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Imitation and Reason. We may, then, concisely an. swer the two questions asked at the beginning of this chapter as follows: (1) Imitation begins to be a factor in the development of the child in the latter part of the first year of his life. (2) Although it never ceases to exert an influence, that influence constantly diminishes with the development of the intelligence and of the moral and æsthetic nature. The function of imitation, then, as Professor Groos has well said, is to go before intelligence and prepare the way for it. The ideal man, the philosopher of Plato's Republic, the sage of the Stoics, the man who illustrates in his nature Mr. Herbert Spencer's conception of complete living or Dr. Dewey's notion of perfect character, would be entirely free from the influence of imitation. His life would be a strenuous and consistent effort to realize his own ethical, æsthetic, and intellectual ideals under the guidance of his own reason. Looking at the matter in this ideal way, we have at one end of the line say when the child is about a year old imitation as the great controlling force, apart from the impulses to eat, drink, sleep, and the like, in the child's life; at the other end reason has become supreme. But the rule of reason has been substituted for that of imitation only little by little, and imitation controlled in the beginning in order that reason might govern in the end.


1. State in your own language the substance of this chapter.

2. Why does imitation exert a more powerful influence during the early part of a child's life than it does afterwards?

3. What is heredity, and what influence does it exert on imitation? 4. State the influence of imitation on (a) literature, (6) national character, (c) games, (a) the spirit of the times.

5. Why did successive generations of Romans think it was right for a father to have absolute authority over his son? 6. Explain “ lower immediacy,”

,” “mediacy,” and “higher immediacy."

7. Show that the beliefs gained through higher immediacy are due to plastic imitation.

8. What is the relation (a) between imitation and intelligence, (6) between imitation and character?


1. There is a period in the life of a human being which might be described as the instinctive, another as the imitative, and a third as the intelligent period; what, roughly speaking, would you say these periods correspond to ?

2. Mention some of the instincts of human beings.

3. Can you cite examples which seem to you to show the influence of heredity?

4. What is the difference between heredity and character?

5. Can you illustrate from your own observation the influence of imitation on language and games?

6. Does imitation account for the beginning of the Roman custom, or merely for its continuance?

7. How does the commercial crisis of 1817-19 illustrate the influence of plastic imitation ?

8. What is the relation between imitation and tradition ?

9. Does imitation, or reason, exert the greater influence over the lives of most men ?




President Eliot on the Public School. — Some important pedagogical inferences may be drawn from the conclusions we have just reached. These conclusions enable us to see that we may expect too much of the school much indeed, in the nature of the case, that it is impossible for it to accomplish. President Eliot's recent declaration before a state teachers' association “that our common schools have failed signally to cultivate general intelligence, as is evinced by the failure to deal adequately with the liquor problem, by the prevalence of gambling, of strikes accompanied with violence, and by the persistency of the spoils system,” ? makes one wonder whether even he realizes the inevitable limitations of the school. At whose door are we to lay the responsibility for the liquor evil, gambling, and the continuance of the spoils system? Primarily at the door of society. Society, or at any rate a portion of it, approves of gambling, drinking intoxicating liquor, the spoils system, and the average man gets his ideas as to what is proper and right, through plastic imitation, from society. The school is indeed to a limited extent responsible for the ideas and ideals of society, but only to a limited extent. If every teacher in all the schools of the country were a Socrates or a Pestalozzi, we should still have gambling and drunkenness and the other evils mentioned by President Eliot, although not so much of them. These evils are not due primarily to lack of intelligence. The gamblers, the drunkards, the politicians who thrive on the spoils system, and the people who approve it will compare very favorably in point of intelligence with their neighbors. So far as the source of these evils is not found in ineradicable elements of human nature, they are found in the ideals of society. Alcibiades, one of the most gifted pupils of one of the most gifted teachers in the world, was not prevented from living a life which did the utmost violence to all the precepts of Socrates. The great sophist, as Plato fitly called the Athenian public, corrupted him. Socrates told him that “spiritual wealth" is the only thing worth living for in this world. But Athenian society told him a very different story — that money, position, pleasure, are the important matters; and he listened to its voice, and that in spite of the fact that the teaching of Socrates made “his heart leap within him” and his eyes rain tears."

1 A newspaper condensation of his argument.

Imitation the Chief Source of Ideals. — The truth is, the school can do much more to quicken the intelligence of its pupils than to ennoble their ideals. When the boy leaves school in the afternoon he is subjected to no influences that directly tend to weaken the intellectual fibre or dim the insight which the performance of the day's tasks has given him. His added intellectual power is his as an inalienable possession. Can this be said of any impulse which he may have received towards higher ideals of conduct ? He goes, it may be, to a home in which the one standard by which all things are measured is money. He mingles, perhaps, with companions who value a thing only as there is money in it. He listens, possibly, to conversations in which pity and contempt are commingled for the man who for the sake of a phantom called duty foregoes an opportunity to get rich. He reads newspapers, perchance, whose columns are filled with the doings of millionaires — what they wear, what they eat, when they dine, how many hours they sleep. In this event what is to become of his impulse towards higher ideals ?

1 Plato's Symposium.

The force of these considerations so crudely presented will be all the more evident if it is borne in mind that he cannot get from his intellect any firm support for his ideals. These, as in the case of every boy or man, have their roots in the emotions, and when he undertakes to transplant them to his intellect he undertakes a problem which has perplexed the profoundest of the philosophers. We were all reading, a year ago, about the titled English ladies who were devoting all their time and energies to the devising of toilets for the coronation. To most of us it seems a poor use to put one's life to, but by what arguments could we induce those ladies to accept our point of view ? Could we convince any one of them that she would not like to be known as the wearer of the most beautiful gown or the costliest gems on that occasion ? The supreme aim of many men is the achievement of some sort of reputation ; one as an expert whist or golf or chess player, another as an influential member of Congress without regard to the means whereby the influence is to be acquired or the objects for which it is to be used, still another as a giver of the finest dinners, and so on. Poor aim, you say. Yes, but what are you going to do about it? How are you going

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