The Origins of American Philosophy of Education 9401186979, 9789401186971

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The Origins of American Philosophy of Education
 9401186979, 9789401186971

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C I968 by Martinus Nijhofl, The Hague, Netherlands All rights reseroed, including the right to translate 01' to reproduce this book 01' parts thereot in any t01'm

ISBN 978-94-011-8697-1 ISBN 978-94-011-9518-8 (eBook) DOl 10.1007/978-94-011-9518-8


While I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois, A. W. Anderson encouraged me ao I began to study the meaning of philosophy of education as a distinct discipline. I am not sure when the idea of studying its origins first came to mind, but I was no doubt stimulated by talking with G. D. Phillips, who introduced a course in the history of the philosophy of education at Boston University. Recently, James E. Wheeler and John Hardin Best, colleagues here at Rutgers University, have generously offered suggestions for which I am grateful. The Research Council of Rutgers University provided a Summer Fellowship as well as financial assistance for the typing of a working draft. Some of the material of the study has appeared, in a different form, in Educational Theory, History of Education Quarterly, and Paedagogica Historica. And I shall not forget that Thea, Harry, and Tenley were nearby during the preparation of the manuscript.


A cknowledgments INTRODUCTION







Joseph N eef' s Sensationalis tic Empiricism George Jardine's Philosophical Education James G. Carter: An Inductive Science of Education Thomas Tate: An Inductive Philosophy of Education Herbert Spencer: Evolutionism and Progress Joseph Payne on the Science and Art of Education G. E. Partridge: Scientism and the Philosophy of Education

6 8

25 31 36



James P. Wickersham: Rationalistic Principles as Precepts Rationalism's Classic Philosophy of Education Herman Harrell Horne's Idealistic Theism

45 48 64


75 75 84

Chauncey Wright's Suggestive Naturalism John Dewey: Experience as Empirical and Natural John Angus MacVannel: Experimentalism and Functionalism

12 21




Bibliographic Note





John Dewey once wrote: "Education is such an important interest of life that ... we should expect to find a philosophy of education, just as there is a philosophy of art and of religion. We should expect, that is, such a treatment of the subject as would show that the nature of existence renders education an integral and indispensable function of life." Indeed, such treatments of education are at least as old as Plato's Republic. Even so, it was not until the nineteenth century that the philosophy of education was recognized as a distinct discipline. Historically, it has been one thing to treat education in such a manner as Dewey mentions; it has been another thing to do so while deliberately making explicit a discipline with a subject matter which is in some sense distinct from that of other disciplines. The aim, in the present study, has been to study the origins of philosophy of education as a distinct discipline in the United States. In doing so, "origins" are taken to mean, first, that from which the discipline has come, and second, that which initiates, serves as a point of departure for what follows. In searching for origins, I have explored the philosophic considerations of education from which came those distinct conceptions of the philosophy of education that were to serve as points of departure for later considerations of the discipline. The meanings of terms such as "philosophy of education," "science of education," "theory of education," and "pedagogy" have had a history which is relevant to the origins of philosophy of education as a distinct discipline; and in this history, their meanings took shape according to the philosophic points of view of the writers who used them. Therefore, their several meanings are discussed in the contexts in which they were found to be relevant to the origins of philosophy of education. The earliest work on education which may fairly be considered to



have a place among the origins of the philosophy of education as a distinct discipline is Joseph Neef's Sketch 0/ a Plan and Method 0/ Education (1808). Paul Monroe's Cyclopedia 0/ Education (19II-1913) still remains the most thoroughgoing attempt in English to provide an encyclopedic, comprehensive account of topics which have a bearing upon educational ideas and practices. The Cyclopedia, conceived as the work to which later considerations of ideas and practices might refer in order to find their points of departure, marks the end of the period of origins. Monroe's was the first encyclopedia of education to include an article entitled "Philosophy of Education." Furthermore, its inclusion of some five hundred articles on topics bearing on the subject makes evident not only the fact that the philosophy of education was recognized by the editors of the Cyclopedia as a discipline in its own right, but also the fact that various conceptions of its nature had become established so firmly that they could be viewed as points of departure useful to later students of the discipline. The present study, then, has found the origins of American philosophy of education as a distinct discipline in writings of the period 1808-1913. American philosophy of education as a distinct discipline produced only a small body of writings by 1913. Most of the literature on education in the century from Neef's Sketch to Monroe's Cyclopedia either did not recognize or did not make explicit philosophic considerations of education. The most striking cases in point are the writings of Pestalozzi, Herbart, and Froebel, together with the writings of their followers. While they enjoyed a considerable influence on nineteenth century educational thought and practice, they do not have a large place in the origins of philosophy of education as a distinct discipline. The use made of Pestalozzi's thought and work by American educators was, for the most part, non-philosophical - that is, his objectlessons were taken narrowly just as educational "methods" without a philosophical consideration of the nature of the aims for which such lessons were to be employed; or, put more generally, questions of the nature of any larger context in which object-lessons might be employed were usually not raised. Those empiricists who considered Pestalozzi's method in the context of a conception of knowledge, and those rationalists who considered the larger whole in which Pestalozzi's method would take its place, stand apart from the usual non-philosophical uses of Pestalozzi. William T. Harris' observation, "I am glad that our friends are pushing the Herbartian pedagogy, but when they reject the Herbartian



philosophy they do not put anything in its place," points to the lack of a serious consideration of a philosophical ground for Herbart's pedagogy among most American advocates of Herbartianism. While the title of Herbart's important pedagogical work - The Science of Education, Its General Principles Deduced from Its Aim - suggests that the aim of the science of education was essential in determining educational principles, there was, in American Herbartianism, a prevailing tendency to take Herbart's aim and principles as precepts that needed no critical examination, or to forgo critical examination while discussing general and special methods of education. The most outspoken American Herbartians tended to view their work as something other than philosophy of education. The serious philosophic considerations of Herbart's educational thinking did not come from its main advocates, but from some of its critics and from those who found a place for certain Herbartian concepts in their philosophic points of view. As examples, Dewey was critical of the Herbartian conception of interest in particular and of the Herbartian psychology in general; and Harris interpreted the concept of apperception as dealing with Aristotle's four kinds of causes in such a way that it could take its place within Harris' system of rationalism. In the case of Froebel, no full-blown "Froebelian philosophy of education" came from the pen of an American educator. Again, the philosophers Harris and Dewey found Froebel suggestive, but in different ways. For Harris, Froebel was a philosopher who related his educational principles to a philosophic view of the world in such a way that immediate facts and events are found to be related to the ultimate principle of the universe - in short, Froebel exhibited the rationalistic spirit. For Dewey, who eschewed Rationalism's ultimate principles, Froebel had fundamental insights into the ways in which children develop, and his conception of play was suggestive for formulating a naturalistic theory of childhood education. Not only was the great bulk of educational literature largely unconcerned with philosophic considerations of education, but the philosophic literature also was largely unconcerned with bringing its various points of view to bear in considering educational questions. The several versions of transcendentalism; the realistic philosophy of James McCosh which was so influential in the denominational colleges; the "new realism" which developed in the early twentieth century: not one of these produced an explicit philosophy of education in the period of the discipline's origins.



And among the new breed of academically-trained philosophers who came from graduate schools from the eighties on, Herman Harrell Horne and John Dewey were unusual for their work in philosophy of education. The outstanding new philosophic journals of this period such as Philosophical Review and Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods scarcely ever dealt with philosophic considerations of educational matters. Even though the writings which made explicit the origins of American philosophy of education constitute but a small portion of the educational and philosophical literature produced in the period 1808-1913, three distinct philosophic points of view stand out in those writings. In the present study, a chapter is devoted to a discussion of the ways in which each of these points of view contributed to the origins of American philosophy of education. The first, inductive empiricism, early in the century had a tendency towards scient ism and later came to express this tendency more and more as child study and educational psychology sought to establish a scientific basis for education. The second, rationalism, found its roots in a transcendentalistic opposition to scientism and sought a purely rational sort of experience that is independent of the matters which natural science treats. The third, naturalistic empiricism, found unnecessary the rationalist's quest for a non-natural explanation of things; yet it sought a wider range of experience than did scientism, refusing to limit the universe of meanings to those which are warranted by scientific tests. In considering the philosophies of education which had their origins in these three points of view, the emphasis here is more on the conceptions of the meaning, nature, and scope of the discipline and less on the substantive matters which give a fuller meaning to the conceptions. Substantive matters are treated insofar as they seem to be needed to make clear the nature of the conceptions.


The idea that education itself might be considered as a distinct subject of study was largely absent from the writings on education used by Americans in the late eighteenth century. While none was a philosophy of education, there may be found in them some philosophic treatment of education.! These writings made explicit certain ideas which would become a significant part of the intellectual context of those nineteenthcentury inductive empiricists who would contribute more directly to the origins of philosophy of education as a distinct subject. The idea of the indefinite perfectibility of man and his institutions suggested to liberal writers on education in the early republic that educational institutions might be developed that would educate deliberately to realize that idea. And Richard Price, in his Observations on the Importance of the American Revohttion, and the Means of Making Ita Benefit to the World, published in London in 1785, stated what was to be taken in liberal quarters as an educational corollary of the idea of indefinite perfectibility: "The end of education is to direct the powers of the mind in unfolding themselves; and to assist them in gaining their just bent and force. And, in order to do this, its business should be to teach how to think, rather than what to think; or to lead into the best way of searching for truth, rather than to instruct in truth itself." Armed with the idea of the indefinite perfectibility of man and institutions, and mindful of the possibility of using schools to teach people how to think out the ways in which men might work for such an end, the nineteenth-century inductive empiricists would be the first educational theorists who tried, in a serious way, to work out the peda1 Still the best work on educational writings in eighteenth-century America is A. O. Hansen's Liberalism and American Education in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Macmillan, 1926). Several of the eighteenth-century writings have been edited by Frederick Rudolph and published under the title, Essays on Education in the Early Republic (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1965).



gogical meanings of those ideas. For them, the idea of philosophy as practical wisdom, as knowledge arranged in a systematic way with reference to its bearing upon various activities of life, would be brought to bear when they set forth explicit philosophical considerations of education. The inductive empiricism of Francis Bacon was the method of acquiring knowledge which they most often advocated, their psychology was Lockeian, and the natural sciences stood as the model to be followed in inquiries aimed at producing new sciences, as in psychology and education. The idea of philosophy as a systematic organization of the sciences - as knowledge inductively acquired - was to endure and to be pursued most ambitiously by Herbert Spencer later in the century. The tendency to treat the words philosophy and science as synonyms, as Diderot had done in his Encyclopedia of 1751, continued well into the nineteenth century and appeared in various empiricistic treatments of the Philosophy (or Science) of Mind and the Philosophy (or Science) of Man. And by the late nineteenth century, when the social as well as the natural sciences were becoming distinct from philosophy, the idea that the methods of the natural sciences should be employed in all areas of investigation was to continue to assert itself in such a way that philosophy itself, even when considered nominally as different in some sense from science, was made "scientific." Thus when education came to be treated "philosophically," it too was marked by a certain scientism. JOSEPH NEEF'S SENSATIONALISTIC EMPIRICISM

This account of the empiricistic origins of the philosophy of education begins with Joseph Neef's Sketch of a Plan and Method of Education because in it he set forth a sensationalistic conception of knowledge as the ground for Pestalozzi's method in education, of which Neef was a disciple. Of the importance of immediate sensation as the ground of knowledge, Neef wrote: It is evident, if anything is so, that all our knowledge which is grounded on real and immediate feeling, is of an absolute certainty .... All truths ... resting on our immediate sensations, possess all possible certitude .... It is no less evident, that the judgments which we form on our primitive sensations or ideas are completely certain, as these sensations themselves. 2

Neef held that mathematical truths and other kinds of judgments 2 Sketch of a Plan and Method of Education Founded on an Analysis of the Human Faculties, and Natural Reason, Suitable for the Offspring of a Free People, and tor Rational Beings (Philadelphia: The author, 1808), p. 12.



derived from one's own immediate sensations qualify as genuine knowledge; but any claim to truth or any judgment that is not derivable from one's own sensations is less likely to warrant the claim of truth, and is thereby a lower order of human knowledge. Following the first order of knowledge (and arranged in a descending order of certainty) are three others: the second is knowledge gained through memory; the third is knowledge gained by analogy; and the fourth is knowledge acquired through the evidence and testimony of others. The first order of knowledge is to be attempted whenever possible. The second order is to be resorted to only whenever the first is impossible; the third whenever the first and second are impossible; and the fourth only whenever the first three cannot be employed. Neef takes the position that the knowledge claims set forth in books are of the lowest order and are to be considered only in the event that one's own immediate sensations, memory, and analogy cannot produce the desired knowledge. In fact, books are not to be used until students have reached a fairly high level of maturity: It is irrevocably decided and determined, that my pupils shall pry into no book, till they are able not only to comprehend what they are to read, but also to distinguish perfectly well, good from bad; truth from falsehood; reality from chimera; and probabilities from absurdities. 3

The imperative which N eef finds for education in his sensationalistic view of knowledge is to develop the powers by which knowledge is gained in the order of their importance. The way of developing is by unfolding, according to a certain natural order. If the natural order of unfolding takes place where the objects proper to such an order are available, the powers will have an opportunity to develop as they should. And so Neef would teach his students nothing, but provide them with the opportunities for their powers to unfold in such a way that they would gain the four orders of knowledge. It is to be expected that "my pupils being but children, shall, most assuredly, think, talk, and act childishly and puerilely, in order that they may think, speak, and act manly when they become men." 4 Neef argued that there was a sense in which children generalize their ideas before they learn to speak; it is important, therefore, to recognize that there is such a phenomenon as "childish" generalizations, and so not to confuse the 3 4

Ibid., p. Ibid., p.

15. 17.



inability to speak with the inability to think. Neefs sensationalistic empiricism is the method of gaining reliable knowledge, and at the same time the way in which mental powers must be developed and used. While more sensationalistic than most empirical views expressed by nineteenth century American educators, Neefs basic notion that principles, rules, laws are found in inductions from one's own experience is a characteristic common to the inductive empiricists writing on education who came later. GEORGE JARDINE'S PHILOSOPHICAL EDUCATION

Albert and John Picket, editors of the A cademician, 5 used that periodical as the American vehicle for printing passages from a work whose author held that, in education, primary attention should be given to the formation of intellectual habits of thinking, judging, reasoning, and communication, instead of giving undue attention to the mere communication of knowledge. This author was George Jardine; the work the Pickets used was his Outlines 01 Philosophical Education. 6 While Jardine'S work was directed toward those teaching the first class in philosophy at the university level, the Pickets advocated it as applicable to the lower schools. In the Preface to The Academician, the Pickets described the basis for "the foundation of deep and scientific acquisition," which they sought for education, and which they found in Jardine'S work: We have endeavoured to predicate the system developed in the work [The Academician], on a strict analysis of the human mind, a knowledge of which, to teachers, has hitherto been deemed almost an useless auxiliary, a necessary and concomitant part of every person's acquisitions engaged in the instruction of youth. Without this knowledge of ontology, or the laws which govern the human mind, progress of no great extent or solidity can be expected either from the pupil or his teacher.

Among those whose views are cited as illustrative of his own point of view is John Locke, whom Jardine quotes as follows: 5 The subtitle is: Containing the Elements of Scholastic Science, and the Outlines of PhiloSOPhic Education, Predicated on the Analysis of the Human Mind, and Exhibiting the Improved Methods of Instruction. The periodical is in one volume, the first number dated New York, Saturday, February 7, ISIS, and the 25th and last number dated Saturday, January 29, IS20. 6 Illustrated by the Method of Teaching the Logic, 01' First Class of PhilosoPhy, in the University of Glasgow (Glasgow: Printed by Andrew and James Duncan, for Anderson & MacDowell, Edinburgh, ISI8).



The business of education is not, as I think, to perfect the learner in any of the Sciences, but to give the mind that freedom and disposition, and those Habits which may enable him to attain every part of knowledge, himself. 7

And, again, "The great point with a Teacher in a philosophical class is to habituate and insure his pupils to think for themselves; to investigate, analyze, compare, and reason consequentially." 8 For the Pickets, this was the great point for teachers in lower schools, and they found in Jardine's exposition a conception of mind and of the way in which the mind investigates which, it was held, would be useful to sound teaching at any level of schooling. The education which the Pickets have in mind is not to be restricted to learning past knowledge, or to making technical improvements in recently-recognized sciences; such an education is to be, at the same time, a foundation for individual and national happiness and prosperity. It, in Jardine's words, "must touch the springs of feeling and of action, and contribute to the formation of intellectual and moral habits." 9 Jardine thought that a Science of the Human Mind is possible. Such a science, he thought, is so fundamental that it may be called the "Mother Science," since all others derive their origin and nourishment from it. Jardine describes the Mind of Man as "that which, in Human Beings, thinks, and feels, and wills, and is conscious of its actions or operations." 10 Mind may be further analyzed into four powers: of acquiring and preserving knowledge; of sensation; of volition; and of communication. l l It is by paying careful attention to the progress of the reasoning faculties that the foundations of an art of reasoning may be laid; there is a way of following Nature that best accomplishes this; in short, there is a "Natural Logic." Francis Bacon is the one Jardine finds most helpful in teaching men to reason by first teaching them to know; and in teaching them to know by first forming clear and accurate conceptions of the things needed in reasoning. The inductive method, says Jardine, was not invented by Bacon; rather, it was he who encouraged men to follow such a method, which is a Mode of Inference which the Human Being is prompted to make by the very Constitution of his Mind; which regUlates his procedure in the ordinary affairs of life; and which would have guided him with equal steadiness, in the De-


Outlines of Philosophical Education, p. 45.

8 Ibid., p. 423. 9 Ibid., p. 481. 10 Ibid., p. 48. 11 Ibid., pp. 48-49.



partment of Science, and general reasoning, had he been allowed to listen to the Dictates of Nature. 12

The idea, common among followers of Bacon's inductive method, that men of the most ordinary abilities can learn to contribute to the common stock of knowledge, was shared by Jardine: Philosophy was now brought down to the level of the most ordinary abilities, and was prosecuted according to the natural conceptions of mankind. A new and easy path was opened up, in which not only the learned, but the studious and inquisitive in every rank of society, might walk with safety and success. IS

Through such efforts, theory and experiment, speculation and practice, would go hand in hand and would be common property of common men. The idea, also, that Baconian induction is "natural," was a familiar one, not only among explicit followers of Bacon, but among other empiricists such as Neef who explicitly followed Pestalozzi instead. By "natural" was meant the kind of activity in which men would be engaged, if they allowed themselves to turn away from domination by a few already-established arts, and turn towards the "clear light of nature," which illuminates the pathways of inquiry when the inductive method is followed. Jardine, far from being opposed to the construction of new sciences, argued that they should be sought by employing the inductive method in areas of nature not usually considered as susceptible to scientific inquiry. Not only could the method of induction be practiced by men in all walks of life, but it could be extended from discovery of laws in the material world to investigations in the world of the mind. Although Jardine recognized that certain devices used in material investigations are not adaptable to the nature of mind, so that experiments literally of the same kind as in chemistry could not be made upon the "thinking substance," he argued that the object of inquiry in the material sciences - namely, a faithful interpretation of the laws of Nature - is analogous to the object of inquiry in the science of mind. The knowledge obtained, in either case, is the result of attention,comparison, and sound reasoning, founded upon a careful examination of facts: and, in this, more than in actual manipulation, consists, it is presumed, the true spirit of the Baconian philosophy.14

Thus Jardine did not restrict the possibility of developing new sciences 18 Ibid., p. 148. Ibid., p. 154. 14 Ibid., p. 156. 18



to the application of particular techniques from recognized sciences to research in new ones, but, instead, argued that different subject matters require the examination and manipulation of facts in ways somehow peculiar to themselves. In discussing the Baconian method of induction, Jardine distinguished between a mere enumeration of facts and an induction. An inference drawn from an enumeration, he writes, can extend no further than the particulars enumerated; whereas, an induction implies the discovery of a principle as well as the knowledge of the particulars. "Every inference grounded upon an inductive process is, when technically expressed, the enunciation of a Law of Nature. It is, in short, a general Truth, derived from the consideration of common properties in individual facts." 15 Jardine mentions the Ascending and Descending Scales. By the former, the mind ascends from particular to general truths, and from these to ones more general; by the latter, the mind, in possession of general truths, descends to the explanation of particular phenomena in the light of such truths. Here, as the Pickets saw it, lay the key to the usefulness of Jardine's work in furthering an education that is philosophical. The results which Jardine set forth in his science of the mind, allegedly developed by the Baconian method of induction, were general truths to be used on a Descending Scale: teachers, employing them, could interpret the phenomena in their own work according to the Principles of a Science philosophically determined. And, further, teachers could learn how to work on an ascending scale, also - that is, inductively to seek general laws by a careful examination of facts that are attended to, compared, and used in reasoning. Developing a science, and then applying its laws to particular phenomena, according to the Baconian method of induction, is what is meant by philosophical activity. N eef and Jardine were addressing themselves to different audiences; Neef was concerned to allow children to have their powers unfold, while Jardine had a higher regard for instruction; and Neef looked mainly to Pestalozzi, and Jardine to Bacon. Yet fundamentally they held similar views of the aim of education and the means of achieving it. Both thought that an analysis of mind - into faculties by Neef, into powers by Jardine- was the essential way to gain insight into learning. Both held that there is a natural method by which the mind develops, and that this way has a counterpart in the method of inquiry by which 15 Ibid., p. 149.



nature is understood. And both held that inductive, natural habits of mind, habits of inquiry, and habits of living are required for pursuing the end of educating rational, free, and moral human beings. There was a kind of certainty in their approach to education, a faith in the existence of a rational universe whose laws are discoverable by the inductive, natural method of inquiry. Rational and lawful are but different ways of referring to the same reality: one who learns to seek truth will by so doing, seek the good also. JAMES






While an analysis of the faculties of mind, for Neef, and finding the laws of a science of mind, for Jardine, are fundamental to their conceptions of education, the idea of a science of education based on Baconian induction was not made explicit by them. It remained for James G. Carter, writing a few years after Jardine, to take a step which extended Bacon's inductive method to develop the idea of a science of education. In a singular way, Carter was a precursor of those who attempted to develop a science and a philosophy of education in the United States in the nineteenth century. Although he was not a scientist, he thought a science of education was possible and made pioneering efforts toward developing one. Although he was not a philosopher and did not consciously make explicit a philosophy of education, he thought that a science of instruction could be developed by applying a philosophy to the subject of education. Carter, as early as r824, claimed that Pestalozzian methods exemplified the inductive method of instruction, and made explicit the idea that a science of education could be based on the Baconian inductive method. His writings on this idea preceded Thomas Tate's by thirty years, while the better-known works of Herbert Spencer and Joseph Payne along similar lines came even later. 16 16 Carter's volume entitled Letters to the Hon. William Prescott, Ll.D. on the Free Schools of New England, with Remarks upon the Principles of Instruction (Boston: Cummings, Hilliard & Co., 1824) and three articles in the American Journal of Education (1829) constitute the material used here. The three articles are as follows in the American Journal of Education,

IV (1829): (1) "The Philosophy of Bacon, considered in Reference to its Influence upon the Human Mind," 3-8; (2) "The Two Books of Francis Lord Verulam. Of the Proficiencie and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human," 132-42; (3) Continuation of (2) with the same title, 193-213. Hereafter, these articles will be referred to as Journal. While the articles were not signed, Carter was editor of the Journal from 1829-1831; and in view of Carter's interest in Bacon's thought as evidenced in his Letters, and because of the similarity in style



Carter proposed a method of instruction which aimed to assist free public schools in seeking the principles by which they might become worthy of the possibilities of free men. According to Carter, "There is no science, which is so difficult to be reduced to general principles, as that of education - none where the faithful and patient induction of large experience, is so essential." 17 He was concerned to discuss the principles by which he thought schools should be governed and to find schoolbooks which exemplify the true principles of obtaining knowledge. As we shall see, the principles of obtaining knowledge were, for Carter, the principles of communicating it as well. The phrase "general principles of communicating knmdedge" is used synonymously by Carter \vith "the science of instruction." 18 If such principles were known, presumably a systematic organization of them would constitute the science of instruction. The method for attaining such principles is the inductive method of Francis Bacon. After claiming that this method had led to discoveries "which have quite transformed the whole of the sciences," 19 including the development of chemistry and political economy as separate sciences, Carter argued: The triumph of the inductive logick, although it is a cause, which has more changed the state of the arts and sciences, and consequently the whole face of the world, than any other, which has operated within the reach of history, is but half complete, till it is carried into the subject of education. The principles of the inductive philosophy should be as rigorously followed in education as any other department of human knowledge. 20

A feature of Bacon's inductive logic which was to become a familiar one among those who advocated applying it to education is set forth by Carter in the following passage: There is a wide difference between the rules of inquiry, by which we are to proceed to the study of a science, and the principles of that science, after we have already begun to make acquisitions in it. ... The mind does not perceive a general truth, till it has perceived the particular truths, from which it has been derived. 21

Carter was so far from doubting the truth of this statement that he wrote: "If any thing more than our own experience were necessary to in Carter's Letters and the Journal articles, it is reasonable to suppose that Carter is author of the latter. 17 Letters, p. 59. 18 Ibid., p. 60. 19 Ibid., p. 63. 20 Ibid., pp. 65-66. 21 Ibid., p. 70.



settle this point, passages might be selected from various authors, to add the weight of their authority." 22 He believed that it was not "the custom" to question the truth of Bacon's inductive method; the real problem was to invite attention to it "in the hope that it may have, not only a speculative belief, but a practical influence upon our principles, and systems of instruction." 23 Carter thought that an understanding of the laws of nature is possible. One understands part of those laws when he understands a science of anything; and, for Carter, it is no less natural to seek a science of education than of any other subject. The philosophy of Bacon, considered in reference to its influence on the human mind, is to correct the deficiencies of the ancients who, Carter believed, formed theories in their own minds, and persuaded themselves that these were true in fact. It is plain that they were in no condition to learn, for they aspired to make, the laws of nature. . .. This mistake consisted in supposing that the natural powers of the human mind were adequate to declare the laws of nature, without having first learned them by actual observations and experiments. 24

This is a characteristic Baconian criticism of speCUlative philosophy, an opposition to the notion that knowledge of laws or principles comes from immediate apprehension by the human mind. Carter warned against a certain sort of "anticipations of nature" in holding that theories result from, rather than precede, experimentation: Science is the knowledge of things as they exist. And he [Bacon] taught that it is the part of true philosophy, to found itself on facts and actual existences. To a disciple of Bacon, a theory is not a system which he has pledged himself to support; but merely a classification of facts and observations, which he is ready to alter and amend, as new discoveries may require. He takes his facts from the operations of nature, whose disciple he avows himself to be. 25

Carter seems to have conceived the relationship between philosophy and science in two ways. (1) In the passage just quoted he speaks of philosophy as founding itself on facts and existences, and science as the knowledge of things as they exist. This seems to mean that both philosophy and science are a kind of knowledge gained by faithful application of the inductive method. Philosophy and science are virtually synonymous terms. Philosophy is to be scientific. (2) In other passages he speaks of following the principles of inductive philosophy in ac22 23

24 25

Ibid. Ibid.

J oU1'nal, p. 3. Ibid., pp. 3-4.



quiring knowledge and of applying the Baconian philosophy to the subject of education. 26 Here, philosophy appears to be the inductive method itself, the logic to be used in securing knowledge. Carter's aim is for individual minds to learn how to arrive at the principles of a science by using the inductive method, rather than by receiving principles from others' opinions as true upon authority: If we would enter into the principles of true philosophy in the true way, we must do it by a patient induction of our own .... There is a process for the mind to go through in forming its own conclusions, a step of which corresponds to and rests upon every one of these facts and conclusions [those necessary to authorize the conclusions]. This is what each one must do for himself, if he would be a philosopher. 27

The once lofty aim for but a few, that of becoming philosophers, is held forth for any mind that is able to make the observations and perform the experiments which lead to the principles that constitute the science of a subject. The meaning of Carter's claim that Bacon may truly be said to have infused philosophy into men, stands out in the expression of this aim. 28 He who is a philosopher in this sense is a man of science as well. In order to illustrate what Carter meant by an application of the inductive philosophy to the subject of education, let us turn to certain of his examples. In the case of language-teaching, he criticized the widespread practice of first requiring children to learn the general principles or rules of language. He argued that this practice supposes that languages are invented by the rules of grammar. Instead, he says, a good knowledge of language precedes the making of grammar. Must not the facts be learned, before they can be classed under general principIes? What are the rules and principles? . .. They are no more than the verbal generalization of facts. How have they themselves been formed? By the experience of those whose attention has been directed to the observation of the facts. They are abstract principles, the truth of which can neither be perceived, understood, nor believed, till some single instance, within the comprehension of the principles or rule, presents itself to the learner. 29

Carter insisted that the rules or principles can truly be understood only at the end of a study of those facts which inductively lead to the rules or principles. Any rule under which particular facts are subsumed 26 27 28

Letters, pp. 65-66, 69. Journal, p. 5. See Letters, p. 63, where Carter writes, "If Socrates was said to have brought philosophy

from heaven, Bacon may as truly be said to have infused it into men." 29 Letters, p. 73.



is useless unless those facts are learned. Neither facts nor rules can be understood truly until rules are made from facts and, in turn, those facts come to be understood as the actual basis for the rules which were made. This led Carter to suggest that students should learn how to make their own rules, with the aid of a teacher, by beginning with a story that is both interesting and comprehensible to the students. An understanding of the meaning of the words is necessary for them to understand the story. From such simple beginnings, Carter believed, a teacher skilled in the inductive method could help students understand rules of grammar by first learning the ways in which words are used, and then deriving the rules from the particular instances of usage. Carter also discussed the inductive method of teaching arithmetic, arguing "that the subject is not so intrinsically difficult, as has been imagined; in fact, that it is completely level to any capacity, which can comprehend any subject." 30 The difficulty lay, not in the nature of the subject, but in the practice of arithmetic-book writers and teachers who treated the subject as if mathematicians, rather than beginning students, were to study the subject. In other words, most arithmetic texts suffered from the same deficiency as grammars: They treated the rules and principles of the subject matter, to the neglect of the particular steps to be taken in reaching rules and principles. Carter found exceptions to the generally deplorable state of arithmetic books written for beginning students in Warren Colburn's First Lessons in Arithmetic upon the plan of Pestalozzi and, also, in Colburn's Arithmetic, being a Sequel to First Lessons. Carter discussed Pestalozzi's object lessons in a way that made Pestalozzi's teaching method a sort of derivative of Bacon's inductive method. Pestalozzian object lessons, for Carter, were excellent examples of the method of induction as applied to education. He wrote: Pestalozzi undoubtedly discovered the applicability of the inductive method to communicating knowledge, whether he knew it by that name or not, and applied that method in teaching the science of numbers. . .. Both [Pestalozzi and Colburn], in common with all philosophers since Bacon, are indebted to him for telling them how to learn, and how to teach. And it would, perhaps, be better if Mr. Colburn would say at once, "Arithmetic upon the plan of Bacon," rather than adopt any name, which can only reflect, what it has received from him. The identity of the principles of this method of instruction, with the inductive method of acquiring knowledge, taught by Bacon, has never been established and inculcated by those who have adopted the method as a basis for their books.31 30 31

Ibid., p. 84. Ibid., p. 93n.



In another place, Carter wrote: "The science of education is beginning to be better understood; and it will soon be seen that Bacon has had no truer follower than Pestalozzi." 32 Carter combined a notion like Neefs, that children should follow a natural order, beginning with the kinds of ideas that are familiar and comprehensible; with one like Jardine's, that the Baconian method of inquiry can be productive of genuine sciences. Further, since the natural order of learning, made explicit, is just the Baconian method of inquiry by which the sciences are produced, it was an easy step for Carter to make explicit another notion: conceived as a method, the Baconian philosophy is a learning theory; and conceived as a science, its results, when used properly in instruction, produce a science of education. To be philosophical, the educator learns by the inductive method, and teaches by translating the method of learning into a method of instruction; by so doing, he aims to produce principles of instruction - a science of instruction - and so becomes a scientist. Carter's ideal educator would be a "philosophical scientist" as well as a "scientific philosopher." The nature of Carter's conception of the inductive method has not yet been discussed as fully as Carter's writings allow. The following passage is an apt statement of Carter's most general conception of the relationship between fact and theory: We have said that a theory now rests upon certain facts and observations, and is received as an inference from them; or rather as a general expression of the truth which they manifest. Hence it is evident that in order to understand what this theory signifies, and with what qualifications it is to be received, it must be viewed as a result from these facts. Thus every man who would understand it, must view the facts in his own mind, and form his own induction. Those who received it in any other manner, are as much bound by a false attachment to theory, and as liable to sectarian zeal, as were the ancients. 33

Carter held neither that facts are to be understood only for their own sake, not that facts are to be understood only for the sake of the theories to which they lead. For something to be understood means the presence of something else in whose terms understanding is rendered. This holds for whatever (be it fact or theory, particular or principle) is potentially susceptible to the inductive logic. In short, he aimed to know not facts or theories, but to understand facts by seeking the theory that rendered them meaningful- to do this is to understand the theory as well. 32 33

Journal, p. 6. Ibid., p. 5.



Yet Carter did not exhibit, in an unqualified way, the usual Baconian antipathy toward "anticipations of Nature." He wrote: "There are states in which the mind, as it were by inspiration, catches a glimpse of what it is afterwards to receive, and rationally and systematically to comprehend." 34 This is at least an acknowledgment that one can have, in advance of induction, some conception of what will be understood properly only as a consequence of induction. In another passage, Carter quotes Bacon: "A faculty of wise interrogation is half a knowledge." Carter goes on to say that Bacon adopts the sentiment of Plato, that "whosoever seeketh, knoweth that which he seeketh for, in a general notion; else how shall he know it when he hath found it?" Carter continues: "Now we take this to be strictly true of all discoveries that are made in a philosophical manner." 35 One who admits, that in seeking, he knows that which he seeks "in a general notion" has found a way of saying that one has a conception prior to the completion of inquiry, and that the inquiry is deemed successful if the prior conception is the one which in fact results. For Carter, one who is competent to discover anything has to know something prior to the discovery: A man cannot with propriety be said to have discovered new truths, while these new truths cannot be viewed by him in harmony with all those other principles which he had previously received and which he still regards as truths. Or, if his former principles were false, and thus irreconcileable with the new, he cannot be said to have made the discovery, till the false have been discarded and in this manner harmony has been restored. Thus in all cases, in order to the true discovery of new principles and their reduction to a science, it is necessary that the man should be elevated above the common level of the mere discovery or witnessing of the outward, natural experiment. 36

This is a way of saying that one cannot determine whether what he observes can be understood, or whether he has discovered anything, unless he understands how it is related to his previous knowledge; and further, that the nature of this understanding depends upon the knowledge he already has. In another passage, Carter argues that some of the professed Baconian followers of his day have received his cautions against theorizing according to the strictness of the letter, without drinking into his spirit. Theories are not to be framed without regard to facts and experiments .... [But] neither are facts and experiments to Ibid., p. 194. 35 Ibid., p. 19S.

34 36



be collected without regard to theories.... Theories should be framed from rational views of the causes which are continually operating and producing effects, and the testimony of facts and experiments should ultimately determine their character. 3 ?

This is an acknowledgment of the notion, common among Baconians, that one should "let the facts record their own tale," yet it is acknowledgment also that the facts should be collected with regard to a theory, the provision being that the ultimate character of the theory is determined by facts. Clearly, this is evidence of an awareness that theories are not discovered simply by "letting the facts stream . on us. " In Far from holding to the view that facts "reveal" their principles the claim that principles come to us with little difficulty once the facts are perceived - Carter was aware of those in his day who failed to see a place for the forming, according to one's knowledge of causes already held, of "rational views" of facts observed and experiments made prior to the establishment of the actual theory for which the facts and experiments come to stand as evidence. Carter was critical of those who thought one could seek successfully without some conception of what he is seeking. As Carter put it: The philosophers of the present day, have lost the spirit of Bacon. They are conversant only with effects .... They should be in a state to "know in some general form" that which they are in pursuit of. There is a science as appropriate to the experimental philosopher, as the science of agriculture is to the husbandman; and this is what Bacon terms "philosophia prima" or the "invention of arts and sciences." 38

When he has in mind the end of seeking the principles of a science of using the inductive method to investigate the causes of the effects we observe about us - Carter is concerned to point out that a rational conception of the principle can precede the understanding that affirms the ultimate standing of the principle in the light of observation. Carter distinguishes between (a) those anticipations of nature that are defended as true, but that are so defended in the absence of the particulars of experience whose observation is required for the empirical establishment of principles; and (b) those "knowings insome general form," (sometimes called "theories" by Carter) in regard to which facts are observed and experiments performed. The "anticipations" in (a) violate the spirit of the inductive philosophy, but the "theories" in (b) do not do so. In fact, the latter are considered essential to those who 37


Ibid., p. Ibid., p.

204. 207.



understand the spirit of Baconian philosophy, if investigations in nature are to bring into awareness new sciences as well as new principles in the old sciences. Insofar as it may be established that "theories" in (b) do, in some sense, anticipate nature, then Carter does so. Whatever name we assign to what he does, his position is firm: He does not believe that investigations are carried on just by waiting for facts to reveal their principles. One who already knows something regards facts and performs experiments in the light of the "knowings in some general form" which are a part of his knowledge. Carter's conception of the inductive method, understood in the way just discussed, is more profound than formerly appeared. The earlier discussion with respect to Carter's notion that the inductive philosophy is the method that makes philosophers - who as philosophers would be men of science as well - can be viewed in a less restricted context than would be the case if Carter were one of those who had "lost the spirit of Bacon." Carter writes: Theories are now held as resulting from, and resulting upon actual facts and observation. . .. When a pupil is learning a science, he should endeavor to receive from his instructor as little as possible of that which is peculiar to him as an individual, in the form and arrangement of his own thoughts. He should thus acquire the abstract principles of a science which are to be filled with life and moulded into a particular form, by himself. ... We are not to receive theories and influences, because he who proposes them calls himself a Baconian philosopher. But we must endeavor to elevate our understanding so as to see them for ourselves, and thus become ourselves philosophers in the true sense of the term. 39

Thus the possibility of the development of philosophers lies in the degree to which individuals learn to use the inductive method, and then apply the method in the light of existing knowledge to find new theories and form new sciences. Carter's writings upon the inductive method have been very largely ignored on the pages of history. His was an enthusiasm for the inductive method which understood that, in the development of a new science, we must begin with those who are not scientists of the subject - who do not know yet what its principles are - and who must be willing to learn what it means to regard facts from the standpoint of theories that ultimately may not stand. So understood, anticipations of nature are necessary in any science. But, in a new one, anticipations are at first the only theories possible. For what its newness means is that there are no established theories. Carter at least sensed this point, if he did not work out its meaning in an extensive way for the science of education. 39

Ibid., pp.





While Carter thought a science of education could be developed by employing the Baconian inductive method, he did not, as far as I can find, make any explicit reference to a philosophy of education. But Thomas Tate, an English writer on mathematical and scientific topics, and another champion of Baconian induction, did write a volume entitled Philosophy of Education, in which the Baconian inductive method is explicitly made the ground for a philosophy of education. First published in England in 1854, it was noticed by American educators and was republished in 1885 in the United States. 40 Although the subtitle of Tate's work is The Principles and Practice of Teaching, there is an important difference between Tate's conception of these and the conceptions in the better-known and more widely-used works of Samuel Hall, Jacob Abbott, and David Page, which had appeared earlier. This difference is Tate's recognition, which is suggested by the entire title of his book, that the principles and practice of teaching should be understood as a philosophy of education. Tate discussed the meaning of philosophy of education in two senses. In the first, a philosophy of education is not just "theory" as theory is sometimes contrasted with practice; it is not just a knowledge of "principles" of education as contrasted with the "art" of education. Tate admits that a man may be acquainted with the principles of an art without being able to practice it adeptly.41 Such a person would not have measured up to Tate's ideal of a philosophical educator. 42 This is Tate's name for a good teacher who must not only be thoroughly acquainted with the various branches of elementary education, and intimately acquainted with the great leading scientific principles of education, but he must also acquire the tact and skill in the management of numbers and classes, and that fluency of diction, power of illustration, and facility of availing himself of contingent circumstances, which can only be attained by long practice and patient study. 43

In this sense, the philosophy of education seems to encompass the entirety of that knowledge and practice which has been realized by one who practices the principles as Tate meant when he wrote: "The art of 40 The edition used here is T. Tate, The Philosophy of Education; or, The Principles and Practice of Teaching (New York: E. L. Kellogg and Co., 1885). Tate's Preface is dated May, 1857. 41 Ibid., p. 18. 42 Ibid., p. 15. 43 Ibid., pp. 18-19.



education consists in the practice of its principles." 44 The comprehensive scope of this sense of philosophy of education can be seen in Tate's division of the subject into five parts: (I) On method as applied to education.

(2) On the cultivation of the intellectual and moral faculties.

(3) On the comparative advantages of different systems and methods of education. (4) On the application of different systems and methods to the various branches of elementary education. (5) On school organization and discipline. 45

In the first sense, then, the philosophy of education is a kind of knowledge, a kind of method of attaining knowledge, and an application of the knowledge to practice (or, more properly, a practice of the knowledge gained). In so far as the method used is held by Tate to be scientific, his is a sort of "scientific philosophy" and the knowledge used by a practitioner is a sort of "philosophical knowledge." A second sense in which Tate discussed philosophy of education is found in the following passage: The philosophy of education should go hand in hand with the practice of it: every step of advance taken by the one should be followed by a corresponding progress of the other; philosophy should suggest plans and theories, art should test them and try them; philosophy should build up a structure of general principles and rules, art should supply the facts - the materials - by which, and upon which, this structure should be reared. 46

Here it appears that philosophy is the kind of activity which suggests theories to be tested in educational practice. In the first sense, discussed just above, the theory-suggesting function would be but a part of a more widely encompassing philosophy of education, while in the second sense, this function seems to be philosophy of education. In the second sense, philosophy and art should work together, but seem to function differently in the educational enterprise; whereas, in the first sense, these two different functions seem to be part of a wider activity which constitutes the philosophy of education. For the most part, he seems to use "philosophy of education" in the first sense, one that is suggested by this statement: "The art of education, without a due regard to its science, degenerates into empiricism; and the science, without the practice of the art, becomes little better than a code of barren abstractions without the vital principle of 44 45 48

lind., p. Ibid., p. Ibid.

18. 19.



development." 47 Thus the term "philosophy," when used by Tate to mean a philosophy of method, refers to only part of the subject of philosophy of education as understood in the first sense. Tate thought that the Baconian philosophy "was as fully applicable to the advancement of education as to the development of the experimental sciences." 48 The Baconian philosophy, as the philosophy of method in education, should replace what Tate understood as a tendency among educators to follow slavishly a philosophy which held that a study of facts and the induction of facts is unworthy. In contrast, the object of the Baconian philosophy is utility and its end is progress, as Tate saw it.49 The relationship among inductive method, utility, and progress is set out in the following passage: In the inductive sciences, such as education, we seem only to approximate to truth. A question in education cannot be solved in the same manner as a problem in geometry. \Ve can hardly ever say that we have actually arrived at the absolute truth; but we approach nearer and nearer to it, according as we extend our inductive processes. The truth lies in the asymptote of a curve, towards which we are always approaching, but which we may never absolutely reach. At the same time our approximations have always the stamp of utility, for they are practically true; that is, they are true as far as the actual wants of society are concerned. The inductive method never puts a stop to further inquiry; it is itself progressive, and recognizes the principle of progress. It gives no divine revelation: on the contrary, it appeals to reason, and challenges further inquiry. 50

Although Tate was eager to see the Baconian philosophy employed as the philosophy of method in education, like Carter before him, he does not seem to have been so reluctant to "anticipate nature" as it is commonly claimed that Baconians are wont to do. While he insists, as one would expect of a faithful Baconian, that "all our theories or general principles of teaching should be tested by an appeal to facts of observation and experiment," he also says: "it is true that in the progress of all science there must be an initiative idea." He then adds: "But then this idea must be tested and perfected by an appeal to experience and experiment." 51 In other words, he admits the place of "initiative ideas" in scientific inquiry, so long as such ideas are tested experimentally. However, Tate does not elaborate on what he means by an initiative idea. A statement such as the following comes closest to explicating his view of the way in which principles are discovered in 47 48 49 50


Ibid. Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 33. pp. 33-34. p. 38. p. 41.



inquiry: Facts are the point of departure of all philosophy; these become matters of consciousness; observation there lays hold of them before committing them to induction, which forces them to yield up the principles which they contain. 52

Here Tate does not point to the necessity of an hypothesis which is tested by observation of facts; it is rather the facts which "yield up the principles." In writing that "the experimental philosophy of Bacon ... has destroyed all that was merely hypothetical, but it has perpetuated all that was based on observation," 53 Tate seems to hold that whatever is hypothetical and based on induction, as contrasted with whatever is only hypothetical, has been perpetuated. Further evidence in support of this interpretation is found in another passage, where Tate writes: A general principle, according to the strict acceptation in which we have hitherto taken it, is simply a general fact, but it sometimes assumes the form of a theory or an hypothesis. In an hypothesis, a thing or principle is supposed to exist; but like a strict general principle, it should adequately explain all the facts which belong to the subject-matter. General facts simply give the relation of the law without making any assumptions: hypotheses express the relation of ascertained facts by the supposed operation of a thing or principle, which mayor may not exist; hypotheses, in most cases, only serve the purpose of conveniently grouping together an extensive series of facts and phenomena. 54

Insofar as the "operation of a thing or principle" is "supposed" whereby it is admitted that "it mayor may not exist" - the thing or principle is a possibility which the mind holds, and has neither the status of a "fact" nor of a "strict general principle." Therefore, there is a sense in which" theories" or "hypotheses," so understood, sometimes function in inquiry. Tate writes: General facts as well as theories are sometimes suggestive; that is to say, they sometimes lead us to suspect the existence of some new fact or principle; in such cases, however, it is the province of observation and experiment to confirm or overthrow the truth of the conjecture. 55

It can be seen that there is a sense in which Tate goes beyond the evidence of both "fact" and "strict general principle." The suspected existence of new fact or principle calls for further seeking: It is not for the purpose of hypothesizing, however, but for the purpose of seeking evidence to determine whether what is conjectured is merely hypo52 53

54 55

Ibid., p. 42. Ibid. Ibid., p. 49. Ibid., p. 50.



thetical or whether it truly exists; that is, whether it can be found to be based on observation. Thus Tate's philosophy of method was a cautious empiricism, suspicious of whatever is only hypothetical. At the same time, however, it did not deny the place of hypotheses in inquiry, but found them useful insofar as they suggested the presence of facts and principles previously unknown. As late as the 1850'S Tate's recognition of a subject called philosophy of education was unusual among advocates of an inductive method in education - indeed, it was unusual among writers in education generally. Further, his way of conceiving the philosophy of education as the subject which is to encompass virtually all aspects of the educative process was also unusual, and was to become a somewhat familiar practice not until a half-century later. Although Tate, like other inductive empiricists, held the view that the Baconian philosophy appropriately applied, could lead to the development of new sciences, including that of education, he was unusual in calling this method of inquiry a philosophy of education. HERBERT SPENCER: EVOLUTIONISM AND PROGRESS

Herbert Spencer sought progress in knowledge in whatever subjects might be rendered scientific, and viewed philosophy as knowledge unified through the evolution and systematic organization of the sciences. And although Spencer avowed a high place for the theory of education, he did not write of a philosophy of education as a distinct discipline. He did, however, accept the inductive method as the method to be followed in developing new sciences, and the method to be followed in studying the theory and practice of education. Spencer's best-known writings on education were first published as articles in English journals 1854-1859. Beginning in the early 1860'S, they were published together in a volume entitled Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical, 56 a work that enjoyed numerous printings in the United States. These articles preceded the publication of the largest part of his system of philosophy, and appeared before his writings had made him so popular among American readers that he was to earn the title, "America's Philosopher, 1861-1916." 57 56 The edition used here (New York: D. Appleton Co., 1896), has a preface written by Spencer, dated 1860. 57 See Max H. Fisch, "Evolution in American Philosophy," Philosophical Review, LVI (July, 1947), 360.


It would be a mistake to view Spencer's Education as an explicit attempt to write a philosophy of education in the sense that he might have self-consciously taken his conception of a scientific philosophy as a point of departure for discussing educational matters in a systematic way. This is not to say, however, that Spencer's conception of philosophy did not influence the work; it is implicit in much that is said, and is brought to bear at certain points in the argument. Spencer takes, as his points of departure, certain writings and observations on education from his own time and from his recent past; in discussing these, something of his philosophic point of view is put to use - but it stands in the background of his educational thought rather than being stated explicitly as its presuppositions. Spencer's "law of evolution" had an important bearing upon his educational thinking. For Spencer, this law was much more than an hypothesis in biology; it was to be applied generally to all phenomena. The following passage illustrates not only the universal meaning of evolution but also the close relationship between evolution and progress in Spencer's thinking: "Now, we propose ... to show, that this law of organic progress is the law of all progress. Whether it be in the development of the Earth, in the development of Life upon its surface, in the development of Society, of Government, of Manufactures, of Commerce, of Language, Literature, Science, Art, this same evolution of the simple into the complex, through a process of continuous differentiation, holds throughout." 58 His famous definition, "Evolution is a change from an indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a definite coherent heterogeneity through continuous differentiations and integrations," came to direct his thinking on the course of civilization itself, as well as on particular aspects within civilization's evolution. Progress in the part needs progress in the whole; and so progress is universal. Within the context of Spencer's discussions of evolution and progress, a sort of necessity is evident. The evolution of things is toward better states of affairs; civilization, evolving towards "a definite coherent heterogeneity," betters itself; what is coming to pass is a more rational civilization. In the course of evolution, progress is displayed. And progress is taken to be the necessary consequence of a universal princiciple in the nature of things. Thus, while the evolution of civilization is a progression towards a higher rationality, there are certain necessary limits to the working of 58

"Progress: Its Law and Cause," Westminster Review, LXVII (April, 1857), 245.



progress itself. Spencer wrote: "This state of things [educational practices devised by the ignorance of the times] is not to be readily changed. Generations must pass before any great amelioration of it can be expected. Like political constitutions, educational systems are not made, but grow; and within brief periods growth is insensible." 59 He went on to say that the notion of producing an ideal humanity "forthwith" by a perfect system of education cannot be acceptable to those who have dispassionately studied human affairs. The difficulty, he insisted, with bringing about rapid educational change, lies in the relations among the various parts of civilization; progress in education is but part of the larger progress in all institutions. The "average character of people," he thought, and so of institutions, is at a certain level in civilization at a particular time; by slow degrees, imperceptible until a much later period, the average is raised; thus progress takes place according to a certain necessity. Although one aspect of progress is a gain in rationality, the place which intelligence may take in that progress is inescapably limited by a certain necessity in the nature of progress itself. "Slow, however, as must be any improvement, even that improvement implies the use of means; and among the means is discussion." 60 Only this far did Spencer go toward saying that intelligence might, in some sense, have a place in progress: to say that discussion is one means of improvement, but an improvement of such a kind that discussion's influence is limited by a certain necessity in the course of improvement itself. Spencer put high value on the study of the "Theory and Practice of Education," not only as a subject for those who were to be teachers, but as the topic which "should occupy the highest and last place in the course of instruction passed through by each man and woman .... The subject which involves all other subjects, and therefore the subject in which the education of everyone shoz£ld culminate, is the Theory and Practice ot Education." 61 Spencer's championing this subject is not well remembered today; but it was frequently cited by its advocates in the late nineteenth century. In raising the question that stands as the title of Chapter One of his Education, "What Knowledge is of Most Worth? ," Spencer argued that the knowledge must be that which aims to educate individuals so that they may live to enjoy "the right ruling of conduct in all directions 59 60


Spencer, Education, pp. 162, 163. Ibid., p. 165. Ibid., p. 164.



under all circumstances." The kinds of activity which constitute such a life Spencer classified as those which (1) directly minister to selfpreservation; (2) indirectly minister to self-preservation; (3) aim to rear and discipline offspring; (4) are involved in maintaining proper social and political relations; and (5) gratify tastes and feelings, making up the leisure part of life. 62 This classification, according to Spencer, is arranged in its correct order of subordination; in other words, the first activity is prior in importance to the other four, the second to the remaining three, and so on. In the educational counterparts of the activities, the same order of subordination holds. In the kinds of activity here set forth, Spencer presses the point that the subjects involved in discussing a curriculum have two kinds of value as knowledge, and as discipline. The study of science, according to Spencer, is the best preparation for all five kinds of activity - best for the knowledge which science provides, and best for the discipline it affords. Spencer argued that, although it is not possible to perfect an educational scheme based on the study of science until the principles of the science of Psychology are established, it is possible to make" empirical approximations towards a perfect scheme." 63 To put it differently, with the aid of certain "guiding principles," or "general notions," Spencer thought that the way might be prepared towards the possession of the science on which the art of education might be based. The importance of knowing such guiding principles is implied in his argument that science, both as knowledge and as discipline, is the study that is of most worth. These guiding principles stand in Spencer's work as the beginnings of what one day were to become the principles of the science of education, according to which the practice of the art could be understood scientifically. They follow in the order in which Spencer presented them. 64 (1) Education should proceed from the simple to the complex, for the mind grows, and "like all things that grow it proceeds from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous." This principle is a special case of Spencer's law of evolution. (2) The mind should be led from the concrete to the abstract. (3) "The genesis of knowledge in the individual must follow the same course as the genesis of knowledge in the race." 65 This principle comes 62 63

64 65

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

pp. 30, 32. p. 120. pp. 120-28. p. 122.



from an application to education of Spencer's view that the evolution of civilization has been a progress from lower to higher forms of rationality; that in the course of evolution, there has been developed an aptitude in the children of the race for acquiring the kinds of knowledge in the same order; thus there is inherent in each child a natural and necessary aptitude for learning things in a certain order. (4) The procedure of learning, in the individual and in the race, should be from the empirical to the rational. In human progress, according to Spencer, every science is evolved out of its corresponding art. Thus human beings are under a kind of necessity to reach the abstract by way of the concrete. Spencer says: There must be practice and an accruing experience with its empirical generalizations, before there can be science. Science is organized knowledge; and before knowledge can be organized, some of it must first be possessed. Every study, therefore, should have a purely experimental introduction; and only after an ample fund of observations has been accumulated should reasoning begin. 66

The Pestalozzian practice of placing the study of grammar after the study of language, not before it, was cited by Spencer as an example. (5) Self-development should be encouraged. "Children should be led to make their own investigations, and to draw their own inferences. They should be told as little as possible, and induced to discover as much as possible." 67 For Spencer, the evolution of humanity may be understood as a process in which man progressively learns to instruct himself. The natural aptitude for self-instruction, if nourished in the proper ways, would enable the child to lead himself away from a perpetual dependence on others. At one point, Spencer referred to his conception of self-education as "a process of self-evolution." 68 (6) Educational practices should bring about what Spencer called "pleasurable excitement" or "interest" in pupils. Spencer proposed the production of interest (or lack of it) as a test for the worth of courses of action taken in teaching. "A child's intellectual instincts," Spencer contended, "are more trustworthy than our reasonings." 69 He thought that spontaneous activities of children are naturally in pursuit of pleasures which healthful exercise of the faculties gives, or would give, if adults did not task children's intellects in uninteresting ways. And he went on: "Experience is daily showing with greater clearness 66 67



Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 124. pp. 124-25. p. 127. p.




that there is always a method to be found productive of interest - even to delight; and it turns out that this is the method proved by all other tests to be the right one." 70 With the six general notions in view, Spencer wrote: If progression from simple to complex, and from concrete to abstract, be

considered the essential requirements as dictated by abstract psychology, then do these requirements that knowledge shall be self-mastered, and pleasurably mastered, become the tests by which we may judge whether the dictates of abstract psychology are being fulfilled. 71

He went on to write of the requirements of abstract psychology as embodying the leading generalizations of the science of mental growth, and the requirement that knowledge be self-mastered as being the chief canon of the art of fostering mental growth. For Spencer, the science of education derives its essential requirements from psychology; while the art of education consists in finding particular ways by which the mind grows, according to the criteria of self-knowledge and interest. Thus, like other arts, education has its science; put differently, like other practices engaged in, education has its principles. Although the Principles and Practice of Education had not achieved the degree of perfection which could be claimed for some sciences, Spencer held that a study of the former belonged in the "highest and last place" in the curriculum of every well-educated person. Spencer believed that certain advantages follow from self-education. There is a tendency for lessons to be kept in their right order, that is, in the order required by the evolution of the individual. Furthermore, the argument ran, knowledge so gained is more thoroughly the individual's than is that gained by imposed education. And, in so gaining it, the individual is disciplined by necessity to continually reorganize the knowledge that he has. As Spencer put it: "It is in the very nature of facts and inferences, assimilated in this normal manner, that they successively become the premises of further conclusions - the means of solving still further questions." 72 Moreover, self-instruction is an intrinsically happy activity - "not happy in virtue of extrinsic rewards to be obtained, but in virtue of its own healthfulness." 73 And, finally, as a consequence of pleasurable self-instruction, education will tend to be continued after formal schooling ends. What is made explicit in Spencer's arguments for the universal value Ibid., Ibid., 72 Ibid., 73 Ibid.,

10 ?1

p. p. p. p.

ISS. 154. ISS. 156.



of science, and in his laying down an outline of the principles and practice of education, is an idea that appears often to have been neglected by those who have used Spencer's educational writings mainly to gain support for a wider adoption of science courses in the curriculum, as well as by those who have opposed such a course of action. Spencer was arguing not just that the natural sciences should be universally studied, but that whatever is studied should be conceived as a science. In other words, whatever can be practiced as an art can be engaged in with greater insight, can be more nearly enjoyed for its own sake, and can serve as a basis for further knowledge, to the extent that its principles as a science become known. Thus Spencer was arguing, not just that certain recognized sciences (as biology, chemistry, physiology) are basic to the humanities and the fine arts; but that the former as sciences are basic to the latter even if they are construed as sciences. In any case, the latterin some sense already are, and in a more nearly perfect sense are capable of becoming, sciences. And in whatever is studied as a science, if the activity be undertaken according to the guiding principles of the science of education, and tested by those of its art, the value both as knowledge and as discipline will be made manifest. Indeed, it may be said that, as the principles and practice of education come more nearly to approximate perfection, the other sciences, in turn, will have become more nearly perfected as knowledge and as discipline. In times of more nearly perfected sciences, a person in his education will be disciplined to know; and the cumulative effect on the race of such disciplined individuals will be continued evolution, progress in civilization. JOSEPH PAYNE ON THE SCIENCE AND ART OF EDUCATION

Another English writer, in whose essays on the science and art of education a version of inductive empiricism is strongly evident, and whose writings gained attention in the United States along with those of Tate and Spencer, is Joseph Payne, the first professor of the science and art of education in the College of Preceptors in London. While Payne had published an account of Joseph Jacotot's system of education as early as 1830, it was not until the last decade of his life that his lectures on the science and art of education were published. First published in 1872, these lectures are the basis for the present discussion. 7 4 74 The edition used here is Joseph Payne, Lectures on the Science and Art of Education, with Other Lectures and Essays (New edition, enlarged; Boston: Willard Small, 1884).



Payne called education, in its widest sense, "a general expression that comprehends all the influences which operate in the human being, stimulating his faculties to action, forming his habits, moulding his character, and making him what he is." 75 Since Payne considered civilization to be the result of the actions of mind on mind that carry forward Nature's unconscious teachings, the part of education which he was most concerned to discuss is that conceived by the educator who is conscious of the possibilities of one mind influencing another. In its more specific sense, then , education is "the training carried on consciously and continuously by the educator, and its object is to convert desultory and accidental force into organized action, and its ultimate aim is to make the child operated on by it capable of becoming a healthy, intelligent, moral and religious man." 76 To assist the educator in making his work less haphazard, and in gaining a certain control over available resources, a knowledge of the subjective process ("what is going on in his pupil's bodies, minds, and hearts") would enable him to regulate the objective process, which Payne took to be the means used by the educator in directing the action of bodies, minds, and hearts. "The consideration of what this knowledge consists of, and how it may be best applied, constitutes the Theory or Science of Education." 77 Payne used the terms "Theory" and "Science" interchangeably; he also did so with the terms" Art" and "Practice." In responding to those who assume that an antagonism exists between theory and practice, Payne argued that theory and practice are, respectively, the general and the particular expression of the same facts. "The words of the theory interpret the practice; the propositions of the science interpret the silent language of the art. The one represents truth in posse, the other in esse; the one, as William Whewell well remarks, involves, the other evolves principles." 78 Payne knew that, in his day, the Science of Education was in a rudimentary condition. Yet he argued that to admit such a condition was no argument against attempting to construct a more fully developed science. And he believed that questions such as the subjects proper for a curriculum, and the order of development of children's faculties, "will one day be decided by a reference, not to traditional usage, but to the principles of the Science of Education." 79 The principles of the Science of Education, in some sense, are to be 75 76

77 78


Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid. Ibid.,

p. p. p.








found through a study of the sciences of Physiology, Psychology, logic, and ethics. Payne did not mean that a knowledge of the principles of these sciences would give one a knowledge of the science of education. Rather, he meant that if a science of education is to be developed, its principles must come, in large part, from such knowledge. At one point, Payne wrote that the principles of a science of education are ultimately grounded on those of Physiology, Psychology, and Ethics,80 but he does not elaborate on what he means by this, so that we are left without the sort of technical discussion which is required to make clearer the sense in which the principles of a science of education are grounded in the principles of certain other sciences. Payne used "moral philosophy" interchangeably with "science of morals," and "mental philosophy" with "science of psychology." Yet the analogy "educational philosophy" with "science of education" was not drawn by him. At one point he used the familiar expression "the philosophy which teaches by examples" 81 in reference to the possibility of learning something of the principles of the science of education by studying those who are masters of its art. This mode of studying principles of education was discussed by Payne as a supplement to "investigating them per se" through the sciences of physiology, psychology, and morals. With respect to the three main provinces entered by the educator - Physical, Intellectual, and Moral education - it is to be understood that the sciences of physiology, psychology and logic, and ethics, respectively, are important resources. Thus the sciences which are the ground for the science of education are considered by Payne to be the ground for education's main provinces. The practice, or art of education, consists in the means which the educator brings to bear to attain the ends recognized through the science of education. In its widest sense, Payne conceived the art to include "all the means by which the educator brings his influence to bear on his pupils, and embraces therefore organization, discipline, school economics, the regulation of studies, et cetera." 82 But in a narrower sense, he considered the art of education to be the kind of teaching or instruction which aims to gain the proper educational ends. Arguing that every act by which external ideas become incorporated in the pupil's mind is an act that can only be performed by the pupil 80 81


Ibid., p. 86. Emphasis mine. Ibid., p. 25. Ibid., p. 43.



himself, Payne arrived at the general proposition, that learning is selfteaching. Since the teacher cannot perform the pupil's mental acts, "the teacher's part ... in the process of instruction is that of a guide, director, or superintendent of the operations by which the pupil teaches himself." 83 Thus the aim of education is to teach people how to think for themselves, which means, fundamentally, to teach them how to teach themselves. To carry forward Nature's unconscious teaching is to do more than merely copy "Nature's Art of Education." Taking a page from Rousseau to the effect that "Nature's Art" is, "in a general way, the archetype of the educator's," 84 Payne went on to say that Nature's way is not to be implicitly followed. Applying the adage, "Art improves Nature," to the art of education, Payne set forth a number of ways in which the science of education is related to the art. In order to learn how to teach himself, a pupil: (I) begins with tangible and concrete facts that he can comprehend, not with principles that he cannot. (2) begins by employing a method lying in his own power, the analytical,instead of one that would require the teacher's explanations; but he comes to use the synthetical method when he uses knowledge gained analytically in situations somewhat different from the original one. (3) is made a discoverer and explorer, gains in mental power, and also finds a kind of pleasure in self-discovery that he could not find in others' discoveries. (4) can only proceed in proportion to his strength. (5) "learns to reason both on the relations of facts and the relation of ideas to each other: and thus the 'logic of experiment'leads him to the logic of thought." (6) acquires a fund of conceptions which, "by the natural association of ideas," forms a groundwork on which ideas of the same kind will later be attached. (7) will possess knowledge that is clear and accurate as far as it goes; furthermore he will have the strength for intelligent self-correction and modification, all the more because he will be required to do it for himself.85

Such a pupil, says Payne, is on the way to acquiring "the power of teaching himself generally." Near the conclusion of his lectures Payne wrote: "A method of teaching any subject is a special mode of applying the art of teaching; that to be a good method, it must have certain characteristics, deduced from successful practice, and ultimately referable to the principles of the science of education." 86 This, in general, states the relation among the science, art, and method of education. And, in particular, the burden 83 84

85 86

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 44. p. 47. pp. 55-56. p. 86.



of Payne's discussion was to cite the principle of learning to teach oneself, to express the art it contained by exemplifying it as Nature's art modified and extended, and to discuss a particular method as an application of the art (as well as criticizing other methods that did not satisfy the requirements of the art). Payne wrote as one who had learned from practice and from those writers on education who were empirical, sense-realistic, Baconian inductivists, and who had been influenced by Rousseau's "natural education" and the promise of Pestalozzian object-lessons. Apparently lacking a technical knowledge of philosophy, Payne's belief in the possibility of a complete science of education was at least implicitly akin to Spencer's conception of what a more nearly perfected science would be like. Payne's ideal of the educator who sought the principles of the art he practiced had its counterpart in his ideal of pupils who learned how to teach themselves. Thus he opposed routine, mechanism, and slavish reliance on others for ideas. In so doing, he espoused a social life strong in the kind of individuality that would pride itself on each pupil becoming independent of his teacher. The social life which Payne had in mind would be one protected from mere caprice by nourishing, through education, the discipline which comes from a self-conscious attempt to build the science of that which is practiced. Payne's pupils who had learned how to teach themselves would have had an education that, like Jardine's, touches the springs of feeling and action in such a way that certain moral and intellectual habits are practiced. As with Carter's "scientific philosophers," the kinds of habits practiced would be those worthy of the possibilities of free men. Again, as in the education advocated by Neef and Jardine, Nature would be scientifically understood and artfully followed. And although Payne himself did not call by the name "philosophy of education" the discipline of science and art he thought necessary for those who would be genuine educators, Payne's conception of that discipline is striking for its similarity to the conception of philosophy of education that Tate had in mind when he wrote: "The art of education consists in the practice of its principles."87


Tate's Philosophy of Educatioa, p. 18.



The tendency to treat the science of education as a derivative of certain other sciences expressed itself as a marked scientism among inductive empiricists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This means that the philosophy of education, whenever it was considered as a distinct discipline, was placed in a position subordinate to that of the science. In trying to make education scientific, the philosophy of education sometimes was given a nominal place, but the really important work was to be done by science. 88 The tendency to scientize has already been pointed out in the thinking of the inductive empiricists who have been considered, and only in the case of Tate was the idea of a philosophy of education as a distinct discipline made explicit. There is one book, published near the end of the period of the discipline's origins (I9I2) which holds to an inductive empiricism, makes a special effort to present itself as a philosophy of education, and is, at the same time, an example of scientism in extreme. It is G. E. Partridge's Genetic Philosophy ot Education. 89 Partridge, in epitomizing the published educational writings of G. Stanley Hall, writes that Hall's work "may justly claim to be the most important contribution of all times to the philosophy of education." 90 In its most general sense, the philosophy of education is a "point of view" from which educational problems are seen in perspective. The genetic philosophy of education has, as its central principle, the doctrine "that it is in terms of man's practical interests that all theoretical problems are finally to be judged, and all human institutions appraised." 91 Partridge argues that a more intimate relation between 88 The view that certain principles of education, inductively determined, may be considered to be the philosophy of education, is made explicit in William Carl Ruediger's The Principles of Education (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., I9IO). After stating that the material is presented from the point of view of inductive science, Ruediger writes: "The subject that deals with the aims, values, and content of education is now usually called Principles of Education. This subject gets its data chiefly from biology, sociology, psychology, and ethics, and it tells us of the biological basis of education, of the place that education does and should hold in society, of the end that it is trying to achieve, of the elemental values that are used in the selection of subject-matter, and of the essential content and significance of the curriculum. It is the broadest and most unifying subject in the teacher's professional curriculum, and for that reason some prefer to call it 'philosophy of education'." 89 An Epitome of the Published Educational Writings of President G. Stanley Hall of Clark University (New York: Sturgis & Walton Company, I9I2). 90 Ibid., p. v. 91 Ibid., pp. ix-x.



philosophy and education would produce the kinds of results that would benefit both. The relation must be one that brings philosophy close to the concrete practical concerns of education; the relation must avoid what Partridge took to be the narrow, schematic, and formal practice of deriving the principles of education from systems of philosophy. By philosophy, Partridge has in mind the beliefs upon which we act "in every deep purpose in life" - the "beliefs beyond which we cannot go. "92 To become a philosophy of education, a philosophy must be able to inspire youth and to stimulate effective and wholesome methods of training them for their future lives. In sum, a philosophy of education consists of certain beliefs that stand as a point of view from which practical efforts may be made. Thus Partridge treats the philosophy of education not so much as a source from which certain practices are logically derived, but more as a point of view that leads to a set of beliefs which inspires us to seek the right kinds of practices. In this sense, it would seem that questions as to the tmilt of a philosophy would hardly be relevant. But at other times, he makes reference to "a true philosophy," and says that there are tests which a philosophy must pass before it can be judged true. "It must agree with common sense, with sight and touch, and with all the realities of life. It must find a place for the facts of the physical sciences, and also for the truths of the world of ideals and imagination. Above all, it must inspire the young to activity, and to a love of knowledge." 93 In this sense, philosophy retains its inspirational value, but is much more than inspirational: to be true, it must "agree" with such phenomena as common sense, perceptions of sense, and with the realities of life; further, it seems to be an ordering discipline which must find a place for facts, truths, ideals, and imagination. Ultimately, a philosophy of education is tested when it is determined what it can do for a later generation. In this sense, philosophy is "dependent" upon education - dependent, that is, for the kind of experience that will test its validity. The following statement describes, in general, Partridge's conception of the relationship between thought and action: Thought and action are mutually dependent. No system of truth can be reasoned out, from which alone practical rules of conduct can be derived. And no practical activity can be wholly right unless it has broadened out its grasp to include the deepest meaning of life. 94 92 93 94

Ibid., p. 5. Ibid., p. 8. Ibid., P .9.


After discussing the above-mentioned senses in which a philosophy may be considered to be a foundation for educational theory, Partridge sets forth what he considers to be "the most general, most real, or most true realities and principles - the eternal verities beyond which the mind cannot go, but which it must accept as a basis, or point of departure, for all thought and action." Partridge says, of these principles, that it is not to be expected that they will be demonstrated or be brought into a system that is completely harmonious from a logical standpoint, "but rather they must satisfy moral needs, common sense, and instinct, and must square with the facts of science." 95 These general principles, stated in summary form, are as follows: (I) The most certainly known thing in the universe is space, which is infinite, a perfect continuum and that in which everything else exists. (2) Space is occupied everywhere with ether, the basic material of the universe. (3) The "world substance" does not merely exist in space, but has energy; it can be interpreted as will, as an effort behind the doings of nature. (4) This effort, or power, is not capricious, but is subject to eternal laws. Discovery of the lawfulness of the universe enables us to believe "that we are guided and supported in a universe that is controlled throughout by law, reason, and cause, and is working with the regularity of a machine." (5) The universe abounds in life whose creatures are driven by a "will to live" and to enjoy a higher and fuller life; "this seems to be the expression of a great fundamental purpose in the world." (6) There is a principle of evolution, according to which the course of change is upward, the best survive while the weak "go to the wall," advance and improvement are everywhere, and "good-will and beneficence are at the root of all things"; in short, "a power exists that is friendly to man and takes an interest in his welfare." 96

"Such a philosophy," Partridge goes on, "rests upon the evidence of the senses, upon common sense, and upon the facts of science." Since it is a philosophy of optimism and progress, and thereby suited to be a guide in life, it can serve "as a background of thought, belief, or affirmation upon which a science of education may rest, not in the sense that it may be derived from these principles, but that it shall include in its teachings such an attitude toward reality as a whole." 97 The spirit with which Partridge holds these principles has more than an echo of Spencer's Law of Evolution. His insistence that the principles are "eternal verities" and that they must square with the facts of science, leaves little doubt but that philosophy not only must be tested by the findings of science, but that the principles of philosophy are 95 96


Ibid., p. 10. Ibid., pp. 10-13. Ibid., pp. 12-13.



determined by what Partridge takes to be certain facts of science. His is a scientism which almost outdoes Spencer in its tendency to elevate specific findings of science to the status of metaphysical first principles. The passion which Partridge exhibits in his efforts to portray the universe as lawful, purposeful, progressive, and beneficent clearly "goes beyond" the warrant of empirical science; further, the way in which Partridge takes it beyond this warrant leads me to believe that he does not hold a genuinely experimental view of science. Despite his admission that the most general principles of philosophy cannot be demonstrated, he writes of them with a kind of certainty which suggests that he expects that one day they will be demonstrated - or, at least, they ultimately will be "squared with" certain findings in such a way that their truth cannot be denied. In other words, the man who has learned to use common sense properly, to respect sense experience and the facts of science, will believe, while unable to demonstrate, that we live in a universe in which a great fundamental purpose is being expressed; if he is an educator, he will seek to provide the kind of environment in which individuals will develop in such ways as to realize the fundamental purpose in the nature of things. Such a position would not be necessary, if Partridge held the general principles hypothetically. But this does not appear to be the case; Partridge, while holding that all the facts of science are not in, does not treat the general principles of philosophy as if they are subject to change. While he says that philosophy must pass certain tests before it can be said to be true, the unyielding way in which he appears to hold the principles of philosophy leads me to think that his real belief is that they will be "demonstrated" or "illustrated" by future experience, and that he does not seriously consider the possibility that they might be modified by such experience. While Partridge apparently believed that the principles of philosophy were statements so general that they are capable of successfully inspiring the right practices; and that their truth, although not precisely verifiable in his day, would gradually be affirmed by developments in the sciences and by progress in civilization; he did hold that in the science which, according to him, is the one most fundamental to education - namely, psychology - there were no established principles. The kind of psychology which is to be the center of a science of education, Partridge thinks, is entitled to the name of "Biological Philosophy," since it does not restrict its problems to the study of adult individual mental processes, but studies all mind - past, present, and future - in



whatever form it appears. "The fundamental fact and principle of the biological philosophy is that mind and body have evolved together in the race, and have developed together in the individual, in one continuous process." 98 It follows from this, Partridge goes on, that (r) mental facts must be understood in reference to physical facts; and (2) the individual must be studied in relation to the whole history of the race. The "evolutionary principle" of the biological philosophy must be applied to all problems of psychology in order to produce a natural history of the mind. The method and problem of the science of psychology is called genetic - thus the name "genetic philosophy of education" for those principles of philosophy whose truth, it is expected, will come to be more adequately demonstrated by the genetic science of psychology. In developing such a science, the spirit in which the naturalist investigates - securing facts, and developing principles from them inductively - is to be followed. The work of genetic psychology was seen by Partridge to be at the very beginning of its career. The realm of facts from which the psychologist can establish principles is so limited that his most important work is in pushing out into new realms of fact; ultimately, Partridge thought, principles can be established, but, for the present, psychologists must be content to work without conclusions that have been established as principles. Genetic psychologists must assume, "as a working hypothesis, that no mental state or process is without its concomitant physical state or process; but that the two are identical, or if not, how one acts upon the other, we cannot know." 99 Partridge's belief in the existence of such an order of things in nature, leading him to assume that present difficulties one day will be shown to be understood by a higher order of inductively derived principles, is expressed in the following passage: Faith in science directs us to believe that sometime these two series [physical and mental manifestations of reality] will be shown to be aspects of a higher substance or principle, in which both law and freedom, mind and matter, immanence and transcendence will lose their partial aspects and appear as a whole. 100

Here is expressed a faith akin to Jardine's, writing nearly a century earlier, that an ascending scale of general principles in the sciences would constitute a truly secure basis for the practical activities of life. For Partridge, the principles of the science of genetic psychology will Ibid., p. IS. Ibid., p. 18. 100 Ibid. 98 99



come as the consequence of scientific inquiry, while the principles of the genetic philosophY of education are known prior to the inquiries by which the scientist seeks his principles. By reviewing the evidence available to the genetic psychologist which has a bearing on mental and physical development, Partridge begins a discussion of the general principles of education by defining it as conscious evolution. In re-emphasizing the view that the study of genetic psychology is the most fundamental part of a science of education, Partridge goes even further and says: The study of genesis not only provides the true ideals of education, and reveals the standards in reference to which all educational values must be judged, but at the same time it suggests principles of educational practice; tells us how that which appears as an ideal may be accomplished. It is the best means of judging past values in education; it is a means of correcting or confirming judgments of educational values based upon feelings, preferences, and common sense. In this most fundamental of all points of view for studying education, is the promise of a system in the future which shall be both scientific and professional in spirit.10l

Now it appears that the science most important to a science of education not only provides the facts upon which principles are to be determined, but it has become a point of view and a means of judging values as well. Indeed, the findings and the spirit of one science - genetic psychology - have so penetrated into the nature of things and have become so relevant to all matters that bear on education that this science, in effect, is elevated into the position of a "science of sciences" - one whose principles set the standards for all other sources of the science of education. For Partridge, the best education is that which "puts the child into the center and demands that all ideals and methods of education must be judged finally by a knowledge of the facts of child nature, and an interpretation of these facts in terms of the experience and ideals of the race." 102 Partridge understood the genetic science and the genetic philosophy to be a necessary antidote for transcendental philosophy and as an opposition to the thinking and practice of the Herbartians. These points of view, Partridge thought, attempt to formulate a "definite philosophy," apply it to educational methods, and teach the rules so derived to teachers. Partridge preferred that rules of teaching be postponed until the formulation of scientific principles on which they could be based, and that a philosophy be so generally stated that it could lend itself to demonstration and elaboration in the light of 101


Ibid., p. 45. Emphasis mine. Ibid., p. 96.



scientific findings. Partridge hoped to avoid subsuming definite teaching practices to philosophic points of view which he took to be merely speculative and thereby lacking in the foundation provided by the science of genetic psychology. Partridge interpreted Hall's work in such a way that he forced a philosophy of education out of genetic psychology. He succeeded in making explicit, in a period of American educational thought when the philosophy of education as a distinct discipline was given at least nominal recognition, a fundamental and often implicit tendency in the inductive empirical tradition: to have a place for philosophy, but to understand it as having its origins, its justification, or its fundamental meanings take on their character from the enterprise of science. In Partridge's way of treating the philosophy of education, it is less important to distinguish between philosophy and science than it is to make philosophy scientific, or at least to find a field of study which so encompasses them both that the truths suggested by any philosophic system will be gradually verified by the findings of science. It is in this spirit that Partridge writes: Education must take all points of view. It must comprise the good of all systems of thought. It must be idealistic, rationalistic, intuitionistic. It must contain all philosophies if it is to continue to grow to meet the needs of successive moments in the process of evolution. lOS

To avoid a philosophic idealism, rationalism, or intuitionism, the scientist in education must search for the principles that would demonstrate in a unified way the partial truths which are implicit in each of the several philosophies. In making this claim, Partridge was unable to free himself from an unconscious tendency towards a sort of "rationalistic scientism"in which the science of genetic psychology was the science of sciences, and the genetic philosophy of education looks to genetic psychology for demonstrations of the truths implied in its principles. With an implicit heart for rationalism and an explicit head for inductive scientism, Partridge's ambiguity is distressing to both serious rationalism and thoroughgoing naturalistic empiricism. Against an extreme scientism like that of Partridge and Spencer, both rationalists and naturalistic empiricists directed their criticism. And naturalistic empiricists were no less critical of the "metaphysics of rationalism," which is particularly evident in Partridge and Spencer as well as in avowed rationalists like William Torrey Harris. 103



Bronson Alcott, who is remembered for his transcendentalism, once wrote of the influence of Baconianism on his early thinking: In 1833 I was a disciple of Experience, trying to bring my theories within the Baconian method of induction, and took the philosophy of Aristotle as the exponent of humanity while my heart was even then lingering around the theories of Plato without being conscious of it. A follower of Aristotle was I in theory, yet a true Platonist in practice. l

Alcott found, when he turned consciously to Platonism, a principle which showed the relation of the Baconian science of nature to a larger, more inclusive view of things: According to the view which Alcott came to hold, Plato deals with truth as it is manifested as the science of intellect, while Bacon deals with the same truth as it is manifested as the science of nature. Connecting the world of nature with that of the intellect does not suffice, however, to give an adequate account of things. For Alcott, the rationalism of Platonism itself needs a cause. The world of the intellect must be resolved into an absolutely free, self-acting, and self-sufficient Reality. Nature is a sign of a higher reality; reason strives to render intelligently that higher meaning; and finally, such intelligence is itself caused by Spirit, which is Absolute Unity. God, Man, and Nature; Spirit, Intellect, Matter; each set of three corresponds to the three orders of the Universe. Put differently: "Spirit regarded as the cause and law of organization is God; Spirit organized is the universe; Spirit incarnated is man." 2 Thus the physical universe, as understood by the Baconian inductive method and as perceived by the senses, may be reasoned about and made to conform with the intellect; but to go only this far is not to cultivate the instinct, or spiritual faculties by which one might come to know God. 1 Dorothy :\lcCuskey, Bronson Alcott, Teacher (New York: :Macmillan, 1940), p. 72. Ibid., p. 78.




Alcott, in finding in human nature a kind of power - that of Spirit which transcends not only the experience of the senses in perceiving but that of the intellect in reasoning, tried to teach so as to cultivate Spirit alongside the intellect and the senses. The very nature of the human Spirit is such that its expressions as Spiritual are not to be rendered systematically as may be done in the cases of intellect and nature. In other words, there is something genuinely inexplicable about the intuitions of the Spirit: they may be reasoned about, and signs of them may be perceived in nature, but they cannot truly be known by reason or by perception. Perceptions of the nature of things, and reasons found for their causes, may serve to put us in mind of the intuitions of Spirit, but perception and reason cannot do full justice to Spirit. Since the ineffability of Spirit, in Alcott's view, makes it impossible to set forth a systematic account of its meanings, those who think it is possible to give a rational account of things - those who hold that the rational power of the intellect is capable of grasping knowledge that is non-transcendable - must depart from Alcott's position that Spirit transcends Reason. And those who developed explicit philosophies of education in the United States from a rationalistic point of view did tend to depart from Alcott's view on Spirit and find Reason to be the highest power of man. According to their view, it is possible for Reason to discover a sense in which everything is known as rational. William Torrey Harris, the central figure in rationalism's influence on American philosophy of education, had been under the influence of transcendentalism before he became an Hegelian. Hegel's philosophy provided him with a way of thinking which enabled him to "transcend transcendentalism." In the writings of Emerson and in the oracularizing of Alcott, Harris found much that was suggestive for the work of reason but which failed to come to grips with reality as it can be known by speculative philosophy (Harris' favorite name for his version of rationalism). The transcendentalistic tendencies toward religious symbolism, artistic expression, and Platonic mysticism are not man's highest possible effort, according to Harris' speculative philosophy. While Harris was not opposed to these in their proper places, he was opposed to treating them as if they are the highest manifestations of man's mind. The transcendentalistic efforts are necessary and have their place in the development of consciousness, but they are not the highest stage of consciousness; they are to be truly transcended by speculative thought. The highest office of philosophy is not to represent, or to



suggest higher things; it is to know by reason the principles according to which things represented and suggested have their being. True, speculative reason is transcendental, in the sense that its objects actually reach beyond phenomena and their relations; but there is nothing ineffable about this; speculative reason knows that which is truly real and it has firmly grasped it in a way which no longer doubts that all is knowable. Harris' conception of the relation among Art, Religion, and Philosophy may be taken to illustrate the way in which the three activities of the mind have an identical content but only one of them grasps the content in the highest possible way. The content presented by Art to the senses, and by Religion to the conception, as Art, and as Religion, is not known by reason. Only by the method of speculative philosophy can mind truly know. That which Art presents and Religion holds as dogma is not known until Reason enters, transcends their limits, and comes to grasp the self-determined by which the presentations and dogmas can be known. Art and Religion are fundamental to the life of the mind, but one must not confuse them with Philosophy; and, above all, one must not think that their truths transcend those of Philosophy. The rationalists who produced explicit philosophies of education held, in common with the transcendentalistic view, that there is work which Reason does which completes and provides justification for the findings of the inductive sciences. But these rationalists held, unlike the transcendentalists, that all is knowable through the work of Reason, that whatever transcending there is to do will be carried out by Reason. JAMES P. WICKERSHAM: RATIONALISTIC PRINCIPLES AS PRECEPTS

Herman Harrell Horne, writing early in the twentieth century, referred to the work of Harris and Johann Rosenkranz as the fundamental sources in rationalism's literature on the philosophy of education. While Horne was correct, there is at least one book written before Harris made Rosenkranz' work available to American educators in which something of the rationalistic point of view and its bearing on education is made explicit. Even though he did not write a full-blown work on the philosophy of education, James P. 'Wickersham demonstrates that the essential spirit of rationalism finds the work of inductive science incomplete and in need of support from higher principles of mind. Wickersham, in 1865, gave his Method ot Instruction the subtitle,


That Part of the Philosophy of Education which Treats of the Several Branches of Knowledge and the Methods of Teaching them According to that Nature. 3 At the outset, he argued that teachers must adopt a higher standard of learning than that which was typical, and went on to say that his book was written for those who aspired to gain broader and clearer views of the philosophy of education, and who wanted to guide the work of teaching by the light of such views. "Teaching," he claimed, when rightly done, is not a mere process of imitation or a piece of guess-work. Its rules and precepts are not even the generalizations of successful practice, but they are founded upon the universal and necessary laws which condition matter and govern mind. 4

Wickersham thought that the whole of science is required to constitute the basis for teaching, since an understanding of all of nature is needed if the nature of man is to be understood. In considering the relationship which holds between teaching as a science and the sciences upon which it is based, Wickersham thought of its principles as coming to it second-hand. The science of teaching borrows its principles which are first found in the material or mental sciences, and then applies these as rules or precepts to accomplish its ends. In the sense that teaching seeks an end outside itself, it is an art, and Wickersham was" quite willing to consider teaching an art, but it is an art based upon scientific principles that should always guide its practice." 5 The principles which, to Wickersham, constitute the claim that teaching has to be called a science, would be "intermediate scientific truths," derived from the higher generalizations of science, and serving as the principles of the art of education. 6 It is when one turns to Wickersham's discussion of the nature of science itself that his rationalism becomes most explicit. "The observation of facts, the generalization of experience, and the extension of known laws do not constitute the whole of science. Eternal, universal, and necessary principles control all facts and all inductions from facts.' '7 An empirical science, he says, like a ladder, needs support at both ends: it requires the facts which inductively lead to its generalizations, but it also requires the axiomatic principles which are necessary if its gener3


5 6 7

Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. Ibid., p. ix. Ibid., p. xi. Ibid., where Wickersham attributes this notion to John Stuart Mill. Ibid., p. 358.



alizations are to be true. While, in one sense, the end of empirical science is to reach the eternal principles - "thought embodied in matter" - such principles are not derived by induction alone, but require an act of reason qualitatively different from the inductive process. Put differently, the work of the empirical sciences will be incomplete, only partially true, if its findings are not enlightened by the principles of the higher philosophy. "By our senses we observe facts, by means of the understanding we classify them and make inductions from them; but these faculties can never give us the universal principles which condition both the facts and the inductions." 8 While the sincere investigator of nature - "he who observes the most facts and makes the broadest generalizations" - will be best prepared to discern the eternal principles of nature, such principles are not made known by the techniques of the inductive process. These principles appear "as the intuitions of the reason or as the perceptions of the quick eye of the faith." 9 Thus the highest end of the study of nature takes on a dimension of meaning other than that which merely satisfies the requirements of the highest principles of Reason: a religious meaning. To find the eternal principles of Reason is "to find God in his works." So Wickersham's Philosophy of Reason would be the basis for a Rational Theology as well. When we compare facts, form syllogisms, and apply principles of the Understanding, we assume the products of the Reason. Thus there must be Sciences which treat what the Understanding takes for granted, which regulate with their eternal Forms all the other sciences, and are the germs out of which they grow. Wickersham notes that the sciences that are over or above Physics have been called Metaphysical, but he prefers the name Rational Sciences, since they are known by the Reason. While the Understanding deals with axioms - that is, assumes them, and applies them - in the Empirical Sciences and in the Arts, the Rational Sciences determine what axioms really are and finds the ground for their universal acceptance as truth. All the empirical sciences, and all the arts which depend upon them, should be guided by the Principles of the Reason, whether taken as assumed or truly known. And so long as we do not truly know the Principles of Reason, we must depend on assumptions and the findings of induction. By means of Reason, however, we are enabled to rise above such a dependence and become independent in the highest way. While Wickersham did not dwell on the nature of philosophy of 8 9

Ibid., p. 365. Ibid.


education as a distinct discipline, his Rational Philosophy leads him to discuss Methods of Instruction as a part of the philosophy of education in such a way that methods of instruction are conceived as dependent upon an intermediate science of instruction, which in turn is dependent upon other sciences, and ultimately upon the Rational Sciences. Wickersham had a notion of a completely rational universe, in which the observations from educational practice and the findings of empirical sciences, while necessary to the building of a science of education, remain dependent and incomplete until the principles of the rational sciences are grasped. His student of the methods of instruction should understand the science of instruction in such a way as to enable him to realize that, as a derived science, it has its necessary limits; yet to grasp truly what these limits are - to know them rationally - is his ultimate aim. RATIONALISM'S CLASSIC PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION

William Torrey Harris is the central figure in Rationalism's influence on the philosophy of education in the United States. Although he did not write a book on the subject, it is possible to portray the main elements of his philosophy of education from a study of his articles, commentaries, lectures, and other writings. The aim here is, first, to set forth those elements of Harris' Speculative philosophical point of view which he brought to bear in his considerations of the philosophy of education; and, second, to discuss Harris' conception of the philosophy of education as it is found in his own writings on the subject and in Johann Karl Friedrich Rosenkranz' Die Piidagogik als System, a work that was, for Harris, The Philosophy of Education. Harris' first published discussion of the meaning of speculative philosophy appeared in r867.10 Even in this early article, the main features of Harris' philosophical doctrine were already present. What came later was elaboration of detail and wide application; but in their essential features, the lessons which Harris had learned from his study of the history of philosophy were used in ways that soon were to become a familiar current running through his writings. One of Harris' favorite descriptions of the Speculative he attributes to Spinoza's Ethics; it is "the thinking of things under the form of eternity." What Harris means by the SpeCUlative is discussed in Plato's 10

"The Speculative," Journal of SPeculative Philosophy, I, 1-6, 1867.



Republic, where a distinction is made between understanding, which assumes axioms as true, and speculative reason, which posits hypotheses by dialectic, "not as fixed principles, but only as starting points, in order that, by removing them, it may arrive at the unhypothetical- the principle of the universe." 11 Aristotle's self-moved mover, according to Harris, is to be identified with the speculative, ontologically; while, psychologically, Aristotle's active intellect is the highest form of knowing - being its own object it contains its end in itself. There is a method, suggested by Plato and Aristotle, described by Spinoza, and grasped in its highest form only by that philosophy whose method is speculative and which has been thought out in its latest and finest historical manifestation by Hegel. The speculative method and the content which it aims to secure, as far as it can be thought according to Plato and Aristotle, Harris describes as follows: Instead of setting out with first principles presupposed as true, by which all is to be established, (as mathematics and such sciences do), he [Plato] asserts that the first starting points must be removed as inadequate. We begin with the immediate, which is utterly insufficient, and exhibits itself as such. We ascend to a more adequate, by removing the first hypothesis; and this process repeats itself until we come to the first principle, which of course bears its evidence in this, that it is absolutely universal and absolutely determined at the same time; in other words it is the self-determining, the "self-moved," as Plato and Aristotle call it. It is its own other, and hence it is the true infinite, for it is not limited but continued by its other.12

While Plato and Aristotle are suggestive, it is to a concept of Hegel that he would go "who would ascend into the thought of the best thinkers," and who would "spare no pains to elevate his thinking to the plane of pure thought." 13 Harris asserted that the "completest discipline" for speculative thinking is Hegel's Logic. For those who lack the completest discipline, however, Hegel's concept of the Speculative can be considered in a less complete sense. In this sense, Harris introduces the concept as follows: The Speculative has insight into the constitution of the positive out of the negative. "That which has the form of Being," says Hegel, "is the self-related"; but relation of all kinds is negation, and hence whatever has the form of being and is a positive somewhat, is a self-related negative. 14

Harris used this conception of the Speculative in discussing three 11 12 13


Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 2. p. 3. p. 5. p. 4.



stages of consciousness in knowing. (r) In the first stage, called immediate or sensuous knowing, consciousness seizes objects isolatedly, without relations, treating each as if it has reality in and for itself. Here, the negative is the absence of the real thing. In other words, things as objects of immediate knowing do not really exist; or, they exist in the absence of real things. (2) In the second stage, those things which had at first seemed so immediately andisolatedlyreal,arefound to be related to other things. Thus each thing is not independent, but dependent on others, without which the properties of each thing would have no distinct existence of their own. If a thing exists only through its relations to something else which is not that thing, a thing's existence is due to its own negation. The mediation which takes place in this stage understands things only in terms of their dependence on others, and so once again the objects of a knowing consciousness are not truly independent things. The dialectic of mediation, Harris says, forces consciousness into the third stage, wherein things are known independently of any other. (3) The net meaning of the first and second stages can now be stated: "If things exist only in their relations, and relations are the negatives of things, then all that appears positive - all being - must rest upon negation." 15 It remains for the highest stage of consciousness - that of speculation - to account for this. The negative, Harris goes on, can relate only to itself; self-relation is an identity; thus the negative in self-relation both negates itself and identifies itself. "Identity and distinction are produced by the selfsame process, and thus self-determination is the origin of all identity and distinction likewise. This is the speculative standpoint in its completeness." 16 The speculative consciousness knows, therefore, not in an immediate sense, but in a sense that is conscious both of the unhypothetical principles of reason and of the method by which those principles are thought. The place that speculative thought would have with respect to the things of immediacy and of mediacy means also that speCUlative thought can serve as the ground for the things that appear immediately and those that are related to others mediately. Speculative philosophy is the ground of the immediacies and the mediations dealt with in the practical activities of life. To truly know such a ground is not "idle" speculation, as some have said; rather, it is to know the ground of all being; the possibility of knowing this ground is a continuing challenge 15


Ibid. Ibid., p. 5.



to he who would call himself a philosopher. For Harris, "the philosopher must always 'think things under the form of eternity,' if he would think the truth." 17 Strictly speaking, one imagines (or senses) in the stage of immediacy; he reflects (and sometimes understands) in the stage of mediation; while only in the stage of speculation does he truly think, and know in the highest sense. It is the philosopher in the speCUlative stage who most nearly approximates Aristotle's self-moved mover one who is self-determined, independent, literally in need of no other. Harris vigorously denied the charge that speculative philosophy conceals "under cumbrous terminology views which men ordinarily hold." 18 Speculative philosophy attempts more than a restatement in philosophic terminology of common-sense knowledge, or of scientific principles of the understanding. According to a method peculiarly its own, it strives to rise about these, to know by the highest form of reason the self-determined ground of all that is available to common sense and all that is mediated through the categories of the understanding. There is a sense in which speculative philosophy is a science. Like other sciences, it has a distinctive subject matter of its own, with a technical language and special categories. But, unlike the other sciences, it does not remain on their level of dependency; rather, and what is more, it seeks to comprehend the very ground of their being. In this sense, which distinguishes philosophy from the other sciences, philosophy is "a sort of science of science," indeed, it may be called the "ultimate science." 19 Hegelian that he was, Harris discussed the life of mind from an historical, as well as from psychological and ontological perspectives. In order to appreciate the fuller possibilities of reason, one needs to understand how mind has come to be what it is in the history of civilization. Speculative philosophy, or "science in its third and final stage, learns to know everything in Nature as a part of a process which it studies in the history of its development. When it comes to see each thing in the perspective of its evolution, it knows it and comprehends it." 20 The history of civilization teaches us that speculative philosophy itself has had a history. It has developed by the activities of reflective minds groping toward and finally discovering the highest activity of which mind is capable - self-determination. In the history of civili17 18 19

"Introduction to Philosophy," Journal of SPeculative PhilosoPhy, I, II4. Ibid., p. 58. Harris, Psychologic Foundations of Education (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1901),

p. 38 1. 20

Ibid., p. 378.



zation, minds such as Plato's, Aristotle's, Spinoza's, and Kant's have grasped something of the content which speculative reason determines; it remained for Hegel to live in an age when it was possible to think out the full significance of the negative negating itself and so affirming itself. Speculative reason has realized itself in history; now it is possible to turn the highest insights of that reason to use in understanding history. The result is a philosophy of history, that is, a philosophic perspective according to which the history of civilization can be rendered intelligible in its most comprehensive sense. It is as if the history of civilization has produced a discipline whose use in turn will render not just understandable, but truly comprehensible, the very history which has produced it. The history of civilization and the speculative philosophy which has been produced in that history were fundamental to Harris' conception of the philosophy of education. In its most comprehensive sense, the history of civilization has been educational, in that the mind of man has become conscious of the highest principle of self-determination, according to which that history itself can be comprehended. And the activity of speculative philosophy itself is the highest discipline for self-education. The highest kind of individual freedom is the ultimate aim of one who has learned to think in the stage of speculative reason. The institutions of society, which have come into being in history, are necessary if the highest kind of freedom is to be attained. Harris wrote: Education practices the youth in the habits and activities which are necessary to social life, and secures his cooperation in realizing the ideals set up by the conscience and reason of the people .... It must make the individual obedient to the requirements of the social institutions under which he lives. 21

The four cardinal institutions of society, whose requirements education must meet, are the family, civil society, church, and state. A fifth institution, the school, has a special but important function in society's general scheme of education. It is to enable men to gain the tools of thought by which they may learn to master the wisdom of the race. The general features of Harris' speculative philosophy, its relation to the history of civilization, and to the requirements set by the nature of society's institutions, constitute the context in which Harris' philosophy of education takes on its meaning. Karl Rosenkranz' Die Piidagogik als System, published in Konigsberg in 1848, was the sort of 21

"The History and Philosophy of Education," The Chautauquan, III (October, 1882),28.



consideration of education which satisfied the requirements of Harris' conception of the philosophy of education. The high regard in which Harris held this work is indicated by the efforts he made to bring it before American students of education. A translation by Anna C. Brackett appeared in the Journal oj Speculative PhilosoPhy, 1872-74, under the title, Pedagogics as a System. 22 An edition of this translation was also published separately. Four years later, the Journal began printing a paraphrase, written by Brackett, in an attempt "to translate it from the metaphysical language in which it at present appears into a language more easy of comprehension - without losing the real significance of the statements." 23 To further aid readers who encountered difficulty with Rosenkranz' metaphysical language, Harris wrote an analysis and commentary to accompany Brackett's paraphrase. 24 In 1886, a second edition of the translation, under the title, The Philosophy oj Educat£on, was published as the first volume in Appleton's International Education Series, which was edited by Harris. 25 A lengthy analysis and commentary, written by Harris, were included in this edition. The change in title suggests something of significance for understanding Harris' conception of the discipline named by the title. Harris wrote, in the preface: It is believed that the book as it now appears will meet a want that is widely felt for a thorough-going Philosophy of Education. There are many useful and valuable works on "The Theory and Practice of Teaching," but no work that entirely satisfies the description of a genuine Philosophy of Education. To earn this title, such a work must not only be systematic, but it must bring all its details to the test of the highest principle of philosophy. This principle is the acknowledged principle of Christian civilization, and, as such, Rosenkranz makes it the foundation of his theory of education, and demonstrates its validity by an appeal to psychology on the one hand and to the history of civilization on the other. 26

In an introductory comment to her original translation in the Journal oj Speculative Philosophy. Brackett had written: "The word 'Pedagogics,' though it has unfortunately acquired a somewhat unpleasant 22 Brackett's translation can be found as follows in the Journal: VI (October, 1872), 290-312; VII (January, 1873), 49-71; (April, 1873),40-67; (July, 1873), 1-23; (October, 1873), 1-27; VIII (January, 1874),49-73. 23 Journal of SPeculative Philosophy, XII (January, 1878), 68. 24 Brackett's paraphrase can be found as follows: XII (January, 1878),67-81; (July, 1878),297-316; XIV (April, 1880), 191-203; XV (January, 1881), 35-52. Harris' analysis and commentary can be found as follows: XIII (April, 1879), 205-214; XV (January, 1881), 52-62. In Brackett's original translation, Rosenkranz' work consists of 260 sections; Brackett's paraphrase and Harris' commentary go no further than 102 sections. 25 New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1886. 26 Ibid., p. vi.



meaning in English ... deserves to be redeemed for future use." 27 In the edition entitled The Philosophy 01 Education, however, the phrase "science of education" usually is substituted for "pedagogics," where the latter had appeared in Brackett's original translation. Thus the subject by which the theoretical basis of education is studied, called "pedagogics" by Rosenkranz, finally came to be known as the "science of education" by Brackett and Harris, while the systematic treatment of the science, as considered in the context of psychology and the philosophy of civilization, became known as the philosophy of education. In that way, Rosenkranz' Die Padagogik als System became The Philosophy 01 Education for Harris. The way in which Harris made use of Rosenkranz' work is an excellent illustration of his own recommendation to those of his countrymen who would learn how to become "American thinkers." On the occasion of concluding the first volume of the Journal 01 Speculative Philosophy, Harris wrote: After all it is not "American thought" so much as American thinkers that we want. To think, in the highest sense, is to transcend all natural limits - such, for example, as national peculiarities, defects in culture, distinctions in Race, habits, and modes of living - to be universal, so that one can dissolve away the external hull and seize the substance itself. The peculiarities stand in the way; were it not for these, we should find in Greek or German Philosophy just the forms that have hitherto been attained, and thus speak a "solvent word" of more potency than those already attained. If this be the goal we aim at, it is evident that we can find no other means so well adapted to rid us of our own idiosyncracies as the study of the greatest thinkers of all ages and all times. 28

Working during the years when a distinctively American philosophy was being produced, Harris tried to find, mainly in Greek and German literature, the means by which Americans could rid themselves of their peculiarities as Americans, and find the forms according to which their work as thinkers might go on. Rosenkranz' Philosophy 01 Education begins as follows: The science of education can not be deduced from a simple principle with such strictness as logic, ethics, and like sciences. It is rather a mixed science, which has its presuppositions in many others. 29

In commenting on this, Harris wrote that education, not being a complete, independent science, borrows the results of other sciences. 27 28 29

Jou1'nalot SPeculative Philosophy, VI (October, 1872), 290. Journal ot SPeculative PhilosoPhy, I, Preface. The PhilosoPhy ot Education, p. I.



It is clear that the science of education treats of the process of development, by and through which man, as a mere animal, becomes spirit, or self-conscious mind; hence, it presupposes all the sciences named, and will be defective if it ignores nature or mind, or any stage or process of either, especially anthropology, phenomenology, psychology, ethics, rights, aesthetics, religion, or philosophy.30

In the system of the sciences Rosenkranz placed the science of education within practical philosophy, "the problem of which is the comprehension of the essence of freedom." 31 The distinction between education as a science and as an art was drawn early, since it has a bearing on the entire discussion. "As a science," Rosenkranz wrote, "it busies itself with developing a priori the idea of education in the universality and necessity of that idea, but as an art it is the concrete special realization of this abstract idea in a given case." 32 The peculiarities of particular circumstances, including the abilities of the educator and certain tendencies of pupils, serve as opportunities to fulfill desired ends (the above-mentioned universal and necessary ideas), and so possibly lead to an artful use of means. Thus education as an art is exercised in finding the means of realizing the universal and necessary ideas. It should be remembered, however, that particular historical conditions ought not be carried beyond their limits. Or, to put it differently, "The formulae of teaching are admirable material upon which to apply the science, but are not the science itself." 33 In this way Rosenkranz offered a word of caution to those who, enthusiastic in their success with particular teaching techniques, are not wise enough to bring the techniques to the test of the highest principles of speculative philosophy. The relations among the three parts of the science of education are discussed in order to point out the inadequacy of substituting a part for the general idea of the whole. First, the science of education must unfold the general idea of education. Second, it must exhibit the particular phases, or aspects, of the general idea. And, third, "the particular standpoint upon which the general idea realizes or will realize itself at any particular time," must be described. 34 Put in another way, the science of education includes: (r) the universal and necessary nature, the form, and the limits of education; (2) the intellectual, practical, and physical aspects of education; and (3) the historical aspects of edu30

31 32 33 34

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.

p. 2. p. 10. p. 12. p. 13.


cation, in which the general and the particular have been combined. The particular uses and thus presupposes the general, according to Rosenkranz. This means that the history of pedagogy uses and thus presupposes the ideas that are treated in the general and particular aspects of the science of education. The last system must be that of the present, and since this is certainly, on one hand, the result of all the past which still dwells in it, while, on the other hand, engaged in preparing for the future, education demands the unity of the general and particular principle as its ideal, so that looked at in this way the science of education at its end returns to its beginning. The first and second divisions already contain the idea of the system necessary for the present. 3S

In so stating the principal idea necessary for comprehending the general idea of education, Rosenkranz was true to the tenets of the speculative philosophy which Harris had learned: "The nature of education is determined by the nature of mind - that it can develop what it is in itself only by its own activity." 36 A self-active, self-determined, and thereby free mind is the possibility that needs actualizing. The general form which education takes is determined by the nature of mind, which, as self-active, makes its own nature. This is a way of saying that education cannot create; it can only bring forth out of mind what was already a possibility. In Harris' words: "It does not make self-activity, but it influences it to develop itself." 37 Rosenkranz borrowed from Hegel the idea of "self-estrangement," which Harris thought was perhaps the most important idea in the philosophy of education. This idea serves to describe the process by which the educator tries to influence pupils to ascend through the three stages of consciousness, a basic notion in Harris' speculative philosophy. First, the mind is immediate, and in it little is realized. Second, the mind, in observing the objects around it, "must estrange itself from itself," place itself against itself, find itself as an object of attention. In doing so, the aim is to emancipate the mind from immediacy and absorption in other things for their sakes, in order that, third, it discovers universality in nature through the laws and principles discovered, and "identifies them with reason - it comes to recognize itself in nature to recognize conscious mind as the creator and preserver of the external world - and thus spirit becomes at home in nature." 38 In this way 35 36 37 38

Ibid., p. 16. Ibid., p. 19. Ibid., p. 27. Harris, ibid.



mind "returns" once more to immediacy, but one that is of a higher order and of a different form; it "cancels" one immediacy, comes to consciousness of another, and in so doing, "finds itself" in a higher form. The possibility of education realizing itself according to its three forms becomes more intelligible if its limits are understood. The first limit is a SUbjective one, found in the individuality of pupils, a limit to their natural capacities. The second, called an objective limit, is found in the means that can be brought to bear in the educative process. The third, an absolute limit, is of a higher order, and is set when an individual has emancipated himself to the point of self-dependency. Having grasped something of the ability to think, having canceled the first immediacy, the individual can supplant his early dependency on others with self-culture; freed from a dependency on others for furnishing his ideal, he can develop his life's ideal and seek to approximate it by his own efforts. In other writings, Harris used the above conception of the forms and limits of education to spell out the aim and to outline the contents of school education in its elementary, secondary, and higher forms. He likened these forms (or stages, as he called them) to the three stages of consciousness, which in turn are expressed as the three forms which may come about, progressively, in a person's education. As Harris put it: "The first, or elementary education, then, is but superficial, a mere inventory; the secondary insists on some reflection on what has been learned; and the third, or higher education, is the unity and comparison of all that has been learned, so that each is explained by the whole." 39 Again, we have immediacy, reflection, and unity; or sensation, understanding, and thinking. Harris recognized the shading of one stage into another; he sometimes, in more technical discussions, analyzed the second and third stages into sUbstages. 4o In any case, again and again, he used the three stages in historical, psychological, ontological, and logical contexts. Harris emphasized the point that "we must not confound the mere school with the other great institutions of civilization .... School education is the giving of man the possession of the instrumentalities of intelligence." 41 The first, or elementary stage, is to open what Harris 39 "The Philosophy of Education." Notes Supplementary to the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, Vol. XI (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press,

1893), p. 277. 40 Cf. Psychologic Foundations of Education, pp. 245-46. 41 "The Philosophy of Education." Notes Supplementary to the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, pp. 275, 276.



called the five windows of the soul: (r) Arithmetic as the foundation of the knowledge of nature; the beginning of the counting and measuring of inorganic things. (2) Geography as the beginning of combining the inorganic with the organic. (3) Learning to read and write and an introduction to literature, "the greatest educator we have." (4) Grammar, by which the student is introduced to the logical structure of the intellect as revealed in language. (5) The history of one's nation, wherein is "revealed the aspirations of his countrymen, his own nature, written out in colossal letters. " 42 Secondary education continues the learning that is to open the windows of the soul into a more reflective stage: (r) Algebra, geometry, and physics continue the study of inorganic nature. (2) Natural history is added for the study of organic nature. (3) Greek and Latin literature. (4) Greek and Latin grammar. (5) Classical history. Taken together, Harris said, these open up "a great field of study into the embryology of our civilization." 43 Harris called higher education the comparative step of education, by which each branch is studied in the light of the others. Natural science, sociology, logic, mental philosophy, ethics, rhetoric, the history of philosophy and of literature, and the comparative sciences "furnish the light for the whole method of higher education." 44 Harris' fundamental categories for classifying "human learning as contained in books" were Science, Art, and History. Science consists of Philosophy (the science of science), Theology, the Social and Political Sciences, and the Natural Sciences and Useful Arts. Art consists chiefly of literature and the fine arts. 45 Thus the concerns of Art, Religion, and Philosophy, to which such a large portion of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy was devoted, need to be considered in the light of all human learning. Art, Harris thought, has a "sensuous content" which acts on the incipient phases of culture; further, it develops the spiritual faculties. Its expression presents absolute truths which Religion lives and which Philosophy thinks.46 Art, as studied through literature, is to be included in elementary education, continued in secondary education, and studied in a still higher fonu in the third stage of higher education. As with the progress of mind considered generally, the aim is not merely to study subjects in gradually more complex fonus, but to do so 42 43

44 45


Ibid., p. 276. Ibid. Ibid., p. 277. "Elementary School Education," Journal of SPeculative PhilosoPhy, III, 189n. Journal of Speculative Philosophy, II, Preface, v, vi.



according to a process of genuine development, in order that the highest stage truly comprehends in a manner not possible to the stages preceding it. Harris, in order to show how the limits of education have an influence on the development of freedom in the individual, distinguished between what he called "education by authority" and "education by insight." In the former, the individual accepts the authority of the teacher for the truth of what he is told, and does not seek a higher insight. In the latter, the individual seeks insight into the reasons for things being as they are; in doing so, he tries to supersede education by authority. Education by authority must not be unduly prolonged, nor education by insight begun too early. If the former takes place, then the subjective limitation is misconceived, and the risk is run that the individual will be potentially ready for freedom and not be allowed to actualize it. If the latter takes place, then the potentiality for absolute freedom has not yet ripened into true actuality, and the individual tends to become conceited, mistakenly assuming that the knowledge he owes to others has been gained by his own thought; the consequence, Harris argued, may be a drifting toward agnosticism and a casting away of all genuine authority - an inability to distinguish between a just dependence on others and a true independence from them. Silence, punctuality, regularity and industry are fundamental parts of a "substantial education" as much as the critical study of mathematics, literature, science and history is a part of the "education of insight." These two kinds of education, that of authority and that of self-activity, should be made complementary.47

The second and largest part of Rosenkranz' Philosophy ot Education considers the intellectual, practical, and physical aspects of education. Sense-perception, the grasping of objects immediately present to the mind, is the beginning of intellectual education. The next stage, conception, is in a sense limited by perception, but at the same time, is free to picture objects that were not perceived, and so goes beyond mere perception. Conception can lay hold of certain kinds of general ideas, insofar as objects perceived can be understood according to general schema. Yet what is lacking from conception is the idea of necessity. It remains for the highest stage, that of thinking, to be freed from dependence on the senses, so that one may be enabled to truly think. It is essential to point out a practical imperative for the one who thinks 47

"The Philosophy of Education." Notes Supplementary to the Johns Hopkins University

Studies in Historical and Political Science, p.




the responsibility to return to the world of perception and conception. As Rosenkranz put it: It does not follow ... that he who thinks can not return out of the thinking activity and carry it with him into the sphere of image-concepts and perception. The true thinking activity deprives itself of no content. The form of abstraction affecting a logical purism which looks down upon conception and perception as forms of intelligence quite inferior to itself is a pseudo-thinking. 48

If the intellect is to develop from perception to conception to thinking, the order in which subject-matter develops in consciousness also needs to be understood and utilized in instruction. According to Rosenkranz, the subject to be learned "has a specific determinateness which demands in its exposition a certain fixed order of sequence," 49 while the subject must be adapted to the pupil's stage of consciousness. In sum, the stages through which students pass intellectually - senseperception, image-conception, and thinking - have, as corresponding procedures in instruction - illustration, combination, and demonstration. In Rosenkranz' words: This is the natural order from the standpoint of the developing intelligence; first, the object is presented to the perception; then combination with other things shows its relations and presents its different phases; and, finally, the thinking activity circumscribes the restlessly moving reflection by the idea of necessity. 50

While saying that the school is only one of the educative institutions in society, Rosenkranz argued that the school, from the side of the science of instruction, must be autonomous. In other words, there is a province belonging to the school as a special institution, a province into which the other institutions should not enter directly to seek to control. Rosenkranz said that, internally, the school should be free from control by the other institutions; while, externally, the needs of the school should be adjusted to those of the other institutions. The general relation between state and school, from the standpoint of science, was stated by Harris as follows: "The state seizes the life of a people in its explicit totality," i.e., all human relations, and hence must conduct the education of its citizens. . .. The state should not dictate in matters of science and art, nor in matters of conscience. The state and science are alike in presupposing the freedom of self-consciousness; the state in making the individual responsible for his deed requires consciousness 48

49 50

The Philosophy of Education, p. 94. Ibid., p. 97. Ibid., p. 98.



and freedom as conditions of conviction in cases of crime; science presupposes freedom of thought, freedom from authority, and clear insight into the necessity of the demonstration, i.e., clear consciousness. 51

While physical and intellectual education have their practical side, there is a narrower sense of practical education, that involved in developing the will. Since the will is the subject of a science of its own namely, ethics - the science of education borrows the conclusions of that science. To express in general terms the relation between intellect and will, Harris pointed out that feeling can be taken as a kind of embryonic form of both: It is evident that feeling can not be educated directly in itself, but only mediately through the intellect and the will. The will is trained by forming habits; the intellect is trained by developing higher orders of knowing. When a habit is formed, and a theoretical view is reached by the intellect which corresponds to that habit, it will happen soon that feeling will come to contain the contents of the willing and knowing in the form of immediate impulse or unconscious tendency. 52

An educated will and an educated intellect are the two aspects of a realized self-active, free human being. It is as if the highest moral acts possible are those which can be known by the intellect; one's highest being is a habitual doing of that which he is capable of thinking. As Harris put it: Educate the heart? Educate the character? Yes ... but there is no immediate way of educating these. They must be educated by the two disciplines - that of the will in correct habit, and that of the intellect in a correct view of the world. When the practical habit and the intellectual view coincide, then it becomes a matter of the heart, and character is the result .... In God intellect and will are one, so in man the highest aim is to unite insight with moral will. Self-activity becomes intellect, self-activity becomes wil1. 53

Social development is the beginning of the education of the will, and, for Rosenkranz, "the essential element of social culture is found in moral character." 54 Duty, virtue, and conscience are the three main aspects of moral character. Rosenkranz wrote of duty: "We must accustom the pupil to unconditional obedience to it, so that he shall perform it for no other reason than that it is duty." 55 Virtue is the making actual of that which duty commands. When virtue is practiced, Ibid., pp. 138-39. Psychologic Foundations of Education, p. 248. 53 "Psychological Inquiry," Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the National Education Association, 1885, p. 101. 54 The PhilosoPhy of Education, p. 149. 55 Ibid., p. ISO. 51




the individual will develops as character, with its highest stage that of conscience, "the comparison the moral agent makes between himself as he is and his ideal self." 56 To note here that intellectual (rather than merely moral) considerations are involved in comparison, brings to mind Harris' recognition that character is educated by both will and intellect, and, further, that the highest stage in mind and culture is a comparative one. The development of conscience marks the possibility of the third stage of will-development, namely, religious culture. This highest stage of will has already been suggested in Harris' reference to that part of man's highest aim which is self-activity become will. Rosenkranz pointed out that religion itself can be considered in its three stages of development - feeling, conception, and comprehension. There is a development from religious feeling through mediative conception and at last to a philosophical determination - a religion of reason - by which the habits of morality can be known in the totality of self-comprehended universality. To be moral in the highest sense is to be religious according to the highest reaches of reason; and so, according to the speCUlative philosophy, the highest activity of will and ofintellect are one - the unity that is a self-determined being. Rosenkranz concluded the second part of The Philosophy of Education with a passage introducing the third part, which treats the history of education: It remains now to be shown how the general idea of education shapes its special elements into their appropriate forms. From the nature of education, which concerns itself with man in his entirety, this exposition belongs partly to the history of culture in general, partly to the history of religion, partly to the philosophy of history. The pedagogical element in it always lies in the ideal which the spirit of a nation or of an age creates for itself, and which it seeks to realize in its youth. 57

The essential idea in Rosenkranz' conception of the history of education is expressed as follows: "The general idea of education is individualized, in its realization in human history, according to its elements into specific ideas which we call pedagogical principles." 58 To deduce pedagogical principles from the general idea of education is to deduce the history of education at the same time, which history can do nothing but "realize the possibilities involved in the idea of education." 59 Rosenkranz called such a deduction an a priori construction of history. 56 57

58 59

Ibid., p. 156. Ibid., pp. 178-79. Ibid., p. 184. Ibid.


But such a construction does not pretend to deduce empirical details; these confirm and illustrate the principles of the history constructed on an a priori basis. Taking the point of view that the a priori principles of history result from the philosophical activity of the mind, Harris wrote: Philosophy does not inventory anything whatever; it explains only what is furnished it; something being given in a definite manner, philosophy will discover one by one its presuppositions, and find its place and function in the absolute system. 60

Philosophy, the activity by which the a priori principles of history are thought, does not wait for all the empirical details before it acts; it takes whatever details are at hand to illustrate the principles which, as self-determining, it has come to know. The general idea of education determines three principles which, in the history of civilization, are illustrated by three different systems of education. From the idea that human nature is something definite as a reality, and that its ideal, rational culture, is definite, "the development of the human race into reason can give only such phases as the two extremes and their combination permit." 61 The three phases may be characterized as follows: (r) Institutions take on the form of nature, and stifle individual freedom; (2) A personal God governs people as chosen, setting them free from nature worship; and (3) Man enters positively into individual freedom of spirit. 62 Rosenkranz names the educational systems that correspond to the phases as national, theocratic, and humanitarian. In another sense, all systems can be considered from the standpoint of the idea of the state, and as such, may be characterized as nation-state, God-state, and humanity-state. The first system, according to Rosenkranz, follows the way of Nature, educating individuals as types of their races, and by so doing, tries to stamp individuals uniformly. The second also tries to make each individual like every other, but it does so by attempting to neglect nature, and to educate individuals as servants of God rather than of nations or races. And, finally, the third system emancipates the individual, and elevates him to the enjoyment of freedom as his essence; educates him within national limits which no longer separate but unite; and, in the consciousness that each, without any kind of mediation, has a direct relation to God, makes of him a man who knows himself to be a member of the spiritual world of humanity.63 60


62 63

Psychologic Foundations ot Education, p. 381. Harris, in Rosenkranz' Philosophy ot Education, p. 184. Ibid., p. 185. Ibid., p. 188,


Herein may be recognized, in its historical manifestation, Harris' point of view that education is a growing away from nature and from merely dogmatic or reflective religion, and a growing toward the religion of reason in self-conscious individuality. The stage of humanity is that stage, historically, in which it is possible to be truly human in the highest stage of consciousness - highest morally, intellectually, and ontologically. In view of the significance laid by Harris to the claim that education in its highest form is realizable within a particular kind of state, it is important to notice that it will do so in the highest form of state; the state, then, must have had a history in which it too has passed through the necessary stages. Indeed, one way of examining the history of education is from the perspective of a study of the development of the state to its highest manifestation in the history of civilization. 64 The import of Harris' appeal to Americans to think by transcending natural, cultural, national, and racial limits, and become universal, is to be found in Rosenkranz' conception of the history of education. For Harris, speculative philosophy brings to mind the highest possible principles of education, and the history of education illustrates the ways in which those principles are realized in particular times and places. Those principles, in turn, are used to explain the illustrations of history. Harris found such an intimate connection between the philosophy and the history of education to be required by the speculative philosophy which he had come to hold. Conceived most meaningfully, the study of the history of education must be included as part of the philosophy of education, rather than apart from it. HERMAN HARRELL HORNE'S IDEALISTIC THEISM

Herman Harrell Horne, in the Preface to his Philosophy 0/ Education,65 calls his philosophical system Idealistic Theism, which is "the necessary implication of the educational process," and "the presupposition of the whole discussion." Horne notes that education, from a broad point of view, is the study of civilization in its entirety, in the sense that" every human situation is an educational situation, in which 64 It is no surprise to find that the second volume in the International Education Series is F.V.N. Painter's A History of Education (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1886). In the Editor's Preface, Harris writes that the work "takes up the subject from the standpoint of the history of civilization."

65 The Philosophy of Education, Being the Foundations of Education in the Related Natural and Mental Sciences (New York: Macmillan, 1904).


we grow from less to more," 66 so that all the agencies of civilization - home, school, vocation, state, and church - are in some sense educational. But it is from a more narrow point of view, one which confines itself to the nature of the education that is within the function of the school, that Horne discusses education in his Philosophy 01 Education. Education, in its narrow sense, has a history, an ideal, a practice, and a philosophy. The ideal, Horne thinks, as defined by the science of education, is an outgrowth of educational history; practice is the attempt to incorporate the educational ideal; and "the philosophy of education is the attempt to find the meaning of the whole educational process as it takes shape in history, ideals, and practice." 67 The meaning sought by philosophy of education is the kind that would give the inclusive truth which is indicated by the history, ideals, and practice of education. An historical consideration finds education to be a growing body of theory and practice, "a process of evolution in the system of instruction become conscious of itself"; "as a resultant of historic forces the educational ideal is defined." 68 The science of education strives to define this ideal by discovering the theoretical basis upon which the art of education rests. Its questions are two: What is the nature of body and mind to be educated; and, how ought the education of this nature to proceed? The science of education seeks its answer to these questions in the sciences of physiology, psychology, logic, aesthetics, ethics, and sociology. "Education," Horne says, "can become a science only as it grounds itself upon universal principles, applicable to all individuals alike, deduced from the sciences of man, the educable being." 69 Education as practice - "the execution of the ideal of education" considers problems of organization, management, and supervision of schools. In the philosophy of education, the meaning of the whole process encompassed by the history, the science, and the practice, is sought. Put differently, the philosophy of education determines the kind of meaning which will give unity to the truths of the history, science, and practice of education. Thus Horne's philosophy of education appears to have the same function as Harris'; and Horne's science, practice, and history of education cover about the same ground as the three parts of Rosenkranz' science of education. Horne, like Harris, conceives philosophy of edu66 67 68 69

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 6. p. 7. p. 8.





cation to be the study which unifies the science, practice, and history; yet Horne differs from Harris as to the method of inquiry by which the principles of the philosophy of education are to be established. Horne passes by an explicit consideration of the content of history, science, and practice of education in developing the principles of his philosophy of education. In one sense, Harris treats Rosenkranz' comprehensive science of education as if it is the philosophy of education; but for Horne, the science, practice, and history of education are in need of a distinct other discipline - the philosophy of education - in which is set forth the truth which they suggest, but can not express. To put the distinction in another way: Rosenkranz' science includes, in one part, the highest principles of philosophy whose truths are illustrated in its other parts; but Horne's science, history, and practice of education are still in need of the highest principles of philosophy, and so require a distinct discipline to provide them. The distinct discipline, philosophy of education, which seeks the principles of the ultimate nature and meaning of education according to which the history, science, and practice may be truly comprehended, engages in a two-fold inquiry: First, it seeks the facts that are relevant to the nature and meaning of education; and second, it tries to interpret the facts. More specifically, in order to indicate the areas in which the relevant facts are to be sought, Horne says that man shares the following in common with the lower animal world: He possesses life; his life takes shape in a physical form; he goes in groups with his fellowmen; and he has intelligence. Each of these tendencies is a field for scientific research; respectively, the fields are biology, physiology, sociology, and psychology. As sciences, they are to furnish the facts - the data for interpretation by philosophy. The part of the inquiry which deals with the data as such Horne calls "empirically philosophical"; the part dealing with their interpretation he calls "purely philosophic." Thus while there is a distinct discipline - philosophy - whose main function is to interpret the data furnished by the sciences, there is a sense in which a consideration of the separate sciences themselves is philosophical: it is in looking at each, not merely for its own sake, but for its place in the ultimate unity that is sought. The philosophic quest ultimately unifies the whole, while proximately unity is sought in considering each part. In turning to his consideration of education in its biological, physiological, sociological, psychological, and philosophical aspects, Horne writes:


The answer to our single inquiry gives us, then, the pain of seeking it through the finite facts of our human experience, and finally into the transcendent world which our present fragmentary experience suggests but does not yet compass. 70

And so at the outset of his inquiry, Horne makes plain the idealistic view that fragmentary experience, as in the separate sciences, is suggestive of more than it knows, and needs more than it suggests, if its place in the nature of things is to be truly comprehended. Horne's procedure, in considering data from each of the sciences in turn, is to ask, What is the meaning of education which these data suggest? And, as he turns from the data of one science to those of another, the meaning of education becomes more comprehensive. The ultimate aim is to arrive, in the science of philosophy, at a final meaning of education which includes and comprehends all the others. First, the biological aspect of education shows us that "education is the superior adjustment of a conscious human being to his environment." 71 While biology teaches us that the first thing is to live, it also teaches us that consciousness is a part of life, and it is consciousness that enables us to conceive ideas as ends of action. The pursuit of ends puts us in mind of ideals, and morality is possible. Consciousness, as it developed in the evolutionary process, was first merely a useful addition to the organism; its use, however, did not remain merely practical, but it became theoretical as well as it guided the organism in the pursuit of ends not already attained. The possibility of consciousness conceiving possibilities not previously held in mind is the possibility of a "superior" adjustment, rather than mere repetitions of the kinds of adjustment which have prevailed in the past. Second, the physiological aspect of education suggests to us that "education is the superior adjustment to his environment of a physically developed human being." 72 In manual training, in play, in gymnastics, and in athletics, the mind is provided with habits of reaction to the world's stimuli, and bodily powers are developed. Horne finds in specific kinds of physical activities various influences on selfexpression, which come about by coordination of mind and body, not by mind and body functioning independently of one another. Thus he emphasizes the importance of physical activity in manual training and in artistic expression, not merely for the activity itself but for the 70 71


Ibid., p. 17. Ibid., p. 52. Ibid., p. 95.



higher order of expression which these relations of physical and intellectual activities make possible. Since the being to be educated is characterized not simply by his life and his physical forms, but by companionship with his fellow men, the social nature of man must be studied to find its meanings for the nature of education. Horne borrowed from Nicholas Murray Butler the term "spiritual" to describe the environment of man, which "includes all the relations in which man as a conscious being stands to his fellows, to what his fellows have done, and to his own personal ideals." 73 This spiritual environment, which is "man objectified," and which "man himself is potentially," is that to which man, through education, must learn how to adjust himself. Man must learn, Horne says, to reproduce in his own mental history the spiritual history of the race. "What his race has produced, he reproduces, and thus universalizes his individual nature and socializes his private impulses." 74 Spiritual education must be studied from the sociological point of view, Horne says, because this education in the product of the thought, feeling, and action of man in organized groups. "Man is not himself alone, but his life is in relationship to his fellows." 75 From the standpoint of the nature of mind, consciousness is always at something, and so it is the content of the spiritual education of which man needs to be made conscious through education. Essentially, then, the mind of man needs to become conscious of what has already been produced in the history of the race. The spiritual environment is to be the curriculum of the school. In its most comprehensive sense, education should aim at the unity of all conscious experience, and not just at that experience merely accumulated. While the sociological aspect of education merges into the psychological and requires the latter for its comprehension, both of these, as scientific, merge into the philosophical, and require the latter for their comprehension. In this sense, Horne's philosophical view that mind is the ultimate reality of the universe enters into the scientific aspects of education - to render these" empirically philosophical," as mentioned earlier. Horne, in his discussion of the sociological aspects of education, considers the various sciences that constitute spiritual education, and points out the way in which these sciences suggest a more compre73 74 75

Ibid., p. 98. Ibid., p. 100. Ibid.



hensive reality than they reveaL Sociology, indeed, is considered as one point of view from which mind knows itself: it may know itself in its products and their nature. Psychology is another point of view from which mind knows itself: it may know itself as such, in its own processes. To return to Horne's treatment of the science of mind as objective, as concerned with its products in the history of the race, he adopts the distinctions of the sciences, the arts, and the volitions. He sometimes refers to them as the theoretic, the aesthetic, and the volitional; and at other times as the intellectual, the emotional and the volitional aspects of mind. In a very general way of speaking, sciences teach us to know; arts teach us to do; and the volitions teach us to will. In elaborating on this general way of referring to the three aspects of mind, Horne refers to the sciences as theoretical- that is, as having a knowledge of certain truths for their own sake, without explicit reference to meaning anything beyond themselves. Theoretical knowledge would comprehend certain practices, if practice were needed; it would be the basis for certain arts, if expression were sought. The arts, then, practice according to the theory of the intellect; they, in a sense, are applied knowledge. Yet there is a third element - the volitional - which also enters into doing; as Horne puts it, "the theoretic comprehension of truth solicits, but does not compel, obedience."76 And so it is that doing is not as easy as knowing theoretically what ought to be done, since doing involves willing as well as the theoretical knowledge which knows what the will ought to compel one to do. While the theoretical sciences may be studied for their own sakes apart from any question as to their use, a proper education includes a study of the arts which require the use of theoretical knowledge, and a study of volitional subjects, which reveal the ways in which man's will has used theoretical knowledge. The special place given to history as a volitional subject is interesting, for the light it throws upon Horne's own philosophy of education, and also for showing us how Horne adopted a certain Hegelian view of history as had Rosenkranz and Harris before him. While history contains classified and verifiable knowledge, and in that sense is a science, it is of a different quality from those sciences which merely classify and verify: the element of self-determination has entered into history, so that future history is unpredictable. Natural sciences give knowledge of determined, but not self-determined facts; the history 76

Ibid., p. lI5.


that is lived is the effort of man toward self-determination, and a study of it involves men willing as well as knowing and doing; or to put it differently, in history men attempt to know what they are, and what they should do, and to try to become what they potentially are by acts of willing. Besides history, volitional education includes a study of constitutions, law, and morality. The study of morality itself involves the highest and most difficult educational aim: to learn how to achieve virtue - to act voluntarily according to the knowledge of the right. Again, knowledge is not virtue, but only a means to virtue. In the study of history, constitutions, and laws, the efforts of self-determining man to gain virtue, and the means, as science and as art, used in their efforts, are revealed to the learner; what is to be suggested therein, but not truly revealed as virtue, is to be the basis for self-determining minds to use in their own efforts to attain virtue. And, while Horne arrives at a third conception of education which his study of the sociological aspect suggests, namely, "education is the superior adjustment to his intellectual, emotional, and volitional environment of a physically developed conscious human being," 77 there has been no particular effort to study the individual mind, the individual consciousness which is to adjust in a superior way to the spiritual environment. To the study of the individual mind the psychological aspect is addressed. As was suggested in a consideration of the intellectual, emotional, and volitional environment, it is a developing self-consciousness which, while knowing, doing, and willing, must learn to look upon itself as well as to the spiritual environment which constitutes the existing theoretical, practical, and volitional studies. Or, as Horne puts it: Through participation in the life of the race the mind of the individual finds its real self, develops its natural powers .... The psychological effect upon the mind of repeating its race's experience is the development of its potential powers into actuality. 78

This is at once a statement of a kind of process which might in fact be carried out, and a statement of an educational ideal as well. The ideal is for the individual to act in such a way that he wills to do what the highest knowledge requires as true. Horne adopts a way of considering the three stages of mental 17 78

Ibid., p. ISO. Ibid., pp. I69-70.



development which echoes that of Harris when he says that childhood is the individualizing, youth the relating, and manhood the unifying epochs. "The senses and the understanding," Horne writes, "find their fulfillment in the reason." And like Harris, the highest stage of development aims for a kind of independence, but one that makes man really independent, and not apparently so: The independence of the individual as revealed through sense-perception made way for the dependence of the individual as revealed by the understanding, only that both of these stages might complete themselves in the independence of the whole as revealed by the reason.79

To become independent in the highest sense is to rise to an order of being which is higher than a merely utilitarian life: "Education is not primarily fitting a child to do something; it is getting him to be something. . .. It is as serviceable to learn to do by knowing as it is to learn to know by doing." 80 According to this view, the independence of reason does not literally remove one from the responsibility to serve his fellow-men; rather, it puts his service in the light of reason rather than merely of the senses and of the understanding. Horne's fourth definition of education intends, by adding the modifier "mentally," to suggest possibilities of mind which are not provided, but needed, by the biological, physiological, and sociological aspects of education: "Education is the superior adjustment of a physically and mentally developed conscious human being to his intellectual, emotional, and volitional environment." 81 Thus Horne includes in this conception the empirically philosophic characteristics taken from the sciences which study life, body, sociality, and mind. A philosophical tendency has asserted itself all along the way; it must now do so in its peculiar way, in which it will turn from the facts of experience as interpreted so far, and go on alone, toward further truth. To be true to experience ... is not to stop thinking at its boundaries but by thinking to interpret the meaning of such fragmentary experience in terms of its implications concerning the infinite and eterna1. 82

It is to seek the ultimate meaning of education, which has been suggested but not asserted in the conceptions already set forth, that Horne moves from the empirically philosophical to the purely philosophical consideration of the matter. 79

80 81 82

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

pp. 218-19. p. 221. p. 251. p. 255.



The characteristic method of philosophy, it is to be remembered, is to take the facts from given areas of human experience and seek to determine their meaning, which implies a larger and more inclusive reality in which all meanings have their place. In Horne's words: "The part implies the whole, and the meaning of the part it is that suggests the nature of the whole." 83 Philosophy, strictly speaking, has no new facts of its own; its purpose is to consider whatever facts are presented in its own way. To put it in another way, the work of philosophy is to make known the invisible whole which makes possible our fragmentary experiences. Like other departments of human life, Horne says, education has its own facts suggesting an ultimate meaning in their own way: as there is a philosophy of art, of religion, of the state, there is a philosophy of education. All facts ultimately mean the same, but they mean the same in their own peculiar ways. Thus education is one of the signboards pointing toward the ultimate reality, whose nature gives to the facts of education their ultimate meaning. Education, "the evolutionary process become conscious of itself," takes place in time but suggests that which is eternal; in turn, that which is eternal will interpret that which is temporal. The temporal is "lower" than the eternal; the eternal is "higher" than the temporal. Thus the philosophic effort to move from the part to the whole tries also to move from the lower to the higher. "It is the lower that suggests the higher and the higher that interprets the lower." 84 Mind, to Horne, is the final useful appendage that has evolved in time; and education, the highest type of selective agency of man, takes mind to be the highest type of temporal reality. To develop the meaning of this: the reality which education selects as the highest type is of the nature of ultimate reality; this reality is mental. To press further, Horne writes: Education finds itself unable to understand how the development of unrealized mind which it secures can occur without implying that, underneath its whole process and giving power at every point, is the one realized mind. 85

It is not a first cause in a temporal series of events, but an adequate cause in the existence of mind which needs no development itself, that philosophy seeks; the ultimate reality which education seeks is not only mental but actual; it needs nothing beyond itself; it is selfactive. In sum, Horne puts it as follows: 83 84 85

Ibid., p. Ibid., p. Ibid., p.

257. 262. 2




The self-activity of man, conditioning his education, is the clearest expression in the limits of time of the immanent and transcendent self-activity of reality. It is as though in man realizing his destiny through self-activity, the Absolute beheld himself reflected. The Absolute is; the finite becomes .... Education implies, in the first place, as the origin of man, a reality which is mental, realized, and self-active. 86

Thus Horne makes explicit the nature of the idealistic theism which he had mentioned in the Preface to his Philosophy of Education; the rationalism which had been presupposed throughout his work has grown to full flower at its conclusion. In turning to interpret the meaning of science, art, and volition which earlier had been viewed as products of human intellect, feeling, and will - from the vantage point of his idealistic theism, Horne can now treat these as manifestations of the mind of God in time. What earlier had been understood as true, beautiful, and good as ideals of man are truly so because they are ideas of God. Instead of remaining dependent on an unknown reality beyond them, human ideals find their place in God's world, a world of intellect, feeling, and will that is not in need of anything. In striving to realize his nature in God's world, by his own efforts, helped by the environment provided by others, one may become what he is intended to be. To do so is to become free; man's nature is freedom. It is the kind of freedom which rationally understands human limits and selects ends within them; man need not be merely the creature of an unknown environment, but may use that environment to seek to realize ends that are rationally set forth. One's ability to direct his thinking is his ability to act as he wills; this ideal, suggested by earlier empirical studies, is made possible by a kind of reality whose mind unites knowing and willing as self-activity. Man's freedom lies in the possibility of more nearly approximating such self-activity. And the immortality of man provides the opportunity, in time to come, to approach the eternal. Ultimately, man will work toward finishing his education; to do so will be to use his nature to achieve his destiny. As his fifth and last conception of education, in summary of the total inquiry in his Philosophy of Education, Horne writes: Education is the eternal process of superior adjustment of the physically and mentally developed, free, conscious human being to God, as manifested in the intellectual, emotional, and volitional environment of man. 87 86 87

Ibid., p. 268. Ibid., p. 285.



And so Home found, in the philosophical implications of education as a world-process in time, the Kantian presuppositions of God, Freedom, and Immortality. "Through education," Home says, "the individual becomes in time what he eternally is." In Home's idealistic theism, rationalism in American philosophy of education found an enduring sort of expression, and Home himself was to be idealism's best-known advocate and defense in philosophy of education for nearly half a century.


When Chauncey Wright died in r875, American philosophy lost one of its most incisive naturalistic and empiric is tic critics of speculative philosophy and of scientism. Although Wright's friends published two volumes of his writings - one, selected from his essays and reviews,! and the other, a volume of letters 2 - the editions were quite limited and did not reach a wide audience and his writings were to lie largely unnoticed for almost half a century. In any case, the period just after Wright's death, what Morton White has called "no Golden Age of American philosophy," 3 could scarcely have cared less for the firm naturalism of Wright - a view that not only rejected all non-natural explanations of events but also rejected efforts of scientism, like Spencer's, to erect specific scientific findings into metaphysical systems. While Wright was unsuccessful in reducing the influence of rationalism and scientism, his naturalism and empiricism proved enduring and reappeared later in the philosophic ground of various naturalistic empiricists. CHAUNCEY WRIGHT'S SUGGESTIVE NATURALISM

Although Wright wrote little on education, his writings on this subject are penetrating and suggestive and show us that a fundamental consideration of ends and means in education, from the point of view of a naturalistic empiricism, was an actuality in r875, although a quarter-century was to pass before men would conceive of distinct philosophies of education from such a point of view. Wright rejected by various arguments theistic and idealistic inC. E. Norton (ed.), Philosophical Discussions (New York: Henry Holt and Co., r878). James B. Thayer (ed.), Letters at Chauncey Wright (Cambridge: Press of John Wilson & Son, r878). 3 The Origins at Dewey's Instrumentalism (New York: Columbia University Press, r943), 1




terpretations of nature. Yet it is not enough, he thought, for a naturalist to reject the obvious forms of teleology; he must also be alert to show the deficiencies of such so-called scientific philosophizing as that of Herbert Spencer, who, in his own way, was a teleologist. Spencer imputed dramatic unities to nature and came out with a law of evolution. Wright fought efforts like Spencer's to raise the findings of particular sciences into the status of metaphysical first principles. To apply the mechanical law of the conservation of force, which, as a scientific truth, has no meaning beyond the nature and conditions of material movements ... to apply this law analogically to all sorts of changes - to the "movements" of society, for example - is, in effect, metaphysics, and strips the law of all the merits of truth it has in the minds and judgments of physical philosophers, or of those through whose experimental and mathematical researches it came to have the clear, distinct, precise, though technical meaning in science which constitutes its only real merit. 4

Spencer's further mistake, Wright thought, was this: In generalizing the results of science into metaphysics, Spencer acts as if scientific principles are simply summaries of truth when, in reality, they are finders of truth. Thus Wright did not hold to the cautious empiricism characteristic of those who tried to adopt a Baconian inductive method by drawing back so far from "anticipating Nature" that they virtually denied the place of hypotheses in inquiry. His happy expression that ideas are "finders, not merely summaries of truth," suggests that he understood scientific investigation as a method in which ideas function as working-hypotheses. One conversant with mathematical and experimental researches, according to Wright, understands that the use of hypotheses ... is indispensable to that "interpretation of nature" which Bacon recommends. But these hypotheses are, for the most part, trialquestions - interrogations of nature, or are scaffolding which must be taken down, as they are by the tests, the verifications of observation and experiment; and form no part of the finished structure of experimental philosophy.5

The importance of Wright's naturalistic and empirical conception of scientificinquiryandits place in the range of human meanings also stands out in his utilitarian moral philosophy. Wright said, with respect to the "highest good": From the scientific point of view, there is but one fundamental sanction, to wit, the test of all right conduct (for the test of conduct is fundamentally the warrant 4 Philip P. Wiener, Evolution and the Founders of Pragmatism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, I949), p. 57. 5 "McCosh on Tyndall," Nation, xx (April 22, I875), 279.



of it), namely, the "highest good." To act from this sanction, from the love of the "highest good," is to act religiously, disinterestedly, and "on principle." 6

As in his consideration of hypotheses in the physical sciences, so in his consideration of an act that bears on human conduct: The hypothesis in one subject matter, the act in another, are tested, not by looking to their origins, but in examining consequences that follow from putting them to work in experience. Wright was not opposed to feelings which allegedly come from intuition, or "moral conscience," just as he was not opposed to ideas in physical science, as ideas, whatever their source. What he was opposed to was the assumption that feelings, as feelings, are moral jUdgments and that certain feelings impose an imperative for conduct. To Wright's naturalistic, empirical and utilitarian way of thinking, possible actions, whatever their source - in conscience, intuition or empirical evidence gained from past conductappear prospectively good insofar as an examination of the conceived consequences that would follow from the action appear to make for good moral conduct. Good moral conduct would be that which leads to the greatest happiness for the greatest number. The act is judged good, in retrospect, insofar as it in fact did lead to the greatest happiness for the greatest number. The counterpart in Wright's moral philosophy of a test that verifies a hypothesis in physical science would be that action which does in fact lead to those consequences of greatest happiness for the greatest number which the proposed action, originally prospective, had predicted. Again, for Wright, "the test of conduct is fundamentally the warrant of it." Along with Nicholas St. John Green and Charles Peirce, Wright found suggestive the notion that "ideas tend to act themselves out." 7 Wright conceived the evolutionary connection between animal instinct and human reason as a coming to self-consciousness of ideas whose counterparts, viewed retrospectively, had been certain tendencies toward action instinctively acted on. In a self-conscious human being, the tendency to act on ideas remains but is capable of objectively directing itself, i.e., it can direct itself toward correcting imperfections found in knowledge, rather than only toward acting on ideas felt instinctively. Thus, one can act from "objective motives" in situations ordinarily called "moral." This is to say that objectivity is held forth as a possibility for situations whose subject matter involves securing the greatest 6 Letters of Chauncey Wright, p. II7. • Ibid., p. 181. Wiener, Evolution and the Founders ot Pragmatism, p. 68.



good for the greatest number; objectivity is not restricted necessarily to the physical sciences. The subject matter of ethics would be scientific, according to Wright's way of thinking, insofar as its actions find meanings in sensible experience that verify particular hypotheses determining the nature of the experience. Wright did not write a systematic treatise setting forth his moral philosophy, and he wrote only briefly on the relation of utilitarian ethics to Darwinian natural selection. Yet he said enough to enable us to find in his thoroughgoing naturalism an opposition to Alfred Wallace's contention that the human mind and men's moral qualities could not have been a product of natural selection. 8 Wright argued that man's "moral sense" needed no metaphysical cause. He thought that those feelings tended to survive in pre-self-conscious creatures which led to useful actions. In the long run, what have come to be called moral actions by self-conscious reasoning men can be seen to have had their counterparts in feelings instinctively acted on - actions that have led to the "highest good" for the species, namely, the greatest good of the greatest number. Tendencies we now call moral are among those which the species naturally selected in its evolution. Thus, in Wright's way of thinking, it is no more difficult to conceive the development of moral tendencies that have led to the greatest good of the greatest number for the species, than it is to conceive the development of human intelligence from instinctive pre-human ancestors. The relation of Wright's conception of scientific inquiry to his educational thinking can be seen in his only published essay on education, a critical review of a book by 1. Todhunter, The Conflict of Studies, and other Essays on Subjects Connected with Education. 9 Todhunter, who had been a lecturer on mathematics at Cambridge University, discussed the curriculum which he thought proper for a general education at the level of higher education. Wright found that Todhunter was able to accept part of the traditional curriculum, especially mathematics, but frowned upon certain subj ects such as languages, history, and the natural sciences. Very early in his review, Wright penetrated to the heart of Todhunter's argument, finding that" (the adaptability of subjects to the exigencies of examinations' is almost the sole test which our author applies to the question of what shall be the course or courses proper to a higher general education." 10 Further on, Wright found it worth8 Wright reviewed Wallace's Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection in an essay. "Limits of Natural Selection," North American Review, CIII (October, 1870), 282-3II. 9 North A merican Review, CXXI (July, 1875), 86-II3. 10 Ibid., pp. 90-9 1 •



while to point out that the subjects which Todhunter found most adaptable to examinations - and, therefore, which were particularly recommended for inclusion in the curriculum - were the very ones having the sanction of tradition. To continue using them would involve less difficulty than considering new ones, for doing the latter would involve looking for different criteria. In short, it would involve raising questions with respect to educational ends and means. As Wright put it: The examiner's purpose, the secondary or subsidiary means of discipline, are likely in his pursuit, as means are in all other pursuits, to receive undue attention, and the proximate means to the true ends to become ends in themselves; especially, as we have said, when custom or long usage has sanctioned them and is the easiest escape from difficult questions. l l

The undue attention given by Todhunter to the "examinationpassing power" of subjects is indicative of a far more fundamental problem than that which is apparent in the very terms of the attention itself. It indicates a lack of attention to a fundamental consideration of the true ends of a university; and it indicates an over-attention to certain processes as means, which either become ends in themselves or means to unquestioned ends (which have become, in effect, the actual ends). One effect of giving undue attention to certain criteria, such as examination-passing-power, is that the subjects so accepted become means to ends established primarily outside the university - for example, gaining certain economic or social positions. Wright understood well how "the more immediate and genuine motive, the love of a study" finds difficult sledding when students are tempted away from such studies by the offer of rewards for taking those "which have a greater adaptability to examinations." 12 Wright said: That which, however, needs especially the care of the universities, is the knowledge which is not, and does not promise to be, useful in an economic sense .... Perhaps more attention to the claims of philosophy, or of a knowledge for the sake of a higher knowledge, would have avoided or remedied the defects which our author finds in the Cambridge system of examinations. l3

Wright suggested that part of the explanation for the lack of scholarly attention to the study of "knowledge for the sake of a higher knowledge" has its source in the practice of those educators who allow their attention to be "directed by a traditional curriculum to the subsidiary means of perfecting its use." 14 11 Ibid., pp. ro3-04. 12 13 14

Ibid., p. 9I. Ibid., pp. IOI, Ibid., p. ro6.




Wright's ideal for university study - "the claims of philosophy" and knowledge studied "for the sake of higher knowledge" - is a corollary of his claim regarding the purpose of scientific inquiry: "Nothing justifies the development of abstract principles in science but their utility in enlarging our concrete knowledge of nature." He went on to say that such principles are "working ideas - finders, not merely summaries of truth." 15 Elsewhere, he wrote: "A curiosity which is determined chiefly or solely by the felt imperfections of knowledge as such, and without reference to the uses this knowledge may subserve, is prompted by what we call an objective motive." 16 For Wright, then, the meanings that are possible would come if students moved from present knowledge to higher knowledge by acting on the promptings of objective motives. It is important to notice that, for Wright, knowledge has, in itself, neither a "knowledge-increasing power" nor an "objective motive" in the very nature of things. Put differently, no subject matter, considered apart from its function in a particular situation, has the meanings necessary to enlarge our knowledge. Meanings come, if at all, to individuals, and no particular subject matters (whatever their "examination-passing power)" will guarantee higher knowledge. As in inquiry, so in education - hopefully, a kind of inquiry - whatever is used is hypothetical with respect to future knowledge gained or new meanings found. Wright's conception of the place of hypotheses in inquiry, together with his notion of objectivity, led him to discuss educational ends and means in a way that calls to mind John Dewey's writings a quarter-century later on a functional relationship between ends and means in education. A sort of functionalism is implicit in Wright's discussion of memory, invention, and reason. Although the terminology mentions faculties, the spirit suggests a functional conception of mind: The faculties trained by mental discipline are not so simply classified as writers on education appear to think when they enumerate them as memory, reason, and invention or imagination. There are various kinds and orders of memory, and the highest 0/ these, together with the highest order of invention, involves the faculty called reason. The faculties which ought to be tested by examination are properly memory and invention in their various orders, and in the kinds in which various studies have disciplined them. Examinations in languages and history are mainly tests of memory, Mr. Todhunter thinks; but how different are the orders of memory involved even in these! How different is the child's memory of stories from that of a student of comparative mythology! A quick, retentive child's 15 Edward H. Madden, The Philosophical Writings ot Chauncey Wright (New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1958), p. 14. 16 Ibid., p. 10.



memory will note every variation in repeated recitals of a tale, and will correct the story-teller on points which seem to the adult mind quite trivial, but are in fact to the child essential enough to make a different story. When the comparative mythologist, on the other hand, finds identity amidst the varieties of legendary tales of various races and nations, his memory of them is of a different order from the child's. History or language may be remembered in these different ways, and no system of competitive examinations would be able to detect the difference. 17

Wright believed that the meaning of subjects is expressed in terms of the ends for which individuals can use subjects as means. When individuals find and enjoy meanings, they are using means to ends. For Wright, this would not have been a mere truism; it called for distinguishing among different orders of meanings which are remembered, invented, and reasoned. And different orders of meanings are involved in trying to understand the philosophy on which an allegedly liberal education is based: It is all-important in considering the problems of education to have clearly before our minds what are its true ends and its most direct proximate means. This is far more important, in a philosophical consideration of the subject, than any amount of evidence on the working of a system of subsidiary means supposed to be adapted to ends very ill understood. It is a far more important question than that to which answer is made in the testimony of experienced teachers and examiners as to the value of any system of examinations for testing a youth's "examination-passing power." This testimony may be good evidence that a university is really doing, and doing faithfully, what it professes to do; but it is not a proof that its system is the best, or that its ideas of a liberal education are soundly based either in experience or philosophy. It is not a proof that philosophy is kept alive in such a university, even to the degree of inspiring a hope for attainment beyond the immediately practicable, or of creating any desire for a wider range of influence, or for a more comprehensive knowledge of its duties. 1S

A fragment of an unpublished paper written in 1856, together with part of a letter dated August 12, I874, constitute the remains of Wright's thinking on childhood education. In the paper, called "The Philosophy of Mother Goose," Wright says that Mother Goose, had she been endowed with dialectical powers, might have reasoned as follows: I do not aim to make a man of a child, for that is the work of Providence, but do I not know what a child is, and what are its wants, better than you, 0 most audacious Mrs. Science, and do I not believe in spite of your theories that the satisfaction of its natural wants is the best way to further the work of Nature? ... What is good taste to a child - nay, what is the difference between the sensible and absurd - before the discriminating powers are excited? Are not contrasts the means by which discrimination is provoked? Is not the pleasing 17 18

North American Review, CXXI (July, 1875), 108-09. Ibid., p. II3.



most distinctly realized in the ugly, the true in the false, and the sensible in the absurd? I venture timidly into your own province, when I assert that the imitative dispositions of children, the perpetual make-believe and play of their tender years, and their ability to discriminate at the first dawn of intelligence the serious from the comic, are the means by which their common sense is nourished and the abstraction of meanings effected. Banish not then the grotesque, but set it off with the beautiful, that by the contrast the beauty of the beautiful may be realized. Tell them impossible stories, that the limits of the possible may be known. Talk nonsense and baby-talk, that good sense and correct language may be acquired. But in all this do not dissimulate: guard with religious care that first discrimination of intelligence, the earnest from the make-believe. 19

Thus Wright argued that by treating a child as a child, rather than solely as a potential adult, the child would be able to realize himself more fully as a child and also as an adult. Such treatment is not to be pretense; make-believe and contrasts are natural for a child as a child. But later, "at the first dawn of intelligence," such treatment is no longer natural- when the individual can discriminate the earnest from the make-believe it is natural that he be treated differently, for, indeed, he is different. Wright seemed concerned to nourish common sense (which is far from holding that it necessarily has the "truth"), holding that its teachings tend more nearly to develop a child in such manner that it will learn later how to make the discriminations necessary to test any truth-claims, whether they be those offered by common-sense or by what may be other than common. While discussing different ways of asking questions, in a letter written many years after the "Philosophy of Mother Goose," Wright echoed his earlier praise for the "venerable mother of nurses." 20 In the later mention of Mother Goose, Wright argued that "the weak side of Socrates was his contempt for the merely most probable," and that Mother Goose was the profounder philosopher. 21 He wrote that philosophers have generally followed her method rather than that of Socrates. And he went on to say: Categorical nonsense - what you cannot believe - both entertains and edifies; and is honest, withal, and not unsocial like irony. Tickling arouses a reflective attention, and institutes a scientific exploration and a mapping of mental terrae incognitae. One discovers - not what Socrates taught, "how ignorant we are" but how knowing, in such trifles of experience as might escape a common philosopher's reflective notice. One gets well grounded at this school in commonsense, which is the faculty that never seriously doubts any thing, yet differs in different minds as to what is thus exempted from question. The philosophy of 19 20


Letters of Chauncey Wright, p. Ibid., pp. 293-96. Ibid., p. 294.




Mother Goose comprises all that is certainly common. There is no hope for the child who seriously questions the assertions of this great teacher. The plainest irony will never arouse in later years its slumbering powers of reflection. If it begins with doubting her statements, it will end by accepting the more plausible ones of dishonest people. Have you ever noticed that Mother Goose never asks questions, except, perhaps, indirectly - or leading ones, like this? 22

Mother Goose's education for childhood, as Wright understood it, is to be a natural development toward the ability to make discriminations of intelligence. When one can do this, he will be ready to learn how to enter what Wright called "the court of science," where "even axioms are only 'the most probable.' They have no peculiar sanctity, and ... no 'benefit of clergy,' but are tried like all the rest, by the laws of induction." 23 Put differently, he will be ready to learn how to discuss philosophically the claims of common sense and the axioms of science in such a way that philosophical discussions have become a higher development of "that first discrimination of intelligence." Wright, in his naturalistic empiricism and in his thinking about childhood education, had the ground for a pioneering work in the philosophy of education. Although done in a somewhat ironical and somewhat humorous vein, it is evident that his writing about the philosophy of Mother Goose has implicit in it the serious notion that the kinds of memory and imagination in childhood should be prized; and not just for their own sake, but for the sake of later kinds of memory and imagination. That is, his Mother Goose, who educates according to nature, and his scientificinquirer, who" enlarges our concrete knowledge of nature," are not opposed to each other. They are part of the same reality; they stand at different places on a continuum. Mother Goose has her discipline and the scientific inquirer has his. The philosophy of Mother Goose suggests one kind of use of memory, imagination, and reason; the naturalistic empiricist's philosophy suggests another kind. They are different, but not opposed - each, in its own way, contributes to the growth of the other. What Wright says in his one published essay on education, together with his other writings on the subject, does not make for him a large place in the history of educational thought. The fact is that his thinking on education, lacking systematic expression, remains largely suggestive. The lack of an explicit philosophy of education, however, does not detract from the promise held forth in his naturalistic empiricism. According to Wright's way of thinking, to see genuine possibilities is 22 23

Ibid., pp. 294-95. Ibid., pp. 295-9 6.


to call for developing the kind of discipline of mind that would enable individuals to learn for themselves what constitutes educational ends and means. Hopefully, this kind of discipline would prevent them from misleading themselves in such manner that they would allow "the proximate means to the true ends to become ends in themselves: especially ... when custom or long usage has sanctioned them and is the easiest escape from difficult questions." The discipline of mind which an empirical science needs and which a naturalistic philosophy respects acts on the point of view that hypotheses become meaningful insofar as they are found to be testable in the particular subject matter for which they are formulated; that whatever meaning is found therein, no particular meaning is thereby gained for other subject matters; and, that meanings in one subject matter may suggest, but not warrant, hypotheses for another. Dewey's naturalism, in which there is a basic pattern of inquiry for the several sciences and techniques peculiar to the separate sciences, would later reflect this same insight. It is this sort of naturalism which Dewey would bring to bear to produce a conception of philosophy of education different from the rationalistic and empirical ones already considered. JOHN DEWEY: EXPERIENCE AS EMPIRICAL AND NATURAL

John Dewey was well on his way to holding a naturalistic empiricism by I896 - when the Laboratory School in Chicago held its first classes and, from then until Monroe's Cyclopedia, he was to make explicit that philosophic point of view in technical philosophical articles and in articles, essays, and lectures on educational matters. By 19II-1913, when Dewey wrote several articles on topics bearing on the philosophy of education for Monroe's Cyclopedia, he had drawn upon considerable experience in which technical philosophical and educational discourse were combined with work in a laboratory school whose aim was to test certain ideas derived from Dewey's naturalistic and empirical philosophy. His writings in the Cyclopedia may be considered as expressing the essential features of his conception of the philosophy of education, and, in a somewhat abbreviated way, the main outlines of its substance are suggested as well. Dewey's most extended discussion of philosophy of education is to be found in Democracy and Education, published in I916.24 While a consideration of that work is outside the scope of the 24 Lectures from a course in the philosophy of education, given by Dewey at the University of Chicago in 1899, but not published until 1966, provide an extended treatment of the



present study, its philosophic ground and the import of that ground for its essential educational meanings already had been expressed in Dewey's writings from the mid-nineties to the Cyclopedia articles. The aim here is not to consider the entire scope of Dewey's philosophy of education in its most extended form, but rather to discuss certain ways in which Dewey's naturalistic and empirical thinking had an influence on the origins of philosophy of education as a distinct discipline by 1913. The following general statement is an apt characterization of Dewey's conception of the relationship between the empirical and the rational: It is possible to effect a reconciliation of the long opposition of the empirical, the a posteriori, and the rational and a priori. The opposition is not between experience and something transcending experience, but between the functions of habit and purpose in experience, in which the latter suggests new and varying ends, while the former provides the body of means for their effective realization; while consciousness marks the forms and stress of the readjustment of old habits to the novel aims. On this account, thought is as truly a factor of experience as is routine; reflection as legitimate and necessary a product as sensation. For thought is the projective tendency of life to vary the environment brought to conscious recognition, so that henceforth it occurs deliberately, not blindly. It is a priori, not in the sense of transcending experience, but in the sense of transcending the habits formed in past experience; in being prospective, or reinterpreting the past in the light of a possible future. 25

The characterization of both the empirical and the rational as functions of experience, instead of different kinds or orders of experience (or rather than considering one as experience and the other as of an order different from experience) is an expression of a thorough-going naturalism. Whatever is of experience in "natural," that is, needs no antecedent cause or non-natural reference. "Philosophy," Dewey wrote in 1909, "forswears inquiry after absolute origins and absolute finalities in order to explore specific values and specific conditions that generate them." 26 In this assertion, he was opposing the kind of rationalism which had set the task of philosophy to prove that life must have certain values, and thus had to interpret experience according to those values, instead of examining experience to find what values it might yield. At the same time, Dewey's assertion is to be taken as an alternative to certain alleged empiricists subject written while he was working with the laboratory school; see John Dewey, Lectures in tlte Philosophy ot Education; I899, ed. Reginald D. Archambault (New York: Random House, Ig66). 25 John Dewey, "Experience and the Empirical," The Cyclopedia ot Education, ed. Paul Monroe (New York: )Iacmillan, IgIl), II, 548. 26 The Influence ot Darwin on PhilosoPhy And Other Essays in Contemporary Thought (New York: Henry Holt and Co., IgI0), p. 13.



who so condition their inquiries by presupposing certain necessary outcomes that empiricism is sacrificed to an overall necessity in things either as they now exist, or as it is alleged that science is tending to render them. In other words, Dewey offers an alternative to the rationalistic view that philosophy is capable of interpreting empirical findings in such a way that pure reason is somehow intrinsically beyond the reach of empirical searchings; and to the scientisms which find, in scientific inquiry alone, the origin and judgment of all meaning. The way in which philosophy may serve and direct the interests in life which human beings have is not to judge, according to a priori principles, the lives men lead according to the conditions set by some purpose in the universe at large. Dewey writes: "A philosophy that humbles its pretensions to the work of projecting hypotheses for the education and conduct of mind, individual and social, is thereby subjected to test by the way in which the ideas it propounds work out in practice." 27 Philosophy's responsibility, then, is to locate the kinds of things to be valued and to suggest ways in which the desired values might be brought into being; the tests of the meanings of philosophy would come in the processes by which the suggested ways are tried out. In this sense, philosophy itself is not a test of truth, but an activity which presents hypotheses that may be tested in certain other of life's activities. Dewey's use of the term "values" may be taken to suggest that whatever subject matter is under consideration, values are concerned. The kind of experimentation that warrants the truth of an hypothesis in the science of biology is no less concerned with value than is the kind of experimentation that warrants the truth of an hypothesis in matters ordinarily dealt with in the science of morals. Dewey is concerned to argue that morality is an affair of the natural world, and that the so-called natural sciences deal with values. Whenever human beings value something - that is, desire it, and determine methods of pursuing it - they become involved in a process of determining the specific conditions whose consequences might yield, or rather, be the very thing that is desired. Dewey's naturalism is expressed along with his empiricism, as an inseparable counterpart of it. For the values pursued are to be found, if at all, as a part of the empirical conditions, not apart from them. Another way of saying this is to point out that nature does not divorce 27

Ibid., p.



quality and circumstance; what constitutes the quality of something achieved is realized, truly has its being, among and as a part of the circumstances which produce it. In Dewey's words: "Things come when they are wanted and as they are wanted; their quality is precisely the response they give to the conditions that call for them, while the furtherance they afford tothemovementofthewholeistheir meaning." 28 Dewey's empiricism postulates that things are what they are experienced as. He did not mean by this that things are only and just what they are known to be, since things may be experienced in ways other than that by which they are known. He did mean that some things are experienced as known, that "the primary philosophic demand ... is to find out what sort of an experience knowing is - or, concretely how things are experienced when they are experienced as known things." 29 And, further, he means that the empiricist must be on his guard against confusing things experienced as known and things experienced in other ways, and against supposing that experiencing things as known is an experience of reality while experiencing things as vague, confused, or disorganized is less real (or mere "appearance"). To say that things are what they are experienced as being; or that "to give a just account of anything is to tell what that thing is experienced to be"; is to indicate that everything experienced is "an absolute, final, irreducible, and inexpugnable concrete qItale." 30 If a thing is first experienced as confused, and then as known, the first experience was no less real than the second and was just the concrete that which it was; when it was experienced as known, it was something different - no more real, but truer. This is a way of saying that life may have many meanings, and among these is the kind of meaning which truth is - that which knowing-experiences yield. Put differently, if things are to be known, we must begin with the experience we just have, however vague or doubtful it is. It is not just vagueness, doubtfulness, confusion, at large or in general. It is this vagueness, and no other; absolutely unique, absolutely what it is. Whatever gain in clearness, in fullness, in trueness of content is experienced must grow out of some element in the experience of this experienced as what it is. 31

The possibility of objectivity lies in the willingness to take experience on its own terms in order to find its true meaning. 28

29 30 31

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 263. p. 229. p. 234. p. 236.



To seek truth one must begin with something experienced as real, which may hold forth the possibility of an hypothesis verified, something experienced as known. "There is, then," Dewey says, from the empiricist's point of view, no need to search for some aboriginal that to which all successive experiences are attached, and which is somehow thereby undergoing continuous change. Experience is always of thats; and the most comprehensive and inclusive experience of the universe that the philosopher himself can attain is the experience of a characteristic that. 32

Dewey goes on to say that the empirical method is not spectacular; e.g., it does not permit demonstrations of God, freedom, and immortality. Yet it provides a way of telling what such terms as these mean if one goes to experience and begins to ask what they are experienced as. "Philosophic conceptions," Dewey believed, ' 'have outlived their usefulness considered as stimulants to emotion, or as a species of sanctions; and a larger, more fruitful and more valuable career awaits them considered as specifically experienced meanings." 33 The world of meanings is wider than the world of truth. An empirical philosophy, in its work in the wider world, suggests ideas which might become finders of truth. The work of testing such ideas for the truth they might yield is the scientist's. If one considers the postulate of empiricism that "things are what they are experienced as" for its bearing on educational matters, he will need to work out the meaning of a sort of truism which says that in educational situations, things are experienced as educational. While the point appears to be an obvious one, the working out of its meaning points to a profound difference between a naturalistic empiricist's way of considering education and the ways of rationalists and inductive empiricists. The nature of the specifically experienced meanings that are educational, according to Dewey's empiricism, requires us to find out just how things are experienced as educational; that is, in what sense are they experienced so that their peculiar quality - the characteristic that, which is what it means for them to be educational- is what it is and is not some other thing. This means that educational experience is distinct from other sorts of experience, in some sense has its own meanings that cannot be supplied from an external source without doing violence to its own character. Education as one sort of experience may find suggestions for its meanings in other sorts of experience, but must determine its own meanings if it is to know in what sense it 32 33

Ibid., p. 237. Ibid., p. 239.


is educational. Dewey's postulate of empiricism, as a philosophic assertion, is the ground for the notion that education as a science may find its own meanings that are different from the meanings of the other sciences and which, moreover, cannot be derived from "higher sciences" or be simply an applied science. One use of the conception of ideas as working hypotheses - as "finders, not summaries of truth" - and the conception of science as an instrument of insight to furnish control over future experience, is to be found in a writing of Samuel Sinclair, in I903, as a point of departure in considering the possibility of a science of education. 34 In a way that makes manifest the postulate of empiricism in discussing the nature of a certain kind of educational experience, and writing a quarter-century before Dewey's The Sources at a Science at Education,35 Sinclair expressed what was to be essentially the main point of view of that work. In regard to the conception of theory which a science of education should employ, Sinclair wrote: Educational theory is not so much a reflective and systematic account of things, a systematized body of knowledge, as it is an idea of something to be done. There is no such thing as education in general. It is always the particular individual who has to be considered and dealt with under these conditions at this present moment .... The problem is always how to reorganize this present experience in the best possible way.36

This concern, which finds its ground in Dewey's postulate that things are what they are experienced as being, calls for a science that is distinct from others when the "things" to be experienced are taken as educational. "The view to be taken," Sinclair says, "is that education is an independent science, with phenomena and laws peculiar to itself, and that it may properly be considered to depend upon other sciences only in such a sense as chemical science may be said to depend upon mathematics." 37 The focus of educational science is to be found in its attempt to gain control of the educational process. In this attempt, educational science casts its tentacles into the sea of all auxiliary science, literature and art, and appropriates and assimilates that which is best fitted for its special requirements. It possesses a technique entirely different from that of any other science, a technique which can be mastered in the best way only when the teacher in 34 Samuel B. Sinclair, The Possibility of a Science of Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, I903). 35 New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, I929. 36 The Possibility 0/ a Science of Education, pp. 8-9. 37 Ibid., p. 9.



training studies it from a distinctly educational standpoint, and under conditions which furnish opportunities both for observation and for practice. 38

On this view, education as a science must use the other sciences, but in a manner different from rationalism's tendency to derive it from or to justify it by "higher" sciences and find its truths suggesting a larger whole whose nature is such that the particular nature of education is found to be metaphysically necessary; and different, also, from inductive empiricism's tendency to make of education an applied science or simply applied psychology. Sinclair's position is that educational situations have a nature that is their own, and this means that the findings of psychology or of sociology, for example - insofar as they are scientific - are reached in situations peculiarly their own and so cannot be the findings ot education considered as a science. The findings of psychology and of sociology may be used tor education when the latter is so treated that the aim is to find distinctively educational meanings instead of psychological or sociological ones, and when the question is not begged that certain imperatives for education are implied in sociological and psychological findings. These findings may suggest, but not warrant, certain educational findings. To become the latter, certain things must literally be found in educational situations, in which suggestions from other sciences are first taken hypothetically, and then tested by techniques that are peculiar to educational situations. The empirical bent which turns Dewey's philosophy to seek meanings in specific situations in experience recognizes that situations in experience must be honored for what they are. If the experience under consideration is to be taken as educational, then it is to be taken in such a way that the particular problem is to find out what it means to be educational. Sinclair's is an example of a theory of educational experience when the kind of meaning sought is knowledge - that is, his principal concern is with the science of education, not the philosophy of education. But Dewey is no less concerned to understand the meaning of the philosophy of education in distinction from the science of education. If philosophy itself is capable of being generated and developed without reference to education, then philosophy of education will apply a standard of judgment (made outside of education) to educational ideas; the particular danger here will be forcing the facts of education so that they will conform to the philosophy already formed. And so philosophies of education will be illustrations or demonstrations of 88

Ibid., pp.




philosophic systems. Dewey's own conception of the relation of philosophy and education holds that the philosophy of education will simply make explicit the reference to the guiding of life needs and purposes which is operative in philosophy itself. It will not be an external application of philosophy, but its development to the point of adequate manifestation of its own inner purpose and motive. 39

On this view, different philosophies of education will exist, but they will not be illustrations or demonstrations of pure philosophy. Rather they will make explicit different conceptions of the value and aim of life taken in the context of considered ways by which men might come to have and enjoy their values and by which they might realize their aims. "It will be seen," Dewey writes, "that different philosophies exist because men have in mind different ideals of life and different educational methods for making these ideals prevail." 40 Dewey makes explicit the concern to find the meaning of ideals and methods within a specific situation in experience, rather than to test methods by ideals brought in from some other kind of experience. Dewey's aim is not to subordinate philosophy to education, but to show how philosophy's concern for a working theory of life takes on meaning in a variety of experiences; among these is educational experience; the possible balance and suggestiveness which philosophy offers to educational experience are to be found out within that experience. Put in another way, the eventual meaning of philosophy for education must be found out in educational experience, not in an affair of "pure" philosophy. Further, the concern of philosophic activity is to suggest larger possibilities in things in order that already-existing things are not taken as the final reality. An alert empiricist must be on his guard lest the possibilities which philosophy offers be taken as those of a higher ultimate reality to which already-existing things must be subordinated; he must be on his guard, also, lest the already-existing things be taken as so compelling that other possibilities seem unreal and useless for affairs of reality. In the former instance, certain principles of philosophy are taken to be a judge of experience; in the latter instance, some view of education as an established fact - be it that which inductive empiricists scientize, or that which custom defends as best tends to find unnecessary that sort of philosophic activity which gen39 John Dewey, "Philosophy of Education," The Cyclopedia of Education, ed. Paul Monroe (New York: Macmillan, I9I3), IV, 697. 40 Ibid.



uinely holds ideas as possibilities for action. Dewey's empiricism aims to avoid the consequences of both an extreme rationalism and an extreme inductive empiricism. In considering that there are, throughout society, many agencies and influences (aside from the school) that shape dispositions and so are, in some sense, educational in character, Dewey writes: Either these agencies will perform their educational work as an incidental and unregulated by-product, molding men's minds blindly while conscious attention is given to their other more tangible products; or men will have an idea ofthe results they wish to have attained, will judge existing agencies according as they achieve or come short of these ends, and will use their idea and their estimate as guides in giving the desired direction to the working of these agencies. This brings us again, to philosophy, which ... is the attempt to develop just such an idea. This is what is meant by saying that philosophy is, in its ultimate extent, a general theory of education; or that it is the idea of which a consciously guided education is the practical counterpart.41

He goes on to say that philosophy cannot create values by thinking about them, "but by thinking about them it may promote discrimination about what is genuinely desirable, and thereby contribute to subsequent conduct a clearer and more deliberately settled method of procedure in attaining what is desired." 42 Thus Dewey's empiricism is "rational" in that certain discriminations are made by thought; it is "empirical" in that any further meaning of such discriminations of thought is determined in some experience which seeks to make a difference in things by employing the discriminations as guides to action. The prospective character of "discriminations of thought" is well expressed in the following passage: There is, then, nothing final about a logical rendering of experience. Its value

is not contained in itself; its significance is that of standpoint, outlook, method.

It intervenes between the more casual, tentative, and roundabout experiences of the past, and more controlled and orderly experiences of the future. It gives past experience in that net form which renders it most available and most significant, most fecund for future experience. The abstractions, generalizations, and classifications which it introduces all have prospective meaning. 43

What the discriminations of thought are experienced as, as those very discriminations in themselves, is one thing; what they may be experienced as, as guides to finding meanings in further experience, is another. Ibid., p. 700. Ibid. 43 John Dewey, The Child and the Curriculum (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1902), pp. 21-22. 41




The possibility of thought suggesting hypotheses which, when put to work in experience, might lead to a change in the character of experience, marks the sense in which experience is possibly progressive. It is by taking thought in its function as suggesting plans for action that men may overcome the conservative tendency of habit to set unnecessary limits to experience. Instead of taking certain limitations of habit as final, Dewey points out, the active, prospective character of thought recognizes them for what they are and, departing from them, works toward establishing other environments whose qualities will be genuinely different. Thus purpose in thought does not transcend experience, but is of experience in such a way that it aims to alter the quality of experience rather than only to comprehend the nature of a reality that is coming into being, whatever men may think. The place of intelligence in experience is to enable knowing - the process by which hypotheses are suggested and tried out to establish verified meanings to become a vital and continuing feature in building character and conduct. In a quite literal sense, it is the character of experience which gets changed when thought provides hypotheses and men seek their meanings; and since individuals can be active participants in experience and not merely spectators looking on, there is a vital sense in which their character can be affected by the tests of experience. The fact that men are creatures of habit does not destroy the possibility that they may become, more significantly, creators of intelligence as well. The employment of thought to change the character of situations, and so of the individuals who function in and among them, was a leading hypothesis in the planning of the laboratory school in Chicago in the nineties. In a discussion of the philosophy of the school, Dewey pointed out that the problem of education was taken to be the harmonizing of individual traits with social ends and values. 44 Put differently, the aim was to develop harmoniously the emotional, intellectual, and moral powers of the individual in situations that took social conditions and aims into account. The school was established as a form of community life, in order that the growth of individual minds might be brought about through a process in which communication and mutual sharing could have maximum influence; the ideas communicated and the things shared were to have their origins and tests in the very community in which study was taking place. Emphasizing that study was not 44 "The Theory of the Chicago Experiment," Katherine Camp Mayhew and Anna Camp Edwards, The Dewey School (New York: D. Appleton·Century Co., 1936), pp. 463-77.



something hitched onto community life, but rather that it was an aspect of such life, Dewey wrote: The aim was not to "adjust" individuals to social situations, if by adjustment is meant preparation to fit into present social arrangements and conditions. The latter are neither stable enough nor good enough to justify such a procedure. The aim was to deepen and broaden the range of social contact and intercourse, of cooperative living, so that the members of the school would be prepared to make their future social relations worthy and fruitful. 45

The essential point which connects the working of a school as a form of community life with Dewey's empirical philosophy is the need for determining, in just such a situation, what things may be experienced as. Just what are the individual traits that may lead to growth of the individual, just what possibilities for social growth lie therein, are problems whose resolution requires the development of the subject matters which serve as the vehicles for such growth. As Dewey put it: The pressing problem with respect to "subject-matter" was ... to find those things in the direct present experience of the young which were the roots out of which would grow more elaborate, technical, and organized knowledge in later years. [What is needed] is the discovery of those things which are genuinely personal experiences, but which lead out into the future and into a wider and more controlled range of interests and purposes. 46

Present experiences as personal are just the experiences they are, but their possibilities call for something further, something that not just is, but that may become something more. Thus that which is should be prized both for what it is and for what it may become. What it may become is something known - a consequence of an idea put to work in the community life - and which has taken on added meaning by virtue of being known. "Subject matter," on this view, as so much knowledge in the mind of the teacher or in his textbooks, is only prospectively subject matter for the student who has yet to find it meaningful in the life he leads. It literally becomes subject matter to the student when it takes on some meaning for him in relation to his individual traits and to the ideals and conditions of the life he shares with others. In a certain sense, then, what might truly constitute subject matter for a learner is the very real empirical problem to be faced. Dewey, in the following passage,marks the functional relationship between the situation in which learning 45 46

Ibid., pp. 466-67. Ibid., pp. 468-69.



takes place, and the character of the subject matter which is valued in the situation: All activity takes place in a medium, in a situation, and with reference to its conditions .... No such thing as imposition of truth from without, as insertion of truth from without, is possible. All depends upon the activity which the mind itself undergoes in responding to what is presented from without. Now, the value of the formulated wealth of knowledge that makes up the course of study is that it may enable the educator to determine the environment of the child, and thus by indirection to direct. Its primary indication is for the teacher, not for the child. It says to the teacher: Such and such are the capacities, the fulfilments, in truth and beauty and behavior, open to these children. Now see to it that day by day the conditions are such that their own activities move inevitably in this direction, toward such culmination of themselves. Let the child's nature fulfil its own destiny, revealed to you in whatever of science and art and industry the world now holds as its own.47

The objects, ideas, and meanings of a present environment may, by an imaginative expansion of this present existing environment, lead to other objects, ideas, and meanings. If they do so, the environment is transformed insofar as it is something other than the previous one; and the individuals, as participants in the transformation, are themselves transformed insofar as they have subjected themselves to the matters at hand - have found that objects, ideas, and meanings do matter and so constitute at once the consequences of a situation and the possibilities for bringing even different situations into reality. Dewey's empiricism led him to seek educational meanings in experiential situations wherein philosophic, scientific, literary, aesthetic (indeed, all sorts of) meanings are potentially subject matter, but are not - as philosophic, scientific, or whatever - educational. His naturalism led him to seek standards of educational growth within the context of these experiential situations, rather than to suppose that standards exist elsewhere by which educational situations might be judged. Thus his naturalistic empiricism conceived the integrity of educational work to be built as educators try to find meanings in a sort of experience that has a distinct quality of its own. And it conceived the possibility of making a difference in the quality of human life to be found in individuals who would continue to try to find out what things are experienced as.


The Child and the Curriculum, pp. 30-3I.




Prior to John Dewey's Democracy and Education, the most comprehensive attempt to write a book on the philosophy of education which shows the decided influence of naturalistic empiricism was John Angus MacVannel's Outline oj a Course in the Philosophy oj Education. 48 This work shows other influences, too, for it smacks of a Spencer-like description of evolution, and holds the view that there is a kind of unity in the nature ofthings. However, MacVannel holds, unlike Spencer, but like Dewey, that human intelligence offers the genuine possibility of directing the course of further evolution. In doing so, he espouses an experimental theory of knowledge and a functional psychology in such a way that the nature of the unity is not inevitable, but may be shaped by the working of human intelligence. MacVannel's conceptions of science and philosophy, and their relations to one another, are very much like Dewey's. Science designates (a) knowledge as a body of systematized judgments; (b) knowledge as an instrument of control; and (c) that which is mediatory from one stage of experience to another. Thus science provides power in relation to some situation. Philosophy aims (a) to give a comprehensive view of reality as found in experience; (b) to furnish criticism and interpretation of the presuppositions of experience; and (c) to become an art of life, based on scientific principles. "Philosophy is at once an organism of thought, a method of thinking, and an attitude of mind .... It does not aim so much to bring to light new facts as to reveal the significant connections of the facts brought to light by the sciences." 49 Thus philosophy presupposes science in the sense that science furnishes the facts which philosophy criticizes and interprets. And philosophy criticizes and interprets, not in order to provide scientific knowledge, but rather in order to gain a comprehensive view of the knowledge already gained scientifically, and to suggest possibilities which might be realized in further scientific inquiry. MacV annel tells his readers of the dangers of scientism when he points out that the scientific specialist is under the temptation of using an hypothesis suited to certain phenomena as a measuring line for other, or all, orders of existence. "This is," he writes, "perhaps one of 48


New York: Macmillan, Ibid., pp. 6,7.




the greatest dangers of contemporary science, the analogous application of accepted principles from one order of existence to another." 50 He goes on to say that an important function of philosophy is to examine critically such hypotheses or principles, and to indicate their status with respect to the claims made for them. He uses the familiar notion of "organic" as a characteristic applied to society, borrowed analogously from biological subject matters. MacVannel notes, "If society is a unity, it is a unity in itself - not through any parallelism with the unity of the animal body." 51 And so the nature of unity must be found within the context of the subject matter of "society," rather than that of biology. In writing of the science and philosophy of education, Mac Vannel says: The science, to a degree, isolates in order to organize; the philosophy unifies in order to adjust and interpret. The science of education, in other words, has to do with the theory of education as isolated by itself; the philosophy, while presupposing the science, is the theory of the relations of education to the other sciences and to the known world in genera1. 52

The philosopher of education takes the aspects of truth furnished by the relevant sciences, interprets them by unifying them with one another and with whatever other aspects of experience may provide a comprehensive view of the educative process, and suggests ideas which might be tested in education as a science. When MacVannel summarizes what he calls certain principles of philosophic and scientific study, an assumption of a kind of unity in things is set forth: Reality - the object of both philosophy and science - is one (not numerical singleness merely). This implies that nowhere in nature do we find elements absolutely disparate, elements incapable of being connected as part of our experience - believed to be incapable of being worked over sooner or later into the unity of experience. 53

A corollary of this conception of reality is the claim that in working on the problems of philosophy and education, there are no absolute divisions within human experience. The peculiar nature of problems in philosophy and education is to be determined by a study of those forms of experience that are relevant to the situation which constitutes the problem. A contextualism is implicit here, yet it is one which presup50 51

52 53

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

p. 7. p. 105. pp. 9-IO. p. IS.



poses a unity of all reality. In other words, the contexts that are peculiarly philosophical - that is, interpretive of certain aspects of experience - are capable of being understood sooner or later with respect to other elements in reality. There is a unity in reality which tends to make certain kinds of experience possible - as the experience of knowing in the sciences and the experience of interpreting in philosophy. Although an ultimate complete knowledge of the unitary reality does not seem to be necessary, in Mac V anne!' s view, he does argue that the historical philosophical systems - as realism, idealism, rationalism, empiricism - are complementary phases of a single method of intelligence that is coming into being. Each method has its way of criticizing and interpreting, but no one of them adequately can characterize reality by its particular interpretation of experience. The philosophic method that is coming into being, MacVannel thought, strives to remove the separateness of the historical views and to bring about a reorganization of them. But a reorganization would not be an aggregate of them; rather, it would make apparent their differences and attempt to unify them into a philosophy that would unify human experience. This seems to mean that past and present pluralism will gradually give way to a kind of monism. The part played by the doctrine of evolution is the key to understanding his conception of philosophy as a "progressive critique of human experience." As a scientific idea, the doctrine means that the development of phenomena in the universe takes place by a double movement - one toward integration and synthesis, and the other toward differentiation and expansion. "Together they are complementary aspects of the one organic movement of intelligence in the experience-process." 54 This general theory "seems to imply" a number offactors, according to MacVannel: (I) An organic oneness of all things. (2) The emergence of the qualitatively new by means of forces within the process itself, which forces work according to fixed laws of variation and under determinate conditions. The unitary process of evolution is natural, free from "transcendental intrusion." (3) Two interrelated and cooperating elements are present in development - the one, an individual existence, the other, a situation through which the individual develops. The individual and the situation are conceived as parts of a unitary process, in which the development of each is functionally related to the development of the other. (4) New forms or structures 54

Ibid., p. 34.



developed are to be conceived as instruments for adapting or adjusting to specific environmental conditions. This holds whether the form evolving be a "physical," a "mental," or a "social" one - as instances, eye, mind, institution of society. 55 The evolution of philosophy itself is no exception to the principles of the doctrine of evolution. Philosophy is the instrument developed within experience whose peculiar nature is to serve as a critic of that experience. The connection between philosophy as self-critical and the effect of self-criticism on the unity in things is stated in this way: "Philosophy is criticism, and the essence of criticism is the adjustment through reflection of a partial element to unity with the whole." 56 It is as if philosophy is the articulated, self-conscious unifier in an evolutionary process that tends toward unity in any case. And so the opportunity to use human intelligence, by virtue of a unity in the very nature of things, is conditioned toward unifying the varieties of human experience that are evolving. MacVannel accepts the doctrine of evolution "as the best working hypothesis in the organization of the facts of educational theory and practice." 57 To illustrate his way of using certain of the factors which he thinks are implied in the general theory of evolution, his discussion of the presuppositions of education will be taken as a case in point. Holding that the educational process, as a fact of experience, presupposes (a) a self, or person, and (b) an environment in which the self behaves, MacVannel took the position that the two develop as functions of one another. Opposing the extremely rationalistic view that would make the soul a principle existing prior to the external world, and the extremely empirical view that would make the self a mere product of the external world, Mac Vannel maintains that" the relation of consciousness or self to objective experience or environment is absolute and intrinsic. An isolated consciousness is no consciousness at all; it is a selfcontradiction." 58 Both self and environment are of a continual process in which things are not just going on, but in which consciousness works to bring things into existence. The active and directive part which minds take in the course of evolution is made explicit in this passage: The view of evolutionary psychology is not that the mind is mere product or epiphenomenon, nor a mere transcendental spiritual substance which (so far as 55

56 57 58

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

pp. 36-38. p. 46. p. 4. p. 64.



actual experience is concerned) is a pure abstraction, but that it is a concrete specific activity constantly directed to the accomplishment of something and not only the bearer of the experience-processes, but an efficient agent in its furtherance. 59

Both self and environment are modified and determined in the movement of mental life, a life that must take into account its environment in relation to itself, if it is to express itself in a way that recognizes the kind of human experience which is the most distinct expression of intelligence at work. Another example of the functional relationship essential to understanding the nature of self and environment is found in studying the social origin of the self. The study of the growth of consciousness points to the conclusion that the individual's relations to others are not attachments to an original personality, but rather are part of the very context in which he becomes a person. As MacVannel puts it: "The life of the individual is its meaning; and its meaning is born for it in the process of accommodation and response to the wider intellectual and moral order which encompasses it." 60 In the process of accommodation and response lies the opportunity for developing situations with new qualities such that the continuation of a person and of an environment constitutes a vital kind of permanence amidst change. MacVannel thinks that the meanings which constitute the life of an individual include the possibility of making a difference in things. Man as the subject of education is spiritual; in other words, the fundamental condition of his development and education lies in his capacity as a self-conscious subject, distinguishing himself from the objects he knows and the ends he chooses to return upon himself and set up ideals to realize. These ideals of possible development, while contrasted with the actual, cannot be in contradiction to the actual; they are rather the actual truly seen, i.e., in their ideal nature, as those ends towards which all previous development had been striving. 61

Ideals point to something different from the actual, but if they are to make a difference in the actual, they cannot contradict it. In their ability truly to see a future different actual lies their ultimate meaning. Ideals grow out of an individual's interpretation of actuality, but they serve to alter the quality of that which is actual - to bring about an actuality that is somehow different. Man's self-conscious tendencies may alter the very course of evolution itself when the ideals which are 59 60


Ibid., p. 63. Ibid., p. 70. Ibid., pp. 7I-71l.



set forth as ends to be realized serve in fact to aid in bringing about those ends. There is a sense in which MacVannel holds that the universe is rational, that it is a manifestation of an intelligible order: It is now taken as a presupposition of all scientific procedure that the changes going on throughout the universe are not chaotic nor unrelated, but follow an intelligible course .... At every stage science assumes the rationality of things, and each new determination by thought is in confirmation of its assumption. 62

He departs from the version of naturalism which finds unnecessary the presupposition that all changes follow an intelligible course, or that there is an organic unity in nature. A naturalistic empiricism, as that of Wright and Dewey, takes the position that finding which things follow intelligible courses is the work of testing hypotheses in particular situations, each of which constitutes only part of "nature." Each new determination of thought is a hypothesis verified, a certain kind of control gained in the situation that was previously indeterminate, but does not warrant, or need, the assumption of a rationality in all things. MacVannel assumes that nature is rational and unified; he leaves to the course of evolution precisely what will constitute the nature of the rationality and unity that men ultimately will arrive at through their experience. Since intelligence itself is a part of the evolutionary process, and the process is in turn a function of intelligence, there is room for a variety of expressions of this function. The fundamental part played by the evolutionary doctrine as the hypothesis which organizes the facts bearing upon education has already been mentioned. Philosophy of education takes the findings of the evolutionary doctrine - together with findings of disciplines such as history of education, psychology, and sociology - as principles for organizing the materials of educational situations. It must be remembered that the other disciplines themselves are interpreted through the evolutionary doctrine. Did MacVannelleave open the possibility that evolutionary "theory," "doctrine," or "law" might itself be altered by evolution? Or did he treat evolutionary theory as something akin to a metaphysical first principle - from which certain consequences necessarily follow? Do things evolve according to a law that is unchanging, or may the law itself change in the evolutionary process? The spirit of MacVannel's conception of inquiry allows for changes, not only in philosophic interpretations of scientific findings, but in the 62

Ibid., pp. 36, 37.



findings themselves. In this spirit, then, MacVannel's position that the doctrine of evolution is the best working hypothesis for organizing the facts of education must be taken to mean that a different hypothesis may evolve whose interpretation may furnish, in turn, different kinds of organization of educational facts. MacVannel explicitly disclaims the necessity of holding that there exist any non-natural sources for the explanation of things. His discussion of the ethical needs of men may serve as a point of departure for bringing to bear this aspect of his thought. It has already been pointed out that MacVannel holds that the nature of the self is of social origin. Another way of discussing self-realization is from the standpoint of the ideal of a common good, an ideal according to which "the perfection of each shall contribute to the perfection of all." Self-realization, the achieving of the individual good, is a common good as well, in the sense that it is the ideal which all can strive for in common. Individual conduct, then, is seen as good insofar as it contributes to the social good; again the individual and the social are conceived as functions of one another. The particular content of individual and social good varies from place to place and from time to time; but in general the situations in which they develop are those in which morality has its being. MacVannel writes: The moral element as the fundamental social bond is not one inserted suddenly at some point alongside the other elements; nor is it their product. It has been present throughout, though more fully known and realized in the higher stages of civilization. Morality is the law of all life that is truly human. 63

Adaptation by individuals to social situations is viewed by MacVannel as mainly socially conservative and provides a base for continuity of experience; whereas the possibility of social progress lies in the development of individuals' capacities to modify or control situations. "The individual, as plastic and imitative, accommodates himself to the social order, but, as conscious and therefore selective, produces variations which society, deeming valuable, accordingly selects." 64 Thus the institutions of society are potentially instruments for social change, not just parts of situations to which persons become adjusted. While "the environment of a person is the medium of his self-realization," it needs to be remembered that both the quality of the self that is realized and of the environment are functions of one another. As a 63 64

Ibid., p. II4. Ibid., pp. 149-50.



consequence, the nature of individuality as well as of the life individuals live in common is subject to reformulation by constructing ideals - as ends to strive for - and attempting to realize them. It is a false antithesis ... to isolate the individual and social aspects of the experience-process. There is the "how" and "what"; the means and end; the machinery or mechanism of operation, and the ends to which the machinery operates; a psychological aspect and a sociological or ethical aspect. For purposes of examination, for distinction, emphasis, they are separable; in reality, they are inseparable phases of a unitary process. 65

In considering the possibilities of the school as a social institution in American life, MacVannel pointed out its character as a form of community life, and made the claim that "the school has become a unifying force akin to that of the church in the Middle Ages." 66 Extending his argument that, although the social order tends to be fundamentally conservative, certain of its elements can become instruments for social progress if stimulated by individuals' variations, MacVannel held, "not only must the school be an instrument of social order, it must also become more and more an instrument of social progress." 67 Echoing an argument long pressed by advocates of the common school, MacVannel saw the American public school as the best prospect among society's institutions for finding unity amidst diversity. In Mac VanneI' s eyes, the school is a significant opportunity for men's self-critical abilities to be further developed by learning how to enrich the quality of the life people live in common \vhile at the same time enriching the quality of individuality. The main problem which Mac V annel considered in a discussion of the intellectual organization of the school was the relationship between subject matter and method. From a functional view of the relationship between su bj ect and 0 bj ect (or mind and world) , Mac V annel argues analogously with respect to subject matter and method. Studies, he says, are constructions by the mind built from the world of experience. If studies are to become "educational" material- i.e., subject matter - they must function in the experience of some individual. Truly to study is literally to subject oneself to certain matters. Studies are only "object" matters existing not only physically but psychologically apart from the mind, until they function in the experience of some individual. Thus "the mind of the individual with its attitudes, interests, instincts, on the one 65 66 67

Ibid., p. 148. Ibid., p. In. Ibid.



side, and studies, on the other, are fundamentally the terminal aspects or limits of a unitary, educative experience-process."68 Education, then, in its self-conscious form in schools, would take into consideration (r) the nature of the mind to be educated at whatever level of experience it exists, and (2) the studies as they represent the life of the society in its ideals as well as in its already-existing standards. In one sense, MacVannel calls the individual "the ultimate factor in the movement of the educative experience." Yet, in another sense, "the ideals, the requirements, the activities of society constitute the final standard." 69 Biologically, in the evolution of subject matters and of self-conscious minds that use them, "the knowledge mediated by the sense-organs had its origin in the needs of the life-process, and became an instrument of control in the preservation of life." 70 The origin of thought is but an extension, different in degree, of the manipulations of things by senseorgans. The sense-organs were, in their origin, organs of adjustment to and selection of things, and so, with the process of evolution, things organized and selected for a purpose became subject matter, and the organizing and selecting became thought. "Method," for MacVannel, "is ultimately the mode of the mind's activity in the realization and appropriation of the methods and values inherent in civilization." 71 As children's minds appropriate and realize methods and values, variations take place, which may become possibilities for departure from the socially accepted ways of doing things. Whether or not variations are genuinely considered as possibilities is a function of the susceptibility of the situation to different possibilities. The nature of the learning process is summarized as follows: The expression of the child's idea, through technique of whatever nature, is gradually transformed through comparison, emphasis, selection, criticism, idealization, and reconstruction, and is thus made the source of a movement to a higher form, with a correspondingly increased control, a deepening appreciation, and a fuller realization of the meaning of the experience or the idea to which expression is given. 72

The movement, MacVannel goes on, is through a kind of activity that is always of the nature of an experiment, "a ceaseless process of interpreting, organizing, extending, and reshaping experience." Ibid., Ibid., 70 Ibid., 71 Ibid., 72 Ibid.,



p. 185. p. 186. p. 194. p. 196. pp. 197-98.



While MacVannel does not explicitly elaborate on his conception of the nature of experimentation, the dominant spirit of his philosophy of education suggests that, at bottom, he would hold with Dewey that the scientific method of experimentation is the evolutionary process grown conscious of itself. It remains for the philosophy of education to provide theories of the nature of educational experience, based upon an interpretation of the entirety of experience which is provided by the ends actually realized in the evolutionary process as well as by those seen as ideals. Again, one who would view education philosophically, must "distinguish himself from the objects he knows and the ends he chooses, to return upon himself and set up ideals to realize." Mac Vannel's philosophy is not without its ambiguities. He sometimes writes like an advocate of evolutionism; while at other times he is as critical of scientism as Wright or Dewey. MacVannel's functionalism, his opposition to transcendentalism, and his view that a genuinely experimental way of life is possible, are expressive of a naturalism that offers greater prospects for human intelligence than can be found in the doctrines of extreme scientism. Even though he is not as firmly naturalistic nor as emphatically empiricistic as Wright and Dewey, MacVannel's work on the philosophy of education should take its place along with theirs among the origins of the discipline.


The writings of the inductive empiricists, rationalists, and naturalistic empiricists who are considered in this study constitute the essential literature of the origins of the philosophy of education as a distinct discipline in the United States. While theirs is a small body of writings, its very presence shows us that, by I9I3, the discipline was firmly established in the minds of serious students of education and the concern to bring philosophy to bear explicitly in considering educational matters already had a history of one hundred years. The present study has been organized so as to present separately the ways in which the writings of inductive empiricists, rationalists, and naturalistic empiricists came to conceive the discipline called the philosophy of education. This method of presentation has had the effect of emphasizing their differences, especially inasmuch as each of these philosophies of education in its development reacted to the thinking of one or both of the others. This is to say that, while each conception of the philosophy of education can be considered in its own right apart from the others, it is no less true that each conception came to take its peculiar form in a context influenced by one or both of the others. While the separate conceptions of the discipline and their relation to one another have been made explicit in the study, certain concerns which they held in common, by I9I3, need to be emphasized. The meaning expressed through these concerns provides a wider common ground than the one which simply follows from their shared belief that there is a discipline known as the philosophy of education. There was a keen feeling of the responsibility to bring philosophic thought to bear in ways that would hold forth the prospect of making a difference in the practices of education. Even in rationalism, where the tendency sometimes was to see philosophy as "pure" - that is, to view its objects as existing in some sense apart from the affairs of the



world of nature - it must be remembered that the philosopher is to "return" to that world and do his share in fulfilling the promise of reason therein. Only the naturalistic empiricists seem to have considered the significance which might come to the philosophy of education if one holds seriously the notion that education is the fundamental context in which educational problems need to be considered (that is, only with them was this notion an essential part of their explicit philosophy of education). Yet the fact is that inductive empiricists and rationalists, in their own ways, also took seriously the view that education as science-and-art or as theory-and-practice, as well as philosophy, needs to be studied if there is to be a discipline that deserves to be called the philosophy of education. Put differently, the student of the philosophy of education should be no less a student of education (insofar as education may be construed as a distinct subject of study) than he is a student of philosophy (insofar as philosophy may be construed as a distinct subject of study). These writings show us that philosophy of education has a work to do - the sort of work which somehow must be both philosophizing and educating - that is distinct from the work of other disciplines. They show us further that the technical niceties and prevailing practices of philosophizing and of educating need to be understood in order that the philosophy of education might more fully realize itself by affecting the lives of people who are to be educated. The work for philosophy of education - however remote it sometimes appears to be from the lives of people being educated - is taken to be that of suggesting ways in which intelligence might better learn how to direct itself toward articulating and realizing its own possibilities in those lives. While such a statement appears in somewhat rationalistic dress, inductive and naturalistic empiricists also would find there a meaning in whose possibilities they would share. It is the sort of meaning which will be realized when educators more commonly share in the practice of seeking educational possibilities that are enlightened and enlarged by intelligence and try to suggest ways of realizing such possibilities that are genuinely influenced by that intelligence. When that sort of meaning is realized, the philosophy of education will have become a discipline in the most meaningful sense in which philosophical and educational activity can be disciplined in a functional relation to one another. Such is the prospect held forth in common by the various origins of the philosophy of education. Each holds forth, in its own way, the possibility that the meaning of education might be clarified by the



operations of intelligence and that the consequences of such a meaning might enhance the quality of human experience. Whatever men may make of the philosophy of education, they can find in its origins a kind of achievement that means something in its own right, and that might be suggestive as well for present thinking about the discipline. The study of its origins might be suggestive in determining not only what the philosophy of education has been, but also what it now is and what it might become.


James Simpson's The Philosophy of Education, With Its Practical A pplication to a System and Plan of Popular Education as a National Object (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, I836) advanced the view that education should be placed upon "a philosophical, or practically useful basis." The few notices of Simpson's work to appear in the United States were concerned only with Simpson's advocacy of popular education, and made no mention of his efforts to place such education upon a philosophical basis. Therefore, his book appears to have had no influence upon American philosophy of education. George Basil Randels' study, The Doctrines of Herbart in the United States (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, I909), tends to substantiate Harris' view that the Herbartians, for the most part, neglected the philosophic basis of Herbart's pedagogy. Percival Richard Cole, in Herbart and Froebel: An Attempt at Synthesis (New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, I907), also agreed with Harris in arguing that "the psychology and the educational theory of Herbart are not ultimately intelligible apart from his theory of reality and his theory of knowledge." Cole attempted to work out what he called an "organic synthesis" of the educational principles of Herbart and Froebel. A criticism of the Herbartian theory of education from the point of view of Rationalism is Alexander Darroch, H erbart and the H erbartian Theory of Education: A Criticism (New York: Longmans, Green, & Co., I903)· John Angus MacVannel, in The Educational Theories of Herbart and Froebel (New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, I905), considers Idealism, Romanticism, and Realism as movements in philosophy which had a fundamental influence on the educational theories of Herbart and Froebel. His chapters on the educational theory of



Herbart and Froebel may well be the best philosophical introduction to their educational ideas written in the United States during the period under consideration here. Friedrich Froebel's The Education oj Man, tr. by W. N. Hailmann (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1887), is the most philosophical educational work by the founder of the kindergarten, although it is not presented as an explicit philosophy of education. Among the works written by followers of Froebel, the following tend to make explicit, more than most, something of the theoretical basis of Froebel's thinking on education: Susan Blow, Symbolic Education (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1905); and James L. Hughes, Froebel's Educational Laws jor All Teachers (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1910). James Johonnot's Principles and Practice oj Teaching (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1896 [first copyrighted 1878]) was influenced by Pestalozzian object-lessons and advocated a Baconian-like "scientific method" as applicable to branches of knowledge in addition to the natural sciences. Two books by Francis W. Parker, Notes oj Talks on Teaching (New York: E. L. Kellogg & Co., 1883) and Talks on Pedagogics, An Outline oj the Theory oj Concentration (New York: E. L. Kellogg & Co., 1894) are not philosophies of education, but show evidence of Pestalozzian, Herbartian, and Froebelian influences, among others. Parker does not fit well into any category discussed in this study, although he is inclined to be closer to a sort of inductive empiricism (with a strong romantic tendency) than to either rationalism or a thoroughgoing naturalistic empiricism. A study by Frederic Ludlow Luqueer, Hegel as Educator, Columbia University Contributions to Philosophy, Psychology, and Education, VoL II (New York: Macmillan, 1896), discusses Hegel's work as philosopher and educator, and presents some of Hegel's thoughts on education, translated mainly from G. Thaulow, Hegel's Ansichten ilber Erziehung. William S. Rabenort, in Spinoza as Educator (New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 19II), pointed out that Spinoza gives no systematic or explicit treatment of education; Rabenort attempted to construct "the theory of education which is implicit in his philosophy." While explicit philosophies of education written from a rationalistic point of view are rare, the rationalistic spirit is expressed in several other books on education written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. William H. Payne's Contributions to the Science oj



Education (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1886) is a rationalistic critique of certain ideas of educational reformers, and appears to be in fundamental agreement with Harris' conception of the relationships among the science, art, and history of education. Emerson E. White's The Elements of Pedagogy (New York: American Book Co., 1886), sets forth psychological "facts" and discusses principles and methods of teaching that can be drawn from these facts; he holds, however, that there is a science of science - viz., philosophy - which is the highest phase of scientific thought, and which aims "to discern the ultimate, self-determining principle of the universe." Francis Boller Palmer, in The Science of Education, Designed as a Textbook for Teachers (Cincinnati: Van Antwerp, Bragg, and Co., 1887), holds that the laws of a science are discovered in philosophy. Science, he says, must enter into philosophical analysis, "to develop the principles on which its laws are founded." In Thomas Jefferson Morgan, Studies in Pedagogy (Boston: Silver, Burdett, and Co., 1889), an appeal is made for the idea that the ideal schoolmaster be a philosopher who is a student of pedagogy; and pedagogy as a field of study includes the philosophy of education. "All education ... must be self-education. It is evolution from within. It is a process self-originated, self-directed, and terminates in self." The collection of essays by Nicholas Murray Butler entitled The Meaning of Education (New York: Macmillan, 1898) is introduced with the notion that "the facts of nature must be explained, in the last resort, in terms of energy, and ... energy can be conceived only in terms of will, which is the fundamental form of the life of mind or spirit." Arnold Tompkins, in The Philosophy of Teaching (Terre Haute, Indiana: Moore and Langden, 1893), did not attempt to write a philosophy of education, but accented the process of teaching by restricting himself to "the application of philosophic principles to the teaching process." He thinks that the philosophy of teaching is "the explanation of the teaching process by means of universal law," by which the separate arts "are brought into the unity of the complete system by means of spiritual growth." C. Hanford Henderson, in Education and the Larger Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902), uses a conception of idealism in developing an "organic education," by which men "can satisfy that impulse towards perfection which is the most abiding impulse of the human spirit." Largely non-technical from a philosophic standpoint, this work explores education as a broadly social concern, and is written primarily for the educated layman rather than for the professional educator. William Estabrook Chancellor's A Theory of Motives, Ideals



and Values in Education (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1907) is a somewhat eclectic attempt to bring to bear on his subject a vast literature from the natural and social sciences, philosophy, religion, and the arts; the dominant spirit seems to be that of Rationalism. Ernest N. Henderson's A Text-Book in the Principles of Education (New York: Macmillan, 1910) is an interesting attempt by an idealist to outline a theory of education from the point of view of evolution. It was Henderson's hope that "a newer Idealism of service may prove on the whole a more satisfactory philosophy than the older one that consisted so much in withdrawal from utilities." M. V. O'Shea, in Education as Adjustment; Educational Theory Viewed in the Light of Contemporary Thought (New York: Longmans, Green, 1903), appears to have had a conception of the science of education that was, in principle, like that of Dewey and Sinclair. According to O'Shea, the scientific educator tries to answer this question: "Can I present certain principles in my special field which faithfully portray a phase of the world not previously described by someone else?" George E. Vincent's study, Social Mind and Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1897) views philosophy as a "science of the sciences." However, the sense in which it is so viewed appears somewhat different from Harris' conception. For Vincent, philosophy is the system of the sciences - the whole which they constitute - and which must itself be an object of knowledge; he seems to mean that philosophy, as a "general science," is not thereby a "higher" science, as it is for Harris and other rationalists. Abby Porter Leland, in The Educational Theory and Practice of T. H. Green (New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 19II), finds that Green's theory of experience "does not supply a set of prescriptions for action: it seems to supply certain standpoints and methods which may enable an individual to make for himself a working analysis for the educational situation in the 'concrete' situations in which he finds himself." Thus Green's thinking is found to be closer to naturalistic empiricism than to rationalism with respect to the possibilities of intelligence for coping with concrete situations in experience.

INDEX The Bibliographic Note is not indexed.

Abbott, Jacob, 21 Academician, 8 Alcott, Bronson, 41-42 American Journal of Education, 12n. Anticipations of nature, 14, 19-20, 76 Archambault, Reginald D., 85n. Aristotle, 43, 49 Arithmetic, Inductive Method of Teaching, 16 Art of Education, 21-23, 28-35, 46, 55 Baconian method, 6, 9-11,12-20,21,2324,43,76 Biological Aspect of Education, 66, 67 Biological Philosophy, 39-40 Brackett, Anna C., 53-54 Butler, Nicholas Murray, 68 Carter, James G., 12-20, 35 Colburn, Warren, 16 Cyclopedia of Education, 2, 84 Dewey, John, 1, 3, 4, 80, 84-95, 96, 101, 10 5 Diderot, Denis, 6 Edwards, Anna Camp, 93n. Elementary Education, Rationalistic Conception of, 57-59 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 44 Evolution, 26-31, 38, 96, 98-102, 104-5 Fisch, Max H., 25n. Froebelianism, 2-3 Functionalism, 80-81, 96-97, 100, 103, 10 5 Genetic philosophy of education, 40-42 Genetic psychology, 40-42 Green, Nicholas St. John, 77

Hall, G. Stanley, 36, 42 Hall, Samuel, 21 Hansen, A. 0., 5n. Harris, William T., 2, 3, 4, 42, 48-64, 6566, 69, 71 Hegelian philosophy, 44, 49-52, 69-70 Herbartianism, 2-3, 41 Higher Education, Rationalistic Conception of, 57-59 History of education, 55-56, 62-64, 6566, 101 Horne, H. H., 4, 45, 64-74 Idealism, 42, 98 Ideas as working hypotheses, 76-77, 8690 Indefinite Perfectibility, 5 Inductive empiricism, 4, 5-42, 106-7 Interest, Spencer's conception of, 29-30 Intuitionism, 42 Jacotot, Joseph, 31 Jardine, George, 8-12, 35, 40

Journal ot Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 4 Journal ot Speculative Philosophy, 53-54, 58 Kantian presuppositions, 74 Language, Inductive Method of Teaching, 15-16 Locke, John, 8-9 MacVannel, J. A., 96-105 Madden, Edward H., 80n. Mayhew, Katherine Camp, 93n. McCosh, James, 3, 76n. McCuskey, Dorothy, 43n. Mill, John Stuart, 46n. Monroe, Paul, 2, 84 Mother Goose, Philosophy of, 81-83

II4 Natural Selection, 78 Naturalistic empiricism, 4, 42, 75-105, 106-7 Neef, Joseph, 2, 6-8, II, 12, 35 Norton, C. E., 75n. Page, David, 21 Painter, F. V. N., 64n. Partridge, G. E., 36-42 Payne, Joseph, 12, 31-35 Pedagogy, I, 3, 53-54 Peirce, Charles, 77 Pestalozzian method, 2, 6, 12, 16-17, 29, 35 Philosophical Review, 4 Physiological Aspect of Education, 66, 67-68 Picket, Albert, 8 Picket, John, 8 Plato, 1 Platonism, 18, 42-43, 48-49 Price, Richard, 5 Progress, 23, 26-27, 29 Psychological Aspect of Education, 66, 70-71 Rationalism, 4, 42, 43-74, 98, 106-7 Realism, New, 3 Rosenkranz, J. K. F., 45, 48, 52-64, 6566,69 Rousseau, J. J., 34-35 Rudolph, Frederick, 5n. Ruediger, William C., 36n. Science of education, I, 3, 12, 17, 20, 2123, 28-35, 36, 39, 41, 54-56, 61, 65-66, 89-90, 97 Science of instruction, 13, 48

INDEX Science of sciences, 41-42, 51 Scientific philosophy, 6, 14, 22 Scientism, 4, 6, 36, 39, 42, 75, 96-97, 105 Secondary Education, Rationalistic Conception of, 57-59 Self-determination, 49-51, 56-57, 61-63 Self-estrangement, 56-57 Sensationalism, 6-8 Sinclair, Samuel, 89-90 Sociological Aspect of Education, 66, 68-


Socrates, 15n., 82 Speculative philosophy, 44-45, 48-52, 56, 62,64,75 Spencer, Herbert, 6, 12, 25-31, 35, 38, 42, 75-76,96 Spinoza, Baruch, 48-49 Stages of Consciousness, Rationalistic, 49-5 1 Subject Matter, 94-95, 103-4 Tate, Thomas, 21-25, 31, 36 Thayer, James B., 75n. Theism, Idealistic, 64, 73-74 Theory, Baconian Conception of, 17-20, 23-25 Theory of education, I, 25, 27, 32, 97 Todhunter, I., 78-80 Transcendentalism, 3, 41, 43-45, 105 Utilitarian moral philosophy, 76-78 Wallace, Alfred, 78 Whewell, William, 32 \Vhite, Morton, 75 Wickersham, James P., 45-48 Wiener, Philip P., 76n., 77n. Wright, Chauncey, 75-84, 101, 105