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tration of the truth of Dr. Hinsdale's emphatic statement : “A man who can only do what interests him is not half a man.”
The importance of this question would seem to justify a somewhat detailed examination of Dr. Dewey's elaborate presentation of a philosophy of education which makes the development of interest the supreme object of all training.
Dr. Dewey's Theory of Interest. — Let it first be remarked that Dr. Dewey's statement of the case in the “ educational lawsuit of interest versus effort cannot be accepted." If we can secure interest in a given set of facts or ideas, we may be perfectly sure that the pupil will direct his energies towards mastering them." That is not true, for two reasons : when we have developed interest in a given subject, we have no guarantee that it will be permanent. Interest is a state of mind ; when the state of mind passes away interest ceases to be. And because we felt it to-day we are not able to say that we shall experience it to-morrow. Moreover, we have no sort of reason for declaring that it will not come into competition with a stronger interest.
If there is no such thing as a power of will, it is a question of the relative strength of interests : the stronger interest must drive the weaker to the wall.
Nor does “the theory of effort say that voluntary attention should take precedence over spontaneous attention” in any other sense than this: the pupil must have some interest in every subject to which it is his duty to attend, and the theory of effort maintains that he should be required to attend to that whether his interest in it is his strongest interest or not. Nor does the “theory of
1 The quotations are from Dr. Dewey's pamphlet on Interest,
effort” say that “demands are constantly made,” that “situations have to be dealt with which present no features of interest.” It only says that demands are continually being made which present features of less interest than are offered by other lines of possible activity.
Self-Expression as Understood by Dr. Dewey. — Dr. Dewey finds a common false assumption in the theory of effort and the theory of interest as ordinarily conceived : the assumption of “the externality of the object or idea to be mastered, the end to be reached, the act to be performed, to the self.” “The genuine principle of interest,” he maintains, “is the principle of recognized identity of the fact or proposed line of action with the self; that it lies in the direction of the agent's own self-expression, and is therefore imperatively demanded if the agent is to be himself.”
Unless Dr. Dewey means by his "genuine principle of interest" to draw a distinction between interests which from the point of view of psychology stand on a level, his principle is not only true but tautological. A boy likes to fight because he is combative; he does what he sees another boy do because he is imitative; he is never still a moment because he is active; he likes to talk because he is social. So conceived, it is self-evident that whatever a boy wishes to do lies in the direction of his self-expression; he likes to do what he does because his nature is what it is. But, so conceived, it is equally evident that the self which he wishes to express may be precisely the one which we who are interested in his development do not want him to express. Professor James says that he would if he could be both “handsome and fat and well-dressed and a great athlete. So the seeker of his truest, strongest, deepest self must review the list completely and find out the one on which to stake his salvation.” We are not assisted, therefore, by being told what our pupils wish to do in the line of their self-expression ; what we need to know is what self is being expressed, and what means are to be employed to prevail upon them to express the self which we regard as their true self.
This evident distinction Dr. Dewey has taken no account of. “ Genuine interest in education," he says, “is the accompaniment of the identification through action of the self with some object or idea for the maintenance of self-expression.” But, as has just been seen, this interest may accompany the identification of the pupil through action with widely different selves.
Dr. Dewey's Confused Account of Interest. The same confusion reappears in his definitions of interest. “ The root idea of the term seems to be that of being engaged, engrossed, or entirely taken up with some activity because of its recognized worth.” If the italicized phrase merely means that the individual is engrossed with a thing because it appeals to him, if every idea of moral, æsthetic, or intellectual worth is rigidly excluded from it, no exception can be taken to it. The gambler is intensely interested in his game, and never more so than when he is trying to cheat his victim out of all he is worth. But the context makes it impossible to put this interpretation on Dr. Dewey's definition. In the very next paragraph he says that “much of the controversy regarding the use of interest arises because one party is using the term in the larger objective sense of recognized value in engrossing activity, while the 'other is using it as equivalent to selfish motives." But those who use the term to denote the emotional accompaniment of engrossing activity include both selfish motives and recognized value. Devil and saint are equally interested in their respective activities. The burglar planning to rob a bank, the mother pondering the education of her child, are equally engrossed with the subject of their thoughts. That you disapprove the one and approve the other does not prevent both from being states of interest. To call a mode of being engrossed interest when you approve of it, and to refuse to give it that name when you disapprove of it, is to forsake the point of view of psychology for that of ethics. But there can be no valid description of interest except as a state of mind.
Having confused self in general with the self which education seeks to develop, and interest in general with interests that have an educational value, Dr. Dewey has but one more step to take in order to reach his goal. he can show that interest in an end necessitates an abiding and equal interest in the means, he has simplified the educational problem. Education has only to develop an interest in the proper end and its most important task is done.
Dr. Dewey's Attempt to show that Interest in an End Guarantees an Abiding Interest in the Means. — Dr. Dewey proves the point by begging the question. “If,” he says, “the means are recognized truly as means, .. then the full interest in the end is at once transferred to the socalled means.” Again,“ the only sure evidence of desire as against mere vague wishing is effort, and desire is aroused To say
only when the exercise of effort is required.” Evidence of desire to whom? To me who experience it or to an outsider ? Certainly, I who experience it require no evidence beyond the consciousness of the desire, and if the report of my consciousness is to be accepted, it is one thing to be interested in an end and quite another to have an abiding and equal interest in the means that lead to it. that whenever the ideal is really a projection or translation of the self it must strive to assert itself, that it must persist through obstacles, is to contradict the plainest and commonest facts of experience. Three fourths of the tragedy of life arises from the fact that men fail ignominiously to live up to their ideals, and one reason why they fail is because of the uninteresting, unattractive character of the means they must employ to reach them.
That a thinker of Dr. Dewey's ability should be reduced to such straits in order to use interest as the foundation of his philosophy of education, that he should confuse self in general with one's best self, and interest in general with interests that have an educational value, that he should misstate facts of universal experience by contending that whoever is interested in a given end is equally interested in the necessary means, is surely a cogent argument against his position. We submit, then, that the ideal which education should put before itself is that of a human being not controlled by, but controlling, his interests — a human being choosing, under the guidance of an intelligent will, what interests shall determine his activity.
QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT. 1. V'hat is Herbart's theory of the will? 2. What are the metaphysical difficulties of the theory?