Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Possible, with the Positivists; or Absolute Consciousness, with some metaphysicians — and you have done nothing to make educational theory possible so long as you contend that consciousness, to be educated, must obey laws imposed upon it by an outside power. If mind cannot come into contact with mind; if it has no ear for logic, no eye for intelligence; if it is but the tail of a metaphysical kite with no agency or volition of its own, then education, and for that matter science, is impossible.

QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT.

1. What is the theory of automatism?

2. Show that if this theory is true, nothing which we do can be due to purpose.

3. Why, if it is true, has education to do with the body only?

4. Why does automatism render it impossible to make a clear statement of ordinary facts ?

5. Why, according to automatism, must physical causes account for all we do?

6. Why does it leave no place for logical thinking ?

7. Why does it make distinctions between truth and falsehood impossible?

8. What is the difference between automatism and parallelism ?

9. Show that, according to parallelism, the relation between matter and mind is like that between a thing and its shadow.

10. Why must any attempt to identify the laws of matter and of mind have the same consequences for education as automatism or parallelism?

SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS.

1. Can you think of any reasons which might incline men to believe that automatism is true?

2. Can you cite any cases in which men act precisely as they would if they were mere automata ?

3. What makes you believe that you have a mind ?
4. Why do you believe that other people have minds?

5. Would your reasons be valid if automatism were true?
6. What is the relation between automatism and materialism ?

7. Can you think of any reasons which might incline men to believe that every kind of matter has a bit of mind stuff connected with it?

8. What is the difference between mechanical and ligent action ?

9. What is the difference between the law of gravitation and the force of gravity ?

10. Do you know what the force of gravity is ?

CHAPTER II.

A PRESUPPOSITION OF EDUCATION: PERSON OR

PSYCHOLOGICAL MACHINE.

Herbart's Theory of the Will. - There is another class of theories, of which Herbart's is a type, which equally eliminate the will from the causes that determine the actions of a human being. As automatism makes the actions of men depend upon a purely physical mechanism, so Herbartianism makes them depend upon a purely psychical mechanism. According to Herbart, the soul is merely one among the other monads of the world. The only thing which the soul monad can do is to resist the efforts of the other monads to destroy it — which resistance expresses itself in the form of consciousness. Feelings are the result of the relations between states of consciousness, and will is only the name which we give to a peculiar feeling when it passes into action. We have, according to Herbart, two classes of desires, one accompanied, and the other not, by a belief in the expediency of a certain action. The former passes into action, the latter does not ; and the so-called consciousness of a volition is nothing but the consciousness of the passing of a desire into action.

Metaphysical Difficulties of the Theory.— If we were discussing the theory from the side of metaphysics, it would be insisted on that this theory is inconsistent with itself. Starting with the postulate that the soul can only do one thing — resist the attacks of other monads upon it

the theory really postulates two kinds of soul activity. For Herbart concedes that feeling as well as knowing is a genuine form of mental activity. And the Herbartians cannot deny that feeling as well as knowing is a product of the soul without denying that it is the soul that feels.

We should also point out that the theory is untrue to the facts of consciousness. According to the theory, the mind is purely passive in its so-called acts of volition ; according to consciousness, volition is the active product of an active mind. The mind seems to itself in its acts of volition to be exercising a power of its own, sometimes in strenuous and painful opposition to desires that threaten to break it down.

Educational Implications of the Theory. — But our concern is with the educational implications of the theory, and our contention is that there must be a radical difference between a philosophy of education which bows the will out of the universe whether in the interest of a physiological or a psychological mechanism, and one which is based upon the belief that the deepest things in the life of a human being rest upon his will.

The theory that a human being is a psychological or metaphysical machine is not indeed exposed to the same difficulties as those that automatism and parallelism have to contend with. As has been shown, they make a philosophy of education impossible, because they leave no place for the effectiveness of appeals to intelligence. If all causation is blindly mechanical, then education, since its object is to increase the effectiveness of intelligence, is pure illusion. As well appeal to the shadows that dance on a wall as to an intelligence that is a passive, nerveless, forceless spectator of the world.

It Does not Make a Philosophy of Education Impossible. But if the soul is a metaphysical machine, there is no a priori reason why it may not obey laws of its own. As matter must obey mechanical laws, so, it may be held, the mind is obliged by its nature to obey mental laws. Now such a theory does not make a philosophy of education impossible. If mind, like matter, acts as it does because it must, and, at the same time, obeys laws of its own, education may be conceived as the process of surrounding the mind with influences, subjecting its actions to conditions which will occasion its actions more and more to conform to a preconceived end.

Nevertheless such a theory must profoundly affect one's philosophy of education.

Is there in the minds of your pupils a will upon whose coöperation or opposition you have to reckon ? Are you to conceive of them as beings whose every action is inevitably determined by some form of interest? Or may you regard them as possessed of an innate power of resistance to the powerful currents that would sweep them from their moorings ? Plainly one's philosophy of education must depend upon his answer to these questions. For if with Herbart we hold that the actions of men are determined entirely by their interests, then with him we must hold that the most important thing in education is the development of interest. But if we assent to the reality of the will, of a power that can throw its weight in the scale of the weaker interest and habitually does so in the life of a well-regulated human being, we shall realize that the development of interest, important

« AnteriorContinuar »