but 
his own spiritual life lies and works in both. When, 
therefore, he at length chooses, this choice is nothing 
but a co-operation of just those factors, reason and 
desire, between which he thought himself standing 
free. 

But, adds Herbart, whilst " the mind may make use 
^ Erdmann, p. 260. "^ Lehrbuch zur Psychologie, p. 118. 



LEIBNIZS THEORY OF FEELING AND WILL. 53 

of the method of ' dichotomy,' the mind ought to make 
provision for this in advance ; for at the moment of 
struggle there is no time for these artifices." ^ Leibniz, 
too, recognises the need of some kind of preparation. 
In accordance with his analytic view of the growth of 
knowledge he insists that men have the right knowledge 
[for action] in their minds, but will not analyse their 
ideas so as to make them clear and distinct. " It is 
not that they cannot have them, since they are in their 
mind. But they do not give themselves the trouble to 
analyse them. Sometimes they have ideas of an absent 
good or evil, but very feeble. It is not therefore strange 
that these ideas scarcely affect them. So, if we prefer 
the worse, it is because we know the good which is 
therein without realising either the evil that is in it 
or the good that is on the opposite side." "^ The prepara- 
tion needed is apparently an intellectual preparation — a 
preparation in knowledge. Yet there is more than a 
merely intellectual preparation implied in the language 
of Leibniz. " Men do not give themselves the trouble to 
analyse their ideas " — that is, to know the right ; in which 
case, Leibniz implies, they would do the right. The 
place of hahit in moral progress is here indirectly indi- 
cated, but it is the habit of analysing one's ideas so as 
to know the right — it is a habit of knowing the right 
which is bound to be followed by the doing of the right. 
But will right action follow such clear and distinct per- 
ception ? Granted that the same perceptions of right 
may be present to the mind over and over again, will the 
individual thereby acquire the habit of both knowing the 
right and doing it ? The answer depends on what is 

^ Lehrbuch zur Psychologie, p. 118. " Erdmann, p. 257. 



54 A NEW INTEKPKETATION OF HERBAKT. 

meant by the expressions " habit of knowing " and " habit 
of doing," We have tried to show that even on Leibniz's 
own principles the growth of mind is organic, and that 
the perceiving activity of mind is mind. If this is so, 
then a habit of knowing will be at the same time a 
habit of life, a habit which the organic whole of mind 
may grow into and acquire. The more the mind, as 
organic, functions in the direction of clear and distinct 
perception, the more will it tend so to function. But 
if willing is simply the conscious " appetitus," advancing, 
or pushing forward of the mind in and through percep- 
tive activity, then willing the right perception will in time 
become a halnt of mind, and the " good will " will flow 
out of and be determined by the perception. The full 
development of this argument will be found in connec- 
tion with the theory of Herbart, which we are now in 
a position to examine. 



CHAPTER V. 

herbart's psychological standpoint. 

According to Herbart, " the soul is a simple essence or 
being ; not only without parts but also without any 
multiplicity in its quality. The soul has no innate or 
inborn talents and powers, either for the purpose of re- 
ceiving or for the purpose of producing. It is therefore 
no tabula rasa in the sense that impressions from the 
outside might be made upon it ; further, it is not a sub- 
stance in Leibniz's sense which includes in itself original 
self-activity. It has originally neither representations, 
nor feelings, nor desires ; it knows nothing of itself and 
nothing of other things ; also in it lie no forms of per- 
ception and thought, no laws of willing and doing, and 
not even a remote predisposition to these." " The simple 
nature of the soul is wholly unknown and remains so 
always ; it is an object neither of speculative nor of 
empirical psychology." ^ Herbart's definition of " soul " 
is thus almost, if not wholly, negative. Assuming that 
what Leibniz calls the monad is the same thing as the 
" soul " thus defined, Herbart accepts the simplicity and 
indivisibility of the monad, but denies to it appetition 
and perception, and along with these the multiplicity 

^ Lehrbuch zur Psychologie, p. 108, § 150. 



56 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

in quality. Yet multiplicity must be accounted for. 
Leibniz accounted for it by the change that takes place 
in the monad itself through its own spontaneous unfold- 
ing activity, and not through any interaction between 
itself and other monads. Herbart accounts for it thus : 
" Between several dissimilar simple essences there exists 
a relation which, with the help of a comparison from the 
physical world, may be described as pressure and resist- 
ance. For as pressure is [implies ?J a retarded move- 
ment, the relation mentioned consists in this, that in the 
simple quality of each existence something is capable of 
being changed through another existence, if each did not 
resist and maintain itself against the disturbance. Self- 
preservations of this kind are the only events which 
really occur in nature : and this is the combination of 
event with being." ^ 

Now if Herbart will not allow that the " soul " has 
any power corresponding to the " appetition " of the 
monad, what meanings are we to attach to the ap- 
parently positive attribute " self -preserving" and the 
correlative expression " capable of being changed " ? 
Capability of being changed must be present in some 
sense or other in the simple essence at the moment 
when, or even before, the simple essence manifests 
itself in a self-preservation. The difference between 
the two thinkers as regards this question of original 
activity is really only seeming. Just as the " appeti- 
tion " of the monad is fundamentally a principle postu- 
lated as inherent in the beginning and continuance of 
perceptive activity, so the capability of being changed 
or not being changed is equally postulated as a prin- 

^ Lehrbuch zur Psychologie, p. 109, § 154. 



herbart's psychological standpoint. 57 

ciple inherent in the self-preservative act of soul. The 
true essence of a thing, as Lotze argues, must lie in 
what the thing has become. If a thing has come 
into being we are justified in saying that the thing 
had the capacity for coming into being; and when 
mind comes into being we are equally justified in 
saying that it had the capacity for coming into being. 
Farther we cannot go. And this is in reality Her- 
bart's position. He does not ask how that which was 
absolutely at rest can pass into activity ; he begins at 
the point at which the thing is in manifest being, and 
sets aside as insoluble the problem whether the thing 
was in being or not before its manifestation. As to 
the cause of a simple essence, how it comes into being, 
we know not ; hence a belief that it must be caused, 
which is a totally different thing from the knowledge 
of the cause, tells us nothing of the essence. iVnd 
hence from this standpoint Herbart's refusal to admit 
capacity in the sense of something previous to mani- 
festation involves no loss to his argument, whilst it 
practically fixes his point of departure as the same 
as that of Leibniz. 

To the question, What is the soul in itself ? — in the 
sense of what it is previous to and apart from any 
one of its particular manifestations in activity — Her- 
bart practically answers, Nobody knows or can know. 
But in framing his negative definition of soul, Herbart 
does not imply that there is no soul, nor that the soul 
functioning in the first self-preservative act thereafter 
stands apart from all future movement amongst the 
presentations. What he means is, that if there is to 
be a scientific psychology capable of practical applica- 



58 A NEW IXTERPKETATION OF HERBAHT. 

tioii in such a sphere as education, we must start with 
the first appearance of the mental life — viz., with the 
first presentation. The moment the soul appears " in 
nature," or under time and space conditions, we are 
presented with the " combination of event and being." 
As to the being or non-being of soul antecedent to this 
we can say nothing. Our meaning may be rendered a 
little fuller through the following diagram — 

Soul. Soul as Mixd or in manifestation. 



B 



Let us suppose that from some finite or infinite (it 
does not matter which) point X soul has lived or 
existed. At point A it enters time and space con- 
ditions. Its manifestation at A, then, whether it has 
been a changing or unchanging essence, is the expres- 
sion of its life up to that point and at that point, 
just in the same way as my bodily activity at the 
present moment is in a very real sense the expression 
of my whole bodily life up to the present. At A the 
soul comes into being as far as psychology is concerned, 
and hence so far as educational theory and practice are 
concerned. At A there is an activity, call it monad, 
soul, or mind ; and this activity is just as real as any 
soul can intelligibly be. This manifestation, then, to 
which Herbart gives the name of presentation, is simply 
the Leibnizian perceptive activity. Herbart grasped the 
true psychological and educational import of the Leib- 
nizian " monad " when he drew the distinction between 
the soul as known to us through its manifested activity 
and the soul as unknown to us previous to this activity, 



hekbart's psychologicaj. standpoint. 59 

and started with what w^e may call the " known mo- 
ment" in the soul-life. Herbart designates the soul as 
unknown to us previous to its manifestation as a " simple 
essence." It may be objected that such an essence is a 
mere abstraction. But this does not militate against the 
argument ; for, from Herbart's point of view, the objec- 
tion if true would mean, that as there is no X A 

or soul as pure being, the soul has always or from its 
creation manifested itself as activity. The first mani- 
festation of the soul is the soul -life at a particular 
moment, and a step — whether the first or any sub- 
sequent step matters not — in development. In either 
case, whether the soul-life begins at X or at A, the 
theory preserves the soul's existence from A onwards, 
and no other theory does more. Herbart's own words 
seem to point conclusively to this interpretation. In 
treating of self -consciousness he says that " the con- 
fusions of Idealism must be removed by the distinction 
of the mere subject as a time-existence from the ' I, 
although the latter is necessarily connected with the 
former inasmuch as, when thought of separately, it leads 
to absurdities." ^ That is, the soul as a time-existence 
finds itself as an " I," which " I " acquires its meaning 
only through the time-existence. 

Such an objection, then, as that of Professor Dittes, 
that the Herbartian soul is incapable of development, is 
apparently based on the erroneous supposition that 
Herbart, through his abstract definition of soul as a 
simple essence, has separated the soul entirely from its 
presentations. But abstraction is not separation ; and 
so far is Herbart from separating the two that the 

1 Lehrbuch, p. 138, § 199. 



60 A NEW INTERPKETATION OF HERBART. 

essence of his contention is that the soul lives in and 
through and inseparable from its presentations. So far 
is experience from being reduced to a fiction, as Dittes 
argues, that it is made all the more real through its 
being an experience not of a metaphysical soul or pure 
ego holding itself aloof from manifestation, but of a soul 
manifesting itself as real in and through presentations. 
Professor Adams's description of the " soul " of Herbart's 
criticism as beino- " no more a real soul than it is a real 
crater of a volcano " ^ seems to us to be perfectly apt ; 
and if the further statement that " what Herbart has 
taken from the soul he has transferred to the ideas " 
means that the real soul of the Herbartian theory lives 
in and through its presentations, then the statement 
essentially contains the interpretation for which we are 
contending. That the conception of a soul that lives only 
in and through its presentations was present to Herbart's 
thought, is evidenced by his description of a purely moral 
self-control. " A purely moral self-control which uni- 
formly pervades every act of commission and omission 
and is most careful to protect subordinate interests and 
wishes, is an ideal to which the name psychical organism 
may be given. For to it belong such a union and sub- 
ordination of presentations as is not only thoroughly 
adapted to the smallest and the largest combinations, 
but is also capable of appropriating to good purpose 
all additional new external impressions." '" It is true 
that it is the ideal self-control to which Herbart gives 
the name " psychical organism " ; but the life of presen- 
tation whose ideal is an organism must itself be of the 

^ The Herbartian Psychology applied to Education, p. 46. 
2 Lehrbuch, § 238. 



herbaht's psychological standpoint. 61 

nature of organism, and besides, the " interaction " of 
presentations by which Herbart seeks to explain the 
psychical life is interpretable in the same terms as he 
has used to explain the ideal of that life. 

Against this interpretation of Herbart's psychological 
standpoint one standing objection will be urged. It will 
be said that the conception of functioning may be 
sufficiently adequate to explain the succession of soul 
states, but that it is insufficient to explain their co- 
ordination into the unity of experience. Besides, it is 
not a conception of functioning alone, but of the func- 
tioning of an organism that we are employing. Appar- 
ently, then, there must be an organism both to function 
and to co-ordinate the various acts of functioning. And 
if we speak of an organism that functions and co- 
ordinates, so must we speak of a soul that functions 
and co-ordinates. Granting that we cannot possibly 
know the metaphysical soul even to the extent of a 
single attribute, yet without the positing of such an 
original entity or essence there could be no explanation 
of two such facts of experience as the unity of know- 
ledge and personal identity. If we cannot define the 
soul, it is at least the only and indispensable hypothesis 
which will account for the two facts. It may be said 
that the Herbartian soul, even according to our inter- 
pretation, is a soul manifesting itself, and that after all 
this must mean that there is a soul to manifest itself — 
a soul in the heart of the manifestations and experiences 
unifying these into the unity of which we are conscious. 
The manifestations which constitute for us a stream of 
consciousness require at least a permanent channel to 
run in and to hold them together in a continuity. We 



62 A NEW INTERPKETATION OF HERBART. 

may dispense with the old " substratum " of external 
things as unnecessary, seeing that mind renders the same 
service, but we cannot dispense with a substratum for 
soul manifestations without annihilating knowledge and 
personal identity. And even when we say that the soul 
lives m and throur/h its presentations, with the emphasis 
on the presentations, we are still positing some perma- 
nent entity that manifests itself in a passing activity. 

Now it may be at once admitted that, if the notions 
of permanence, unity, identity, sameness — implicate in 
the conception of organism— cannot be reconciled with 
the notion of change, then the hypothesis of a meta- 
physical soul, transcendental, or pure ego as a unifying 
agency, must be accepted as the only hypothesis that 
will account for our experience. But, as Professor James 
argues, if the notion of change essentially contains all 
that is necessary to explain experience, then the resort 
to the notion of an absolutely unchangeable entity is 
unnecessary. The question then is. Can a passing mani- 
festing activity, or, to employ Professor James's term, 
can a passing state perform the same unifying function 
as the metaphysical soul or pure ego which is postulated 
to perform such a function ? Now " common sense, and 
psychologists of almost every school, have agreed that 
whenever an object of thought contains many elements, 
the thought itself must be made up of just as many 
ideas, one idea for each element, all fused together in 
appearance, but really separate." ^ That is, to express 
it in Herbartian terms, my presentation of a complex 
(1 + 1 is equal to presentation a and presentation h 
blended together. The presentation of the complex 

' James's Psychologj', small ed., p. 196. 



HERBARTS PSYCHOLOGICAL STANDPOINT. 63 

a + 6 is really equal, so it is said, to two distinct present- 
ations. Thus my presentation of a tree is made up of 
the presentations roots, trunk, branches, leaves, and may 
be fruit. My thought of the tree therefore, it is said, is 
made up of my separate ideas of the root, trunk, branches, 
leaves, and fruit. But is this really the case ? I do not 
know the root, then the trunk, then the branches, then 
the leaves, and then the fruit. I know all these as com- 
bined into a simple fact of knowledge — viz., tree. Or 
again, to borrow an illustration from Leibniz. I know 
the roar of the sea. This totality of sound is made up 
of a countless number of small sounds, each one of 
which I must in some measure be cognisant of, other- 
wise I could not be cognisant of the total. But I do 
not cognise each and all of these in turn, but as a total. 
My presentation or idea of the totality or combination 
of all the small sounds is not a combination of presenta- 
tions or ideas of all these sounds. That is, I have not 
an idea of ideas, but an idea of external things combined 
into a unity. Now the units that compose the combina- 
tion of which I have a presentation or idea cannot of 
themselves unite to form the combination, and therefore 
must depend on that which precedes their combination — 
that is, the soul state immediately previous to the 
unification of the units in a single presentation or idea. 
The intelligible entity, then, that performs the unifying 
function is the soul state or activity which cognises the 
many as a unity in one single presentation. It is a 
passing soul state or activity which, after the analogy 
of the bodily organism, expresses the totahty of soul- 
activity at the time, in and through a particular activity. 
To adopt Professor James's metaphor of the " stream of 



64 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

consciousness," ^ we may say that, just as every pulse 
of that stream expresses at its own point the totality 
of stream activity up to that point, so the passing soul 
state or activity expresses at a given time the totality 
of soul activity or life up to that time. And when 
Professor James sums up by saying that " the know- 
ing of many things together is just as well accounted 
for when we call it a functioning of a soul state 
as when we call it a reaction of the soul," he is 
only expressing in positive terms what we have tried 
to show is implicit in Herbart's theory of the " reaction 
of soul." 

The second fact which seems to call for the hypothesis 
of a metaphysical entity is the consciousness of personal 
identity. We speak of ourselves as being the same 
individuals to-day as we were yesterday. The " I " of 
to-day remembers itself as the " I " of yesterday. Seem- 
ingly the " I " of to-day cognises to-day's empirical ego 
of passing thoughts, feelings, and volitions, and at the 
same time recognises that yesterday it was also present 
in the midst of, and cognising, a different empirical ego. 
But in light of what has been already said in connec- 
tion with the unity of knowledge, is it necessary to 
postulate such an absolutely identical " I " in order that 
the " I " of to-day may be recognised as the " I " of 
yesterday ? The answer depends on what we mean by 
" identity " or " sameness." The term " sameness " can 
be intelligibly applied to anything, soul included, only 
in so far as our experience has led us to define the 
term. Now, when we speak of any material object, — 
for example, the pen I am writing with, — being the 
^ James's Psychology, p. 200. 



herbart's psychological standpoint. 65 

s 

same thing at present as it was yesterday, all we mean, 
all we can mean, if we are not to contradict the fact of 
ceaseless change in matter, is that all the pen phenom- 
ena of to-day are continuotts with the pen phenomena 
of yesterday. We know that the pen, in accordance 
with the law of the dissolution of matter, has changed 
since yesterday, and that the pen phenomena of yester- 
day must have changed correspondingly. To-day's phe- 
nomena have taken up and absorbed yesterday's phe- 
nomena, which are thus carried forward through the 
absorption. To resort once more to the figure of the 
stream, we say it is the same stream, whether we gaze 
on its source or its mouth ; and just as truly as the 
water of the lower reaches carries forward the water of 
the upper reaches, as truly do the river phenomena of 
to-day carry forward the river phenomena of yesterday. 
Whatever explanation may be adopted, we cannot avoid 
an explanation in physical terms. By help, then, of 
the analogy of the bodily organism or of the running 
stream w^e can explain, not how the " I " was originally 
produced, but how the " I " of to-day recognises itself 
as the "I" of yesterday. The "I" of yesterday, like 
the bodily organism or the running stream, has moved 
forward, and, whilst conscious of itself as changed by 
the movement, yet recognises itself as the " I " of yester- 
day modified into the " I " of to-day. If this is all that 
we can intelligibly say of soul progress, then we may 
agree with Professor James that " the logical conclu- 
sion seems to be that the states of consciousness are 
all that psychology needs to do her work with. Meta- 
physics or theology may prove the soul to exist ; but 
for psychology the hypothesis of such a substantial prin- 

E 



66 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

ciple of unity is superliuoiis." ^ Herbart, as we have 
tried to show, considered it superfluous ; and any theory 
of education that bases on such a principle is not en- 
titled to rank as scientific. 

But a difficulty may still present itself in connection 
with the above. The essence of the functional theory 
is that each state or activity is the outcome of the func- 
tioning of a previous state or activity. This may ex- 
plain any other state than the first, but how can it 
account for the first state, without which no other states 
would be possible ? In our reference to Lotze ^ the 
answer has already been indicated. What we have to 
deal with in psychology is the soul as known, the soul 
in existence, the soul i7i a state, not the soul in no state. 
The ground of the first state is the creative act out of 
which the soul as an existence springs. Now, when 
we postulate a metaphysical soul as ground, we have 
still to ask for the ground of this soul. As far, then, 
as regards the claim of any entity or essence to act as 
a substratum of soul experiences, a metaphysical soul 
is not a whit superior to a soul state. And if the latter 
can serve the same purpose as that for which the former 
is postulated, then there is no use for the former. In 
employing it we seem to be simply deluding ourselves 
into the belief that, by postulating such an indescribable 
entity as metaphysical soul, we are pushing our inquiry 
back to the very farthest point we can go. In reality, 
we are no nearer the ground of soul -activity, perhaps 
farther from it. 

If the preceding argument is conclusive, we must 
admit that the theory of Herbart provides for an abiding 

1 James's Psychology, p. 203. ^ p_ 57^ 



HERBAKT S PSYCHOLOGICAL STANDPOINT. 67 

and unifying agency, even though it is not of the nature 
of a Kantian transcendental ego, and thus supplies the 
essential condition for the growth of knowledge. But 
what knowledge ? The first manifestation of the soul 
is for Herbart the soul's first experience, at least in 
the only intelligible sense in which the term experience 
can be used. This experience is rendered possible 
through, or rather consists of, the soul's recognition or 
awareness of a something not itself. This something is 
another " real " clothed, as in the case of the monad, in 
" matter." The soul's first experience, then, consists in 
meeting another " real," and when it has this experience, 
in the language of Herbart, it " preserves itself." Were 
we to suppose that the soul as an activity did not per- 
sist alongside all other activities, we should have to admit 
the contradiction that a " real " could be destroyed. This 
preservative act of the soul shows itself in a presentation, 
or rather the presentation is the preserving activity. 

The term " presentation " ( Vorstellung) is almost in- 
variably associated with the idea of a "something pre- 
sented," that is, a something that stands apart from, 
and is relatively independent of, a perceiving subject. 
But just as in the Leibnizian theory of perception, 
perception is inextricably bound up with the thing 
perceived, so the Herbartian " presentation " is inextric- 
ably bound up with the " presentative activity." Accord- 
ing to Leibniz, the soul perceives all other monads in the 
form of " matter," — a form which is, in Leibniz's theory, 
of the monad's own making. According to Herbart, the 
soul preserves itself against other reals in and through a 
presentation. This soul that preserves itself is the 
real soul, and its realness is constituted by its preserv- 



68 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

ing act. This preserving act implies the awareness, on 
the part of the real soul, of another real. And this 
awareness, like the Leibnizian perception, is an aware- 
ness of " matter." But unlike the " matter " of the 
monad's perception, this matter is constituted by the 
two factors — the jpi^eserving act and the other real. 
Hence in Herbart's theory, whilst the preserving act 
involves the two inseparable factors— presentative ac- 
tivity and presentation — the act is partly constituted 
by interaction with another real. To employ Professor 
Adamson's language, the subject becomes aware of his 
inner life through the help of distinctions that are given 
in the content of the presentations. Without these 
given distinctions it is difficult to conceive how one 
real could ever advance to the knowledge of another 
real. Herbart's language is to the same effect. " It was 
an error of Idealism powerfully produced and just as 
strongly adhered to that the ' I ' sets itself over against 
a not /, as if objects were originally bound up with 
[dependent on] the negation of the ' I.' In this way 
[the conceptions of] a tliou and a he would never arise, 
— another personality besides one's own would never be 
recognised. Much more is it the case that what has 
been inwardly perceived is, wherever possible, transferred 
to the external object. Hence with the ' I ' the ' thou ' 
is formed at the same tmie, and almost simultaneously 
with the two the we which Idealism forgot." ^ 

This inseparable connection between the presentative 
activity and its content further determines for us the 
exact meaning which is to be attached to the Herbartian 
term " presentation." Activity implies movement, non- 

^ Lehrbuch, p. 137, § 198, note. 



herbart's psychological standpoint. 69 

stationariness. " Presentative activity " therefore implies 
that the presentation, as being inseparable from the 
presentative activity, is also in movement. That is, 
it is not a fixed and constant " something " presented 
to and apprehended by the presentative activity, but a 
changing " something," or a " something " changing 'pari 
passu with the movement of the presentative activity, 
and imparting concreteness to that movement, which 
otherwise would be purely abstract. The presentation 
of some external object at the distance of a hundred 
yards is not exactly the same presentation which the 
observer has at the distance of a yard. Similarly, the 
presentation of the memory image of some object pre- 
viously seen is not the same presentation all through 
the time that memory is at work on the image : the 
presentative activity is moving in and through a fuller 
and fuller content. Similarly, the presentation of an 
action to be accomplished but not yet accomplished is 
not the same presentation as the presentation of the 
action in progress. And it is in reference to external 
action, in so far as this is the outcome of moral char- 
acter, that the term " clearness," employed by Herbart 
to describe presentations, has special significance. To 
Herbart the presentation " good action " is perfectly clear 
either when the action is in progress, that is, when the 
presentative activity is operating in and through the 
action, or when the presentative activity has ivilled the 
action, for the actual carrying out of the action may 
be prevented by some external influence beyond the 
control of the wilier. This meaning attaching to the 
term " presentation " follows logically from our inter- 
pretation of Herbart's psychological standpoint. The 



70 A NKW INTERPRETATION OF IlEKBART. 

" clearness " of the presentation is dependent on the 
presentative activity more than upon the content of that 
activity. It is a term descriptive of that activity. At 
this point we shall ask to he allowed to drop the use 
of the expression " presentative activity," and to employ 
instead the expressions " soul-activity " and " soul-life." 
Presentative activity apart from the presentation is 
an ahstraction ; hence the term " presentative activity " 
fails to connote the totality of life which Herbart 
means by the term. As to the term " presentation " 
itself, such an interpretation as we have given it can- 
not save it from being too suggestive of a something 
standing over against presentative activity and on which 
the presentative activity is to operate. In the expres- 
sion " soul-activity," the term " soul " will be used to de- 
note, not anything of a transcendental nature, but simply 
the permanence, unity, or identity, as already interpreted, 
that pervades and binds together the successive pre- 
sentative activities. Our purpose demands the use of 
an expression suggestive of the unifying bond present 
in Herbart's " presentation " as we have interpreted it, 
and " soul-activity " or " soul-life " seems to us the most 
serviceable. We are fully encouraged and warranted 
to use this expression by Herbart's own words. Speak- 
ing of the way in which we become conscious of a 
permanent self, he pointedly refers to the existence of 
the real soul of experience. " The unity of the soul 
itself is the deep source from which that unity enters 
into our presentative activity, and which we afterwards 
lose in the objects presented." ^ With the adoption of 
this term, then, our interpretation of " clearness of 

^ Lehrbuch, § 196, note. 



HERB art's psychological STANDPOINT. 71 

presentation " may be continued as follows. The soul- 
life moving towards the accomplishment of some ex- 
ternal action moves through a series of states or phases, 
each of which brings nearer the accomplishment of the 
action. Each state in the series is nearer the accom- 
plishment than the preceding state. But each state 
is a moment in the soul-activity. And the soul-activity 
is in and through presentations. Hence, to say that 
the presentation is increasing in clearness means that 
the soul-activity is bringing nearer the accomplishment 
of the action. To put it in another way, each success- 
ive moment of the activity is a " presentation." But 
the activity as a whole is centring round some " real " ; 
and the successive moments of the activity, or the 
presentations, are getting nearer the real. When, there- 
fore, the action is willed, that is, when soul-activity 
has reached and indeed carried through the first moment 
of the action, then soul-activity may be said to be oper- 
ating in and through the action itself, and the present- 
ation is clear. The fact that the soul -activity may 
not be allowed to carry through any but the first mo- 
ment of the action does not affect the " clearness " of 
the presentation. 

Without this interpretation of the term " clearness " 
as applied to the " presentation," Herbart's theory that 
" will springs from the circle of thought " is unintel- 
ligible ; with this interpretation the theory, in spite of 
the mechanical terms employed by Herbart, seems es- 
sentially true. But this we have still to make good. 



CHAPTER Yl. 

iieubaet's theory of presentation. 

" Presentations become forces when they resist one 
another. This resistance occurs when two or more 
opposed presentations encounter one another." ^ " Pres- 
entations which are not opposed or contrasted with 
one another, as a tone and a colour, so far as they 
meet unhindered, form a comidex ; contrasted present- 
ations {e.g., black and grey), in so far as in meeting 
they are affected neither by accidental foreign present- 
ations nor by unavoidable opposition, become fused.'' ^ 
Here three different ways are mentioned in which 
presentations act towards each other. Leaving aside 
the question whether these three ways are not funda- 
mentally one, let us first interpret the " opposition " 
amongst presentations. 

First, " the easily conceivable metaphysical reason why 
opposed presentations resist one another is the unity of 
the soul whose self-preservations they are." ^ That is, 
the soul functioning in a certain presentational activity 
tends to persist in that activity, for a real without 
activity is a contradiction. " Destroyed presentations 
are the same as none at all." That is, the destruction of 

1 Lehrbuch, cap. 1, § 10. ^ i^id., § 22. » Ibid. 



hekbart's theory of presentation, 73 

the soul-activity — which constitutes the soul-life — would 
mean the destruction of the soul itself. Hence, in 
whatever way we may describe the result of opposition 
amongst the presentations, we cannot describe it as the 
destruction of either or of both presentations. 

Second, if we were to say that, " notwithstanding the 
mutual attack, presentations remain unchanged, then one 
could not be removed or suppressed by another as we 
see every moment that they are." That is, the soul 
cannot function in two opposite directions at the same 
time. The presentational activity in direction A is pos- 
sible only by the non-functioning in direction not- A. 

Third, " if, finally, all that is presented in each pres- 
entation were changed by the contest, then this would 
mean nothing more than that, at the beginning, another 
presentation had been present." i That is, if the original 
real or soul, functioning in a particular presentation, were 
to be completely changed by the opposition of some other 
real, this could only mean that the original real became 
in the end another real. Or, the life of the first real 
or soul would become, or pass over into being, a different 
real. Hence, 

Fourth, " the presentation must yield without being 
destroyed ; that is, the real presentation is changed into 
an effort to present itself." ^ That is, the soul-activity 
which at one moment is relatively free and effortless 
is the next moment hampered by some presentation 
activity not in line with the original activity. The 
soul functions in a certain direction, say to make the 
presentation of a game of golf perfectly clear, and this 
presentation will only be clear w^hen the individual is 
1 Lehrbuch, § 11. ^ jbid. 



74: A NEW INTEKPKETATION OF HERBART. 

actually playing the game. But whilst functioning in 
this direction the soul (or mind) suddenly finds that it 
has to function in some other direction, it may be in 
the finishing of some piece of work. The making clear 
of the former presentation is evidently incompatible 
witli the making clear of the latter at one and the 
same time. But each presentation represents, or rather 
is, soul-Hfe ; and so, while there is yielding, there is no 
destruction. The " real presentation," or the soul 
functioning in the direction of the clear presentation 
" game of golf," is " aware of effort." All this is 
evidently implied in Herbart's statement that " when 
a presentation becomes not entirely, but only in part, 
transformed into an effort, we must guard against con- 
sidering this part as a severed portion of the whole 
presentation. It has certainly a definite magnitude 
(upon the knowledge of which very much depends), 
but this magnitude indicates only a degree of the 
obscuration of the whole presentation." ^ 

In spite, then, of the seemingly mechanical conceptions 
and terminology by which Herbart describes the ebb and 
flow of mental life, such terms as " resistance," " force," 
" effort," are in keeping with our interpretation of the 
Herbartian " presentation." The soul functioning in 
some particular presentation is aware of an " other." 
But the " others " of wliich tlie soul gradually becomes 
cognisant are the " reals " of the universe. The aware- 
ness on the part of one real — the soul — of the presence 
of another real implies an awareness of limitation. The 
two reals, being two and not one, must both be limited. 
And the conception of limitation, when applied to living 

1 Lehrbuch, § 12. 



herbart's theory of presentation. 75 

entities, implies restraint, pressure, force. At least, these 
terms contain perhaps the most definite metaphors that 
can be employed to express the conception. Whether 
presentations are in opposition, or form a complex, or 
fuse, limitation is present and hence opposition. Neither 
a complex of presentations nor a fusion of presentations 
can ever get rid of an underlying opposition. Each 
involves a diversity of presentational elements. The 
difference, and the opposition implied in difference, may 
be obscured or softened down ; it cannot be anni- 
hilated. When Herbart speaks of the complicating 
and blending of presentations he means nothing more 
than a relative non- opposition. And from a funda- 
mental point of view life is just what Herbart de- 
scribes it to be. In part as well as in whole it is 
a persisting — a persisting amidst the limitations of 
environment, which persisting, as we have already 
seen, really goes to constitute soul-life. 

In course of time the opposition, complication, and 
blending amongst presentations, not one of which is 
ever annihilated, gives rise to a " circle of thought " 
or an " apperception mass." How the elements of this 
mass or circle are associated, loosely or closely, depends 
on how knowledge is acquired. Knowledge may be so 
presented to the child that its parts are, to the child's 
mind, unrelated to one another, so that the unity and 
strength which each element would derive from its inter- 
connection with the whole are lost. But if new presenta- 
tions are linked on to allied and previously experienced 
presentations, we may expect the new presentation to 
become a real unity with the already existing unity 
of soul-Hfe. And it becomes this, not through a me- 



76 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART, 

chanical process, but tlirougli an organic growth. The 
destructibility of a presentation means for Herbart 
the destructibiUty of soul -life. Every presentation is 
an inseparable and indestructible part of that life ; 
and just as the physical organism functions in and 
through all and every part of itself, so soul (or mind) 
at any given moment is functioning in and through all 
its present and past presentations which constitute its 
organic life. Just as the physical organism through 
all its general and special activities constitutes a living 
concrete real, so the Herbartian apperceiving soul through 
the sum total of its past and present presentative activi- 
ties constitutes a living reality — a mind, and not a life- 
less " presentation-mechanism." 

Ostermann, who is perhaps the most minute critic 
of Herbart's presentation theory, advances several ob- 
jections to the theory. They are apparently founded 
on some misconception of the meaning of the term 
" presentation " as employed l^y Herbart. " The present- 
ative activity," says Ostermann, " is itself in no way 
the same as the content at which it aims ; the present- 
ation of the good is itself not good, the presentation 
of the bad not itself bad, &c." ^ Ostermann here draws 
the distinction between the presentative activity and 
the presented content. Such a distinction, however, 
is for Herbart, as we have tried to prove, an abstract 
one. Herbartian presentative activity is an activity 
only in and through some content. Content is present 
all along the line of the activity. At the start certainly 
" the presentative activity is itself in no way the same 
as the content at which it aims." But there is a con- 

^ Die hauptsiichlichslen Irrtiimer der Herbartschen Psychologic, p. 45. 



herbart's theory of presentation. 77 

tent at the start — the content implied in aiming at a 
content ; and this content is inseparable from the pres- 
entative activity. The same argument applies at any 
point along the line of activity issuing in the attain- 
ment of the object originally aimed at. I wish to get 
a book from the adjoining room. I form the presenta- 
tion " getting the book," which presentation is absolutely 
meaningless apart from my presentative activity. My 
presentative activity continues operating in and through 
the A'arious presentations that I must have between my 
thinking of getting the book and actually having it. 
When I have the 1)Ook in my hands, this presentation 
is just the presentation I loished to have, but not the 
presentation I had at the time of wishing; and in 
having the presentation I am presentatively active in 
the very way I wished to be. If my presentative 
activity at that moment is not the same as the content 
at which I aimed, yet the two are so inseparable that 
each makes the other. That Ostermann fails to realise 
the full import of Herbart's " presentation " is further 
evidenced by his criticism of Herbart's doctrine that all 
presentations have definite intensities. By way of dis- 
proof of this doctrine Ostermann points to the difference 
in intensity between the memory image of a thunder- 
clap and the sound itself of the same thunder -clap. 
But the memory image of a thunder -clap is not the 
same presentation as the presentation " sound of the 
thunder-clap." The presentation of an elapsed event is 
different from the presentation of the event in progress. 

Again, he asks, " How can presentations persist after the 
ceasing of the conjunction which brought them forth ? " ^ 

^ Ostermann, p. 49. 



78 A NEW INTERrKETATlON OF HEKI5ART. 

The answer is that they cannot conceivably persist, if 
the presentations are separable from the conjoining process. 
But such a separation is not admitted by Herbart, for 
tliis implies the postulating of that metaphysical ego 
that can stand apart from presentations, and which 
Herbart dismisses as an unnecessary hypothesis. How 
the presentations can persist without this metaphysical 
ego has been already shown by means of the conceptions 
of organism and function. 

Again, since Herbart rejected the notion of capacities 
or faculties, no other way of explaining the reproduction 
of presentations was left him than by assuming that the 
presentations continue to exist even in unconsciousness. 
But, Ostermann argues, there is no necessity for such an 
assumption any more than that the note produced by 
a musical string should always be sounding. So long as 
the condition of its reproduction (the matter, length, 
tension, &c., of the string) exists, the note itself need 
not be always existing.^ Now the note itself, that is, 
the sound of the note, in one sense does not always exist. 
It exists only when it is being heard. But the con- 
ditions of its reproduction exist, and therefore ^xtr^ of 
its reproduction exists. Or, to express it otherwise, the 
presentative activity of soul implied in the presentation 
" sounding note " is part of the organic soul-life, and the 
soul is ready on occasion to function again along that 
same line of activity, and, in and through that activity, 
to make the presentation fully clear. Nay, the theory 
goes further. The conditions of reproduction are not 
something dead : they are active all the time, only they 
do not bear fruition until occasion gives them their 

^ Ostermann, p. 49. 



HERBARTS THEORY OF PRESENTATION, 79 

chance. What the organism has once operated in 
becomes corporate with the organism, and never ceases 
henceforth to operate either above or below the " thresh- 
old of consciousness." Vogel ■^ objects to the analogy 
which Herbart institutes between psychology and physi- 
ology and to the comparability of soul-life to the life of 
a physical organism ; l)ut what more intelligible and, 
to the educator, more fruitful conception can be formed 
of the mental life than the conception of it as organic ? 
And, if our general interpretation of Herbart's stand- 
point is true, so far is the Herbartian theory from 
rendering the evolution of man impossible, as Vogel 
urges, that it holds out the greatest hopes of that evolu- 
tion through the conception of the organic growth of 
soul as apperceptive mind. 

^ Vogel's 'Herbart oder Pestalozzi.' 



CHAPTER VII. 

herbart's theory of feeung. 

" So far as it represents, the soul is called intellect ; so 
far as it feels and desires, it is called disposition. The 
disposition, however, has its sent in the intellect, or feeling 
and desiring are, above all, conditions of presentations, 
and certainly, for the most part, changeable conditions of 
presentations." ' Thus, according to Herbart, the soul 
can function as intellect and it can function as feeling ; 
yet the latter function is evidently dependent on the 
former. Witliout presentation, that is, without know- 
ledge, there can be no feeling. He who knows not feels 
not. The uneducated man is less capable of feeling than 
the educated man. Education of feeling is possible only 
through the education in knowledge. Such is the doctrine 
of Herbart, and it is a doctrine that is apt to be scouted 
no less by the Herbartian critic than by the " plain man." 
The ground of the doctrine is found in Herbart's ex- 
planation of how feeling, and especially the feeling of 
pleasure, arises. " A presentation comes forward [into 
consciousness] through its own strength, at the same 
time being called forward by several helping presenta- 
tions. Since each of these helps has its own measure 

' Lehrbuch, p. 29, § 33. 



hekbart's theory of feeling. 81 

of time in which it acts, the helps may strengthen one 
another against a possible resistance, hut they cannot 
increase their own velocity. The movement in advancing 
takes place only with that velocity which is the greatest 
amongst several presentations meeting together ; hut it is 
at the same time favoured hy all the rest. This favouring 
is a determination or aspect (Bestimmnng) of what takes 
place in consciousness, but in no way a determination or 
aspect of a something presented ; it can only be called 
feeling — without doubt a feeling of pleasure." ^ Now, 
in the first place, this favouring is clearly different from 
the movement, for the movement in advancing is 
" favoured." The terms whereby Herbart describes the 
movement do not apply to the same thing as the term 
" favouring " does. The " favouring " is an aspect of the 
movement. In the second place, the favouring is in no 
way a determination or an aspect of something presented. 
That is, there is not a something presented which is 
separable from the presentative activity and which is 
accompanied by a feeling of " favouring." The favouring 
is a determination neither of the movement, as move- 
ment, of presentations, nor of an object presented : it is 
simply a determination of that which is moving. That 
is, it is a determination, aspect, or state of the presenta- 
tion as we have interpreted it. It is a state of the soul 
active, of the life of the soul at a particular moment, a 
state in which the soul as an organic unity finds itself 
in and through a special phase of its development. 

We may consider the notion of " favouring " in terms 
of Herbart's own explanation. Let A represent the 
presentation that is coming forward into consciousness 

1 Lehrbuch, p. 31, § 37. 
F 



82 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

through its own strength, and a the force which would 
ultimately bring it into consciousness. Let B, C, D 
represent the helping presentations, and h, c, d their 
respective forces. Then, whilst A could rise into consci- 
ousness through the force a, it is actually pushed forward 
by forces a, h, c, and d. Thus the actual force at work 
is represented by « + & + c + r/. Hence h + c + d repre- 
sents the excess of the force actually required to bring 
presentation A into consciousness. The force b + c-\-d, 
therefore, attaching to the presentation A, exists for con- 
sciousness as a ijleasant feeling. Such an explanation, in 
spite of the forbidding mathematical nomenclature, does 
not altogether fail to correspond to or to interpret our 
actual experience. On reflection we do find ourselves 
conscious of the Herbartian " favouring " or excess of 
force. We have an immediacy of feeling which pro- 
claims that in successful activity ^ we have done more, 
spent more force, than was necessary to accomplish the 
result, or at least that we could have done more with 
the surplus force of whose possession we were somehow 
conscious. Language itself may be unconsciously testify- 
ing to this when we say that we have surmounted a 
difficulty. Following Herbart's example, we may try to 
illustrate the point in mathematical terms. In every 
state of mental activity there is present a certain amount 
of restraint and a corresponding effort. No presentative 
activity is perfectly free except when it has brought 
the presentation to full clearness, and at that very 
moment the soul ceases to be active in that particular 
direction. Let us suppose then that, in trying to bring 
forward a certain presentation into full consciousness, 

1 Lehrbuch, p. 32, § 37. 



HERBARTS THEORY OF FEELING. 83 

the amount of restraint at a given moment is — 'ip and 
the amount of free activity +2$'. Numerical co-efficients 
are adopted for simplicity. Then, on the supposition 
that the presentation is gradually becoming clearer, we 
may further assume that at some succeeding moment the 
amount of restraint has been reduced to — ly and the 
amount of free activity increased to + Sg-. On this 
assumption, then, we have a transition from —3^ + 2^ to 

— 2^ + ?>c[. Similarly, let other moments be represented 
by the series — ^ + 4^^, + 5?, the last representing the 
full presentational activity that makes the presentation 
clear. Xow the presentational activity implied in pass- 
ing from —2? + 4? to O-f-5? does more than simply 
prove itself equal to the restraint —ig. The free activity 

-f 5§' has not only proved itself equal to the amount 
of the restraint — p, in which case there would only be 
tension, but it has got rid of the j), as represented in the 
expression + 05'. The acti\aty -|- 5^- is thus greater 
than the restraint —p. But the disappearance of —-p 
means that the presentation is clear ; hence the activity 
represented by the form + og- implies an amount of 
activity greater than is necessary to make the presenta- 
tion clear. 

To say, then, that feelings are conditions of presenta- 
tions is to say that the soul functioning in certain pres- 
entations has feelings. The soul functioning as intellect 
functions also as feeling. What Herbart means or im- 
plies when he calls feelings " changeable conditions of 
presentations " is, that as soul activity changes feeling 
changes. " Feeling and desiring are conditions of pres- 
entations," or the soul in living its life of presentative 
activity experiences the feelings of pleasure and pain. 



84 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

Feeling, then, is dependent on knowledge, but not on 
knowledge as something separable from a knower. The 
sonl lives in its presentations, and to say that presenta- 
tions or knowledge must precede feeling simply means 
that the soul must live before it can feel, or — which is 
the truer interpretation of Herbart's " changeable con- 
ditions " — the soul must live in order that it may feel. 
It may be objected that the soul can function as 
feeling independent of presentation. Thus it may be 
said that in the case of bodily pleasure or pain we do 
not first knoio the pain, then feel it ; we feel the pain, 
and in feeling it are aware of it, or know it. But this 
very awareness or knowledge of the soul cannot be 
regarded as separate from the pain which the soul 
experiences ; the pain and the knowledge of the pain 
are constitutive of an indissoluble unity of experience. 
The pain is not present without the knowing nor the 
knowing without the pain. Neither is first. The soul 
functions as knower and feeler in one and the same 
activity, and only by abstraction can we speak of the 
knowing aspect of soul-life as apart from the feeling 
aspect. If either is first it would seem that knowledge 
of a change must precede knowledge of the effect of the 
change. Thus it would seem that I first know that my 
bodily organism is not what it was, and that consequent 
on this I feel the change, or the change as known has 
a certain value for my consciousness. But the question 
as regards the feelings of bodily pleasure and pain is 
of little consequence here. Such feelings, as Herbart 
states, arise from the nature of that which is felt, and 
are therefore not amenable to the direction of presenta- 
tions or knowledge. From the point of view of char- 



hekbart's theory of feeling. 85 

acter development it is those feelings that are due to the 
interaction of jiresentations or to the mental conditions ^ 
that are the chief concern of the Herbartian theory of 
feeling, and hence of the Herbartian theory of education. 
Since the feeling of mental pleasure depends on the 
excess of force over the force necessary to bring a present- 
ation into consciousness, pleasure depends on the effici- 
ency, to us, of our mental activity. Hence pleasure, 
as being dependent on the degree of efficiency of activity, 
must be measured by a purely quantitative standard. 
Pain will be measured by the same standard. Is there 
then no qualitative distinction between feelings except 
the general and sometimes very indefinite one of pleas- 
ure - pain ? Ostermann, in his lengthy criticism of 
Herbart's theory of feeling, says that the theory fails 
to distinguish between the intensity and the quality of 
feeling. "It is a well-known experience that feelings 
differ from one another, not only with respect to their 
intensity but also with respect to their colouring (Far- 
bung). The pleasure feeling of an sesthetical enjoyment 
bears quite a different character to the pleasure feehng 
say of satisfied covetousness, the pain of weariness quite 
a different character to that of sorrow, &c." . . . "If 
feeling, according to Herbart, were really only based 
on the co-operation and opposition of presentation 
powers, . . . then the distinctions of feeling could only 
be expressed in terms of the intensity of pleasure or 
pain ; . . . the distinguishable quality of the presenta- 
tion content relative to feeling is considered by Herbart 
only in so far as this same qualitative difference deter- 
mines the greater or the less amount of furthering and 

1 Lehrbuch, § 101. 



86 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

checking." ^ But what is meant by quality as opposed 
to quantity or intensity of feehng ? Is the quality 
really in the feeling ? Every feeling has a stimulus, 
but we can hardly say that the subject feels the stimu- 
lus : he feels the result or the effect of the stimulus. 
Now in the case of " an a3sthetical enjoyment " and a 
" satisfied covetousness " the feeling is connected with 
presentations, and the content of each presentation is 
the stimulus to the feeling. But it is only of the 
content or the colouring of anything that we can in- 
telligibly use the term quality. Hence if we do not 
feel the stimulus or the content it is difficult to see 
how we can ascribe any qualitative attribute to the 
feeling other than the general one of pleasure. It may 
be said, however, that the soul-activity and the stimulus 
are so inseparably connected that the activity takes a 
" colouring " from the character of the stimulus. But 
it may be said with equal force that it is only the 
inter-activity of the two inseparable factors that is felt, 
in wliich case we must still speak of the quality of the 
stimulus and the quantity of the feeling. Again, when 
we speak of pleasure, we mean pleasure without reference 
to the stimulus ; when we speak of pleasures, we mean 
pleasure with our eye on the stimulus.^ When we say 
that one pleasure differs from another, we are looking 
not so much at the subjective condition as at the stimu- 
lus, and we differentiate the subjective conditions ac- 
cording to the differences amongst the stimuli. 



' Die liauptsaclilichsten Irrtiimer der Herbartschen Psychologic, 2nd 
ed., p. 104. 

- Professor Ward's Article on Psychology in the Ency. Britt., 9 th ed., 
vol. XX. 



herbart's theory of feeling. 87 

Further corroboration of the Herbartian position is 
found in the fact which Professor Ward points out, that 
before the period of reflection the individual estimates 
pleasure not by a qualitative but by a quantitative 
standard. He seeks to retain that state of consciousness 
which is pleasurable, and to rid himself of that state of 
consciousness which is painful, whatever be the sources 
of the pleasure and pain. If this is true before the 
period of reflection, why should there be a change of 
attitude towards pleasure and a different standard for 
its measurement after reflection ? 

But it will be urged, if there is only a quantitative 
standard, then the so-called higher pleasure should be 
resolvable into terms of greater pleasure. And yet it 
does not seem that the pleasure of the man who enjoys 
Shakespeare is greater than that of the man who reads 
a " shilling shocker." Nay, if one were to judge by 
appearances we should be induced to believe that the 
reverse is true. Professor "Ward's solution of the dif- 
ficulty seems to be adequate, and is at every point 
capable of being expressed in Herbart's terminology 
and in consonance with Herbart's thought. The life 
of the educated man is larger, fuller, and better than 
the life of the uneducated man. Or to express it in 
Herbart's language, the apperceptive system of the 
educated man is larger, more complex, and more perfectly 
correlated in all its parts than the apperceptive system 
of the uneducated man. Now suppose the uneducated 
man gradually to advance to the state in which he will 
be recognised as an educated man. The advance may 
and does involve effort, pain ; but at no point along the 
whole line of advance does the man seek pain but 



88 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

pleasure, or, to put it in Leibniz's negative form, the 
avoidance or throwing off of pain. He knows, however, 
that any pleasure he can experience is only relative, 
and that when confronted with several possible pleasures 
he has to make a choice between theui, Now his in- 
creasing knowledge and experience, or his new and ever- 
increasing number of presentations, have their corres- 
ponding feelings. The individual, tlierefore, still pursu- 
ing pleasure, makes the calculation that there is more 
pleasure to be had at the new and higher point in his 
life than at an earlier stage ; and as he advances still 
farther he realises that more pleasure is to be had by 
continuing the advance than by remaining stilL If we 
could have an absolute standard of intensity we might 
be led to think that, measured by such a standard, the 
pleasure attendant on a lower activity is greater than 
that attendant on a higher activity. The pleasure of 
the vicious man often seems to be more intense than 
that of the virtuous man. But the seeming only means 
that we are measuring the intensity in terms of some 
outward bodily manifestation. We are measuring the 
intensity of the pleasure by the intensity of the sensa- 
tion — that is, the intensity of nervous action. But if we 
are to measure the psychological phenomenon of pleasure 
by physiological phenomena, the conclusion would be 
foregone that the vicious man has the greatest pleasure. 
Granted, then, that the feeling of pleasure is a purely 
psychological phenomenon and must have a psychological 
explanation, there can be no absolute standard of inten- 
sity. The pleasure is experienced by and relative to 
the individual ; and hence, when he advances from a 
lower to a higher plane of life, the pleasure which he 



herbaet's theory of feeling. 89 

experiences as the result of any single activity may quite 
easily be regarded by him as greater than the pleasure 
he previously experienced in connection with a lower 
activity. If we designate the pleasure as deeper, we 
mean that the " higher " pleasure having connected with 
it less of that physical disturbance associated with the 
" lower " pleasure is regarded as more inner to our 
being; but we still estimate the pleasure itself as 
greater — we find greater pleasure in the activity that is 
more inner. And if we employ the category of dura- 
tion as being more applicable to the higher pleasures, we 
are clearly still estimating pleasure quantitatively. 

Another criticism advanced by Ostermann against the 
Herbartian theory of feeling is worthy of some considera- 
tion, as it further illustrates the somewhat confused in- 
terpretation which Herbart's " presentation " conception 
is apt to receive. The criticism is as follows : " Since 
favourings and checkings signify a corresponding addition 
or subtraction of presentation, it follows that with the 
change in clearness of the relative presentations the 
change of feeling must go hand in hand. Of course, 
according to this theory, those presentations which are 
raised to the fullest clearness must always be the bearers 
of the liveliest feelings of pleasure. . . . Granted I 
busy myself in thought with a dear friend from whom I 
have been separated. His image rises quite clear and 
unchecked in my memory ; but it awakens in me a 
poignant feeling of melancholy. Then I receive from 
my absent friend a letter in which, quite unexpectedly 
to me, he intimates that he will soon be with me. 
Forthwith my sorrow is changed into lively joy, but 
not for the reason that through the news the presenta- 



90 A NEW INTERPKETATION OF HEEBART. 

tion, or if you prefer it the whole ' complex ' of presenta- 
tions connected with him, reached perfect clearness — for 
its clearness is neither something added to nor some- 
thing taken away through the news — but only because 
I am assured through the letter that I shall soon be 
once more united to my friend. . . . The more the 
thought [absence of a dear friend] presses into the fore- 
ground of consciousness — that is, the more it raises itself 
over all other presentations to an unrestrained clearness — 
the greater the pain." ^ According to Osterman, the fact 
that the clear presentation " dear friend " is accompanied 
by a feeling of pain proves that clear presentations are 
not always the bearers of the liveliest feelings of pleasure, 
as they ought to be according to the Herbartian theory. 
But the presentation " dear friend " is not the presenta- 
tion that is awaking the feeling of pain. The presenta- 
tion " dear friend " cannot, from the very meaning of the 
expression, have anything but a pleasurable condition of 
consciousness attached to it. The painful feeling is 
awakened, not by this presentation, but by another 
though associated presentation — viz., "absent dear friend." 
Now this last presentation is, on Ostermann's own show- 
ing, bound up with the presentation " present dear 
friend." But the latter presentation cannot in the 
cii'cumstances be brought to anv degree of clearness, 
simply because the friend is not present or not yet 
known to be on his way. It is this presentation follow- 
ing immediately on the first presentation that awakens 
the painful feeling, and it awakens this feeling because 
it is not a clear presentation. The presentation that 
struggles in vain for clearness is "presence of my friend"; 

^ Ostermann, p. 106. 



herbart's theory of feeling. 91 

and, because of the fi'uitless struggle, pain follows in 
strict accordance with the Herbartian theory. Next, I 
receive a letter to the effect that my friend will soon be 
with me. That is, 1 now know through the letter that 
the presentation " presence of my friend " is gradually 
coming into perfect clearness. It will be perfectly clear 
when I actually see and have personal intercourse with 
my friend, hut not fill then. The clear presentation "dear 
friend " affords me pleasure ; the clear presentation " ab- 
sent dear friend " and its correlative presentation "wished- 
for presence of the friend " — for the moment repressed 
— gives me pain ; and the presentation " assured presence 
of my friend " and the perfectly clear presentation of 
" my present friend " gives me pleasure. Ostermann seems 
to assume that there is one presentation throughout the 
whole mental experience : there are at least three differ- 
ent presentations. It is true that there is " neither 
something added to nor taken away from " the presenta- 
tion " dear friend " by the news of the letter, but then 
the presentation " dear friend " is not the presentation 
that persists throughout the experience. The first 
presentation " dear friend " is not altered by the news, 
but the associated presentation " presence of dear friend " 
is certainly brought nearer realisation or, in Herbart's 
language, made clearer. 

Such criticism as Ostermann's is partly founded on 
the assumption that the Herbartian theory separates 
the presentations from any central unifying agency, and 
thus does away with the notion of " worth " through 
which the soul decides as to what are the presentations 
that, in harmony with its own life, should become clear. 
But if we admit that the Herbartian " presentation " im- 



92 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBAKT. 

plies a liviug presentatively active soul, then, from the 
point of view of this soul-life, " those presentations which 
are raised to the fullest clearness must always be (and 
are) the bearers of the liveliest feelings of pleasure." 
Some form of physical punishment undergone at a given 
time is a perfectly clear presentation only in the sense 
that the individual is actually suffering. But such a 
presentation is not sought for by his soul-life : it is a 
something foreign to and opposed to his organic apper- 
ceptive soul-life which seeks to avoid pain. It is not 
Ms presentation. Whatever presentation can truly be 
called his, will, when brought to fullest clearness, be 
accompanied by the feeling of pleasure. This, if our 
interpretation is correct, is all that the theory of Herbart 
implies. 

A not uncommon though somewhat trivial objection to 
the theory that feeling is dependent on knowledge is, 
that if the theory be true, then the educated man should 
feel more than the imeducated man, whereas the opposite 
often seems to be the case. The objection evidently 
bears on the question as to whether knowledge is, or 
at least conduces to, virtue ; for, if feeling is the motive 
to action, it would seem that under the Herbartian theory 
the ignorant man is at a disadvantage in his efforts 
to be virtuous. The objection is due to the failure to 
distinguish between the term " educated " and the term 
" presentation." The educated man may have a very 
large and complex apperceptive system as compared with 
his ignorant neighbour, but he may lack some one or 
more presentations which the ignorant man has ; conse- 
quently he may fail to manifest feeling on occasions when 
the ignorant man, having the necessary presentations, at 



hekbakt's theory of feeling. '93 

once responds. The unlearned poor we have always with 
us ; and we are apt to be struck with the undoubted 
sympathy which they show in word and act towards each 
other in times of stress. But this proves nothing as to 
the truth or falseness of the Herbartian theory. The 
real test could only be secured by placing the two men 
in exactly the same circumstances, and by assuming that 
the educated man has exactly the same presentations as, 
in the case of the poor ignorant man, are associated with 
the feeling. A poor uneducated man, say, experiences 
the pangs of hunger. Suddenly he is relieved by the 
gift of some kindly benefactor. Tliereupon he shares his 
good fortune with a fellow-sufferer. In such a case the 
presentation " hunger " is followed by the presentations 
" means of relief " and " relief itself." But alongside 
these presentations is the other presentation " fellow- 
sufferer." Now the presentation of the suffering of his 
fellow is just about as clear as the presentation of his 
own suffering — both men are suffering the pangs of 
hunger ; consequently the same or nearly the same feel- 
ing is roused in both cases. To the well-off educated 
man, on the other hand, the presentation " hunger " may 
never have had anything like the same clearness ; and 
consequently in his case the resulting feeling could not 
be the same as in the case of the poor man. Even 
though he knows and sees that the poor man is suffering, 
this knowledge is far from being as clear as the presenta- 
tions that the two poor men have in common. In order 
that he should have something like the same presentations 
he must actually experience or have experienced the same 
degree of hunger that the poor men are experiencing. 
If, after repeated experiences of the same presentations 



94 A NEW INTKllPKETATION OF HERBART. 

as the poor men have, he still fails to feel and respond 
as the first man does, then we may begin to doubt the 
truth of the theory that feeling is dependent on presenta- 
tions. Ijiit the test just mentioned is only partial. The 
necessary complement would be to place the poor man in 
the environment of the educated man, and compare the 
effect on each of presentations that are much clearer to 
the educated than to the uneducated man. Let them 
both, for example, listen to a declamation of Portia's plea 
for mercy in Shakespeare's " Merchant of Venice." Both 
hear the same words, and both doubtless have presenta- 
tions that have something in common ; but the presenta- 
tions of the educated man are necessarily far clearer than 
those of the uneducated listener, and experience testifies 
to the fact that the feeling response of the educated man 
is greater than that of the uneducated. In both parts of 
the test the man who has the clearer presentation has 
the larger amount of feeling. And Herbart points par- 
ticularly to the caution that must be observed in decid- 
ing as to the amount of feeling displayed in such cases 
when he says that " feelings and desires have not their 
source in the process or act of presentation in general 
hut ahvays in certain particular presentations." ^ 

If the theory of the dependence of feeling on presenta- 
tion is true, the inevitable educational corollary is that' 
there can be no education of the feelings per se. The 
meaninglessness of an appeal to the feelings per se is un- 
consciously shown by Ostermann. "Whilst admitting the 
close connection between feeling and presentation, he 
yet urges the importance of a direct appeal to the feel- 
ings per se through the medium of literature sacred and 

1 Lehrbuch. § 38. 



herbart's theory of feeling. 95 

secular that appeals to the child's feelings.^ But if an 
appeal is made through literature, then this literature 
must be either not understood, or partly or wholly 
understood. If it is not understood, it is difficult to 
see how there can be any response of feeling ; if it is 
even partly understood, then the appeal is rendered 
effective through presentations. Ostermann's view that 
the feelings should be appealed to per se seems to be 
founded on the idea, not uncommonly held by the 
practical teacher, that the effect of good literature on 
a child's feeling is rendered nugatory by explanation. 
But whether the effect is rendered nugatory or not 
depends on the character of the explanation. If the 
explanation is such that the knowledge presented does 
not fit in to the child's apperceptive system, the ex- 
planation is futile. But if the explanation is given 
in and through presentations that can be assimilated by 
the child's circle of thought, the result is bound to be 
a greater appreciation of the literature, and consequently 
a greater amount of feeling response. And it is part of 
the merit of Herbart's educational theory that the child 
is not artificially forced into an insincere appreciation of 
anything until his knowledge has grown up organicall}' 
to that point where appreciation and feeling will naturally 

follow. 

^ Ostermann, p. 239. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

herbakt's theory of desire. 

Whilst feeling is closely related to presentation, desire 
is more closely linked to will activity. So close is the 
relationship, according to Herbart, that " the faculty of 
desire taken in conjunction with that of presentation and 
feeling should furnish a complete classification [of the 
mental powers or activities]. It must therefore include 
wishes, instincts, and every kind of longing, inasmuch as 
all these cannot be reckoned amongst either feelings or 
presentations." ^ That is, the activities of mind may be 
summed up under the three heads of presentations, feel- 
ings, and desires. Now, even if we include under the 
class desire, " wishes, instinct, and every kind of longing," 
we may still ask where " will " comes in ? The answer 
may be reached through an examination of what Herbart 
means by desire. The meaning is found in his explana- 
tion of how desire arises. " A complex a + a is repro- 
duced by means of a new presentation which is similar 
to a. Now when a, on account of its combination with 
a, comes forward, it meets in consciousness a presentation 
/3 opposed to it. Then a will be at the same time driven 
forward and held back : in this dilemma it is the source 

1 Lehrbuch, § 107. 



herbart's theory of desire. 97 

of an unpleasant feeling which may pass over into desire 
(namely, for the object presented through a), in so far as 
the opposition through /3 is weaker than the force with 
which a comes forward." ^ Let us illustrate by an ex- 
ample. On a lovely day in July, whilst sitting indoors 
in the city working, I receive a present of trout from my 
friend X in the country. The presentation " trout " calls 
up the presentations of fresh air, hills, heather, stream, 
&c., along with the presentation of my own former fish- 
ing amidst the same or similar surroundings. This last 
presentation — the a of the complex a + a — is connected, 
through my past experience, with pleasurable feelings. 
Xow, if this presentation could at once leap into full 
clearness — that is, if at the very moment the presenta- 
tion came into consciousness I could suddenly be trans- 
ported to the stream and could find myself actually fish- 
ing — there would be no need on my part to desire, as 
there would be no time to do so. But when the pres- 
entation " fishing " comes forward into consciousness with 
all the force of the complex of which it is a part, it is 
met by the presentation " work to be done," which also 
has a certain force. Now, if I give up neither the idea 
of my fishing nor the idea of my work, but try to keep 
both before me, the result is an unpleasant feeling. The 
moment that this unpleasant feeling is experienced is the 
moment when the force of presentation a is equal to the 
force of presentation |3. If this state of tension — which 
after all is more of the nature of a backward and forward 
movement — is to be got rid of, it can only be either by 
leaving off work or by dismissing the presentation " fish- 
ing " from its prominent place in my consciousness. But 

' Lehrbuch, § 36. 
G 



98 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

if the presentation " fishing " rises more clearly than the 
presentation " work," then the moment that this happens 
desire begins. The moment I begin to think more, in 
however small a degree, of the fishing than of my work, 
desire rises ; and it will continue to rise either till it has 
been satisfied— that is, when the presentation "fishing" is 
clear and I am actually engaged in fishing — or till the 
force of the presentation is overcome by that of some 
other presentation. If the illustration is adequate to 
Herbart's own statement of his theory, then the following 
are the elements which, in accordance with our general 
interpretation, enter into the activity called " desire." 
First, it is not a dead mechanical presentation that is 
moving forward towards full clearness, but the soul- 
activity manifesting itself in and through the complex 
a + a. Second, when this soul-activity is met by an 
opposing activity — that is, when the one soul-activity 
seeks to move forward in two opposite directions — there 
is a momentary feeling of being thwarted, which exists 
for the soul as unpleasant feeling. Third, the soul, by 
the force of its own life momentum, — a complex of pres- 
entations organised into a living apperceptive system, — 
tends to push on towards the full and clear re-presenta- 
tion of the previously experienced presentation. This 
pushing implies effort to free activity from its impedi- 
ments, and, consequently, some degree of pain. This 
pain continues so long as the pushing forward continues, 
though in a diminishing degree as the desired presenta- 
tion is gradually reached. Alongside the decreasing pain 
feeling there is an increasing pleasure feeling, which 
reaches its maximum when the presentation is clear. 
Fourth, and this is the most important element as regards 



herbakt's theory of desire. 99 

the question of " will," whilst the soul is conscious of 
the struggle of its own presentative activity, it is also 
conscious of the pleasure-pain throughout the struggle. 
That is, the consciousness of the struggle is in a sense 
different from the consciousness of the feeling accom- 
panying the struggle. To express the experience by the 
figure of a line, we might say that the soul is conscious 
of its progress along the line, and at the same time feels 
the effect of progress at every successive point of the 
line. The movement of the soul-life along the line con- 
stitutes the desire ; the consciousness, on the part of the 
soul, of the effect of its own movement on itself at every 
point of the line, constitutes the feeling. Fifth, as the 
desire increases — that is, as the soul continues to move 
forward along the line leading to the dea7' presentation, 
say of fishing — all other obstructing presentations are 
gradually weakened in force. The moment that the 
presentation " fishing " reaches such a degree of clearness 
that the opposing presentation " work " is completely ob- 
scured, in that moment external action takes place, and a 
first step is taken to arrange for a fishing holiday and to 
make the presentation " fishing " perfectly clear. 

From the point of view of the educator, the question 
as to the source of this soul movement called desire is 
an all-important one ; for, if desire passes over into will, 
the regulation of the will can be accomplished only 
through regulation, in so far as this is possible, of the 
source of desire. In explaining the source of desire 
Herbart distinguishes between the lower and higher 
faculties of desire. In treating of the lower faculties of 
desire he classifies the sources of desire as (1) animal 
instincts, of which man has only a small share ; (2) im- 



100 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

pulses, particularly those in which bodily movement and 
change and the restless activity of children originates ; 
(3) " inclinations, or those lasting mental conditions 
which are favourable to the rise of certain kinds of 
desires. . . . They are for the most part results of habit 
(Gewohnheit), which seems to pass over from the faculty 
of presentation into the faculty of desire. For there 
are first the thoughts which follow the accustomed 
direction, and which, if no hindrance intervenes, pass 
over at once into action before there is any perceptible 
feeling and desire." ^ It is the third class with which 
we are most concerned, as being those which, according 
to Herbart, seem most capable of being controlled ab 
extra. According to Herbart, their source is in a habit. 
But it is not a habit of external action, but a hahit of 
presentation, a habit of knowing, which passes into desire. 
That is, the soul habituated to function as presentative 
activity along certain lines, becomes thereby habitu- 
ated to bring certain presentations to clearness more 
than others. " The thoughts follow the accustomed 
direction, and if no hindrance intervene pass over into 
action." ^ Herbart recognises the power of habit, but 
it is a power in and through the content of knowledge. 
Hence, if a child is trained to know aright in the full 
Herbartian sense of knowing, he will desire aright. The 
organic nature of his apperceptive system will in time 
become such that, like the physical organism, it will 
respond automatically in the right direction. But this 
automatism that follows on training is not the auto- 
matism that precedes training. Through training in 
knowing the individual is led from the lower plane of 

1 Lehrbuch, §§ 110, 111, 112. ^ jbij. 



herbakt's theory of desire. 101 

blind desiring to the higher plane of deliberate desiring, 
where he weighs the relative values of " ends," or where 
he aims and wills one course of action rather than 
another. But it may be objected that, since the soul 
is aiming at the possession of happiness, or at being in 
a pleasurable state of consciousness, therefore in the 
last analysis feeling and not presentation determines 
the desire. For answer let us revert to our former 
illustration. The presentation " trout " called up the 
other presentations, including that of " fishing " and its 
accompanying pleasurable state. Now, the presentation 
" fishing " and the accompanying presented or recollected 
pleasurable state are not at first at all " clear." The 
presentation " fishing " is certainly much clearer than 
the pleasurable state. Indeed the pleasurable state 
cannot be remembered except through the presentation 
" fishing." I can have this presentation without neces- 
sarily having any remembrance of the accompanying 
feeling, but not vice versa. But suppose it is the re- 
membrance of the pleasurable state that rouses the 
desire. In the first place, this remembrance owes its 
origin to the presentation " trout." In the second place, 
my desire to experience the pleasurable state of con- 
sciousness can only be realised through a series of 
presentations. The last of this series is the presenta- 
tion " fishing," which I must bring to perfect clearness 
before I can he in the pleasurable state desired. When 
the presentation is " clear," and I am actually engaged 
in fishing, the desire ceases. Further, it would have 
been futile to desire the state without knowing the 
means that would produce the state. Bather, I desire 
the -presentation, the attainment of which will inevitably 



102 A KEW INTERPRETATION OF HERB ART. 

be accompanied by the state. The desire starts from 
a presentation and ends with a presentation. It may 
still be urged that the presentative activity has been 
operating all along the line with its eye, as it were, 
fixed on the outcome of its activity — the pleasurable 
state — and that thus it has really been determined by 
feeling. But when the movement of desire begins, the 
feeling is not present. All we can say is, that the 
remembrance of the feeling is present. It is question- 
able if we can say even so much. The state of feeling 
does not precede, nor does it start alongside of, but is at 
the end of, the movement of desire. At the moment 
preceding this movement we know that our having 
a certain presentation will result in our being in a 
pleasurable state ; and whilst we desire to te in the 
state, we desire even more to have that presentation 
without which we know we cannot be in the state, but 
with which we know we must be in the state. 

The general criticism advanced against the theory 
that desire is, like feeling, dependent on and deter- 
mined by presentation is, that the child has desires 
and inclinations long before he has presentations, and 
that Herbart's theory does not fit in with biological 
facts. Both Dittes and Hubatsch, for example, advance 
this criticism. Hubatsch maintains that we must accept 
the doctrine of inborn activities that are other than 
merely " formal." ^ But what does this doctrine amount 
to ? According to our interpretation of Herbart, we 
must regard the presentation as the expression of the 
organic soul-life and not an abstract activity or activity 
in vaciw. Now the " formal " inborn activity which 

^ Gespriiche iiber der Herbart-Ziller'sche Piidagogik, pp. 56, 57, &c. 



HEKBARTS THEORY OF DESIKE. 103 

Hubatsch rejects is just the same kind of activity which 
Herbart regards as meaningless and valueless from the 
point of view of a pedagogical psychology. In what 
sense then are we to interpret Hubatsch's idea of inborn 
activities or inclinations ? The terms must refer to the 
soul either before it enters space and time conditions — 
that is, as a metaphysical soul, or after it enters those 
conditions — that is, as a soul united to matter. If 
activities are meant to be applicable to the metaphysical 
soul, then on Hubatsch's own demands these activities, 
in order to be other than formal, must be acting in and 
through something, or acting out something. But we 
have already tried to show that a real activity such as 
Hubatsch insists on is constituted by two inseparable 
factors — the activity, and the thing that is being pro- 
duced pari 2MSSU with the activity. Now the only 
conceivable way in which soul can act in this way is 
in and through a something which, while inextricably 
bound up with and partly constitutive of its own life, 
is at the same time an " other," which in some sense or 
other it must first be aware of and then gather up into 
and make part of its life. Unless the term " metaphysical 
soul" is to be interpreted as something even less than 
zero, we must postulate, alongside of any activities attrib- 
uted to it, its possession of the attribute of avjareness. 
And the presence of this awareness, in however small a 
degree, implies presentation. If, then, the expression 
" inborn activities " means that the soul has these activ- 
ities before it appears united to matter, these activities 
must imply some degree of presentation. 

But suppose we grant that the expression "inborn 
activity " means a readiness of soul to desire in one 



104 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

direction more than in another the moment the soul 
is linked to matter, it does not seem impossible to 
reconcile the position of Herbart with biological facts. 
Biological facts are facts relating to the phenomenal, 
to matter; and if matter is not only the mode of soul- 
apprehension or soul-activity, but that inseparable factor 
which with soul-acti\dty helps to constitute an intelligible 
real, then the moment that the soul begins to live in the 
midst of matter — be it a protoplasmic cell or anything 
more primal — its life is first and foremost one of pres- 
entation. If the first presentations are of a semi-lifeless 
nature, so too are the first desires and inclinations. If 
it could l)e proved that the infant's first vague inclina- 
tions and desires exist apart from any corresponding 
presentations, then the Herbartian position might be 
held to be false. In the absence of this proof we are 
justified in regarding the position as true that not only 
can no desire exist apart from presentation, but that 
desire exists in and through a presentation. In other 
words, the movement of soul known as desire is deter- 
mined by knowledge and not by feeling. Hence the 
educational importance of right knowledge. Hence, too, 
the partial responsibility of the educator, — partial, for it 
is simply stating a corollary of the Herbartian theory as 
we have interpreted it, to say, that the child through 
heredity is in possession of a circle of thought, including 
vague inclinations and desires, long before the parent, 
and certainly long before the teacher, has the chance of 
influencing that circle. And the truism that Hubatsch 
points out, that character cannot be altered so easily 
(that is, through the circle of thought), is a proof, not 
that Herbart is wrong, but that an already existent 



HERBARTS THEOEY OF DESIRE. 105 

apperceptive mass of presentations which leads its 
possessor to do wrong can be combated only through 
a similar but opposing circle of thought — that the 
organic soul-life functioning strongly in one direction 
can and must be habituated to function more strongly 
in an opposing direction. 



CHAPTER IX. 



IIERBART S THEORY OF WILL. 



" Will is desire combined with the supposition of the 
attainment of that which is desired." ^ I desire to stir 
my study fire, and, assuming I can rise from my chair, 
cross the room, take up the poker, and use it in the 
manner desired, I immediately go and fulfil my desire. 
The willing is not in any sense part of the external 
actions rising, crossing the tloor, lifting the poker, and 
stirring the fire. Suppose that at the very moment I 
thought the external action of rising was to take place 
I was prevented from rising by some sudden pain which 
kept me fixed to my chair, I would still have willed the 
action of stirring the fire. And the same would be true 
as regards the other intermediate actions. But suppose 
I desire to propel myself through the air after the 
manner of a bird. I know that I cannot do any such 
thing, and so I do not will, I cannot indeed will, to do 
it. I am conscious of the unattainability of my desire, 
at least at present ; and much as I may desire to fly, I 
do not and cannot will to fly. In this case there is no 
movement of mind, no inner activity, corresponding to 
that which takes place between the rise of the presenta- 

1 Lehrbuch, § 223. 



herbart's theory of will. 107 

tion " stirring the fire " and the external action of rising 
from my chair. The soul movement of desire, then, 
passes over into willing when the desire is accompanied 
by a presentation of the attainability of the thing 
desired, even though some ab extra influence may inter- 
vene to prevent the desire being realised. 

There are two ways of looking at the "willing" in 
the case. From one point of view the willing to stir 
the fire may be regarded as made up of several acts of 
willing. From this point of view the willing is that 
inner or soul activity which (1) follows on the pres- 
entation " stirring the fire " and precedes my rising, 
(2) follows on the presentation " crossing the floor " and 
precedes the external act of my crossing, (3) follows on 
the presentation " lifting the poker " and precedes the 
act of lifting, (4) follows on the presentation " stirring 
the fire " and precedes the act of stirring. I will to 
stir the fire, but, in order that this my first act of 
willing may bear fruition, I must also will to rise, to 
cross the floor, and to lift the poker. 

From another point of view — and the more important 
view as regards the full interpretation and value of 
Herbart's psychology — the presentation "stirring the 
fire," the willing to stir the fire, and all the acts lead- 
ing up to and including the act of stirring the fire, tend 
with repetition to become, and ultimately do become, 
one single organic act of functioning activity. This 
point of view is expressed by Herbart as follows : " Will 
is desire accompanied with the supposition of the attain- 
ability of that which is desired. This presentation 
becomes united with the desire so soon as in like cases 
the effort of action has had a result. For then with 



108 A NEW INTERPKETATION OF HEKBART. 

the beginning of a new similar action there is associated 
the presentation of a period of time in which the grati- 
fication of the desire may be accomphshed. From this 
arises a glance into the future, which glance gets more 
and more extensive in proportion as man learns to pro- 
vide more numerous means towards his end. Let a 
series a, /3, 7, S be formed in a previous perception 
of the course of an event. Xow let the presentation 
S be in the condition of desire. Although as such it 
strives against an arrest, yet the helps which it sends 
to the presentations 7, /3, a may act unhindered in 
the event of those presentations just indicated meeting 
no arrest in consciousness. Then 7, /3, a will be re- 
produced in proper gradation, and pro\dded one of these 
presentations is bound up with an activity, then an 
action occurs through wliich, under favourable external 
conditions, tlie previous course of the event may be 
actually renewed in such a manner tliat a, /3, 7 act 
as means towards the end S." ^ To take our former 
illustration, we may regard a, j3, 7, as representing 
the presentation series — rising, crossing, lifting, stir- 
ring — which once constituted the course of the event, 
stirring the fire. The presentation S — stirring the fire 
— arises in consciousness. I as presentatively active 
desire to make the presentation clear. Now the pres- 
entation S, being previously associated with the pres- 
entations 7, j3, a, tends to reproduce these presentations, 
along with itself, in their original order. But the first 
presentation a — viz., rising — was, in a former experience, 
connected with an actual rising ; and so the revival of 
this presentation in consciousness is followed by the 

1 Lehrbuch, § 223. 



HERBARTS THEORY OF WILL. 109 

presentation in its clear form — viz., the act of rising. 
Similarly with regard to the other presentations. The 
several presentations of the series are, through repetition, 
so closely connected with the external acts corresponding 
to them and with one another that, imder the rising 
power of S, the activities connected with the presenta- 
tions a, j3, 7 follow on spontaneously, and without any 
special willing, on my part, of those activities. So 
spontaneous indeed may the process become, that at 
last I am unable to detect myself conscious of willing 
even the first presentation of rising. The presentation 
" stirring the fire " will ultimately come to be so bound 
up with the means necessary to make the presentation 
clear, that the moment the presentation appears in 
consciousness action will follow. If this is a true 
interpretation of Herbart's language, then his theory 
does not, as is urged by some critics, overlook the place 
of hahit in education. Further, if presentations and the 
external activities corresponding to them could be as 
closely linked together as those of our illustration, then 
we might justifiably expect that right knowledge would 
be followed by right action. And it is the claim of 
Herbart that knowledge and action can be so welded 
together that he who knows the right will not fail to 
do the right. It still remains to show the full grounds 
of such a claim. His treatment of the question of 
freedom of the will helps toward this, and at the same 
time affords additional support to our interpretation 
of the central point of his psychology.^ 

In the first place, Herbart rejects the Kantian trans- 
cendental freedom of will, according to which the will 

^ Cap. V. 



110 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

is assumed to stand outside of, and in opposition to, the 
causality of nature. If the word transcendental is taken 
in this sense, then, as Herbart argues, " the natural power 
of the passions would be altogether powerless against 
such a freedom. P)Ut the relation which nothing (im- 
plied in powerlessness) bears to something is as something 
to infinite magnitude, so that if the power of passion be 
considered as something, transcendental freedom must 
be regarded as infinitely strong." ^ The notion of such 
a transcendental freedom is, according to Herbart, a 
" psychological illusion." How the illusion arises Herbart 
explains as follows, and the explanation is of considerable 
value in the way of showing what Herbart's psychology 
really is. " When a decision, springing out of the com- 
pleted reflecting act, is on the point of presenting itself 
(that is, of being made), it often happens that a desire 
arises and opposes that decision. In such a case the 
man does not know what he is willing : he regards 
himself as standing in the middle between two forces 
which draw him towards opposite sides. In this act of 
self - consideration he places reason and desire over 
against each other as if they were foreign [outside] 
counsellors, whilst he himself as a third listens to the 
other two and then decides. He believes himself to be 
free to decide as he will." But " the reason to which 
he gives heed and the desire which rouses and allures 
him are not in reality outside him but in him, and he 
himself is no third standing beside the other two, but 
his own spiritual life lies and works in both. When, 
therefore, he at length chooses, this choice is nothing 
other than a co-operation of just those [factors], reason 

1 Lehrbuch, § 235, note 1. 



herbart's theory of will. 111 

and desire, between which he thought himself standing 
free." Again, " When a man finds that reason and desire 
are nothing outside him, and he nothing outside them, 
the decision which arises from their co-operation is not 
an outside one but his own. Only with self -activity 
has he chosen, yet not with a force which is different 
from his reason and desire, and which could give a result 
different from the result of the co-operation of reason 
and desire." ^ The explanation is in line with Herbart's 
psychological standpoint as we have interpreted it. 
When Herbart says that a man's " own spiritual life lies 
and works in both reason and desire," and that " only 
with self-activity has he chosen," he means, not a presen- 
tation-activity apart from soul, nor a soul-activity that 
comes in as it were on occasion and operates on presen- 
tations, but a soul-activity that manifests itself in and 
through presentations — a life-activity which apart from 
presentations is an abstraction — an activity that is the 
presentations in their rising and falling. If it be ob- 
jected that the " I " can think of itself as directing the 
activity of reason or desire, and in this way seems to 
point to an existence separable from and above presenta- 
tions, the answer is, that this thinking on the part of 
the " I " is not outside itself but is part of its own life. 
The soul's presentation to itself of itself, whatever be 
the explanation of how this can take place, is never any- 
thing but a presentation of its own, belonging to it as 
part of its life-activity. The soul never transcends its 
own thought. Whatever its thought may be, whether 
thought of itself or thought of an " other," it still lives 
in and through thought, which thought is constitutive of 

1 Lehrbuch, § 118. 



112 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

its life. The soul is thought, not, however, thought in 
the idealistic sense of mere representation, but thought 
in the sense in which we have interpreted it as a com- 
ponent of two inseparable factors — presentative activity 
and presentation content.^ 

If, then, the self-activity with which a man chooses 
is nothing standing outside the choosing, but is the soul 
presentatively active, then will is not a force that is 
separable from tlie activity of presentation ; it is that 
activity when the activity is associated with (1) a con- 
sciousness on the part of the soul of an end desired, and 
(2) the assumption that it can reach its end. Here, 
then, we seem to be in sight of the full meaning of the 
central position of Herbart's psychological theory that 
" will springs out of the circle of thought." If our in- 
terpretation up to this point holds good, then " will " 
may be defined as the soul 'presentatively active and con- 
scious that it can attain to a desired end. Now if desire, 
as we have already concluded,^ is a soul movement in 
and through presentations, and if " will " is simply this 
soul movement accompanied by the soul's assumption 
that it can attain the object of its movement, then 
" will " is a soul movement in and through presentations, 
and therefore may be truly said to spring out of and 
to be determined by presentations — that is, by knowledge, 
or, to use Herbart's own language, hy the circle of thought. 

Let us, even at the risk of repetition, consider the 
definition of will given above in light of our former in- 
terpretation of Herbart's " soul reaction " theory. So 
far as psychology is concerned, the first moment of soul- 
life consists in a becoming aware of an " other," and 

^ Caps, iii., v. ^ Cap. viii. 



HEKB art's theory OF WILL. 113 

this is followed by a " reaction." This awareness of an 
" other " involves the sense of limitation, and this is 
followed by effort on the part of the soul to maintain 
itself against the limitation by taking up and absorbing 
as it were the limitation, and making it part of its own 
developing life. The awareness of an " other " precedes 
the effort to persist in face of that " other " ; and so it 
may be said that, even at the beginning of soul-life, 
" will," or the presentatively active soul conscious of its 
attainable desire, springs out of a circle of thought. At 
this stage, however, — if after all such a starting-point 
has any meaning to us, — the circle is only at its c&ntrc, 
or rather is only a centre. Looking at the point at a 
later stage, we find it has become a group of presenta- 
tions welded together into a more or less complete ap- 
perceptive system. The soul, starting a time and space 
life as a presentative activity in and through awareness 
or knowledge, has become more of an organic complex. 
In consequence of this organic unity its functioning at 
any one moment is determined by the soul-activity as 
a whole. But each of its life moments or function- 
ings consists of presentative activity. This presentative 
activity is simply the will power looked at in ab- 
straction from the presentations in which it manifests 
itself. Hence the soul, as a presentatively active essence 
conscious of attaining the object of its own activity, is 
determined by all its previous life of presentations, 
or in Herbart's language, by the " circle of thought." 
Right thinking then should issue in right willing : the 
soul that thinks the right in Herbart's sense of a truly 
organic process of thinking must ipso facto ivill the 
right. 

H 



114 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF IlERBART. 

But granting that to know the right in such a way is 
to will the right, how does such right knowing come 
about ? How is a child to be led so to know the riglit, 
that in knowing it lie will at the same time " will " it ? 
Herbart answers, through self-control. But it is objected 
by critics that, for this self-control, Herbart by his neglect 
of the concept of hahit has made no provision. This 
objection has already been partly considered, Herbart's 
treatment of this question of self-control is in harmony 
with the interpretation already given of his will theory. 
He distinguishes between three kinds or rather stages of 
self-control. First, there is the adval self-control — that 
is, the control as it is actually going on, as when a man 
is actually repressing an outburst of temper. Second, 
there is the 'prospective or anticipated self-control which 
a man in a present moment demands of himself at a 
future moment, as when I demand of myself to-day that 
I shall go and help a neighbour to-morrow. Third, there 
is the obligatory self-control, the control which a man 
ought to exact from himself.^ If a man had freedom in 
the transcendental sense, then this third species of self- 
control would always be possible. Actual self-control 
and prospective self-control are exemplified in the case 
of a child who " almost unobserved and without being ac- 
quainted with the difficulties of the matter controls him- 
self in drawing back from an action which serves as a 
means to an end, and in resolving to do it at a future 
time." "' Here the actual self-control consists in the 
child's turning aside from the action. The presentatively 
active soul in its forward movement to make the pres- 
entation of the action clear is suddenly confronted with 
1 Lehrbuch, § 228. ^ j^jj^ § 229. 



HERBARTS THEORY OF WILL. 115 

some circumstance which leads it, for the time being, to 
make some other presentation clear. The very fact that 
it turns aside to make this presentation clear means, in 
the language of our interpretation, that, at the particular 
moment, the functioning activity in this apparently 
erratic path is really the direct outcome of the soul-life 
as an organic unity at that particular moment. To use 
Herbart's language, the child has been faithful to him- 
self. And he has been faithful simply because in and 
through his presentatively active mass or circle of past 
presentations he has willed the next and most closely 
organically connected step in his developing soul-life. 
Such a trueness to self is what the truly virtuous man 
must have. The difference between the child's faithful- 
ness and that of the virtuous man is, that the virtuous 
man is conscious of moral ideas, and wills his development 
in and through these ideas. Thus, after all, his highest 
virtue is dependent on his liecoming, in the sense just 
indicated, " as a little child." 

In the prospective self-control which the child exacts 
of himself there are, if the action contemplated is after- 
wards willed, two acts of williug. First, the child wills 
the future doing of the action. Second, when the period 
of delay is at an end he wills the delayed action. But — 
and this is a highly significant point — "it is a question 
whether the present willing is the same as the former 
willing." ^ That is, if the soul-life is an organic develop- 
ment in presentations, its functioning at one moment is 
not the same as its functioning at a future moment, any 
more than the functioning of the physical organism, say 
holding a pen to-day, is the same as the functioning of 

1 Lehrbuch, § 229. 



116 A NEW INTEKPRETATION OF HERBART. 

the organism in holding the pen yesterday. During the 
interval the totality of soul-life has undergone modifica- 
tion, and the change in the totality must involve change 
in the particular functionings, even though these function- 
ings be in the same direction. The case of some simple 
promise may illustrate the ground for differentiating 
between the two wills. I promised a friend yesterday 
to play a game of golf with him to-day. Yesterday I 
willed my to-day's playing with my friend. To-day 
comes, and I will to implement my promise ; and forth- 
with start off to the golf-course. But when I now will 
to go and play the game, I am no longer presentatively 
active exactly in the same way in which I was yesterday, 
when I willed my to-day's playing. Even supposing I 
have had no other presentations in the interval, I yet 
have one presentation which I had not yesterday — viz., 
the presentation of yesterday's willing. Even in this 
extreme and practically impossible case I, as the pres- 
entatively active being, am different from what I was 
yesterday. Hence my willing of to-day is distinctly 
different from my willing of yesterday. Only on the 
assumption that the " I " is an absolutely changeless 
entity, and that it is this entity which wills, can we say 
that the willing of to-day is the same as the willing of 
yesterday ? And this supposition we have already tried 
to show to be unnecessary and useless. Moreover, experi- 
ence too well testifies that at the moment when the action 
has to be done we do not always will it so spontaneously 
as when we merely willed that we would do it. My will- 
ing of to-day does not spring so naturally from my present 
soul-life. Other presentations occupy my consciousness 
to-day, and I may feel disposed to continue the series of 



herbart's tiiiory of will. 117 

these presentations as being more organically connected 
with my soul-life of to-day, and in continuing which I 
may feel I would be more faithful to myself. But whilst 
I am in this mental state, a new presentation appears — 
the presentation of " oughtness," — I ought to implement 
my promise of yesterday. Now if this presentation gains 
the ascendancy, that is, if I do implement my promise, 
it cannot be because the implementing of my promise 
springs organically from my present soul-life which, on 
the supposition, is preferring some other presentation. 
It must gain its ascendancy through some other presenta- 
tions that are organically connected with that soul-life. 
Amongst such presentations may be my friend's disap- 
probation, and the thought of being considered unreliable. 
And until this presentation of " oughtness " prevails 
through its own strength, my willing is not really 
determined by it, but by those presentations which are 
more closely connected with my present soul-life. In 
following the lead of such a presentation I am not faith- 
ful to myself, or rather I am only apparently faithful to 
some externally imposed law by being really faithful to 
myself. Herbart's dictum that " the man only gradually 
learns how easily he can be unfaithful to himself"^ cuts 
two ways. The man who acts in accordance with an 
externally imposed law which has not yet as a presenta- 
tion become naturally and organically connected with the 
man's soul-life or apperception mass, is as unfaithful to 
his real self as the man who, knowing the law as a 
reasonable law, yet falls away from acting in accordance 
with its dictates. This is the inconsistency of will which 
it is the task of education to remove. The interval, how- 

1 Lehrbuch, § 229. 



118 A NEW INTEErRETATION OF HERBAET. 

ever short it may be, between willing the control and the 
actual control, between will and performance, must be 
filled up with life moments so organically connected with 
the soul-life in its willing, that performance will, unless 
prevented by ah extra influences, ultimately and inevit- 
ably follow the willing. The ideal self-control, then, is 
attained when the soul, as presentatively active, wills in 
accordance with some moral idea involving " oughtness," 
which has so much become part of its own life of pres- 
entation that it could not will otherwise. When the 
soul wills the right in and through its own organic or 
apperceptive life so often that the willing becomes spon- 
taneous and control as an effort disappears, then self- 
control is greatest, and knowledge in the true sense of 
the term becomes power. 

In regard to the standard by which the rightness 
of willing is determined, Herbart rejects the Kantian 
theory that the good will determines itself by fixing its 
own standard, and that consistency with itself must 
be its fundamental principle. It is unnecessary here 
to repeat the well-worn argument that such a principle 
of willing is only a formal one, and that under such 
a principle there can be no real distinction between 
the good and the bad will, inasmuch as the bad man 
can be quite as consistent in his willing as the good 
man. It is more to our argument to note that Her- 
bart's rejection of an absolutely undetermined will is 
in harmony with, and indeed necessitated by, his theory 
of the soul. The absolutely undetermined will, or the 
will that can stand out of all organic relation to soul- 
life, is as useless an abstraction as a metaphysical soul 
that can stand above and apart from manifestations. 



herbaut's theory of will. 119 

Just as the soul is known in its activity, so will is 
known in its activity. Eather, from Herbart's point 
of view as we have interpreted it, we must say that, 
the soul being known in its activity, " will," which is 
a soul movement, can only be known in its activity 
and not apart from activity. Whilst Herbart defines 
the good will as " the steady resolution of a man to 
consider himself as an individual under the law which 
is universally binding," ^ this universally binding law 
is not the universal law of Kant. It is such a law as 
is found by experience to be immanent in the world. 
A physical organism grows from point to point in ac- 
cordance with laws which, in a sense, are made by its 
interaction with other organisms and with its environ- 
ment in general. The organic growth is determined by 
such interaction, and therefore by the laws which are 
exemplified in the interaction, but which do not and 
cannot intelligibly stand apart from the interaction 
in which they find exemplification. And just as these 
laws are immanent in the interaction, so from Her- 
bart's point of view the laws of good willing, or what 
he calls the " moral ideas," are experienced by, and 
intuitively approved by, the soul-life in its interaction 
with other soul-lives. The experience of certain interac- 
tions reveals or rouses the ideas, which are seen to have 
a binding force on all men.^ The will that wills action 

1 Die Aesthetische Darstellung der Welt. Sallwiirk's ed., p. 202. 

- How these moral ideas or ideals are formed iu our rainds and in 
advance of conduct is another question. In dealing with the principles 
of Leibniz (p. 34) we have hazarded an answer. Our experience is not 
confined to what can be brought under the laws of the understanding. 
In our human relationships we seem to understand up to the limit of a 
finite experience ; and after that to have, in Leibniz's language, a " clear 
perception " of the ideal which is ever in advance of our conduct. 



120 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

in accordance with these moral ideas is the " good will." 
This is morality. From this conception of morality 
it follows that an action, regarded by others as good, 
but not willed with knowledge that it is good, has no 
ethical value. The " good will " wills what it knows to 
be good universally. Hence Herbart's dictum that the 
ignorant man cannot be virtuous. Since right action, 
unless prevented by outside influences beyond the in- 
dividual's control, will follow good willing, good will- 
ing is justly regarded as the highest attainable end of 
soul-life, and therefore the highest end of moral educa- 
tion. " Since morality has its place singly and only 
in individual volition based on right insight, it follows 
of itself first and foremost that moral education has 
by no means to develop a certain external mode of 
action, but rather insight together with proportionate 
volition in the mind of the pupil." ^ In these words 
Herbart pointedly declares against that one-sided view 
of moral education which makes such education to 
consist in the training of the child, through frequent 
repetition, to do certain things. If there is right " in- 
sight together with proportionate volition in the mind 
of the pupil," external action need not concern the 
educator, for right knowledge, in Herbart's sense, will 
be accompanied by right willing, aiid right willing by 
right action. Such a morality, and such an educational 
aim, is by no means merely contemplative. With Her- 
bart there is no sharp line between virtue as a state 
and virtue as expressed in outward action. The virtue 
which is a mere state of right thinking and feeling, 
but which may or may not pass over into action when 

^ Allgemeine Piidagogik. Bk. I. ch. ii. 2. 



herbakt's theory of will. 121 

outward conditions allow of this, is not virtue. From 
the point of view of Herbart's psychology, the real 
meaning of such a state is, that the soul-life as a 
•'' psychical organism " ^ has not been sufficiently habit- 
uated in so living in a certain series of presentations 
that its inner activity will on occasion necessarily ex- 
press itself in external action. If the aim of moral 
education, according to Herbart, concerns itself wholly 
and exclusively with the inner activity of the pupil, 
it does so because thereby alone is secured the only 
safe guarantee of a morality that shall be practical and 
real. 

1 Lehrbuch, § 238. 



CHAPTER X. 

herbart's concept of interest. 

Granted that right knowledge in Herbart's sense is 
bound to be followed by right willing, the question, 
How can the individual be brought to such a stage of 
knowledge, has to be considered more definitely than 
by the general reference to " habit," which we have 
claimed to be implicit in the psychology. The full 
answer is found in Herbart's ' Science of Education,' ^ 
and the fact that it is found in connection with his 
educational writings seems to show that he was look- 
ing at the problem more from the point of view of facts 
than from that of any preconceived metaphysical or 
psychological theory.^ 

With his eye on the child, Herbart declares that the 
final aim of education is morality or the formation of 
character. This aim is to be reached through the 
nearer aim of a "many-sided interest," which in turn 
is to be secured through an " educative instruction." 

^ Allgemeine Piidagogik aus dem Zweck der Erziehung abgeleitet. 

^ Cf. ' An Introduction to Herbart's Science and Practice of Education,' 
by H.M. and E. Felkin, p. 9 : "The psychology of the author was worked 
out and written down during many years of educational activity, and rose 
in great part out of the experiences acquired thereby" — a quotation from 
Herbart's announcement of his ' Outlines of Educational Lectures' (1835). 



herbart's concept of interest. 123 

The theory of " educative -instruction," taken in con- 
nection with the concept of interest, may indeed be 
regarded as implicitly containing Herbart's theory of 
hahii. That Herbart makes comparatively little refer- 
ence to habit means, not that he overlooks the educa- 
tional significance of habit, hut that his whole system of 
educative instruction, leading to a many-sided interest, 
essentially and necessarily implies the presence of habit all 
along the line of that instruction. That this is so we 
hope will be evident from an examination of the mean- 
ing which Herbart attached to the term " interest " as 
employed by him. 

The meaning and educational significance of Herbart's 
" interest " may best be understood by first considering 
that so-called interest known as indirect or mediate 
interest. A child, say, is led to do a good action, not 
because it recognises any moral law in the case binding 
on himself as on all others, but simply because the doing 
of the action will save him from punishment. What 
the child is interested in is the presentation " punish- 
ment " with its correlative presentation " absence tjf 
punishment " ; and so long as he fails to see how the 
action is wrong, no amount of punishment will lead him 
to regard the action as interesting in itself. In the 
same way, when any part of knowledge is acquired by 
the child for the sake of some other gain than the 
knowledge itself, the child is interested, not so much in 
the knowledge as in that which the acquisition of the 
knowledge will enable him to secure. It may and often 
does happen, that after the pursuit of this knowledge 
has begun, the knowledge becomes interesting in itself 
apart from the ulterior gain ; but, in the case supposed, 



124 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBAR'I". 

the beginning of the pursuit is not directly interesting. 
Whether in doing the action or in acquiring the know- 
ledge, the second and ulterior aim is that which, at the 
start at least, the child tiuds to be part and parcel of 
his true self, that is, his natural self. Neither the action 
nor the learning liows from the child's soul -life as it 
is ; neither is the organic outcome of his apperceptive 
system ; and hence his apperceptive system or soul-life 
cannot be said to be directly interested in doing the 
action or in acquiring the knowledge. In the case of 
the action, if he were certain that the clear presentation 
" punishment " was not to follow, he would be instan- 
taneously faithful to liimself, and would will the pres- 
entation that is most closely allied to his already exist- 
ing presentations, and the presentation therefore that is 
most interesting to him — viz., the non- doing of the 
action. If the end " avoidance of punishment," for 
which the means " doing of the action " is employed, 
falls out of the child's view, either the means is seen to 
be unnecessary and is therefore unemployed ; or, if the 
means is still employed, that is, if the child does the 
action without knowing it as a right action, such doing 
is mechanical and of no moral worth. 

But, it will be objected, if an appeal is not to be 
made to indirect interest, how is the child ever to be 
induced to acquire knowledge or to act in accordance 
with moral law ? The best answer to this objection is 
to ask what is gained by an appeal to indirect interest. 
AVhen certain presentations are really wanted by the 
child, that is, when the child's natural self as an organic 
soul-life requires certain knowledge of presentations as 
necessary to its development then these presentations 
are interesting in themselves, and do not require the 



hekbaut's concept of interest. 125 

support of an appeal to indirect interest in order to 
secure their appropriation by the child. If the soul- 
life at a particular moment is complete without these 
presentations — if these presentations have no point of 
connection with the soul-life at the moment they are 
thrust before it — no appeal to indirect interest can 
change the uninteresting character of the presentations. 
The rote learning, by a child, of the multiplication- table, 
in so far as there is no interest in the exercise itself, 
is absolutely uninteresting, meaningless, and premature. 
To the common objection that it is better that the child 
should, under the motive force of some indirect interest, 
acquire such knowledge at a time when his memory is 
more acquisitive, the answer is that it has not yet been 
proved that under a true system of education the child 
will not acquire this knowledge more readily and more 
surely when his organic soul -life needs it. Professor 
Laurie admits that " knowledge acquired under extraneous 
motives is of a formal, memorial, and rote character," 
but adds that " it must be admitted that this kind of 
knowledge — which is not knowledge properly so-called, 
because it is not assimilated to the living organism of 
mind — may yet pass at some future time into know- 
ledge, that is to say, may find its true connections and 
relations, and be finally assimilated." ^ But what if it 
does not pass into knowledge properly so-called ? Is it 
scientific procedure to impart any knowledge on the 
chance of its being at some future time " assimilated to 
the living organism of mind " ? How will such know- 
ledge " find its true connections and relations " to the 
other constituents of soul -life unless the mind goes 
through the series of presentations once more and sees 

^ Institutes of Education. Second ed., p. 252. 



126 A ^'E\V INTERPRKTATION OF HERBART. 

these one by one in their true connections and relations ? 
If we are to employ the concept of organism to explain 
psychological growth we must be faithful to the concept 
throughout. Are we faithful to it when we speak of 
a growth of unassimilated knowledge that will be assimi- 
lated at some future time :* The growth must be in the 
living mind or not in it. If it is not in it, it is diffi- 
cult to understand how such a growth can link itself 
later on to the living organism so as to be incorporate 
with it. If it be urged that at the assimilation stage 
the soul-life needs not to go through every part of the 
previously acquired but unassimilated knowledge, then 
the necessary " connections and relations " must have 
been made in the interval between the first acquisition 
of the knowledge and its proper assimilation to the living 
organism. They have been made slowly and by means 
of a continuous series of more living presentations ; 
which only proves the prematureness and uselessness 
of the " formal, memorial, and rote knowledge." 

If it be urged that such exercises in learning may 
be made interesting in themselves even while the remoter 
interest is still present, then it is the immediate and 
direct interest, and not the remote or indirect interest, 
that is really appealing to the child. Again, it may be 
claimed that the appeal to indirect interest secures a re- 
sult ultimately helpful to the soul development of the 
child. It is urged that the constant repetition of the 
good action, even though not recognised as a good action 
by the child, enables the child to perform the action 
more easily when he does come to recognise the moral 
worth of the action. In other words, the child is 
trained to do what to him is meaningless actions, on the 
ground that later on he will do these actions easily and 



hekbaet's concept of intekest. 127 

intelligently. But Herbart claims that under his theory 
the child will come to do these same actions as easily 
and as intelligently as under the other theory, and 
without having his soul-life subjected to long aiid, to 
him, meaningless restrictions. According to the theory 
knowledge and will proceed pari 'passu, and the organic 
advance of soul-life in and through presentations is or 
ought to be such that the moment the child knows the 
rightness of an action he will spontaneously will the 
action. And further, the habituation involved in the 
Herbartian training has meaning and therefore interest 
to the child all along the course of development. The 
appeal to indirect interest, therefore, cannot well be 
justified from the point of view of the individual soul, 
for any such appeal does not in itself greatly conduce 
to organic development. The appeal must be justified 
on the ground that the interests of others — of society — 
must be considered, and that the child must be com- 
pelled, if need be, through indirect interest to attend 
to and to obey what to him are the meaningless and 
therefore only indirectly interesting laws of society. 
Herbart practically admits this. At the same time, he 
places little reliance on such interest as a formative 
factor in character development ; and whilst some would 
ascribe to indirect interest a necessarily important place 
in education, it has yet to be shown that a system of 
education is impossible in which the appeal to indirect 
interest is reduced to comparatively insignificant limits. 
In the early stages of education the appeal to indirect 
interest is generally regarded as inevitable, and that 
Herbart's counsel to appeal to nothing but direct interest 
is a counsel of perfection. It may be so ; but if our in- 
terpretation of Herbart's psychology is in the main true. 



128 A NEW INTERPKETATION OF HERBART. 

Herbart is nearer the truth than his critics. As an 
instance of the easy sort of criticism with which Her- 
bart's doctrine is rejected we may cite Hubatsch, who 
asks, " How can one awaken interest in Latin declensions 
unless one rouses the desire to learn through the 
presentation that it is something fine, mighty, and worth 
a struggle, to know Latin ? But naturally this is a 
mediate interest." ^ Now the question as to whether a 
pupil can take an immediate interest in Latin declensions 
or only an indirect one, depends on the way in which 
the declensions are taught and learned. Herbart would 
claim that even a Latin declension can be made directly 
interesting if its acquisition is made to proceed organically 
from knowledge already known to the learner. Cer- 
tainly the learner may be asked to look forward to an 
end interesting in itself, but this need not prevent the 
several steps towards that end from being each directly 
interesting. Again, " we must take men as we find 
them, and be contented if we can awaken even mediate 
interest." True, we must take men as we find them ; 
but Herbart's, as every other educator's, contention is, 
that we shall take children as we find them, and by a 
timely interference secure a truly organic soul develop- 
ment with a minimum appeal to indirect interest. The 
absolutely uninteresting is the absolutely unknown, and 
never can be known. The uninteresting, therefore, that 
can be known by the child through indirect interest 
must contain a nucleus of direct interest ; and this being 
granted, the truth of Herbart's position is admitted. 
The difficulty — and it is a great one — that confronts 
the educator is to find that nucleus from which he is to 
' Gesprache iiber der Herbart-Ziller'sche Piidagogik, p. 149. 



HEKBARTS CONCEPT OF INTEREST. 129 

guide the soul-life of the child along a neutral line of 
development. If such a nucleus can be found, Herbart's 
theory is true in practice ; if such a nucleus cannot be 
found, then it is difficult to see how there can be any 
real science of education. That such nuclei of direct 
interest can be found is at once the implication and 
motive force of the modern pursuit of Child Study. 

The conclusion to which these considerations lead 
us is that psychologically there is no such thing as in- 
direct interest. The expression may be a useful one 
for ordinary non- scientific purposes, but is a contra- 
dictory and misleading one for the purposes of educa- 
tional theory, which is in urgent need of well-defined 
working concepts. 

We now turn to the elucidation of Herbart's concept 
of " interest." In employing the term " apperceptive " 
Herbart does not intend to distinguish between his 
" interest " and any other kind of interest. The term 
simply indicates the medium in and through which 
" interest " works. " Interest " works in and through 
apperception, and without the apperceptive process 
there is no " interest " in any definitely intelligible 
sense. We shall follow Herbart's development of his 
concept by means of a diagram suggested by Herbart's 
own language. Here it may be remarked that at 
present at least there is little danger of educational 
science suffering from an excessive diagrammatising of 
its concepts. Indeed, until we can reduce our concepts 
to some more or less well-defined representative forms, 
we shall never escape either in theory or in practice 
from the incubus of those vague quasi-scientific general- 
ities that inspire the practical teacher with so little 

I 



130 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF IIERBART. 

confidence. If an educational concept is to be of any 
real practical service to the teacher, then, just as in 
every other applied science, the essence of the concept 
should be hovering before the tocher's mind as a 
sort of visual sign-post indicating the way. It is one 
merit of Herbart's educational theory that its funda- 
mental concepts are such like sign-posts. His concept 
of " interest " is an illustration of this. 

Let the small circle in the diagram represent the 




totality of soul-life at some early stage of its existence. 
Let a, h, c, d, represent some of the presentations forming 
part of the soul-life, and let lines a A, &B, &c., repre- 
sent the directions in which presentations a, h, &c., 
tend to develop — that is, the directions in which the 
several constituents, a, h, c, of the soul-life are most 
interested to go. 

Each of these lines, then, represents a certain con- 
centration, absorption, or burying of the soul-hfe in 
a particular series of presentations, to the exclusion 
of all other presentations. This concentration {Vertie- 
funy) is the very essence of the conception " being 



il 



HERBART S CONCEPT OF INTEREST. 131 

interested." In Herbart's language, " As a suitable 
light is necessary to every picture, as judgment requires 
a fitting frame of mind in the observer of every work 
of art, so a suitable attention is required for every- 
thing worthy of being observed, thought, or felt, in 
order to understand it wholly and correctly and to 
transport oneself into it." ^ In the so-called indirect 
interest there is no such transporting of oneself. 

Yet the soul -life, which for the time may have 
lent its whole force to the support of its own constitu- 
ent presentation a and its concentration effort repre- 
sented by the line OA, may forget that there are other 
presentations in its life than a, each of whose par- 
ticular concentration lines will have to receive atten- 
tion. " The individual grasps rightly what is more 
suitable to his bent, but the more he cultivates him- 
self in that direction the more certainly does he falsify, 
through his habitual frame of mind, every other im- 
pression " ^ that may be made upon any other present- 
ation or presentations of his soul -life. The result is 
one-sidedness. But " from the many-sided man many 
acts of concentration are expected. He must grasp 
everything with clean hands ; he must give himself 
wholly up to each one." " What is wanted, therefore, 
is that the central soul-life should, after accompanying 
and assisting one of its members on a concentration 
quest, be able to recall itself to the centre 0, there to 
take stock of its new acquisitions, to co-ordinate them 
to the soul-life in general, and to repeat the process 
as often as may be required in the case of the other 
constituent members of the soul -life, b, c, &c. This 

^ Allgemeiue Piidagogik, Bk. II. cap. i. 1. - Ibid. * Ibid, 



132 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF IIERBART. 

recalling of itself on the part of the soul-life to the 
base and co-ordinating the results is what Herbart 
means by the term " Bcsinnung" and which we may 
translate by the word " Reilection." The possibility, 
therefore, of the development of an interest which 
shall be many-sided, and therefore complete, depends 
on the ability of the central agency of soul - life to 
summon back the various units of soul-life before they 
stray too far on their concentration journeys. In Her- 
bart's words, then, " the concept of interest takes its 
origin for us in this, that we break off, as it were, 
something from the growths of human activity, whilst 
we in no way deny to inner vitality its manifold 
developments but certainly deny their extreme ex- 
pression. What is broken off or denied is action, and 
that which immediately impels thereto, desire." ^ The 
play of presentation below the threshold of conscious- 
ness cannot be controlled by the educator ; but above 
the threshold this can be regulated by an opposing 
system of presentations. 

But it is not enough for the production of a many- 
sided interest that there should be concentration and 
co-ordination. The results of the different concentra- 
tions may, when placed alongside each other in the 
act of reflection, refuse to harmonise. That is to say, 
the knowledge acquired at one time and in one direc- 
tion may be contradictory of the knowledge acquired 
at another time and in another direction. And yet 
we assume that all knowledge is a unity, and that the 
results gathered in by the soul-life from A, B, C, &c., 
should at least not contradict each other, but should 

^ Allgemeine Piidagogik, Bk. II. cap. ii. Introd. 



heebart's concept of interest. 133 

form a harmonious addition to the previous sonl-life. 
If for some reason they do not harmonise with each 
other and with the previous soul-life, then the devel- 
opment of a many-sided " interest " is not proceeding 
as it ought. Now, whilst the acts of concentration 
aA, &B, &c., exclude each other, yet thought can pass 
from one line to the other by intermediate presenta- 
tions ; and if the gap between the lines or the number 
of the intermediate presentations is not too great, the 
transition is made in the act of co-ordination. If, 
however, the distance between the lines aA, cC is so 
great that the soul-life fails to see nothing but contra- 
dictoriness between the knowledge brought in from A 
and that brought in from C, then we say that method 
has been at fault, and that the development of interest 
in the direction A should not have been followed by 
the development of interest in the direction C but in 
some other and more closely-allied direction. 

Herbart's concept of " interest " thus includes — 

First, a concentration or absorption of the soul-life 
in several directions. 

Second, ability on the part of the soul-life to reflect 
on and co-ordinate in its own unity the several acts 
of concentration. 

In this act of reflection the results of the different 
concentration acts are seen to run together and become 
a unity with each other and with the previously at- 
tained soul-life. 

These well-defined psychological moments that con- 
stitute the concept " interest " determine, for the edu- 
cator, the general method of procedure to be followed 
in presenting knowledge to the pupil. 



134 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF IlEHBART. 

First, presentation must be clear at every point of 
the instruction ; for, if the concentration act is to be 
perfect, no extraneous presentation must be allowed 
to enter into the particular concentration series so 
as to blur the definiteness of any member of the series. 
Such clearness is secured through Analysis and Syn- 
thesis — that is, through a separation of the component 
parts of any one presentation so as to see the difference 
between it and every other presentation, and a re- 
combining of the separated parts into their original 
unity. 

Second, since the co-ordinating and blending of the 
results of the ditferent acts of concentration are effected 
through that associating power of soul-life to which 
is given the name imagination, and which, viewing the 
different results together, sees one concentration series 
running into another, knowledge must be so imparted 
to the pupil that the new knowledge shall follow 
naturally on the old through its association with the 
old. 

Third, when the reflecting and co-ordinating acts 
are carried on in such a way that the mind sees each 
particular part of knowledge in its right relationship 
to every other part, the result is system ; and hence 
system must be the aim of the educator. 

Fourth, in order to produce this ultimate result in 
the individual mind, the educator must follow the 
method which he sees or ought to see running through 
system and which " produces new members of it and 
watches over the result in its application." ^ 

Herbart's " interest," then, is a psychological process 

^ Allgemeine Piidagogik, Bk. II. cap. ii. 2. 



herbakt's concept of interest. 135 

or movement comprising what we have called the two 
moments of concentration and reflection. We do not 
think we can too strongly emphasise the point that 
Herbart's " interest " is a different thing from the ohjects 
of " interest." It is true that Herbart, struggling, as 
we believe, with a new conception, falls occasionally 
into language that might lead us to suppose that there 
is no such marked distinction as we are insisting on. 
But in other passages he is quite clear as to the dis- 
tinction. Thus, in speaking of the " objects of many- 
sided interest," he says : " It is the interesting which 
the concentrations ought to pursue, and the reflections 
collect."^ Now it is the concentrations and the reflections 
that constitute, as we have seen, the concept " interest " ; 
and the " interesting which the concentrations ought 
to pursue and the reflections collect " cannot be the 
same thing as the " interest " itself. Again, in the 
expression, " Shall we undertake to enumerate the sum 
of interesting things ? " ^ there is an implied distinction 
between "interest" and "interesting things." And again, 
" Do not amongst interesting things forget interest." ^ 
True, he admits that " interest " apart from its object is 
a formal concept; but this is in perfect accord with 
his psychological standpoint as we have interpreted it. 
With Herbart the psychological subject and the external 
object constitute one indivisible unity of soul-life. Yet 
the one is not the other. There is the " interest," and 
there is the object in and through which interest works. 
Hence it is misleading to say that Herbart divides 
" interest " into six classes of interest. It is more 
correct to say that the same psychological process or 

^ Allgemeine Padagogik, Bk. II. cap. iii. Introd. 



13G A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

movement of concentration and reflection — that is, the 
same " interest " process works in and throitgh six differ- 
ent classes of objects. The confounding^ of the subjective 
and the objective aspects of the concept of " interest " 
only conceals the true inwardness of Herbart's thought 
and aim, and is, we believe, the foundation of the 
mistaken criticism that interest cannot be the end 
of educational practice. Truly, if " interest " is to be 
identified with the objects of interest, then, since these 
objects may be altogether immoral, we cannot un- 
reservedly subscribe to Herbart's dictum, " Educate so 
as to interest." What Herbart found, and what every 
educational reformer finds, to he the difficult thing to 
deal with in formulating an educational science, is the 
subjective — by far the more important — aspect of know- 
ledge. With his eye on the prime end of education as 
the formation of character, Herbart was in search of a 
definite concept of a soul-life that worked easily and 
freely in and through moral ideas — a concept which, 
whilst it would hold up an ideal or model for imitation 
to the pupil, would at the same time be a guiding 
and therefore ivorking concept to the educator. And 
such a working concept Herbart found in what he 
calls the fornial concept of " interest," but which he 
might with greater truth and with greater justice to 
his own thought have ventured to call the psychological 
concept of " interest." 

The most conclusive proof as to the meaning and 
educational significance of Herbart's " interest " is to be 
found, we think, from an analysis of his contrast between 
" interest " on the one hand and desire, cfcc, on the other. 
He says : " Interest which, in common with desire, will, 



herbart's concept of interest, 137 

and the aesthetic judgment, is opposed to indifference, is 
distinguished from those three things in that it does 
not go beyond its object, but depends on it. We are 
certainly, indeed, inwardly active whilst we are inter- 
ested, but outwardly we are inactive until interest passes 
over into desire or will. Interest stands mid -way 
between the first observation and attainment. This 
remark helps to make clear a distinction which must 
not be overlooked — viz., that the object of interest can 
never be the same as that which is desired. For desire, 
in liking to seize hold of, strives after something in the 
future which it does not yet possess ; whilst interest 
unfolds itself in the act of observation and as yet 
adheres to the contemplated present. Interest rises 
beyond mere perception only in this, that in interest 
the thing perceived has a special attraction for the 
mind and asserts itself amongst the other presentations 
by reason of a certain causality [causal power]." ^ It 
will help us to a clearer interpretation of this " interest " 
if we enumerate the points of Herbart's description. 
Negatively, " interest " is 

(1) not desire, will, or the aesthetic judgment. 

(2) not indifference. 

Positively, " interest " is an inner activity which 

(1) is due to the causality of so7ne presentation. 

(2) hegins at the point where the thing perceived 

begins to exercise an attractive influence. 

(3) goes on in the interval between the moment 

when we become simply perceptive and the 
moment when we attain some end. 

(4) attaches itself to the contemplated present, and 

^ Allgemeine Piidagogik, p. 72. 



138 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

(5) depends upon its object alone without going be- 

yond it. This object is different from the 
object of desire. 

(6) unfolds itself in the act of presentation. 

If we consider the above characteristics of " interest," 
we find we can describe them, and indeed are compelled 
to describe them, in the same terms which we employ to 
describe organic habit, and that as " habit " is meaning- 
less apart from something habituated, so " interest " is 
meaningless apart from a something habituated. 

First, interest is not desire, will, or the {esthetic 
judgment, but is an inner activity unfolding itself in 
the act of presentation. That is, interest is an imfold- 
ing activity of the soul-life, which unfolding takes place 
without the soul-life consciously directing the unfolding 
movement. Now the meaning of the concept of habit 
as applied to an organism is, that repeated organic 
activity in a certain direction has resulted, as it were, 
in the formation of a groove or rut which tends to 
become deeper and deeper and more and more deter- 
minative of activity along that groove. That is, once 
let the organic activity be started at any point of the 
groove — it may be the first — and it tends to continue 
to the end of the groove, uninterfered with by any such 
ab extra directing agency as " will." Substitute the term 
" interest " for organic activity, and what has been said 
of the latter can be equally well said of the former. 

Second, the start or the beginning of the " interest " 
movement is made or caused by some presentation 
which, from its past repeated connection with the 
existing apperception mass of the soul-life, exerts an 
attractive influence on that mass. That is, the moment 



herbart's concept of interest. '139 

the -apperceptive mass begins to incorporate the presen- 
tation into its own life, at that moment the unfolding 
activity or " interest " begins. The soul-life begins the 
movement when it desires to make clear the presenta- 
tion which attracts it, but after the start the movement 
continues of its own accord. It is the same with any 
organic activity external or internal that has become 
habitual. Any bodily movement, such as walking or 
cycling, is started by the presentation of the movement 
which we at the time desire and will to make clear or 
to realise. After the conscious start, the movement 
continues to unfold itself automatically. 

Third, " interest " attaches itself to a contemplated 
present object, and depends on this object alone without 
going beyond it. That is, the automatically unfolding 
movement is determined, not by its consciousness of the 
" end " to which it is going, but simply by the character 
of the point of the groove where it is. The soul-life, as 
an automatically unfolding activity, does not see beyond 
itself, any more than the automatically unfolding move- 
ment of my pen in writing the word " activity " is deter- 
mined at any point, say the letter " v," by the next 
letter " i." Whilst in this respect we may call it a 
blind movement, yet it is not a chance or indifferent 
movement : it follows one groove more than another, 
and in its perfect development through repetition cannot 
but keep to that groove. 

Fourth, the " interest " movement goes on in the 
interval between the moment when we become simply 
perceptive and the moment when we attain the object 
of the movement. This end, as we have seen, is not an 
end to the soul as an automatically unfolding activity. 



140 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

Tlie notion of " ond " is applicable to the soul only at 
the moment when it desires or wills to make a certain 
presentation clear. Whilst, therefore, the unfolding 
movement of " interest " is going on automatically in 
the soul-life, the soul-life is more or less conscious of 
a desired or willed end. When the "interest" move- 
ment is perfect, that is when hal)it is thoroughly in- 
grained, then after the first conscious start of the 
movement, that is after the end has been desired or 
willed, the " interest " movement proceeds without any 
apparent further consciousness on the part of the soul 
of the end desired or willed. It is important to note 
that Herbart recognises that the soul may start the 
movement of interesting itself in a presentation — say 
the presentation of speaking the truth on some occasion 
— without, however, allowing the movement to reach its 
conclusion. We may go a certain distance on the way 
towards realising a presentation, and suddenly turn aside 
at the call of another presentation. We may go so far 
as to think and know what we should do in a particular 
case, but we may refuse to give the presentation such 
clearness that we actually do the action. This simply 
proves that the soul-life is not yet completely habituated 
to this line of activity : it is not completely " interested " 
in it. The " interest " movement has not been sufficiently 
often repeated to ensure that, when it once begins, it 
will continue unfolding till it reaches its end in the 
external action. 

Let us explain a little further along Herbart's line of 
thought. What starts the " interest " movement, as we 
have seen, is some presentation of the soul-life that has 
been roused into prominence by the presence of some 



herbart's concept of interest. 141 

object (it may be an object of reflection or an external 
object). Now if the " interest " movement were perfect, 
this roused presentation would be followed by a series 
of allied presentations which would succeed each other 
quietly and inevitably. But more commonly the roused 
presentation is accompanied by some other presentation 
which is outside the above series, and which has been 
roused by the object observed. We shall illustrate in 
the case of an external object. The sight of a poor, dirty, 
crippled dog lying helpless in the middle of the street 
rouses in my soul apperception mass the idea or the 
presentation of lifting him aside. Now, if the soul move- 
ment is completely absorbed in this presentation, there 
will follow inevitably the series of presentations which 
will ultimately issue in my actually lifting the dog aside. 
But no sooner has the presentation " lifting aside " been 
roused than it is prevented from becoming " clear " by 
the springing up of a rival presentation, " disagreeable 
business," also connected with the object observed. There 
are thus two presentations in the field — " lifting aside " 
and " disagreeable business." So long as the former 
presentation is alone in the field the apperceiving soul 
is in an attitude of waiting — waiting the inevitable 
evolution of the presentation series. But the other 
presentation, " disagreeable business," being outside the 
former series, has hurried the soul movement out of 
its " waiting " attitude into one of looking forward and 
stretching out as it were to a something expected. The 
change from the waiting attitude to the hurrying forward 
movement has been caused by the sa^ne object viewed in 
two different aspects. The fresh presentation " disagree- 
able business " attached itself to the dog, and made the 



U2 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF IIERBART. 

object " move or change in a certain manner." The dog 
was no longer a poor, dirty, crippled dog in need of help, 
but a disagreeable object to handle. The original " con- 
dition of mind has changed to such an extent that the 
mind has lost itself more in the future than in the 
present, and the patience which lies in ' waiting ' is 
exhausted." ^ In place of the fully evolved " interest " 
movement which would have ended in the lifting aside 
of the dog there has sprung up a desire to escape ex- 
pected disagreeable business. And the implication of 
course is, that if the desire is not to rise up and sup- 
plant the original presentation and its evolution, this 
presentation must be so attached through repetition to 
its proper series that extraneous presentations and the 
desires roused by them shall have no chance to interrupt 
the series. In other words, the soul-life, not as a life of 
mere external action, but first as a life of presentation or 
knowledge, must become habituated to living in and 
through certain presentation series on every occasion 
when it functions in the first member of the series. 
That " interest " movement in which soul-life lives the 
right presentation series is well described by Herbart as 
a " patient interest in which the character possesses a 
facility in accomplishing its resolves, and which accom- 
panies it [the character] everywhere without frustrating 
its plans by \ab extra] claims " ^ — that is, the claims of 
extraneous presentations. Than the terms "patient" and 
" facile " none can be more expressive of the character- 
istics of an activity that has become habit. Every 
habituated activity, we may say, is sure of reaching the 
end of its accustomed groove, and hence need not at any 

^ Allgemeine Padagogik, p. 73. ^ Ibid., p. 74. 



HERBAKTS CONCEPT OF INTEREST. 143 

stage of its course concern itself about the future stages. 
So, too, a soul-activity which has become habitual is sure 
of reaching the end or purpose of its activity, and need 
not concern itself about the future. Again, every habitu- 
ated activity, from the very fact of its being habituated, 
possesses a facility in reaching the end of its accustomed 
groove. So, too, an habituated soul-activity easily reaches 
its end, its object, " its resolves." But character is just 
the sum total of soul-activities ; and so, in and through 
the habituated soul-activity named " interest," character 
is rightly said to possess at all times a facility in accom- 
plishing its resolves. 

When this " interest " movement in any particular 
direction is so perfect that right doing is bound to follow 
on the presentation of what ought to be done, the indi- 
vidual is said to be perfectly moral in that particular 
direction. In other words, he has reached that stage 
of moral self-control at which, in Herbart's language, he 
is a " psychical organism " — an ideal which in truth 
he never reaches, but which, nevertheless, is the " aim of 
education and of self -development." And character 
would be perfect when in every case right doing 
followed, through the automatically unfolding Tnovement 
of apperceptive interest, the presentation of what ought 
to be done. When soul-life has reached such a stage 
that on the mere presentation of the right it inevitably 
desires and wills the right through its perfect apper- 
ceptive interest in the right, the need for effort seems 
to have almost disappeared. At such a stage the effort 
or strain implied in the state called voluntary attention 
is not needed to continue the series. " The first caus- 
ality which a presentation more prominent than others 



144 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

exercises over the rest is that it (invohmtarily) represses 
and obscures the rest. Whilst it exercises its power to 
bring about what we previously called concentration, 
we may designate the mind so occupied by the word 
" attention." This involuntary attention, which is im- 
mediately and invariably followed by a successful result, 
is that involuntarij apperceptive attention which Herbart 
recognises as the hisrhest form of attention, since it leads 
to that kind of pure morality "where there is no calcu- 
lation of consequences." In proportion as a man ap- 
proaches this state of pure morality, in that proportion 
has he attained to perfect freedom or control of self. 
At this stage the " good will " flows from the right circle 
of thought. 

Hubatsch objects ^ that Herbart wrongly places the 
will at the very end of the series — attention, interest, 
will ; and that " will " is the presupposition, not the 
result, of education. The criticism is apparently based 
on the failure to distinguish between the " will " as mere 
capricious self -activity and the "will" as that same 
self-activity disciplined through " interest." Now, will, 
as we have throughout tried to show, is recognised by 
Herbart as the presupposition and the postulate of 
educational practice ; it is " interest " that he rightly 
regards as the aim and the ideal result of education. 
When the soul-life, through repeated functioning along 
certain lines of presentative activity, reaches that state 
where the effort at first required to start the function- 
ing has been reduced almost to zero, then by an ab- 
straction " will " may be said to be at the end of the 
series — attention, interest, will ; but in reality the 

' Gespriiche iiber der Herbart-Ziller'sche Ptidagogik, pp. 145-147. 



HERBARTS CONCEPT OF INTEREST. 145 

three members of the series constitute an indissohible 
unity of soul-willing in and through the organically 
connected presentations and their accompanying feelings 
which constitute the soul-life. 

That our interpretation of Herbart's " interest " is 
essentially true seems to be borne out by Herbart's own 
description of the aspect which the pupil's morality 
should present to the educator. " To the educator," he 
says, " morality is an occurrence — a natural occurrence 
which we may assume has already partly appeared in 
isolated moments in his pupil's soul, but which should 
act and continue to act in the whole circuit of the 
character, and must absorb and change into parts of 
itself all the other occurrences — thoughts, fancies, in- 
clinations, and desires. In this complete form the 
natural occurrence [of good willing] should take place 
with the whole quantum of the pupil's spiritual power ; 
in the incomplete form in which it actually takes place 
the good will has each time — or rather every act of good 
willing is — a definite quantity of activity, a definite part 
of the whole, and indeed appears thus defined and of 
such a degree only for the particular moment. In time, 
however, the quantum grows, diminishes, disappears, 
becomes negative (as in a crooked line), grows again, and 
all this we can observe in so far as the pupil reveals 
himself." ^ This description clearly points to the con- 
ceptions of an organic soul-life, of a functioning of a 
part through the whole, and of the repeated functioning 
of each and every part growing into firmly-rooted habit. 

That the conception of a habituated knowing and 
willing is implicit in the concept of " interest " is further 

^ Die Aesthetische Darstellung, p. 203. 
K 



146 A NEW INTERPKETATION OF IIERBAKT. 

evidenced by a consideration of Herbart's conception. 
Memory of the Will — a conception which is indeed 
employed to account for the growth of habituated will- 
ing. Herbart expresses the conception as follows : 
" There is a native or original endowment that con- 
tributes towards the stability of character, which in some 
instances is noticeable quite early, and which I know not 
how to express better than by the expression, Memory 
of the Will. I here avoid all psychological explanation 
of the phenomena stamped with the names, memory, 
power of recollection, &c., as if they presupposed a 
special activity or even power of the mind." ^ The will 
memory is a something that the will possesses. Yet it 
is not a formal power ; it is not a power which the mind 
somehow or other has, and which is to be conceived as 
different and separable from the presentations in and 
through which it operates. It is a power belonging to 
will, and meaningless apart from will. But will, as we 
have already interpreted it, is the soul presentatively 
active and conscious of the attainability of its aim. 
Hence memory is something attached to and belonging 
to the soul-activity. Further, it is not a memory in the 
same sense as the memory that remembers ideas. " So 
much is certain, that a man whose will does not, like 
presentations in the memory, sjjontanemisly reappear as 
the same as often as the occasion recurs — a man who is 
obliged to carry himself back by reflection to his former 
resolution — will have great trouble in acquiring char- 
acter." " This comparison between the spontaneous 
reappearance of will as the same will and the spon- 
taneous reappearance of ideas held in the memory 

^ Allgemeine Padagogik, Bk. III. cap. i. 2. ^ Ibid. 



herbakt's concept of interest. 147 

implies that the Memory of the Will is not the same 
thing as what we ordinarily understand by memory. 
The references to spontaneity and reflection point to 
the interpretation. The Will Memory is that tendency 
07' power lohich the Will 'process has to repeat a series of 
presentations lohich it has gone through heforc. It is the 
tendency which the will has to re-live, again and again 
and in and through the same presentations, with ever- 
lessening reflection and a corresponding ever-increasing 
spontaneity. It is the power which may be assumed to 
exist as the explanation of the growth of that invaria- 
bility of activity which is implied in the " interest " 
process or movement, and which therefore renders possible 
an acquired habit of knowing and willing. That this 
is so is proved by Herbart's further references to the 
conception. Thus, " Where there is memory of the will, 
choice also will decide by itself. The power of the 
wishes will involuntarily place these same wishes in 
their relative order. Without any theoretical consider- 
ations (for only by an original choice can the connected 
motives acquire practical significance or worth) the 
man becomes conscious of what he prefers and of what 
he will rather sacrifice, of what he shuns more and of 
what he shuns less : he will experience it in himself." ^ 
That is, the individual who has at first to consider and 
" will " each step of a series will, through the memory 
power or tendency of " will," sooner or later " will " the 
whole spontaneously and without theoretical consider- 
ations, and will only be conscious of, or will experience, 
an inner activity that seems to be directing itself of its 
own accord. In other words, he will be experiencing 
^ Allgemeine Pjidagogik, Bk. III. cap. ii. 2. 



148 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

the acti'S'ity of an acquired habit produced by " memory 
of the will." 

If we are right in our analysis of Herbart's concept 
of " interest," then this " interest " rightly lays claim 
to be an educational end in itself. It is the instru- 
ment or organon which it is the aim of educative in- 
struction to produce, and which shall be ever at the 
disposal of the soul-life for effectively living the moral 
life.^ Without this trustworthy organon — made trust- 
worthy through habituated knowing activities in and 
through the presentations of the moral ideas — no cate- 
gorical imperative, no watchword of duty for duty's sake, 
no summons to an abstract transcendental will-power, 
can avail to make soul-life moral. The only will that 
has educational meaning and that can prove effective in 
the formation of character is the will that operates in 
and through the functioning of the organon of " interest." 
To say that " interest " is the educational end, and that we 
must " instruct in order to interest," is simply to say that 
the end and work of education is to form character. 
And Herbart's concept of " interest " is his contribution 
to the supreme educational question, How to form char- 
acter, and is the culminating point of his whole argument 
that character can only be formed through knowledge. 

The main points of this argument we may now 
summarise as follows. Soul-life is life in and through 
presentations or knowledge. Will is the movement 
of presentations or knowledge, and meaningless when 
regarded as separable from knowledge. Hence right 
knowledge in movement will imply right willing. But 

^ Expressed less abstractly : it is the instrument or organon into which 
the sovi-Ufe is to be rjraduaUy converted. 



HERBARTS CONCEPT OF INTEREST, 149 

the soul - life can be habituated to move in right 
presentations or knowledge by the " educative instruc- 
tion" of the educator, which secures that the right 
presentations are sufficiently often repeated in the soul- 
life as to become habituated soul-activities. The con- 
ception of the " Memory of the Will " is adopted by 
Herbart to account for the growth of this habituated 
soul -activity. The various habituated activities ulti- 
mately form the soul-life into an organised instrument — 
an organon called " interest " — which wills, in the truest 
and highest sense of willing, the moral life of thought 
and action. Had Herbart been sure of ffetting rid of 
all the preconceptions attached to the term " will," he 
would no doubt have been quite willing to substitute 
for the term " interest " the expression " trained will." 
In the concept of " interest " Herbart has defined the 
" trained will," and given to the expression a practi 
cality of meaning that the practical teacher who runs 
may read. 

On the assumption that Herbart's " interest " is an 
organon of soul-life, a good deal of the criticism, Her- 
bartian and non-Herbartian, directed against the concept 
is irrelevant. Professor Laurie, for example, seems to 
direct his shaft against Herbart when he maintains that 
the concept of interest must not be placed above that 
of duty.^ But the two concepts are not comparable. 
The one is the concept of an organon or instrument, the 
other is the concept of a law which the organon is to 
enable the soul-life to obey. Herbart is not so much 
concerned with pointing to the law as with showing 
how the law is to be gradually understood and followed. 

^ Institutes of Education, p. 249. 



150 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

Even if we admit that " the categorical imperative must 
dominate the school as it must dominate the life," ^ is not 
the end of the educational art to equip the child with 
that which will enable him to obey the imperative, and 
the Herbartian " interest " points the way to that end. 

Again, it is held by modern Herbartians that in- 
terest must be regarded as subordinate to the pw^ose 
of education. Those who draw a contrast between " in- 
terest" and purpose by the way of criticism of the 
Herbartian theory, evidently mean by "interest" that 
which is interesting, and this may certainly be at vari- 
ance with the purpose of education. But it is the object 
of Herbart's method to lead the soul-life of the pupil 
to be " interested " in the purpose : from Herbart's point 
of view — that is, from the educator's point of view — the 
" interest " is all - important. The purpose is the law 
fixing the goal of educational practice ; " interest " is the 
psychological organon which has to be evolved in the 
soul-life to enable it to reach the goal. 

If our interpretation of Herbart's doctrine of " inter- 
est " holds, then the criticism of such writers as Professor 
Darroch woidd seem to be based on a misconception of 
what Herbart means by " knowledge " and " interest." 
" It is assumed," says Professor Darroch in criticising 
the fundamental position of Herbart, " that the only 
thing necessary for moral action is to know what is 
moral ; and since feeling is a subordinate result of 
knowledge, our emotional life is wholly guided, directed 
[by], and dependent on our knowledge and the relations 
between its different parts," And again, " The child 
must be habituated to act in accordance with an ideal 

' Institutes of Education, p. 249. 



HERBARTS CONCEPT OF INTEREST. 151 

of what is right." ^ From Professor Darroch's insistence 
on " habit " as a factor in moral education, it is evident 
that he credits Herbart's theory with the neglect of that 
factor. And from his own point of \'iew he is right ; 
for " to know " with him is not the same thing as 
Herbart's " knowing." He speaks of a habituation to 
act. But there is a habituation in knowing. Herbart's 
" knowing," as we have tried to show, is a habituated 
knoioing — a knowing and a knowledge that cannot 
be separated except in abstraction from soul-activity. 
Professor Darroch from his own critical standpoint 
will admit that the " good will " has as much moral 
worth as the external action, which may or may not 
be in the power of the " wilier." And if this is so, 
then the habituation in knowing is as important as, 
if not more important than, the habituation in external 
action. That Professor Darroch takes Herbart's " know- 
ledge " as an ab extra something that has to be known 
by the soul-life, instead of an experience rather that 
has to be lived into and by the soul-life, is evident 
from what he says in regard to culture. Culture, he 
urges, " is not something poured into us, but won by 
the sweat of our brow, by the labour of our own hands." ^ 
Now if culture here implies knowledge and trained 
powers, including those of feeling, then Herbart's theory 
provides for culture ; and so far is Herbartian cultm-e 
from being a " something poured into us " that the 
critic's own language, metaphorical though it is, not 
inadequately describes the process whereby, according 
to Herbart, the soul does become cultured. At least 

^ Herbart and the Herbartian Theory of Education, p. 80. 
2 Ibid., p. 82. 



152 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

if the soul does not win culture " by the sweat of the 
brow, by the labour of the hands," it does more when it 
wins it through an organic growing into and living in 
it. To the reply that, according to the Herbartian 
metaphysic, there is no soul to grow into and live in 
such experiences, the answer is the interpretation of 
Her bar t given in the preceding pages. 

Professor Darroch's seeming failure to recognise the 
significance of Herbart's " knowing " and " interest " in 
the formation of character is further evident in his ex- 
planation of how an externally imposed ideal becomes a 
self-determined law. The child, says Professor Darroch, 
" must be habituated to act in accordance with an ideal 
of what is right. The ideal may be, nay, must be, at 
first an externally imposed ideal ; but our ethical result 
is attained in education only in so far as the ideal gradu- 
ally loses its character of mere externality, and becomes 
an internal and self-imposed ideal." ^ But how is the 
ideal to gradually lose its character of " mere exter- 
nality " ? How can that which is " merely external " 
ever be recognised as internally imposed ? We must 
attach some definite meaning to the terms " external " 
and " internal." " External " law must mean here that 
the law is operative in society, and indeed made by or 
exemplified in the relationships of men. The external 
law, then, when it becomes " internal," must fit in to 
the individual's life, or rather his individual life must 
fit in to the law in the same way as society does when 
it is recognising its laws as self-imposed. And this 
result can only be attained through knowledge, not 
habit. The " habituation " to act in accordance with 
the ideal of what is right may be looked upon as that 

^ Darroch's Herbart, p. 83. 



herbart's concept of interest. 153 

which is internally determined — that is, self-determined ; 
but the action itself does not thereby assume any 
different character. A child will, through the repeated 
doing of a right action, become habituated to perform 
that action ; but without insight into what he is doing 
he cannot be said to be following a self-imposed ideal 
of conduct. The habituation activity either stands apart 
from or is inseparable from the material in and through 
which it works. In the former case it is a meaning- 
less abstraction, and, to the educator, as useless as the 
transcendental will. In the latter case it is not the 
repetition of the activity as pure activity that changes 
the character of the external law, but the repetition of 
the activity in and through a gradually advancing organi- 
cally connected system of presentations — of knowledge. 
In other words, it is a habit of knowing rightly rather 
than a habit of acting rightly that will lead the child 
to recognise laws as self-imposed and to exemplify them 
in his own external action.^ 

Such criticism as that of Professor Darroch suggests 
the source of one objection to Herbart's " interest " 
theory — the objection which Professor James has crystal- 
lised in the term " soft pedagogics." " Ostermann, too, 
speaks of the theory in a like strain. " A philosophic 
instruction which is concerned on principle with sparing 
the child all vigorous effort and in resolving all work 
into easy play cannot therefore be recognised as in- 
struction which gives training or forms character." ^ 

^ Cf. Professor James's Talks to Teachers, pp. 186, 187. Also Rous- 
seau's Emile, Bk. II., § 106, or Payne's trans., p. 67. "II faut regaider ii 
I'habitude de I'ame plutot qu'a celle des mains." 

2 Talks to Teachers, p. 54. 

' Die hauptsachlichsten Irrtiimer der Herbartschen Psychologic, 2nd 
ed., p. 227. 



154 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HEKBART. 

The apparent assiuuption underlying this idea of " soft 
pedagogies " is that the interesting activity is easy and 
the uninteresting difficult to carry on, and that a theory 
of education which proposes to instruct the child wholly 
through interest will only result in depriving him of all 
will-power and of all moral fibre. But this is to mis- 
conceive Herbart's " apperceptive interest." The " ap- 
perceptive interest " is a living process or movement of 
soul ; and wliilst this forward movement, as we have 
seen, is determined from point to point by its own nature, 
this does not necessarily mean that the movement is an 
easy one. At first the soul-life has to seek along several 
possible lines of movement for that one line along which 
it will function faithful to its own nature — that is, in 
which it will find itself " interested." In the acquisition 
of knowledge tlie soul-life has in most cases to live 
through a series of presentations before it can reach a 
given presentation. If the given presentation has suffici- 
ent attractive power for the soul-life, then the effort in- 
volving more or less of pain will be pleasantly endured. 
And it will be all the more pleasurably endured if each 
step taken in overcoming the difficulty is in itself a 
natural movement of the apperceptive life. Even in 
the case of the most moral lives the working of the 
psychological organon of interest is far from being a 
smooth one ; but in what proportion it becomes smoother, 
in that proportion, paradoxical as it may seem, the so- 
called " will-power " and " moral fibre " of the Herbartian 
critics disappear. And this brings us to the considera- 
tion of a last and somewhat shallow objection to the 
Herbartian doctrine of interest. 

It is urged that an interest movement whose outcome 



HERB art's concept OF INTEREST. 155 

is to make it almost impossible for a man to take 
pleasure in anything but the good is at variance with the 
conception of Christian self-denial. If an individual is 
so educated along Herbartian lines that virtue comes 
easy and is a pleasure to him, how can we speak of 
self-denial in his case ? Any such objection is based 
on the identification of self-denial with effort, pain, and 
what is iminteresting. ISTow, if we are agreed that 
the self is the soul as it lives in and through its ap- 
perceptive activity, then in whatever direction the self 
functions it will, like every other organism, function in 
the direction which it thinks hest for itself at the time. 
No individual denies himself at any moment of his ex- 
istence. The child who refrains from eating forbidden 
fruit, from whatever motive, does not deny himself as he 
is at the time of his abstinence. If the motive is fear 
of punishment, his abstinence is due to the fact that he 
considers this abstinence better for his " self " than the 
punishment. If the motive is reverence for moral law, 
his abstinence is due to the fact that he deems observ- 
ance of moral law is better for his "self" than disobedi- 
ence. The emphasis is to be laid, not on the denying, 
but on " himself." The busy man who voluntarily gives 
up two hours of his valuable time to go and read to an 
invalid stranger is not a whit more self-denying than the 
child who eats forbidden fruit. Each is true to his own 
self. But the two selves are of different kinds, and the 
difference consists in the content of their activities. In 
the one case the reading, in the other the eating, consti- 
tutes the functioning activity which is considered the best 
for the soul-life at the time. The only meaning that can 
be attached to the term self-denial is, that the individual 



156 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

at a higher stage of development functions differently 
from what he did at a lower, and thus repudiates his 
functioning at the lower stage. It is easier for him 
now, or at least he thinks it is better for him now, to 
function on the higher plane than on the lower, and 
so he is no more and no less self-denying than before. 
Any credit which the individual may receive as a self- 
denying being is to be given, not because he has denied 
" himself," but because he has advanced from a lower 
stage of activity to a higher. And the more involuntary 
is the activity at the higher stage, the greater the proof 
of struggle and advance from the lower. With increas- 
ing knowledge, and through the habit of apperceptively 
living into this knowledge, the external law becomes 
transformed into the internal self-imposed law ; struggle 
becomes less and less ; and self-denial ultimately comes 
to partake of that Christian character in which the in- 
dividual iinds his life by losing it. This is the Leibnizian 
perfection of activity which means complete freedom — a 
freedom secured through the habit of right knoioing. 
Certainly to the individual it seems as if self-sacrifice 
were the rule of his life ; but so long as he is conscious 
of such self-sacrifice it is only a spurious sacrifice, ex- 
torted from him by outside influences, and essentially 
not involving the slightest sacrifice of " self." Such a 
spurious sacrifice undoubtedly involves effort and pain ; 
but the true self-denial is only reached when effort and 
pain have disappeared. Maeterlinck, in his own poetical 
way, well expresses this conception of self-denial which 
logically flows from Herbart's theory. " It is not by 
self-sacrifice that loftiness comes to the soul ; but as the 
soul becomes loftier, sacrifice fades out of sight, as the 



heebakt's concept of interest. 157 

flowers in the valley disappear from the vision of him 
who toils up the mountain. Sacrifice is a beautiful 
token of imrest ; but unrest should not be nurtured 
within us for the sake of itself. To the soul that is 
slowly awakening all appears sacrifice ; but few things 
indeed are so called by the soul that at last lives the 
life whereof self-denial, pity, devotion, are no longer 
indispensable roots, but only invisible flowers." ^ 

1 Maeterlinck's Wisdom and Destiny, trans, by Sutro, p. 177. 



CHAPTER XL 

THE FALLACY OF FORMAL EDUCATION. 

From the point of view of the Herbartian psychology 
as we have interpreted it, the distinction between the 
real and the formal in education is meaningless. Were 
the distinction merely an academic one and confined to 
the realm of theory, its truth or falseness need not con- 
cern the practical teacher ; but more perhaps than any 
other conception, the distinction has in the past mainly 
determined school curricula, if not school methods. The 
old lengthy and weary classical grind of the public 
schools was almost wholly determined by the belief in 
formal discipline — a discipline that would stand the 
schoolboy in good stead even though the whole of his 
classical knowledge should afterwards go by the board. 
And even yet, when the increasing many-sidedness and 
complexity of modern life are leading to changes in the 
curricula, the distinction is being insisted on in some 
quarters, and is therefore still determining to some ex- 
tent the lohat and the hovj of educational practice. In 
the opinion of not a few educational leaders, education, 
in the true sense of the term, is in danger of being sup- 
planted by mere book knowledge or information ; and 
this opinion fortifies them all the more strongly in their 



THE FALLACY OF FORMAL EDUCATION. 159 

belief in such dicta as that training and discipline are 
more important than instruction. 

Now, whilst the increasing number of subjects in the 
school curriculum must have the tendency to produce a 
mere smattering of book knowledge, may not the remedy 
for such a state of matters be found, not in a return to 
the old idea of formal discipline, but in making, as regards 
different classes of pupils, a wiser and more limited 
selection of subjects, instruction in and through which 
will at the same time give all the intellectual discipline 
necessary to the particular classes ? If, in the case of 
certain pupils, all the necessary discipline can be secured 
through a study of English grammar, language, and 
literature, why burden their curriculum with subjects 
which are in the very least degree likely to be of any 
service in enabling them to fit into their particular 
environment ? 

Let us consider the dictum that discipline is more 
important than instruction, with its implication that 
discipline is a something separable from instruction and 
available for use even when the particular knowledge 
through which it was developed has disappeared. The 
distinction between " training," " discipline," and " in- 
struction " is clearly set forth in Professor Laurie's well- 
known ' Institutes of Education.' " Eeal subjects of 
instruction have to do with the nutrition, and, to a 
large extent, with the training of mind ; formal or ab- 
stract subjects with the discipline of mind. The former 
may be distinguished as nutritive subjects ; the latter as 
disciplinary instruments." ^ Again, " The formal or ab- 
stract chiefly discipline the mind and give power ; the 

^ Institutes of Education, p. 58. 



160 A NEW INTERPKETATION OF HERB ART. 

real feed the mind and give nutrition." ^ In the class of 
real subjects are placed nature knowledge, physiology 
and the laws of health, school geography, languages as 
literature, history and spiritual ideas, including religious 
truth. In the class of formal subjects he places drawing, 
arithmetic, mathematics, science as an abstract or formal 
study, and grammar. 

As regards the conception of training, there will be 
general agreement that such subjects of study as nature 
knowledge, physiology and the laws of health, &c., ac- 
custom the mind to deal with certain facts and the 
laws and practical applications connected with them. 
Further, in saying that real subjects have largely to do 
with training, it is virtually admitted that training is 
to be got only in and through various materials. It is 
one of the commonplaces of modern educational writings 
that the method of instruction is at the same time the 
method of training, — that the one cannot be dissociated 
from the other except in abstraction and with an eye 
more on the materials of instruction than the process 
of instruction. Xow such an admission on the part 
of those who believe in the distinction between real 
instruction or training and formal discipline is an im- 
portant one. Its importance will be seen when we 
consider the conception of discipline, which conception 
applies to the so-called " formal " subjects, and is sup- 
posed to mark them off more or less definitely from the 
" real " subjects. 

In Professor Laurie's language, the formal subjects 
are called disciplinary instruments that give power. We 
have tried to show how Herbart's concept of " interest " 

^ Institutes of Education, p. 54. 



THE FALLACY OF FORMAL EDUCATION. 161 

is that of a living organon or instrument enabling the 
soul-life to carry out its purposes ; and, in like fashion, 
we must know exactly what is meant by the eApression 
" disciplinary instrument " when employed in the sense 
in which the formalist in education uses it. The only 
meaning that we can attach to the term " instrument " is 
that which manipulates or works on ana modifies some- 
thing other than itself. In the case of the Herbartian 
organon of interest, the something other we found to be 
presentations. The chisel, as a chisel instrument, chisels 
something ; the hammer, as a hammer instrument, 
hammers something; the doer, as a doer, does some- 
thing; and the wilier, as a wilier, wills something. 
Further, each instrument is itself only through its oper- 
ations along certain specific lines of work. The chisel 
performs its function as chisel only in so far as it 
chisels ; the hammer performs its function as hammer 
only in so far as it hammers ; and so on. The chisel 
may be put to do the work of the hammer, and vice 
versd ; but each instrument in being put to function as 
the other is, qua that instrument, non-existent. Again, 
whilst any instrument may be turned from its proper 
use and made to attempt some other function, the 
practice it has had in the exercise of its proper function 
will not enable it to discharge the new function one 
whit better than if it had never exercised its original 
function. No amount of chisel work will enable the 
chisel to hammer one whit better than if it had never 
chiselled ; and no amount of movement, say, of my pen 
over the paper will enable it to open the door one whit 
better than if it had never written. An instrument, 
then, in the hands of a worker using it has limitations. 

L 



162 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

It is not something absolute. It must have something 
on which to operate ; it works only along certain specific 
lines of work ; and its povjer as a particular instrument 
cannot he transferred to any other instriiment?- 

If, then, grammar, say, is to be called a formal subject 
because it is a disciplinary instrument, the analogy of 
a physical instrument seems to compel us to the follow- 
ing conclusions. As a disciplinary instrument grammar 
must have something to operate on — the mind ; it must 
operate along certain specific lines — grammatical rules, 
composition, &c. ; its power as grammatical power cannot 
be transferred to any other subject — such as history or 
economics. The subject grammar, as an instrument, 
will work on and modify in some way the object — mind ; 
but it will do so only as a grammatical instrument, and 
the result will be a grammatical result. If it does pro- 
duce any other than a grammatical result, then, by the 
analogy we have been drawing, the result will be inferior 
to that which is produced by the instrument assigned 
for the latter result. 

But it will be said that we are omitting to take 
account of the self-activity of mind. The mind, it is 
urged, in and through its activity on the formal 
subject, makes the subject all along the line of study 
a disciplinary instrument. That is, the mind, through 

^ Professor Laurie admits that the " Will-energy and Will-process can 
be disciplined by directing itself to fighting, to hunting, or carpentering, 
but the result would be a man v7hose judgment was of value in these 
departments of human activity alone." Yet he draws the distinction 
between the training and discipline of Will as a power, and the training 
and discipline of the Will-movement as a process whereby the conscious 
subject takes the world to itself as knowledge (' Institutes of Education,' 
p. 125). If the first statement is true — and it is Herbart's position — then 
the distinction between training of Will as power and training of Will as pro- 
cess seems to be psychologically meaningless and educationally misleading. 



THE FALLACY OF FORMAL EDUCATION. 163 

a subject like mathematics or grammar, disciplines 
itself. What, then, is to be understood by this self- 
discipline ? The mind cannot alter the facts of the 
subject nor the laws that co-ordinate the facts. It 
must accept these as given, and in getting to know 
them in a systematic way it receives training. But 
the mind, it is said, receives -power. Here we have a 
transition from the conception of instrument to that 
of power. The formal subject is the subject which, in 
being acquired by the self -activity of the Will-Eeason, 
becomes an instrument by which the mind, in employing 
the instrument, receives power, or rather gives power to 
itself. If we say that the mind receives power from the 
subject, we are confronted again with the objection that 
the only power it can receive from the subject as an 
instrument is the particular instrument's power, but not 
power in the abstract. Let us say, then, that the mind, 
in and through the pursiut of a formal study, develops 
power. But power in what direction ? The power of 
doing what ? Even granted that Will is the power of 
powers, it is still only the power of controlling the other 
powers. Power as power absolute and without any 
relation whatsoever to a something in and through 
which it operates is a useless abstraction for practical 
purposes, and does not justifiably find a place in educa- 
tional theory which is to determine educational practice. 
There may be such a thing as a logical concept of power, 
but the theory of education needs concepts that cor- 
respond to the living conditions of mind. If, then, 
there is no such thing as power absolute, it is for the 
formalist in education to show what other kind of power 
than mathematical power the mind develops in studying 



161 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF IlERBART. 

the formal subject of luatheinatics, and how such a power 
can be switched off, as it were, from the formal subject 
to deal with another subject whose facts and co-ordinating 
laws are of a different order from those of the first. 

It may be urged that the presentations of the formal 
subject are of a kind or quality that calls forth a better 
kind of discipline. But such a comparison as is hereby 
implied can be made only if there is a fixed qualitative 
standard of discipline or power by which the resultant 
effects of the two classes of subjects can be compared. 
The two kinds of presentations in the question are 
presentations of the concrete and presentations of the 
abstract. Now if the presentations of the concrete are 
totally different from the presentations of the abstract, 
and if the quality of the power developed is affected by 
the nature of the presentations — as by hypothesis it 
is — then the powers acquired or developed through the 
two kinds of presentations are totally different, and 
hence not comparable. In such a case one power can- 
not be said to be of better quality than the other. If 
the presentations of the concrete have some points in 
common with those of the abstract, then it seems logical 
to look to these common elements for a common standard. 
But by such a standard it is difficult to see how the one 
kind of presentations is to be adjudged superior to the 
other in giving discipline and power. And if we pass 
outside of these common elements and bring in other 
elements taken from the presentations of the abstract 
and so form a standard, we are simply assuming that 
the abstract rather than the concrete should fix the 
standard, — which is the point to be proved. 

In spite of what we have already said, the formalist 
may still maintain that somehow or other the mind as 



THE FALLACY OF FORMAL EDUCATION. 165 

mind receives a special discipline, a special power of 
application, concentration, &c., that is not so much due 
to the presentations as to the mind's activity in dealing 
with the presentations. The real basis of this contention 
seems to be the assumption that, the mind is an entity 
that can stand apart from all presentations, and that 
as such an entity it can acquire more and better exercise 
in operating on presentations of the abstract than on 
presentations of the concrete. Professor Laurie says, 
"The highest energy, and therefore the highest dis- 
cipline of the Will -energy and process, is when it is 
directed to the complex and abstract of thought." ^ Now, 
whatever interpretation Professor Laurie may have of 
this statement, it quite adequately expresses the view 
of the educational formalist — that will as an entity 
separate from knowledge can receive its greatest and 
best discipline by being put to operate on the complex 
and abstract of thought ; and hence, as an educational 
corollary, that purely formal instruction without any 
regard whatsoever to utility must form a necessary 
part of school and other education. Now, the Will- 
movement must be either separable or inseparable from 
the knowledge - process. If it is separable, then the 
claims of scientific procedure must be met and some 
more definite connotation given of Will than simply 
will-power. The will is the power and the power is 
the will, so that the expression "Will-power" is no 
more definite than " AYill," which the formalist has 
yet to define. Like Professor Lamie, he may choose to 
employ the expression Will-Eeason. If this expression 
is equivalent to Will-Knowing, then the Will derives 
its connotation from being linked to knowledge — which 

1 Institutes of Education, p. 125. 



16G A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

is exactly Herbart's theory. If the expression is not the 
same as Will-Knowing, then educational science, and still 
more educational practice, require a definition of Eeason. 

But let us suppose there is such an entity : the only 
fair way to test whether the power acquired by it in 
dealing with the abstract is greater than that acquired 
in dealing with the concrete, would be to set the two 
kinds of minds to deal with some problem hitherto 
equally unknown to both. Such a problem cannot be 
found, for every problem leans either more to the con- 
crete or more to the abstract ; and according as the 
problem partakes more of the nature of the one than 
of the other, will one mind have a handicap over the 
other in its attempt to solve the problem. No two 
men trained in different directions will ever be found 
to agree as to the absolute fairness of any common test 
of their respective powers. And even within the sphere 
of the formal subjects, there are no two subjects that 
can furnish a common standard acceptable to two men 
each trained in one of these subjects. The classical man 
refuses to have his power tested by the same problem 
as is set the mathematician. Each man knows that 
his own power cannot be compared quantitatively or 
qualitatively with his opponent's. 

But it will once more be objected that, in spite of all 
theoretical arguments against the distinction, experience 
is against us, and that the abstract being admittedly 
more difficult to deal with than the concrete, the exer- 
cise which the mind receives in dealing with the abstract 
must be of a severer and therefore better kind than the 
exercise which the same or another mind receives in deal- 
ing with the concrete. Now we must grant that some 
parts of human knowledge are more difficult to deal 



THE FALLACY OF FORMAL EDUCATION, 167 

with than others, and that the mind in tackUng these 
receives a severer discipline than it does in the case of 
other parts. But it does not follow that because one 
disciphne is more severe than another, it is therefore 
better. This we have just tried to elucidate. It may 
be and is claimed for formal subjects that they are 
to be taught for the sake of their difficulty and the 
more severe discipline they give the mind. But this 
is simply another way of claiming that the severe 
discipline is the best discipline absolutely. Now, the 
most difficult subjects may not be the best or most 
necessary subjects to teach certain pupils. The easiest 
subject may be the most suitable. It will be a waste 
of time, for example, to teach classics, simply because 
they are difficult, to a boy who is to follow farming. 
If our conclusion is correct, any power acquired through 
his classical study — whether of application, perseverance, 
&c. — will not assist him one whit, nay, on Herbartian 
principles, will prove a hindrance to him. But we can- 
not arrange a curriculum for each individual pupil. The 
question, then, is, what should be known by all pupils 
irrespective of what they are going to be ? — the very 
same question as is put by the formalists in educa- 
tion. The answer is got by considering, not the dis- 
ciplinary value of subjects, but the general environment 
which encompasses every pupil, be he living in the 
country or in the town. And it is safe to say that 
the standard of a general education evolved from this 
will be accepted by a much larger proportion of thinking 
people than the standard which has hitherto been con- 
noted by such vague conceptions as " formal discipline 
of mind." And what is of more importance — the 
standard will be accepted by the individual most con- 



168 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

cerned, the pupil ; for it is his environment alone that 
interests and therefore truly educates him. Environ- 
ment, not in the narrow sense of that which is near 
and around him, which may be very vicious, but in the 
wider sense of that which is connected directly or 
indirectly with his whole life, and which he recognises 
as so connected. 

But then it will be asked, What of culture ? what 
of a liberal education ? It is there. Its elements are 
there, and only require development. The only true 
culture is the culture that comes from knowing and 
appreciating one's environment in as wide a sense as 
possible, and recognising the value of its constituents, 
relative to one another as well as to higher, more uni- 
versal, and more ideal elements which these constituents 
suggest. It is a continuous passing upward — for there 
can be no finality to culture — from the more material 
aspects of our environment to the less material. Now, 
in and by itself no subject of study can be said to give 
more cultm-e than another. The mere ability to trans- 
late with ease and felicity of expression a Ciceronian 
oration does no more imply that a man is cultured 
than that a builder is cultured because he can build 
a good house. No amount of Latin reading and no 
amount of building will in themselves give culture. 
The one occupation as occupation is as material as the 
other. Indeed, we can imagine cases where the former 
is more " material " than the latter. To get at the 
culture associated with either, we must pass beyond 
the mere occupations. Let it be granted that such a 
subject as Latin is farther removed from the " material " 
interests of life than, say, book-keeping or geography, 
this does not prove that the latter subjects have no 



THE FALLACY OF FORMAL EDUCATION. 169 

spiritual or ideal aspects. Latin, studied purely with 
the view of passing an examination, is a very material 
interest indeed to the examinee; and book-keeping, 
studied with an ever-growing appreciation of the value 
of such minor virtues as carefulness, accuracy, and 
punctuality, and of the larger virtues of straightfor- 
wardness and honesty, and of their significance to human 
progress, is book-keeping lifted up from its narrow and 
more material, to its wider and more ideal, aspects. No 
subject of study in the school curriculum may ever, so 
far as the pupil is concerned, get beyond its narrow 
utilitarian or " material " stage ; and any subject may 
be lifted from this stage into a higher and more ideal 
one. That the Modern Side of our Secondary schools 
has long been looked on as the receptacle for " duffers " 
is due to the assumption that only certain subjects can 
and do give discipline and culture, — an assumption that 
is being more and more called upon to justify itself. 
On the principles of Herbart it is a false assumption. 
It will be readily admitted that the old educational 
ideals aspired to through the avenues of classical and 
other learning are noble ones ; but now that man's en- 
vironment is demanding an ever -increasing variety of 
knowledge, it behoves the educator to see that whilst 
the old avenues are outworn and forsaken, the other 
departments of human knowledge shall open up fresh 
avenues to the old ideals. And the possibility of this 
depends on the ability of the educator to link up the 
most " material " subjects of study to the spiritual 
interests that are inherent in them.^ If such a linking- 

1 Cf. Professor Laurie's 'Institutes of Education,' p. 57 : "Naturalistic 
subjects, I admit, might be so taught as to be humanised, and thus 
brought within the sphere of the humanistic. All depends on the 
purpose and method of the educator." 



170 A NEW interprp:tation of iierbart. 

up can be effected in regard to the various parts of 
knowledge, the epithet " utiUtarian," as applied to the 
bread-and-butter studies of school, will lose its slighting 
import. Then each individual's culture, be it reached 
through technical, commercial, scientific, or classical 
studies, will be a true culture, because it will be an 
intelligent growth from out the individual's own mental 
world. A culture which, by its aloofness from the in- 
dividual's practical life -interests, fails to irradiate and 
idealise these interests in some measure, is no culture. 
The individual is necessarily compelled to hold fast by 
the practical interests of life ; and if the culture that 
any educational system has imposed on him is at vari- 
ance with these interests, the culture goes to the wall, 
or rather was never existent so far as the individual 
is concerned. There is a kind and minimum of culture 
which all agree is necessary to every truly educated 
man — the culture implied in knowing something of 
what Professor Laurie aptly calls the Eeal-humanistic 
materials of instruction ; but in so far as the pursuit 
of this culture is carried beyond the demands of the 
pupil's environment, in so far is the culture useless 
and wasteful. 

The question of culture, then, is in a sense secondary 
to that of the environment and the practical interests 
of each pupil. If the curriculum is well devised in 
accordance with the claims of the pupil's environment 
and his practical interests, all that is intelligibly meant 
by discipline and culture will inevitably follow. This 
is the logical outcome of Herbart's theory. 



CHAPTER XII. 

INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED INTEREST. 

It is outwith the object of thesft pages to describe in de- 
tail the method of instruction by which Herbart seeks to 
show how the child's soul can be trained through know- 
ledge to desire and will the right. The method, which 
he calls " educative-instruction " {Erziehung- Unterrichts), 
seeks to reach its end by developing in the pupil a 
"many-sided interest." In light of our previous dis- 
cussion of " interest," we may say that Herbart seeks, 
through educative-instruction, to develop in the pupil 
habituated knowing activities in as many right directions 
as possible. Such instruction is to be given and received 
through the medium of the apperceptive process, which 
at every step should not only enable the pupil to in- 
corporate presentations into his organic soul -life, but 
should at the same time habituate him to desire and 
will right presentations in all their clearness of external 
action. But if the already existent organic soul-life of 
the child is to be broken in upon by the educator with 
presentations, many of which will assuredly be foreign 
to that life as it is, what becomes of the individuality 
of the child ? 



172 A NEAV INTERrRETATION OF HERBART. 

This question of individuality has been a stumbling- 
block even to those wlio accept Herbart's theory of 
knowledge. The question is twofold. First, is there 
a place for individuality in Herbart's psychological 
theory ? Second, if there is, how can individuality be 
preserved alongside of an ah extra system of educative- 
instruction whose aim is to form character through the 
development of many-sided interest ? The first question 
is put by those critics who see in Herbart's theory 
nothing but a soulless " presentationism." To this ques- 
tion and the inqilied objection we have attempted to 
make answer. It is the second question which here 
calls for consideration — viz., how can the pupil's in- 
dividuality be preserved alongside of tlie Herbartian 
educative -instruction with its aim of forming, through 
many-sided interest, a character or state of mind which 
shall inevitably lead to certain kinds of action ? Whether 
individuality is separate and distinct from the interest- 
formed character, or is in some way connected with it, 
we must ask, How do the two stand related to one 
another in the same individual ? First, if the individu- 
ality is separate from the character, are we to suppose 
(1) that the individuality is an entity that remains a 
fixed constant in the midst of the changes which the 
formation of character implies, or (2) that, like character, 
it is a changing entity ? Second, if the individuality is 
somehow interlocked with the character, do the two 
modify and determine each other without the destruc- 
tion of either ? First, let us suppose that individuality 
is an entity that springs into existence at the moment 
of natural birth and remains a fixed quantity throughout 



INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED INTEREST. 173 

the process of character forming. That it is so taken 
by some is evident. Hubatsch, for example, argues that 
because Herbart admitted that natural capacity cannot 
be created, therefore many-sided interest, which Herbart 
makes to depend partly on natural capacity, must be 
unnatural. Here the apparent implication of Hubatsch 
is that natural capacity is a something which cannot 
incorporate anything into itself so as to make that 
which is incorporated natural. And that this is 
Hubatsch's view of individuality is more evident from 
his further criticism of Herbart's reconciling attempt. 
Herbart illustrates the method of modification of in- 
dividuality by the figure of an angular body which 
approximates more and more to the spherical form [that 
is, to the interest -formed character] under the excita- 
tion of many-sided interest. But, Hubatsch argues, the 
figure is not clear. Mathematical comparisons must be 
exactly to the point if they are to be of any worth. 
The angular body of the individuality is either a change- 
able or an unchangeable mass. There is no third 
alternative. If it is alterable, then the sphere [interest- 
formed character] can only be superimposed upon it, 
and so the many-sidedness has no influence on the 
individuality. If it is alterable, then, under favourable 
conditions, the sphere can so expand that the angular 
projections disappear. But this leads again to the 
destruction of the individuality." ^ According to Hu- 
batsch, then, alterability is inconsistent with individu- 
ality. This conception of a fixed entity that can never 
be modified to any degree by instruction without being 

1 GesprJiche iiber die Herbart-Ziller'sche Piidagogik, p. 153. 



174 A NEW INTERPKETATION OF HERBART. 

destroyed, is on a par with, and doubtless owes its origin 
to, the conception of a pure ego that someliow or other 
persists without change in the midst of the changes of 
an empirical ego. But if, as we have previously shown, 
individuality is as well preserved through the notion 
of a, functioning ego as through that of a pure ego, then 
we may interpret individuality in a way that admits of 
its alterability without its destruction. If we regard 
individuality as something fixed and separate from the 
interest-formed character of Herbart, and if it is to be 
untouched whilst the formation of character proceeds, 
we may well ask, what is the meaning and purpose 
of the duality, and what is the use of character-forming 
in education ? 

Next, let us suppose that the individuality is an entity 
that changes somehow, and yet stands apart from the 
interest-formed character. How does it change ? The 
fact that it changes implies that it is an activity. But 
activity pure and simple is an abstraction. It must 
be an activity of some kind ; it must be an activity that 
derives its colour or quale from that which it produces. 
The only intelligible colouring is that derived from 
presentations and their accompanying feelings, Now, 
if the individuality changes in and through these, it 
must change either in harmony with or in opposition to 
the interest -formed character which is dependent on 
presentations and their accompanying feelings. If it 
changes in harmony with the changes in interest-formed 
character, then either the individuality, or the educa- 
tion that produces the interest-formed character, seems 
to be superfluous. But, according to the critics, the 



INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED INTEREST. 175 

individuality must be preserved at all hazards. Hence 
education, whose highest aim is to form character, is 
unnecessary. If individuality changes in opposition to 
the changes leading to interest-formed character, edu- 
cation is even more unnecessary, nay, it is positively 
harmful. We seem, therefore, to be driven to seek a 
conception under which individuality and interest-formed 
character can be connected in the way of mutual in- 
fluence. Such a conception is Herbart's. This conception 
we now proceed to consider. 

Herbart draws a clear distinction between individuality 
and character. " Willing, determination, takes place in 
consciousness. Individuality, on the other hand, is un- 
conscious. It is the dark root to which, as a psycho- 
logical hypothesis, we refer everything which, according 
to circumstances, always comes out differently in [dif- 
ferent] men. . . . Character almost inevitably expresses 
itself in opposition to individuality through conflict. 
For character is simple and steadfast; whilst individu- 
ality is continuously sending forth from its depths new 
fancies and desires ; and even if its activity is conquered 
it still weakens the execution of resolutions through its 
manifold passivity and susceptibility." ^ This description 
of individuality follows logically from Herbart's concep- 
tion of soul-life as essentially an organically functioning 
process. His references to the unconscious and mysteri- 
ous nature of individuality and its incalculable move- 
ments show that the doctrine of heredity may quite well 
find a place in his psychology, and that individuality 
is not a fixed entity like the metaphysical soul, but a 

^ Allgemeine Padagogik, Ek. I. cap. ii. 5. 



176 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

nucleus or root that tends to grow and spread. From 
Herbart's point of view, individuality is the soul-life 
functioning as it pleases in fancies and desires, heed- 
less of any external interference or regulation. It is a 
phase of soul-life whose activity may be " conquered but 
not annihilated." The activity, though conquered, has 
" manifold passivity and susceptibility " which weakens 
the execution of resolutions. To speak in terms of our 
interpretation, the soul -life up to a certain point has 
functioned in several (Urections, and the sum total of 
these functionings thus constitutes the soul -life up to 
that point. This soul -life tends to function along the 
old lines and also along new ones. But although the 
soul-life of the past cannot be annihilated, its tendency 
to continue in the old paths may, according to Herbart, 
be to a certain extent " conquered." Such a result is 
possible simply because the individuality is not a fixed 
unalterable entity, but an entity that can preserve its 
unity and identity whilst undergoing change. Indi- 
viduality, then, is an organic nucleus which, because it 
is organic, can be so modified by education as to be led 
more and more along the line of an interest -formed 
character. Its absolutely natural development would 
be just along the lines of its first " fancies and desires " ; 
and if this development exactly coincided with the 
development of moral character there would be no need 
for education. But, just because " character almost in- 
evitably expresses itself in opposition to individuality," 
there arises the need of modifying the individuality in 
such a way that character shall not be a growth super- 
imposed on the individuality, but a growth springing from 
the individuality. And the conception of the soul as a 



INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED INTEREST. 177 

functioning organic activity, and not as a pure unchange- 
able ego, is the only conception under which we can 
think of a harmony between individuality and character 
as the outcome of a many-sided interest developed through 
instruction. 

The possibility of correlating the two activities of 
individuality and interest, and the general method of 
procedure in this correlating, are indicated by Herbart 
as follows : " Before the teacher many-sidedness in its 
entirety constantly floats, now diminished, now enlarged. 
His task is to increase the quantity without altering the 
outlines, the froportioii, the form. But this work under- 
taken with the individuality does always change its 
outline, as if from a certain central point on an irregular 
angular body a sphere gradually grew out, which sphere, 
however, was never able to cover the outermost projec- 
tions. The projections — the strength of individuality — 
may remain in so far as they do not spoil the character ; 
and through them the entire outline may take this or 
that form." " We must not picture this enlargement as 
if to the already existent parts other parts were to be 
gradually attached." And again, " Although, however, 
the various directions into which interest branches out 
are as numerous as the manifold forms and colours of 
its objects, yet all must start from the same point ; or, 
the many sides should represent sides of the same person, 
like different surfaces of one body. All the interests of 
a single consciousness must find their place in him : this 
unity we must never lose." ^ 

The conception which Herbart seeks to unfold in 
the above may be represented by the following diagram, 

^ Allgemeiue Padagogik, Bk. II. cap. ii. 6. 
M 



ITS 



A NEW INTEKPRETATION OF HERBART. 



a consideration of which may help towards a fuller 
appreciation of Herbart's reconciling effort. 

Let the figure ABCDEFG represent the individu- 
ality of the child before it has been subjected to 
any external regulation whatsoever. The projections 
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, represent the strength of the 




individuality or the directions and extent of the soul- 
activities from its starting-point 0. The soul-activity 
left entirely to itself will naturally continue to function 
in the old directions, even though it will also doubtless 
function in new directions — that is, the projections 
A, B, C, &c., will tend to extend more and more. Next, 



INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED INTEREST. 179 

suppose that the projections A, G, F, I) represent activ- 
ities of the individuality in the right direction, whilst 
B, C, E represent activities opposed to the formation 
of moral character. What the educator has to do, 
then, is to foster further development in the directions 

A, G, F, D, through the lines of interest Oa, Og, Of, Od, 
radiating from some central point, 0, of presentation or 
knowledge. The child will follow these lines simply 
because they are in the direction in which he himself 
(his individuality) wishes to go : the series of presenta- 
tions which the educator will rouse in him will be 
interesting to him ; or rather he, as an apperceiving soul, 
will interest himself in the series because it is going 
his way. Here, at any rate, the child's individuality 
and the development of an interest -formed character 
will be in harmony : the educator enlists the individu- 
ality in the service of character. And here, too, the 
development for the child is comparatively easy. But 
the child's individuality is also manifesting itself in the 
directions B, C, E, The educator cannot destroy these 
phases of individuality. What he can do is to draw off 
the child from activity in those directions by persist- 
ently keeping before him those series of presentations 
represented by the lines Oa, 0^, 0/, Od, in which the 
child is through his own individuality interested. The 
oftener the soul-activity of the child interests itself along 
those lines, the less frequently, and consequently the less 
powerfully, will it function in the wrong directions 

B, C, E, And this, Herbart says, is accomplished 
" through conflict." The projections in the wrong 
directions will never disappear, but they will be more 
or less " conquered." Moreover, as the lines of interest 



180 A NE^V INTEUPRETATION OF UERBAllT. 

Oa, Og, &c., extend, the more will the sphere, of which 
they form parts, expand and absorh the projections of 
individuality. It will never completely absorb them, 
for projections B, C, E, because they are not coinciding 
with any of the lines of interest Oa, &c., do not really 
belong to the sphere : they form the breaks in its con- 
tinuity, — they are the flaws in an otherwise whole and 
rounded character. But as through " educative instruc- 
tion " the lines of interest increase in number as well as 
in strength, the flaws or breaks will become relatively 
less important. Whilst the " dark root " of individuality 
will now and then manifest itself in opposition to the 
interest-formed character, it will largely manifest itself 
along the lines of many-sided interest. In this way 
does Herbart try to reconcile the apparent antagonism 
between the conceptions of individuality and many- 
sided interest — by means of a conception which is 
perhaps as adequate as any conception could be to meet 
the demands of the educator. 

On this conception and its allied one of " a circle 
of thought " has been founded the doctrine of " concen- 
tration of studies." According to this doctrine, first, 
the knowledge of the pupil should, through educative- 
instruction, be made an organically connected whole • 
second, the instruction should start from some central 
study, to which all other studies should be linked. As 
regards the latter and more prominent claim, viz., that 
instruction should proceed from some one central study, 
it is very questionable if Herbart's concept of interest 
implies that such a central study can be found. The 
point of our diagram, representative of the heart of 
the soul-nucleus, is an abstraction, and only employed 



INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED INTEREST. 181 

for purposes of explanation. To regard it otherwise is 
contrary to the whole spirit of the Herbartian psychology, 
which from the very start seeks to shun abstractions. 
Such a point, indeed, might represent the soul before it 
could be considered an object of psychological study. 
When psychology deals with it, it has already become 
an " irregular angular body," and instruction may pro- 
ceed to operate on the individuality, and so to form 
character only " as if from a certain central point . . . 
a sphere gradually grew out." If in the diagram we 
suppose the lines Oa, Og, &c., instead of meeting at the 
point, to start from the angles of a very small irregular 
figure round the point, we shall have the conception of 
the real Herbartian starting-point so far as psychology 
and education are concerned. The irregular figure, let 
it be ever so small, yet so long as it has sides, points 
to the fact that there are several starting-points or 
centres, and hence that knowledge as a unity is yet to 
seek, and that instruction from a single central subject 
is not possible. No amount of instruction along the 
line, say of mathematical interest, will develop what is 
implied in a moral character. Mathematical knowledge 
never passes over or merges into knowledge of moral 
ideas, nor does knowledge of moral ideas ever pass over 
into a knowledge of mathematics. What is of real con- 
sequence in the theory of " concentration " is just what 
is of real consequence in the theory of " interest " — viz., 
that each branch of knowledge and subject of instruction 
should be so presented to the pupil that every step in 
acquisition — be it in mathematics or morals — should be 
the natural development of the preceding step. And if 
it is so, then each branch of knowledge will find its cor- 



182 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERB ART. 

relation to all others in the unity of the growing and 
functioning ego. 

But this, it may be said, is nothing new : it is just 
what every educationist has insisted on — viz., the neces- 
sity of proceeding " from the known to the unknown." 
The theory of Herbart is certainly this ; but it is some- 
thing more. Through his conception of individuality, as 
we have interpreted it, Herbart imposes on the educator 
the necessity of knowing what the child is and knows 
when he is taken in hand to be educated. The idea, 
however crude and mechanical it may seem, is, that 
before the teacher can take up the threads of a child's 
soul-life at the age of five or six and develop those that 
are worth developing, he must first know what the 
threads are and their constituents. To put it in an 
apparently cruder way, he must have an inventory of 
the presentational and other elements that as a sum 
total constitute the soul -activity of the child at the 
time when he essays to develop that life in a truly 
natural and scientific manner. And the comparatively 
recent appearance of what is styled Child Study is a 
tacit admission on the part of educationists that Herbart 
is right, and that before we can hope to bring education 
as a science to bear on the child, we must first know the 
child in a much more complete and scientific way than 
we at present do. The all too common experience of 
the schoolroom, that there are pupils who seem to be 
incapable of being taught, may after all be witness 
against us that such pupils have never been truly 
known. It is no exaggeration to say that, in the case 
of the average child of five or six years of age ushered 
into our schoolrooms, the indi'''iduality, the base from 



INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED INTEREST. 183 

which the teacher must start to develop knowledge and 
to form character, is almost unknown. Assumption after 
assumption is made, and under present conditions has to 
be made, as to what the child knows, how he feels, and 
how he is inclined to act. Now, if we insist upon the 
apparently logical outcome of Herbart's theory, that 
the teacher should first get to knoio the child in the way 
suggested before seeking to educate him, then the theory 
points us to what is impracticable. But, in truth, the 
theory makes no such demands on the teacher. What 
it really demands is systematic parental education^ and a 
correlation between this education and the teacher's scheme 
of education. The theory points us to the real educa- 
tional starting - point • — that is, the cradle. Other 
thinkers have voiced the need of an education that shall 
begin at the cradle. Herbart, through his conceptions 
of " interest " and " individuality " and his theory of 
their interaction, has shown the ground for insisting on 
such an education, and has suggested the general line of 
procedure whereby true development may be secured. 
The problem of educational science is twofold : to find 
the known, and to find how to proceed to the unknown. 
The latter part of the problem has always faced us, and 
has received more than its share of consideration. To 
shirk the former part of the problem, as involving a 
Utopian revolution in the relations between the parent, 
the child, the schoolmaster, and the state, is to declare, 
either that Herbart's theory is false, or that there can 
be no Science of Education. 

^ This of course implies that parents should know something of the 
Art of Education. Why not ? See Herbert Spencer's ' Education,' cap. 
iii., " No rational plea can be put forward for leaving the Art of Education 
out of our curriculum," &c. 



181 A iS'EW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

Amoniist shrewd observers of our national life there 
is a rising consensus of opinion that alongside the in- 
creasing educational developments of recent years there 
has been an undoubted decrease of originality, which is 
simply another name for individuality. Knowledge has 
increased, but whilst it has developed general excellences 
in every department of life, these excellences are mostly 
all of a uniform pattern of mediocrity. There has been 
a general levelling up of the whole at the expense of 
the individuality of the members of the whole. If one 
were to seek for the cause, it might be found in the 
fact that a certain superstructure of knowledge has been 
superimposed, mechanical- wise, upon a basis of soul-life 
assumed to be the same for the individual as for the 
mass. If the disappearance of originality is to be 
attributed to the incubus of a uniform state -imposed 
education, then the theory of Herbart seems to point to 
a remedy. The remedy consists, not in the policy of 
laissez-faire, under which individuality has undoubtedly 
thriven in the past, but in the encouragement OAid 
strengthening of individuality by a state-regulated differ- 
entiation of the education suitable for different individuals 
and communities in the state. And the basis of such a 
differentiation is to be found, not so much in what the 
individual himself may fancy to be and do in the state, 
as in what he is already by birth and environment. To 
employ the Herbartian conception, we would say that the 
individual must be encouraged to travel along the lines of 
interest already known to him, in so far as these tend in 
the right direction. These are the lines of his individ- 
uality ; and to encourage him to transfer his interest 
from these to others is to diminish the effective value 



INDIVIDUALITY AND MANY-SIDED INTEREST. 185 

of the individual as a whole. Thus, to bring the argu- 
ment close down to the practical, there is no reason 
why the child of the country should be encouraged to 
transfer his interest to the city. Other things being 
equal, his activity will be more effective in the direction 
of country interests than in that of city interests. In 
this way his individuality will be strengthened even at 
the same time that his interests in other directions are 
being roused and developed. Besides, each individual 
has a duty to his environment. This duty consists, not 
in getting out of the environment, but in raising it along 
with himself and through his own personal advance in 
knowledge. If such a differentiation can be fostered by 
the state alongside of an increased systematic correlat- 
ing of parental and school education, then it will be 
easier to arrive at a more definite knowledge of what 
the individual is when he is taken in hand by the 
schoolmaster, and the first and more important part of 
the educational problem will be nearer solution. 

Those who object to such a differentiation of indi- 
viduals and communities in the matter of education may 
be asked to ponder Euskin's words. " It has been too 
long boasted as the pride of England, that out of a vast 
multitude of men confessed to be in evil case, it was 
possible for individuals, by strenuous efforts and singular 
good fortune, occasionally to emerge into the light, and 
look back with self-congratulatory scorn upon the occu- 
pations of their parents, and the circumstances of their 
infancy : ought we not rather to aim at an ideal of 
national life, when, of the employments of Englishmen, 
though each shall be distinct, none shall be unhappy or 
ignoble ; when mechanical operations, acknowledged to 



186 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

be debasing in their tendency, shall be deputed to less 
fortunate and more covetous races ; when advance from 
rank to rank, though possible to all men, may be rather 
shunned than desired by the best; and the chief object 
in the mind of every citizen may not be extraction from 
a condition admitted to be disgraceful, but fulfilment of 
a duty which shall also be a birthright." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

INTEREST VI:RSVS SELF-REALISATION AS THE FIRST 
PRINCIPLE OF EDUCATION. 

There is one final question connected with our inter- 
pretation of Herbart's psychological and educational 
theories which we consider of some importance, even 
though it does not add to nor subtract from the weight 
of our argument. Modern followers of Herbart's theory, 
whilst recognising the great import of the " interest " 
doctrine, are nevertheless inclined to set up " self- 
realisation " as the first principle of education. They 
are led to this, presumably, through the feeling en- 
gendered by hostile criticism of Herbart that the " self " 
seems to have no place in his theory. Now the ques- 
tion which our interpretation suggests is, what superi- 
ority has the principle of " self-realisation " over that 
of " interest." Herbartian " interest," as v/e have tried 
to show, is as much a self-realisation as anything can 
be. Both principles imply a " self," and the same 
aim for that " self," viz., morality or the ethical life. 
The operation of each is meant to issue in morality. 
In this respect, at least, " self-realisation " has no claim 
to be ranked first whilst " interest " is ranked second. 
The term " self-realisation," by its explicit reference to 



188 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERBART. 

the " self," has a seeming advantage over the term 
" interest." But as each of the terms is, or ought to 
he, expressive of a working concept for the educator, 
the chiim to priority must be settled according to the 
value of each as a working concept. This much must 
be granted, so long as we assume that there is such 
a thing as educational science. Now such a concept 
should give some indication as to how the end, in view 
of which the concept is employed, is to be reached. 
But all the direction which the concept " self-realisa- 
tion " gives the educator is an injunction to realise the 
"self;' to make the "self" of the child real. And if 
we attach to the term real the specific meaning of 
moral, we are arbitrarily and unwarrantably restricting 
the meaning of the term self-realisation. The " self " 
can be as completely realised along the line of vice 
as along that of virtue. The term has acquired pres- 
tige through its connection with some of the best and 
highest thoughts of men, but all along it has secured 
this prestige through its being tacitly understood as 
higher self-realisation or the realisation of a higher 
and better self. But until both terms, " self " and 
" realise," connote something less vague and more scien- 
tific than what they connote in the writings of the 
poet or the theologian, it is difficult to see how the 
reference to self renders the one concept superior to 
the other from the point of view of the educator. 

It may be objected, however, that every educator, 
Herbartian and non-Herbartian, does actually accept 
" self-realisation " as the first principle of education ; 
and that, whilst the principle may not enlighten us as 
to the general method of reaching our educational end, 



INTEREST VERSUS SELF-REALISATION. 189 

yet we can find the necessary direction in the doctrine 
of " interest." Now, if Herbart's " interest " were merely 
a term expressive of the method which the educator must 
follow in his practice, we might be disposed to allow 
" self-realisation " to stand as the first principle of educa- 
tion. But in the first place, "interest," as we have inter- 
preted it, is not an abstract laiv of the movement of soul- 
life, but is the soul process, and therefore, in a sense, the 
soul-life itself. The term " interest " definitely connotes 
a soul, a self, a mind, a living essence— the terms are 
quite indifferent to the argument — which interests itself 
or lives in and through presentations and feelings. Even 
whilst it does not profess to be an all-embracing term, it 
yet presents to the educator a definite and intelligible 
object which he can deal with in a more or less scientific 
manner. The expression " self-realisation " has no such 
definite connotation, and affords no guidance for educa- 
tional practice. If, then, Herbart's definition of the 
" self " in and through the term " interest " is as ade- 
quate as his method, then, so far as the Science and Art 
of education are concerned, the vaguely connotative prin- 
ciple of " self-realisation " cannot be allowed to have pre- 
cedence of the more definite and more scientific principle 
of " interest." It has been said by one that " education 
is not yet a science, and that the art of teaching is in a 
pre-Eaphaelitic stage." ^ If education is to throw off 
such a reproach and claim to be ranked amongst the 
sciences, it must conform to the first requirements of 
science, and adopt, both as regards its ends and methods, 
only those categories that have some well-defined mean- 
ing. The Herbartian term " interest " is one such cate- 

^ J. H. Yoxall, M.P., in ' Cornhill Magazine,' May 1904, p. 674. 



190 A NEW INTERPRETATION OF HERB ART. 

gory : it implicitly contains a whole educational theory, 
whose fundamental postulate is that very self-activity 
whose absence the Herbartian critic so much deplores. 
But in the second place, in spite of the noble associa- 
tions of the term " self-realisation," like many similar 
terms it is apt to become in practice a dangerously mis- 
leading one. Tlie expression, even though by its very 
vagueness it may include within it all the modern forms 
of culture, nay, by its very inclusion of all these, draws 
far too much attention to the " self." It is not with the 
image of self, even the higher self, before his eyes, that 
the teacher will best help the pupil to "realise himself" ; 
and it is not with the watchword of self-realisation that 
any man is best led towards the moral life. The ob- 
trusion of the " self " in the expression of a working base 
principle of ethical life is only too apt to be self-defeat- 
ing, as leading the individual falsely to identify the 
direct interest in self with the moral life. What is 
wanted in national, social, and individual life is an out- 
look away from the self — a Herbartian interest, which is 
an interest in anything but the self; and when a man 
through education reaches the stage where he forgets 
himself in his absorption in a something " other," then 
in thus losing his life he truly finds it. Such a soul-life 
that functions easily and wholly outwardly is the apper- 
ceptively interested life of the Herbartian theory. Such 
a soul-life, when apperceptively interested in the practical 
realisation of the moral ideas, constitutes both the most 
definite and therefore most intelligible and the highest 
kind of self-realisation. To quote again from Maeter- 
linck, whose attitude to the " self " and to knowledge 
is virtually the same as Herbart's, " Truly to act well 



INTEREST VERSUS SELF-REALISATION. 



191 



we must do good because of our craving for good, a 
more intimate knowledge of goodness being all we 
expect in return." ^ 

Such a conclusion draws wonderfully near to and 
indicates a truth present in that Buddhist Law of 
Eighteousness which enjoins on men the duty of de- 
stroying the illusion of selfhood. Ignorance, according 
to the Buddhist creed, is the source of all moral wrong : 
and when the individual at last rids himself of the final 
and greatest error of belief in a self, which he does 
through right comprehension, the self as a self dis- 
appears, and righteousness in the universe is increased. 
We may shrink from such a pantheistic conclusion, but 
there is in it a truth, which is more or less experienced 
and revealed in every Christ-like life ; and our general 
interpretation of Herbart's theory, and in particular of 
his theory of " interest," seems to justify the view that 
the Herbartian principle of " interest " and the Buddhist 
Law of Eighteousness are nearly allied, and offer to 
the educator a more definite, more practical, truer, 
and nobler first principle of education than that of 
" self-realisation." 



Maeterlinck's Wisdom and Destiny, p. 194. 



PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SO] 




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