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there is of man." It is not possible to push sensationalism
further than this.

The impressions of the senses are, then, the basis of
human nature, and as these impressions vary with circum-
stances, Helvetius arrives at this conclusion, that chance is
the great master in the formation of mind and character.
Consequently, he undertakes to produce at will men of
genius, or, at least, men of talent. For this purpose, it
suffices to ascertain, by repeated observations, the means
which chance employs for making great men. These means
once discovered, it remains only to set them at work arti-
ficially and to combine them, in order to produce the same
effects.

" Genius is a product of chance. Rousseau, like a count-
less number of illustrious men, may be regarded as one of
the masterpieces of chance."



PHILOSOPHERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 329

361. Helvetius refuted by Didekot. — It is easy to
reply to extravagant statements of this sort. Had Helve-
tius consulted teachers and parents, had he observed himself,
had he simply reflected on his two daughters, so unequally
endowed though identically educated, he would doubtless
have felt constrained to acknowledge the limitations of
education ; he would have comprehended that it cannot give
imagination to minds of sluggish temperament, nor enthusi-
asm and sensibility to inert souls, and that the most marvel-
lously helpful circumstances will not make of a Helvetius a
Montesquieu or a Voltaire.

But if it is easy to refute Helvetius, it is impossible to
criticise him with more brilliancy and eloquence than Diderot
has done. With what perfection of reason he restores to
nature, to innate and irresistible inclinations, the influence
which Helvetius denies to them in the formation of char-
acter !

"The accidents of Helvetius," he says, "are like the
spark which sets on fire a cask of wine, and which is extin-
guished in a bucket of water."

" For thousands of centuries the dew of heaven has fallen
on the rocks without making them fertile. The sown fields
await it in order to become productive, but it is not the dew
that scatters the seed. Accidents themselves no more pro-
duce anything, than the pick of the laborer who delves
in the mines of Golconda produces the diamond that it
brings to the surface."

Doubtless education has a more radical effect than that
which is attributed to it by La Bruyere when he said that
" it touches only the surface of the soul." But if it can do
much, it cannot do all. It perfects if it is good : it deadens
and it perverts if it is bad ; but it can never be a substitute
for lacking aptitude, and can never replace nature.



830 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

362. Secularized Instruction. — In other parts of his
system Helvetius is in accord with Diderot. Like him, he
believes the necessary condition of progress in education is
that it be made secular and entrusted to the civil power.
The vices of education come from the opposition of the two
powers, spiritual and temporal, that assume to direct it.
Between the Church and the State there is an opposition of
interests and views. The State would have the nation
become brave, industrious, and enlightened. The Church
demands a blind submission and unlimited credulity. Hence
there is contradiction in pedagogical precepts, diversity in
the means that are employed, and, consequently, an educa-
tion that is hesitating, that is pulled in opposite directions,
that does not know definitely where it is going, that misses
its way, that gropes and wastes time.

But the conclusion of Helvetius is not as we might expect,
— the separation of Church and State in the matter of
instruction and education, such as recent laws have estab-
lished in France. No ; Helvetius would have the State
absorb the Church, and have religious power and civil
power lodged in the same hands and both belong to those
who control the government, — a vexatious confusion that
would end in the oppression of consciences.

Helvetius, whatever may be thought of him, does not
deserve to claim our attention for any length of time, and we
cannot seriously consider as an authority in pedagogy a writer
who, in intellectual as in moral education, reduces everything
to a single principle, the development and the satisfaction of
physical sensibility. 1

1 It is a matter of surprise that in a German Pedagogical Library the very
first French work published is the Trait€ de I'Homme of Helvetius. This
is giving the place of honor to what is perhaps of the most ordinary value
in French pedagogical literature.



PHILOSOPHERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 331

363. The Encyclopaedists. — The vast collection which,
under the name Eiicydopklie, sums up the science and the
philosophy of the eighteenth century, touches educational
questions only in passing. Properly speaking, the Encyclo-
pedic contains no system of pedagogy. The principal frag-
ment is the article Education, written by the grammarian
and Latinist Dumarsais.

But this piece of work is little worthy of its author, and
little worthy in particular of the Encyclopedic. It contains
scarcely anything but vague and trite generalities, and
belongs to the category of those articles for padding which
caused Voltaire to say: "You accept articles worthy of the
Journal of Trevoux." We shall notice, however, in this
article, the importance accorded to the study of physics, and
to the practice of the arts, even the most common, and the
marked purpose to "subordinate" knowledges and studies,
or to distribute them in a logical, or rather psychological,
order; for example, to cause the concrete always to precede
the abstract. But, after having lost himself in considera-
tions of but little interest on the development of ideas and
sentiments in the human soul, the author, who is decidedly
far below his task, concludes by recommending to young
people "the reading of newspapers."

The other pedagogical articles of the Encyclopedic are
equally deficient in striking novelties. If the great work of
D'Alembert and Diderot has contributed something to the
progress of education, it is less through the insufficient
efforts which it has directly attempted in this direction, than
through the general influence which it has exercised on the
French mind in extolling the sciences in their theoretical
study as well as in their practical applications, in diffusing
technical knowledge, in glorifying the industrial arts, and in
thus preparing for the coming of a scientific and positive



832 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

education in place of an education exclusively literary and of
pure form.

364. Kant (1724-1804). — We know the considerable
influence which, for a century, Kant has exercised on the
development of philosophy. Since Descartes, no thinker had
to the same degree excited an interest in the great problems
of philosophy, nor more vigorously obliged the human reason
to render an account of itself. It is then a piece of good
fortune for the science of education that a philosopher of this
order has taken up the discussion of pedagogical questions,
and has thrown upon them the light of his penetrating criti-
cism. The admiration which he felt for Rousseau, his atten-
tive and impassioned reading of the Emile, his own reflec-
tions on the monastic education which he had received at the
Collegium Fredericianum, a sort of small seminary conducted
by the Pietists, the experience which he had had as a precep-
tor in several families that entrusted him with their children,
and finally, above all else, his profound studies on human
nature and his exalted moral philosophy, had given him a
capital preparation for treating educational questions. Pro-
fessor at the University of Konigsberg, he several times
resumes the discussion of pedagogical subjects with a marked
predilection for them, and the notes of his lectures, collected
by one of his colleagues, formed the little Treatise on Peda-
gogy which we are about to analyze. 1

365. High Conception of Education. — In the opinion
of Kant, the art of educating men, with that of governing
them, is the most difficult and the most important of all. It
is by education alone that humanity can be perfected and
regenerated : —

1 See the French translation of this tract at the end of the volume, pub-
lished by Monsieur Barni, under the title, Elements metaphysiques de la
doctrine de la vertu. Paris, 1855. The work of Kant appeared in German
in 1803.



PHILOSOPHERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 333

" It is pleasant to think that human nature will always be
better and better developed by education, and that at last
there will thus be given it the form which best befits it.

" To know how far the omnipotence of education can go,
it would be necessary that a being of a superior order should
undertake the bringing up of men."

But in order that it may attain this exalted end, education
must be set free from routine and traditional methods. It
must bring up children, not in view of their success in the
present state of human society, but " in view of a better state,
possible in the future, and according to an ideal conception
of humanity and of its complete destination."

366. Psychological Optimism. — Kant comes near
accepting the opinion of Rousseau on the original innocence
of man and the perfect goodness of his natural inclina-
tions : —

" It is said in medicine that the physician is but the ser-
vant of nature. This is true of the moralist. Ward off the
bad influences from without, and nature can be trusted to
find for herself the best way." 1

Thus Kant does not tire of exalting the service which
Rousseau had rendered pedagogy, in recalling educators to
the confidence and respect that are due to calumniated human
nature. Let us add, however, that the German philosopher
is not content to repeat Rousseau. He corrects him in
affirming that man, at his birth, is neither good nor evil,
because he is not naturally a moral being. He does not be-
come such till lie raises his reason to the conception of duty
and law. In other terms, in the infant everything is in germ.
The infant is a being in preparation. The future alone, the
development which he will receive from his education, will
make him good or had. At the beginning, he has but inde-

i — ■

1 Extract from Kant's Fragments posthumes.



334 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

terminate dispositions, and evil will come, not from a definite
inclination of nature, but solely from the fact that we will
not have known how to direct it, — from the fact, according
to Kant's own expression, that we will not have " subjected
nature to rules."

367. Respect for the Libertt of the Child. — The
psychological optimism of Kant inspires him, as it does
Rousseau, with the idea of a negative education, respectful
of the liberty of the child : —

" In general, it must be noted that the earliest education
should be negative ; that is to say, nothing should be added
to the precautions taken by nature, and that the effort should
be limited to the preservation of her work. ... It is well to
employ at first but few helps, and to leave children to learn
for themselves. Much of the weakness of man is due, not
to the fact that nothing is taught him, but to the fact that
false impressions are communicated to him."

Without going so far as to say with Rousseau that all
dependence with respect to men is contrary to order, Kant
took great care to respect the liberty of the pupil. He com-
plains of parents who are always talking about "breaking
the wills of their sons." He maintains, not without reason,
that it is not necessary to offer much resistance to children,
if we have not begun by yielding too readily to their caprices,
-and by always responding to their cries. Nothing is more
harmful to them than a discipline which is provoking and
degrading. But, in his zeal for human liberty, the theorist
of the autonomy of wills goes a little too far. He fears, for
example, the tyranny of habits. He requires that they be
| prevented from being formed, and that children be accus-
tomed to nothing. He might as well demand the suppression
of all education, since education should be but the acquisition
of a bod}' of good habits.



PHILOSOPHERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 335

368. Stories Interdicted. — In the education of the in-
tellectual faculties or talents, which he calls the physical cul-
ture of the soul, as distinguished from moral culture, which
is the education of the will, Kant also approaches Rousseau. .
He proscribes romances and stories. "Children have an ex-(
tremely active imagination which has no need of being devel- 1
oped by stories." It may be said in reply, that fables and
fictions, at the same time that they develop the imagination,
also direct it and adorn it with their own proper grace, and
may even lend it moral support. Rousseau, notwithstanding
the ardor of his criticisms on the Fables of La Fontaine, him-
self admitted the moral value of the apologue.

369. Culture of the Faculties. — That which distin-
guishes Kant as an educator is that he is pre-occupied with
the culture of the faculties much more than with the acquisi-J'
tion of knowledge. He passes in review the different intel-
lectual forces, and his reflections on each of them might be
collected as the elements of an excellent system of educational
psychology. He will criticise, for example, the abuse of

memory : —

" Men who have nothing but memory," he says, " are but
living lexicons, and, as it were, the pack-horses of Parnassus."

For the culture of the understanding, Kant proposes " at
first to train it passively to some degree," by requiring of the
child examples which illustrate a rule, or, on the contrary,
the rule which applies to particular examples.

For the exercise of the reason, he recommends the Socratic
method, and, in general, for the development of all the fac-
ulties of the mind, he thinks that the best way of proceeding
is to cause the pupil to be active : —

"The nest way to comprehend is to do. What we learn
the most thoroughly is what we learn to some extent by
ourselves."



336 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

370. Different Kinds of Punishments. — Kant has made
a subtile analysis of the different qualities with which punish-
ment may be invested. He distinguishes from physical
punishment, moral punishment , which is the better. It con-
sists in humiliating the pupil, in greeting him coolly, "in
encouraging the disposition of the child to be honored and
loved, that auxiliary of morality." Physical punishments
ought to be employed with precaution, "to the end that they
may not entail servile dispositions."

Another distinction is that of natural punishments and
artificial punishments. The first are preferable to the second,
because they are the very consequences of the faults which
have been committed; "indigestion, for example, which a
child brings on himself when he eats too much." Another
advantage of natural punishment, Kant justly remarks, " is
that man submits to it all his life." 1

Finally, Kant divides punishments into negative and p>°si-
tive. The first are to be used for minor faults, and the
others are to be reserved for the punishment of conduct that
is absolutely bad.

Moreover, whatever punishment may be applied, Kant
advises the teacher to avoid the appearance of feeling malice
towards the pupil : —

"The punishments we inflict while exhibiting signs of
anger have a wrong tendencv."

371. Religious Education. — At first view, we might
be tempted to think that Kant has adopted the conclusions
of Rousseau, and that, like him, he refuses to take an early

1 Monsieur Cornpayre seems to give his sanction to the " Discipline of
Consequences." I think that Mr. Fitch has correctly stated its limitations
(Lectures, p. 117). Kant douhtless borrowed the idea from Rousseau, who
employs it in the government of his imaginary pupil. (See Miss Worthing-
ton's translation of the Emile, p. 06.) This doctrine is the basis of Mr.
Spencer's chapter on Moral Education. (P.)



PHILOSOPHERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 337

occasion to inculcate in the child's mind the notion of a
Supreme Being : —

" Religious ideas always suppose some system of theology.
Now, how are we to teach theology to the young, who, far
from knowing the world, do not yet know themselves? How
shall the young who do not yet know what duty is, be in a
condition to comprehend an immediate duty towards God?"

To speak of religion to a young man, it would then be logical
to wait till he is in a condition to form a clear and fixed con-
ception of the nature of God. But it is impossible to do
this, says Kant, because the young man lives in a society
where he hears the name of the Divinity spoken at each
moment, and where he takes part in continual observances
of piety. It is better, then, to teach him at an early hour
true religious notions, for fear that he ma}- borrow from
other men notions that are superstitious and false. In
reality, Kant dissents from Rousseau only because, re-estab-
lishing the conditions of real life, he restores Emile to society,
no longer keeping him in a fancied state of isolation. What a
broad and noble way, moreover, of conceiving religious edu-
cation ! The best wa}" of making clear to the mind of
children the idea of God, is, according to Kant, to seek an
analogy in the idea of a human father. It is necessary,
moreover, that the conception of duty precede the conception
of God ; that morality precede, and that theology follow.
Without morality, religion is but superstition ; without
morality, the pretended religious man is but a courtier, a
suitor for divine favor.

372. Moral Catechism. — Those- who know to what a
height Kant could raise the theory of morality, will not be
surprised at the importance which he ascribes to the teaching
of morals.

"Our schools," he says, "are almost entirely lacking in



338 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

one thing which, however, would be very useful for training
children in probity, — I mean a catechism on duty. It should
contain, in a popular form, cases concerning the conduct to
be observed in ordinary life, and which would always naturally
raise this question : Is this right or not?"

He had begun to write a book of this kind under the title
Moral Catechism; 1 and he would have desired that an hour
a da}' of school time be given to its stud}', " iri order to
teach pupils to know and to learn by heart their dut}' to men,
— that power of God on the earth." The child, he says
again, would there learn to substitute the fear of his own
conscience for that of men and divine punishment, inward
dignity for the opinion of others, the intrinsic value of
actions for the apparent value of words, and, finally, a serene
and cheerful piety for a sad and gloomy devotion.

[373. Analytical Summary. — 1. This study exhibits the.
influence of philosophical systems on education. New con-
ceptions of human destiny, new theories with respect to the
composition of human nature, or a new hypothesis concerning
man's place in nature, determine corresponding changes in
educational theory.

2. Perhaps the broadest generalization yet reached in
educational theory is the assumption made by Condillac,
that the education of each individual should be a repetition
of civilization in petto. With Mr. Spencer this hypothesis
becomes a law.

3. In theory, the secularization of education has begun.
The Church is to lose one of its historical prerogatives, and
the modern State is to become an educator.

1 Helvetius, but poorly qualified for teaching moral questions, had had
the idea of a Cutechisme cle probite. Saint Lambert published, in 1798, a
Catechisme universel.



PHILOSOPHERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 330

4. Helvetius typifies what ma}' be called the plastic theory
in education, or the conception that the teacher, if wise
enough, may ignore all differences in natural endowment.
This makes man the victim of his environment. The truth
evidently is that man is the only creature which can bend
circumstances to his will ; and he has such an endowment of
power in this direction that he can virtually recreate his en-
vironment and thus rise superior to it. And farther than
this, there are innate differences in endowment that will per-
sist in spite of all that education can do.

5. The culture value of literary studies is justly exhibited
in the quotation from Marmontel, and in particular the dis-
ciplinary value of translation.

6. Education for training, discipline, or culture, as dis- j
tinguished from an education whose chief aim is to impart |
knowledge, receives definite recognition from Kant.]



CHAPTER XV.

THE ORIGIN OF LAY AND NATIONAL INSTRUCTION. —
LA CHALOTAIS AND ROLLAND.

jesuits and parliamentarians j expulsion of the jesuits (1764) ;
general complaints against the education of the jesuits j
efforts made to replace them ; la chalotais (1701-1785) ; his
essay on national education (1763) ; secularization of
education ; practical end of instruction ; new spirit in
education j intuitive and natural instruction ; studies
of the earliest period j criticism of negative education j
history avenged of the disdain of rousseau j geography j
natural history ; physical recreations j mathematical
recreations; studies of the second period; the living
languages ; other studies ; the question of books j aristo-
cratic prejudices j instruction within the reach of all ;
normal schools ; spirit of centralization ; turgot (1727-
1781) ; analytical summary.



374. Jesuits and Parliamentarians. — Of the educators
of the eighteenth century of whom we have been speaking
up to the present time, no one has been called to exercise an
immediate and direct action on the destinies of public edu-
cation ; no one of them had the power to apply the doctrines
which were so dear to him to college education ; so that, so
far, we have studied the theory and not the practice of edu-
cation in the eighteenth century.

On the contrary, the members of the French Parliaments,
after having solicited and obtained from the king the expul-
sion of the Jesuits, made memorable efforts, from 1762 up
to the eve of the Revolution, to supply the places of the



ORIGIN OF LAY AND NATIONAL INSTRUCTION. 341

teachers whom they had driven away, to correct the faults
of the ancient education, and to give effect to the idea,
cherished by the most of the great spirits of that time, of a
national education adapted to the needs of civil society.
They were the practical organizers of instruction ; they pre-
pared the foundation of the French University of the nine-
teenth century ; they resumed, not without lustre, the
struggle too often interrupted, which the Jansenists had
sustained against the Jesuits.

375. Expulsion of the Jesuits (1764). — The causes of
the expulsion of the Jesuits were doubtless complex, and,
above all else, political. In attacking the Company of Jesus,
the Parliaments desired especially to defend the interests of
the State, compromised by a powerful society which tended
to dominate all Christian nations. But reasons of an edu-
cational character had also some influence on the condemna-
tion pronounced against the Jesuits by all the Parliaments of
France. From all quarters, in the reports which were drawn
up by the municipal or royal officers of all the cities where
the Jesuits had colleges, complaint is made of the scholastic
methods and usages of the Company. Reforms were de-
manded which they were incapable of realizing.

And it is not in France alone that the faults in the educa-
tion of the Jesuits were vigorously announced. In the edict
of 1750, by which the king of Portugal expelled the Jesuits
from his kingdom, it was said : " The study of the human-
ities has declined in the kingdom, and the Jesuits are evi-
dently the cause of the decadence into which the Greek and
Latin tongues have fallen." Sonic years later, in 1768, the
king of Portugal congratulated himself on having banished
"the moral corruption, the superstition, the fanaticism, and
the ignorance, which had been introduced by the Society of
Jesus."



342 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

376. General Complaints against the Education of the
Jesuits. — Even in the middle of the eighteenth century the
Jesuits were still addicted to their old routine, and even their
faults were aggravated with the times.

At Auxerre, complaint is made that pupils study in their
schools only a few Latin authors, and that thej T leave them
without ever receiving into their hands a single French



Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 27 of 48)