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PRACTICAL ESSAYS.

by

ALEXANDER BAIN, LL.D.,

EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF LOGIC IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN.


LONDON:

1884.




PREFACE.


The present volume is in great part a reprint of articles contributed to
Reviews. The principal bond of union among them is their practical
character. Beyond that, there is little to connect them apart from the
individuality of the author and the range of his studies.

That there is a certain amount of novelty in the various suggestions
here embodied, will be admitted on the most cursory perusal. The farther
question of their worth is necessarily left open.

The first two essays are applications of the laws of mind to some
prevailing Errors.

The next two have an educational bearing: the one is on the subjects
proper for Competitive Examinations; the other, on the present position
of the much vexed Classical controversy.

The fifth considers the range of Philosophical or Metaphysical Study,
and the mode of conducting this study in Debating Societies.

The sixth contains a retrospect of the growth of the Universities, with
more especial reference to those of Scotland; and also a discussion of
the University Ideal, as something more than professional teaching.

The seventh is a chapter omitted from the author's "Science of
Education"; it is mainly devoted to the methods of self-education by
means of books. The situation thus assumed has peculiarities that admit
of being handled apart from the general theory of Education.

The eighth contends for the extension of liberty of thought, as regards
Sectarian Creeds and Subscription to Articles. The total emancipation of
the clerical body from the thraldom of subscription, is here advocated
without reservation.

The concluding essay discusses the Procedure of Deliberative Bodies. Its
novelty lies chiefly in proposing to carry out, more thoroughly than has
yet been done, a few devices already familiar. But for an extraordinary
reluctance in all quarters to adapt simple and obvious remedies to a
growing evil, the article need never have appeared. It so happens, that
the case principally before the public mind at present, is the deadlock
in the House of Commons; yet, had that stood alone, the author would not
have ventured to meddle with the subject. The difficulty, however, is
widely felt: and the principles here put forward are perfectly general;
being applicable wherever deliberative bodies are numerously constituted
and heavily laden with business.

ABERDEEN, _March_, 1884.




CONTENTS.


I.

COMMON ERRORS ON THE MIND.


Error regarding Mind as a whole - that Mind can be exerted without bodily
expenditure.


Errors with regard to the FEELINGS.

I. Advice to take on cheerfulness.

Authorities for this prescription.

Presumptions against our ability to comply with it.

Concurrence of the cheerful temperament with youth and health.

With special corporeal vigour. With absence of care and anxiety.

Limitation of Force applies to the mind.

The only means of rescuing from dulness - to increase the supports and
diminish the burdens of life.

Difficulties In the choice of amusements

II. Prescribing certain tastes, or pursuits, to persons
indiscriminately.

Tastes must repose as natural endowment, or else in prolonged education.

III. Inverted relationship of Feelings and Imagination.

Imagination does not determine Feeling, but the reverse.

Examples: - Bacon, Shelley, Byron, Burke, Chalmers, the Orientals, the
Chinese, the Celt, and the Saxon.

IV. Fallaciousness of the view, that happiness is best gained by not
being aimed at.

Seemingly a self-contradiction.

Butler's view of the disinterestedness of Appetite.

Apart from pleasure and pain, Appetite would not move us.

Parallel from other ends of pursuit - Health.

Life has two aims - Happiness and Virtue - each to be sought directly on
its own account.


Errors connected with the WILL.

I. Cost of energy, of Will. Need of a suitable physical confirmation.

Courage, Prudence, Belief.

II. Free-will a centre of various fallacies.

Doctrines repudiated from the offence given to personal dignity.
Operation of this on the history of Free-will.

III. Departing from the usual rendering of a fact, treated as denying
the fact.

Metaphysical and Ethical examples.

Alliance of Mind and Matter.

Perception of a Material World.

IV. The terms Freedom and Necessity miss the real point of the human
will.

V. Moral Ability and Inability. - Fallacy of seizing a question by the
wrong end.

Proper signification of Moral Inability - insufficiency of the ordinary
motives, but not of all motives.


* * * * *

II.

ERRORS OF SUPPRESSED CORRELATIVES.


Meanings of Relativity - intellectual and emotional.

All impressions greatest at first. Law of Accommodation and habit.

The pleasure of rest presupposes toil.

Knowledge has its charm from previous ignorance.

Silence is of value, after excess of speech.

Previous pain not, in all cases, necessary to pleasure.

Simplicity of Style praiseworthy only under prevailing artificiality. To
extol Knowledge is to reprobate Ignorance.

Authority appealed to, when in our favour, repudiated when against us.

Fallacy of declaring all labour honourable alike.

The happiness of Justice supposes reciprocity.

Love and Benevolence need to be reciprocated.

The _moral nature_ of God - a fallacy of suppressed correlative

A perpetual miracle - a self-contradiction.

Fallacy that, in the world, everything is mysterious.

Proper meaning of Mystery.

Locke and Newton on the true nature of Explanation

The Understanding cannot transcend its own experience. - Time and Space,
their Infinity.

We can assimilate facts, and generalise the many into one. This alone
constitutes Explanation.

Example from Gravity: not now mysterious.

Body and Mind. In what ways the mysteriousness of their union might be
done away with.


* * * * *

III.

THE CIVIL SERVICE EXAMINATIONS.


I. HISTORICAL SKETCH.

First official recommendation of Competitive Examinations.

Successive steps towards their adoption.

First absolutely open Competition - in the India Service.

Macaulay's Report on the subjects for examination and their values.

Table of Subjects. Innovations of Lord Salisbury.

An amended Table.


II. THE SCIENCE CONSIDERED.

Doubts expressed as to the expediency of the competitive system.

Criticism of the present prescription for the higher Services.

The Commissioners' Scheme of Mathematics and Natural Science
objectionable.

Classification of the Sciences into Abstract or fundamental, and
Concrete or derivative.

Those of the first class have a fixed order, the order of dependence.

The other class is represented by the Natural History Sciences, which
bring into play the Logic of Classification.

Each of these is allied to one or other members of the primary Sciences.

The Commissioners' Table misstates the relationships of the various
Sciences.

The London University Scheme a better model.

The choice allowed by the Commissioners not founded on a proper
principle.

The higher Mathematics encouraged to excess.

Amended scheme of comparative values.

Position of Languages in the examinations.

The place in education of Language generally.

Purposes of Language acquisition.

Altered position of the Classical, languages.

Alleged benefits of these languages, after ceasing to be valuable in
their original use.

The teaching of the languages does not correspond to these secondary
values.

Languages are not a proper subject for competition with a view to
appointments.

For foreign service, there should be a pass examination in the languages
needful.

The training powers attributed to languages should be tested in its own
character.

Instead of the Languages of Greece, Rome, &c., substitute the History
and Literature.

Allocation of marks under this view.

Objections answered.

Certain subjects should be obligatory.


* * * * *

IV.

THE CLASSICAL CONTROVERSY.

ITS PRESENT ASPECT.


Attack on Classics by Combe, fifty years ago.

Alternative proposals at the present day: -

1. The existing system Attempts at extending the Science course under
this system.

2. Remitting Greek in favour of a modern language. A defective
arrangement.

3. Remitting both Latin and Greek in favour of French and German.

4. Complete bifurcation of the Classical and the Modern sides.

The Universities must be prepared to admit a thorough modern alternative
course.

Latin should not be compulsory in the modern side.

Defences of Classics.

The argument from the Greeks knowing only their own language - never
answered.

Admission that the teaching of classics needs improvement.

Alleged results of contact with the great authors of Greece and
Rome - unsupported by facts.

Amount of benefit attainable without knowledge of originals.

The element of training may be obtained from modern languages.

The classics said to keep the mind free from party bias.

Canon Liddon's argument in favour of Greek as a study.


* * * * *

V.

METAPHYSICS AND DEBATING SOCIETIES.

Metaphysics here taken as comprising Psychology, Logic, and their
dependent sciences.

Importance of the two fundamental departments.

The great problems, such as Free-will and External Perception should be
run up into systematic Psychology.

Logic also requires to be followed out systematically.

Slender connection of Logic and Psychology.

Derivative Sciences: - Education.

Aesthetics - a corner of the larger field of Human Happiness

The treatment of Happiness should be dissevered from Ethics

Adam Smith's loose rendering of the conditions of happiness

Sociology - treated, partly in its own field, and partly as a derivative
of Psychology.

Through it lies the way to Ethics.

The sociological and the ethical ends compared.

Factitious applications of Metaphysical study.

Bearings on Theology, as regards both attack and defence.

Incapable of supplying the place of Theology.

Polemical handling of Metaphysics.

Methodised Debate in the Greek Schools.

Much must always be done by the solitary thinker.

Best openings for Polemic: - Settling' the meanings of terms.

Discussing the broader generalities.

The Debate a light for mastery, and ill-suited for nice adjustments.

The Essay should be a centre of amicable co-operation, which would have
special advantages.

Avoidance of such debates as are from their very nature interminable.


* * * * *

VI.

THE UNIVERSITY IDEAL - PAST AND PRESENT.


The Higher Teaching in Greece.

The Middle Age and Boëthius.

Eve of the University.

Separation of Philosophy from Theology.

The Universities of Scotland founded - their history.

First Period. - The Teaching Body.

The Subjects taught and manner of teaching.

Second Period. - The Reformation.

Modified Curriculum - Andrew Melville.

Attempted reforms in teaching.

System of Disputation.

Improvements constituting the transition to the Third Period.

The Universities and the political revolutions.

How far the Universities are essential to professional teaching:
perennial alternative of Apprenticeship.

The Ideal Graduate.


* * * * *

VII.

THE ART OF STUDY.


Study more immediately supposes learning from Books.

The Greeks did not found an Art of Study, but afforded examples:
Demosthenes.

Quintilian's "Institutes" a landmark.

Bacon's Essay on Studies. Hobbes.

Milton's Tractate on Education.

Locke's "Conduct of the Understanding" very specific as to rules of
Study.

Watts's work entitled "The Improvement of the Mind".

What an Art of Study should attempt.

Mode of approaching it.


I. First Maxim - "Select a Text-book-in-chief".

Violations of the maxim: Milton's system.

Form or Method to be looked to, in the chief text-book.

The Sciences. History.

Non-methodical subjects.

Repudiation of plans of study by some.

Merits to be sought in a principal Text-book.

Question as between old writers and new.

Paradoxical extreme - one book and no more.

Single all-sufficing books do not exist.

Illustration from Locke's treatment of the Bible.


II. "What constitutes the study of a book?"

1. Copying literally: - Defects of this plan.

2. Committing to memory word for word.

Profitable only for brief portions of a book.

Memory in extension and intension.

3. Making Abstracts.

Variety of modes of abstracting.

4. Locke's plan of reading.

A sense of Form must concur with abstracting.

Example from the Practice of Medicine.

Example from the Oratorical Art

Choice of a series of Speeches to begin upon.

An oratorical scheme essential.

Exemplary Speeches.

Illustration from the oratorical quality of negative tact. Macaulay's
Speeches on Reform.

Study for improvement in Style.


III. Distributing the Attention in Reading.


IV. Desultory Reading.


V. Proportion of book-reading to Observation at first hand.


VI. Adjuncts of Reading. - Conversation.

Original Composition.


* * * * *

VIII.

RELIGIOUS TESTS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS.

Pursuit of Truth has three departments: - order of nature, ends of
practice, and the supernatural.

Growth of Intolerance. How innovations became possible.

In early society, religion a part of the civil government.

Beginnings of toleration - dissentients from the State Church.

Evils attendant on Subscription: - the practice inherently fallacious.

Enforcement of creeds nugatory for the end in view.

Dogmatic uniformity only a part of the religious character: element of
Feeling.

Recital of the general argument for religious liberty.

Beginnings of prosecution for heresy in Greece: - Anaxagoras, Socrates,
Plato, Aristotle.

Forced reticence in recent times: - Carlyle, Macaulay, Lyell.

Evil of disfranchising the Clerical class.

Outspokenness a virtue to be encouraged.

Special necessities of the present time: conflict of advancing knowledge
with the received orthodoxy.

Objections answered: - The Church has engaged itself to the State to
teach given tenets.

Possible abuse of freedom by the clergy.

The history of the English Presbyterian Church exemplifies the absence
of Subscription.

Various modes of transition from the prevailing practice.


* * * * *

IX.

PROCEDURE OF DELIBERATIVE BODIES.

Growing evil of the intolerable length of Debates.

Hurried decisions might be obviated by allowing an interval previous to
the vote.

The oral debate reviewed. - Assumptions underlying it, fully examined.

Evidence that, in Parliament, it is not the main engine of persuasion.

Its real service is to supply the newspaper reports.

Printing, without speaking, would serve the end in view.

Proposal to print and distribute beforehand the reasons for each Motion.

Illustration from decisions on Reports of Committees.

Movers of Amendments to follow the same course.

Further proposal to give to each member the liberty of circulating a
speech in print, instead of delivering it.

The dramatic element in legislation much thought of.

Comparison of the advantages of reading and of listening.

The numbers of backers to a motion should be proportioned to the size of
the assembly.

Absurdity of giving so much power to individuals.

In the House of Commons twenty backers to each bill not too many.

The advantages of printed speeches. Objections.

Unworkability of the plan in Committees. How remedied.

In putting questions to Ministers, there should be at least ten backers.

How to compensate for the suppression of oratory in the
House: - Sectional discussions.

The divisions occasioned at one sitting to be taken at the beginning of
the next.

Every deliberative body must be free to determine what amount of
speaking it requires.

The English Parliamentary system considered as a model.

Lord Derby and Lord Sherbrooke on the extension of printing.

Defects of the present system becoming more apparent.


* * * * *

_Notes and References in connection with Essay VIII. on Subscription_

First imposition of Tests after the English Reformation.

Dean Milman's speech in favour of total abolition of Tests.

Tests in Scotland: Mr. Taylor Innes on the "Law of Creeds".

Resumption of Subscription in the English Presbyterian Church.

Other English Dissenting Churches.

Presbyterian Church in the United States.

French Protestant Church - its two divisions.

Switzerland: - Canton of Valid.

Independent Evangelical Church of Neuchatel.

National Protestant Church of Geneva.

Free Church of Geneva. Germanic Switzerland.

Hungarian Reformed Church.

Germany: - Recent prosecutions for heresy.

Holland: - Calvinists and Modern School.


* * * * *


I.

COMMON ERRORS ON THE MIND.[1]


On the prevailing errors on the mind, proposed to be considered in this
paper, some relate to the Feelings, others to the Will.

In regard to Mind as a whole, there are still to be found among us some
remnants of a mistake, once universally prevalent and deeply rooted,
namely, the opinion that mind is not only a different fact from
body - which is true, and a vital and fundamental truth - but is to a
greater or less extent independent of the body. In former times, the
remark seldom occurred to any one, unless obtruded by some extreme
instance, that to work the mind is also to work a number of bodily
organs; that not a feeling can arise, not a thought can pass, without a
set of concurring bodily processes. At the present day, however, this
doctrine is very generally preached by men of science. The improved
treatment of the insane has been one consequence of its reception. The
husbanding of mental power, through a bodily _régime_, is a no less
important application. Instead of supposing that mind is something
indefinite, elastic, inexhaustible, - a sort of perpetual motion, or
magician's bottle, all expenditure, and no supply, - we now find that
every single throb of pleasure, every smart of pain, every purpose,
thought, argument, imagination, must have its fixed quota of oxygen,
carbon, and other materials, combined and transformed in certain
physical organs. And, as the possible extent of physical transformation
in each person's framework is limited in amount, the forces resulting
cannot be directed to one purpose without being lost for other purposes.
If an extra share passes to the muscles, there is less for the nerves;
if the cerebral functions are pushed to excess, other functions have to
be correspondingly abated. In several of the prevailing opinions about
to be criticised, failure to recognise this cardinal truth is the prime
source of mistake.

* * * * *

To begin with the FEELINGS.

I. We shall first consider an advice or prescription repeatedly put
forth, not merely by the unthinking mass, but by men of high repute: it
is, that with a view to happiness, to virtue, and to the accomplishment
of great designs, we should all be cheerful, light-hearted, gay.

I quote a passage from the writings of one of the Apostolic Fathers, the
Pastor of Hermas, as given in Dr. Donaldson's abstract: -

"Command tenth affirms that sadness is the sister of doubt, mistrust,
and wrath; that it is worse than all other spirits, and grieves the Holy
Spirit. It is therefore to be completely driven away, and, instead of
it, we are to put on cheerfulness, which is pleasing to God. 'Every
cheerful man works well, and always thinks those things which are good,
and despises sadness. The sad man, on the other hand, is always
bad.'"[2]

[FALLACY OF PRESCRIBING CHEERFULNESS.]

Dugald Stewart inculcates Good-humour as a means of happiness and
virtue; his language implying that the quality is one within our power
to appropriate.

In Mr. Smiles's work entitled "Self-Help," we find an analogous strain
of remarks: -

"To wait patiently, however, man must work cheerfully. Cheerfulness is
an excellent working quality, imparting great elasticity to the
character. As a Bishop has said, 'Temper is nine-tenths of
Christianity,' so are cheerfulness and diligence [a considerable
make-weight] nine-tenths of practical wisdom."

Sir Arthur Helps, in those essays of his, combining profound observation
with strong genial sympathies and the highest charms of style,
repeatedly adverts to the dulness, the want of sunny light-hearted
enjoyment of the English temperament, and, on one occasion, piquantly
quotes the remark of Froissart on our Saxon progenitors: "They took
their pleasures sadly, as was their fashion; _ils se divertirent moult
tristement à la mode de leur pays_"

There is no dispute as to the value or the desirableness of this
accomplishment. Hume, in his "Life," says of himself, "he was ever
disposed to see the favourable more than the unfavourable side of
things; a turn of mind which it is more happy to possess than to be born
to an estate of ten thousand a year". This sanguine, happy temper, is
merely another form of the cheerfulness recommended to general adoption.

I contend, nevertheless, that to bid a man be habitually cheerful, he
not being so already, is like bidding him treble his fortune, or add a
cubit to his stature. The quality of a cheerful, buoyant temperament
partly belongs to the original cast of the constitution - like the bone,
the muscle, the power of memory, the aptitude for science or for music;
and is partly the outcome of the whole manner of life. In order to
sustain the quality, the physical (as the support of the mental) forces
of the system must run largely in one particular channel; and, of
course, as the same forces are not available elsewhere, so notable a
feature of strength will be accompanied with counterpart weaknesses or
deficiencies. Let us briefly review the facts bearing upon the point.

The first presumption in favour of the position is grounded in the
concomitance of the cheerful temperament with youth, health, abundant
nourishment. It appears conspicuously along with whatever promotes
physical vigour. The state is partially attained during holidays, in
salubrious climates, and health-bringing avocations; it is lost, in the
midst of toils, in privation of comforts, and in physical prostration.
The seeming exception of elated spirits in bodily decay, in fasting, and
in ascetic practices, is no disproof of the general principle, but
merely the introduction of another principle, namely, that we can feed
one part of the system at the expense of degrading and prematurely
wasting others.

[LIGHT-HEARTEDNESS NOT IN OUR OWN POWER.]

A second presumption is furnished also from our familiar experience. The
high-pitched, hilarious temperament and disposition commonly appear in
company with some well-marked characteristics of corporeal vigour. Such
persons are usually of a robust mould; often large and full in person,
vigorous in circulation and in digestion; able for fatigue, endurance,
and exhausting pleasures. An eminent example of this constitution was
seen in Charles James Fox, whose sociability, cheerfulness, gaiety, and
power of dissipation were the marvel of his age. Another example might
be quoted in the admirable physical frame of Lord Palmerston. It is no
more possible for an ordinarily constituted person to emulate the flow
and the animation of these men, than it is to digest with another
person's stomach, or to perform the twelve labours of Hercules.

A third fact, less on the surface, but no less certain, is, that the men
of cheerful and buoyant temperament, as a rule, sit easy to the cares
and obligations of life. They are not much given to care and anxiety as
regards their own affairs, and it is not to be expected that they should
be more anxious about other people's. In point of fact, this is the
constitution of somewhat easy virtue: it is not distinguished by a
severe, rigid attention to the obligations and the punctualities of
life. We should not be justified in calling such persons selfish; still
less should we call them cold-hearted: their exuberance overflows upon
others in the form of heartiness, geniality, joviality, and even lavish


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