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acted wisely if that was the only occupation in which he could earn a livelihood. But a lawyer who neglects his family in order to employ all his waking hours in swelling an already sufficient income deserves our censure. The mother who should neglect the training of her children in order to devote herself to missionary work would blunder seriously if not criminally. But it is equally certain that the emergencies can rarely arise which would justify us in the complete neglect of all civic and social obligations.
Nevertheless, however sure we may be in extreme cases, there are numerous instances on the border line when the most thoughtful person must be in doubt. A pronounced blue and a pronounced green are very easily distinguished, but who shall say at what point in the spectrum blue becomes green, or green blue? In like manner, it is clear that a father should devote a certain amount of attention to the training of his children, and some time to his duties as a citizen; but who can say how much time he shall give to each, or when the one duty becomes so urgent that the other must give way to it ? Perhaps Socrates was right in neglecting his family for the sake of his fellow citizens, but we feel that nothing short of the genius of Socrates would justify such a course.
The Development of Character as the End of Education.
Dr. Dewey says that the end of education is the development of character, and by character he means a perception of the interests of society, and the power and disposition to promote them. Whoever sees the true interests of society and has the power and disposition to promote them, he and he alone, says Dr. Dewey, deserves to be called educated.
Now in criticising this definition I do not wish to be understood as disagreeing with it. On the contrary, I wish at the outset to say that I regard it as asserting by implication a very important truth : that the true interest of the individual and that of society are identical. My criticism of the definition is that it does not tell us in what the interests either of the individual or of society are to be found. To be told that the interests of the individual are the same as those of society tells me nothing unless I know what the interests of society are. To be told that the interests of society are the same as those of the individual leaves me entirely in the dark unless I know what the interests of the individual are. The teacher has to deal with a lot of psychological raw material, and he wishes to know what he shall try to make of it, toward what ideal he shall seek to have it shape itself. Is it not evident that the one thing that he needs to know is in what the true interests of the individual lie? And is it not equally clear that you are giving him no positive con ception when you tell him that the interests of the individual consist in such a development of his powers as will enable him to see and respond to the interests of society? I say, no positive conception; there is a negative idea of very great value in Dr. Dewey's definition. He says that the material, selfish view of education is not the true one: so far it is good. But when we ask for a positive statement of the end of education, his definition gives us nothing but words. It tells us that it consists in such a training of the individual as will promote the interests of society. But it does not tell us in what the interests either of the individual or of society consist,
QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT.
1. Show the indefiniteness of the statement that education is preparation for complete living.
2. In what does the vagueness of Spencer's statement consist?
3. What does a father need to know in order to train his children wisely?
4. Show that Mr. Spencer's formula does not impart that knowledge.
5. What is meant by conflict of duties? 6. What does Dr. Dewey mean by character ? 7. Why is his conception of the end of education unsatisfactory? 8. What valuable negative idea is contained in it?
1. Would it help a teacher to tell him that he ought to seek to train perfect men and women, and, if not, why not?
2. Would it help him to tell him that a perfect man takes proper care of his body and mind, trains his children, and performs his duty as a citizen intelligently, and uses his leisure time wisely?
3. Does a man know what he ought to try to make of himself when he knows that he cannot be what he ought without having the interests of society at heart?
4. Is it possible for you to have a clear opinion as to the interests of society until you have reached a clear opinion as to your own interests ?
5. What are your interests ?
6. Show that Mr. Spencer and Dr. Dewey have made the same mistake.
THE TRUE END OF EDUCATION.
In view of the conclusions reached in the preceding chapter, it would seem that an attempt to give some sort of scientific basis to the work of education must of necessity end in failure. If a work is to rest on a scientific foundation, it is apparent that its object must be determined with absolute definiteness; but the precise determination of the end of education seems to be involved in almost hopeless difficulties.
The Unclearness of the Fundamental Conceptions of Science. — But there are few more remarkable things in the world than the fact that great results are constantly being achieved with very poor tools. While it would seem to be self-evident that there can be no such thing as science unless the ideas that lie at its foundation are definite, it has been shown again and again that these ideas are woefully lacking in definiteness. We seem to know what we mean when we use the terms space, time, matter, motion, substance, cause, until we begin to reflect upon them. But the more we consider them, the more we are convinced that ultimate scientific ideas cannot be precisely determined. Nevertheless, while the metaphysician and the logician are contending about the nature of the tools which science is obliged to use, the latter slowly piles discovery on discovery, thus giving a practical demonstration
of the fact that it is able to use the tools at hand in an effective way.
In like manner, although the teacher may not have an accurate notion of the purpose of education, it will be admitted that a discussion which diminishes by ever so little the indefiniteness of his ideas will decrease his inefficiency. Admitting, then, our inability to reach preciseness, let us see what can be done in the way of making our conception of the end of education more definite.
Conclusions as to the End of Education not Susceptible of Proof. — First of all, it behooves us to inquire whether there are any things in the world that are absolutely good — good, that is to say, not as means to ends, but in and of themselves. In considering this question, it must be borne in mind that, in the nature of the case, it is not susceptible of proof. The very fact that a thing is assumed to be good in and of itself involves the necessity of assuming it without proof, either on the testimony of one's individual consciousness or on that of the world in general. For a thing which could be proved to be good would follow as a logical consequence from some higher good — would be good, not as an end, but as a means to an absolute good. If, for example, pleasure is assumed to be an absolute good, then anything which ministers to pleasure will be a good because of its relation to pleasure – will be a mediate, a relative, not an absolute good. Evidently, then, in endeavoring to ascertain what the absolute good or goods are, our method is determined for us by the very nature of the inquiry. We must investigate the consciousness of the world, and then submit the answers we receive to the scrutiny of our individual consciousness.