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lounging room and the Union? Of course not. The very
excellence of these activities is that fundamentally they
are the fruits of the classroom. But the point is that by
these fruits the work of the classroom shall be known.
We need not forget that these activities are only accidental
and that the real values lie in the studies and the teaching.
But none the less it is true that these activities reveal to
us, far better than any examinations can do, the success
or failure of the classroom itself. They are, as it were,
mirrors in which we can see ourselves and our work. If
we want to know the effect of what we are doing in the
classroom, let us look to see what the students are doing
outside of it when they are free to follow their own desires.
If they do not, on their own initiative, carry on activities
springing out of their studies, then you may count on it
that however well the tests are met the studies are of little
value. Show me a college in which literature is taught
but in which the boys do not band together to read and
write and criticise, in which they do not yearn to be them-


selves "literary." However well literature may be taught
in that college it is not well learned. What would you say
of the teaching of philosophy which did not send boys off
into quarrelling, rending, puzzling groups, determined each
to give to his fellows the solutions of the problems that
have baffled human thinking? What will you say of the
teaching of history, economics, or social science which ends
in the passive appropriation of a book? Surely if it is
vital, you will find the young men stimulated by it eagerly
re-forming and re-shaping in idea the society about them
and perhaps going out to do some work to bring their ideas
to fulfilment. And if in these and other cases it does appear
that the studies in the classroom have no outside effect,
lead to no outside activities, what expectation can you
have that they will lead to activity after the college days
are done? If studies do not stimulate to spontaneous free
outside activities, if they are merely the learning of lessons
and giving them back, then the results of our training are
pitifully small; we may send out good, well-meaning boys,
who will do what they are told and refrain from doing
anything else, but we shall not send out men of intellectual
power and grip who are able to live for themselves the life
which the intellect opens before them.


What, then, in a word, should be our attitude toward
these activities? I think that, without officially looking
at them, we should be forever watching them as the mariner
watches his barometer when the waves are high. And we
must see to it that the classroom dominates the activities,
making them what they ought to be. And how is that to
be done? Can it be done by legislating out of the college
all activities not in harmony with the classroom? I fear
that very little can be accomplished in that way. The only
real way to dominate the activities is to dominate the men
who are in them. In a college where the teacher masters
the mind and imagination of the pupil, there will be little


trouble about harmful activities. If teachers are mere
taskmasters, assigning lessons and seeing that they are done,
they need not expect the boy to do them over again a second
time just for the love of the task. When the cat's away
the mice will play, and they very seldom play at calling
the cat to come back so that they may be chased and
terrified again. A college is a place where work should be
and must be done, but a liberal college in which the student
activities are simply reactions from the studies, ways of
escape from the dreary grind such an institution is not a
college at all. If we do not succeed in making boys want to
do the things which we deem worth doing, then we may be
good drill masters, but we are not good teachers, and we
have no proper place in a college of liberal culture.

But I know that I shall be accused of talking in vague
generalities and of missing the real point of the issue.
Do not these activities interfere with the studies, I shall
be asked; do they not take time and energy on which the
teacher has a rightful claim? Yes, they do. But there are
many other things whose interference is more serious. As
for that, one study, if it be successfully taught, interferes
with other studies not so well taught. But in the give and
take of a college life, a study should be able to take care of
itself. The teacher has large power in his own hands;
if he cannot exercise it then the fault belongs to him rather
than to his situation.

Teachers often tell me of their worries about the over-
doing of student activities. And I know that they are
overdone. But I have far more worry about the men who
underdo them. The men I worry about are those who
overdo the inactivities. What of the men who do no
debating, no acting, no writing, no reading, no philanthropic
services, no music? What have we done to them or failed
to do to them in the classroom that they should be willing
simply not to be in the hours in which they are free? What
in the world do they do with themselves? So far as one
can see they just dawdle. They are the men who play


cards or pool, who talk about the teams, read the papers,
walk the streets, watch the passers-by. These are the men
for whom I feel responsibility, about whose fate I torture
my soul with dreadful anticipations. Would you not
rather have them engaged in activities? When we have
found some way of saving these men from themselves, it
will be time for us to deal with their brethren who are at
least alive and whose very activity at times puts the class-
room to shame.

The one attitude toward student activities which seems
to me deplorable is a kind of sullen hostility which one
sometimes finds in earnest college teachers. They give one
the impression of having been beaten in a fight, of feeling
that the worse cause has prevailed over the better, of re-
senting both their defeat and the unfairness of a conflict
in which such a defeat is possible. Now the trouble with
this attitude is that it is not sane, and further, that it
places the teacher in an utterly false relation to his pupils.
No teacher can ever afford to be beaten either by his pupils
or by their friends. He must be master and that for the
reason that he has in charge the fundamental interests upon
which all values depend. For the sake of those interests
he must dominate the boy both within the classroom and
outside it, and whatever the difficulties, he may never
admit himself beaten in the task. I am convinced that the
teachers in any of the college communities which we know
can make of those communities what they will. If they
fail, the fault is not in the situation but in the men whose
business it is to master it.


I began this paper by accepting the principle concerning
student activities, "The less said about them, the better."
I think you will agree with me that I have been loyal to
the principle. I have not tried to say anything but simply
to define an attitude.

And now I leave my parcel on the cook's table. Let him
do with it as he will.


THE two papers here given are early adventures
into the field of educational theory. The first
paper was given at the general meeting of the
Religious Education Association held at Brown University
in March, 1911. It expresses the conviction that no teach-
ing of knowledge can be successful unless it is based upon
a study of what knowledge is. It finds logical reflection
upon the intellectual process to be essential to any proper
understanding of that process as a teacher ought to under-
stand it.

The second paper was read at a meeting of the Associa-
tion of Schools and Colleges of New England at Boston
University on October 9, 1908. The paper maintains that if
the logical distinction between form and content has signifi-
cance for the description of thinking, then the theory of
formal discipline has corresponding validity for the teacher of
thinking. It is not necessary, if one seeks to justify this
theory, that one appeal to a discarded and discredited
psychology of the Faculties. Logic, modern as well as
ancient, confirms the statement that the most important
single judgment which can be made about the thinking
process is that which singles out its form or method from its
content. If this be true then formal discipline in some very
real and important sense must be at the very heart of all
intellectual training and development.



COLLEGE courses are roughly divided into two classes,
(i) those which give training and (2) those which give
information, which add to the sum of knowledge.
My impression is that logic has kept its place in the curricu-
lum as a member of the first group. The teacher of logic,
it is commonly supposed, does not deal with any particular
set of facts. He is willing to choose his material from any
field of human knowledge. He may discuss such diverse
statements as All men are mortal, All cats like fish, A straight
line is the shortest distance between two points. But in
dealing with these he is expected to give to his students
a certain mental technique, a certain delicacy of intellectual
touch, a strength of mental grasp, which will fit them for the
work of thinking, wherever it may be carried on. Now it is
not my intention to minimize the importance of the training
value of logic. I would maintain, however, that this con-
tribution to the aims of college education is far less im-
portant than the information or, perhaps better, the insight
which logic gives its additions to the sum of valuable
and significant knowledge. In support of this contention
I must first attempt to state what the science is and then
endeavor to tell what it has to give to the upbuilding of
the undergraduate mind.

In common with other ancient disciplines, logic has
suffered many inroads and encroachments from the so-called
modern sciences. The old boundary lines have been sadly
broken by the New Psychology with its studies of mental
procedure and development, by the New Mathematics in
its analysis of necessary relationships, by the New Sociology



in its classification of the sciences and its general enthusiasm
for whatever may be called social. But now face to face
with these invaders we have a New Logic as well a logic
well able to give a good account of itself in the war of
definitions. In popular opinion, logic has commonly been
identified with the mere Art of the Syllogism. But this is
simply because in schemes of popular education the syllogism
has been singled out for its training value and the other
more essential features of the science have been ignored or
unknown. But logic is to-day a field of study defined by
a clear-cut conception a conception which at once gives
unity to all its parts and marks ofF the whole from other
sciences which are themselves sufficiently clear to admit
of proper definition. Though the sciences have changed
in content and procedure, logic is still the science of the
sciences that is, the science which studies its fellows.
It is still the science of thinking, though thinking in the
last few centuries has undergone radical transformation.
The task of logic is to know the intellectual, the thinking
activities of man. Just as the student of ethics takes the
activities of willing and choosing would collate them,
describe, classify, explain, organize in a word, know
them so in a corresponding sense does the logician en-
deavor to know what thinking is and does and ought to
be. Wherever a man is thinking there is material for us
to examine. The physicist measures and explains his data;
we will measure and explain the physicist. The biologist
tabulates and generalizes his observations; we will tabulate
and generalize about biologists. Sociology springs into
being as a new intellectual movement; we will endeavor to
understand that movement, to know what it is, whence
it comes, whither it is bound. In a word, other men think
about the world; we think about their thinking, and seek
to know thought as they know the facts with which their
thought deals.

This conception of an external scrutiny of the sciences
has never appealed very strongly to the scientists them-


selves. My impression is that they have often felt toward
logic as they are now feeling toward the agents of Mr.
Carnegie namely, that they know their own business
better than any outsider can know it, and that it would
be better if they were left alone to the guidance of their
own judgment. It may perhaps clear the issue if I insist,
just as Mr. Pritchett does, that our aim is not to dictate
what the scientist shall do but simply to know what he is
doing. On the other hand, it must be insisted that the
logician hopes to understand the work of the scientist in
a way and to a degree which is quite impossible to the
scientist himself so long as he remains devoted to his own
facts and his own point of view. We do not know his facts
but we do intend to know him, his aim, his problem, his
method, his concepts, his results. For the sake of clearness,
however, let me indicate the kind of questions which we
ask concerning him.

Our first and fundamental question is, "What are men
seeking as they think?" Now, wherever thinking is found,
whether on the street, in the mill, in the laboratory, in the
study, that question always receives one answer. Think-
ing seeks to attain Truth and to avoid Error. To define
these terms then, to understand the common purpose of
all men in their intellectual strivings, to find the common
element of which all thought activities are simply modi-
fications, that is our first task the discovery of the
fundamental terms, the unit of explanation the first
task of every scientist in dealing with his facts. Again we
find that the intellectual inquiry divides itself into separate
fields, each dealing with a separate group of facts. The
historian is dealing with individual sequences and co-
existences, the physicist with quantitative changes, the
biologist with living forms, the psychologist with conscious
processes, the economist with prices and exchanges. And
in each case it appears that the nature of the inquiry is
molded and shaped by the nature of the material con-
sidered. Here then is another set of questions. What are


the differences in aim, the differences in method, the differ-
ences in concepts employed, which mark off these investi-
gations from one another? Or again, since these separate
investigations have the common aim of Truth to bind them
together in spite of their differences, what are their relations
of significance for one another and for the whole? In a
word, we know the whole field of human knowledge not in
all its contents, but in its form, with its likenesses and
differences, its common problems and its separate problems,
its general methods and its special procedures, its funda-
mental concepts and the modifications of these in special
fields. We do not, as is sometimes supposed, claim to know
all that is known, but we do intend to know all knowing
in exactly the same degree that the biologist can know all
life and the physicist know all matter.

Now it is a commonplace of modern logical theory that
in spite of their membership in a common family, the
children of Truth have very fundamental differences of
presupposition, of problem, and of method. For one group
of investigations the chosen task is the formulation of facts
in terms of quantity and measurement. For another, all
comparisons are those of quality, the likenesses and differ-
ences of things. In the mechanical sciences the principle
of causation is the final term of explanation, while in
biological fields the notion of function seems far more
fundamental and significant. In the studies of conscious-
ness neither cause nor function seems adequate and both
give way before the concept of value as the final term of
human experience. Thus we find the sciences, each with
its own distinct problem, each dominated by its own pre-
suppositions Sciences of Number and Quantity, of
Quality, of Cause and Effect, of Function, of Value
these as we find them in our studies and in our curriculum
stand apart as separate enterprises of the human spirit,
each commanding the loyalty and interest of its followers.
It is this situation which calls for the organizing activity
of the student of logic. If we would know our world at all,


if we would understand our own intellectual experiences,
these separate groups of judgments must be understood in
relation to each other and to the whole. Can the same
fact be explained in terms of Quantity and Quality, of Cause
and of Function, in terms of Existence and of Value, and if
so, how do these different explanations bear upon each
other? Here is a world of apparent discrepancies and
contradictions which must be solved if we are to understand
our own thoughts. It is in no spirit of vainglorious boast-
ing that the student of logic approaches his task.

One further conclusion of logical theory must here be
noted, viz., that you can never get unified knowledge by
simply adding together these separate contributions of the
separate sciences. Departments of knowledge which have
different problems, different methods, different presup-
positions, cannot be thrown together as bricks upon bricks.
Theirs is rather the organic relation in which no part is
properly understood except in the light of the whole and yet
in which every part performs a function radically different
from every other. The history of human thinking is check-
ered with the controversies which have arisen from the
failure to perceive this relationship. "Are facts describable
in terms of quantity? Then the notions of quality must
be thrown aside." "Is the life of man genetically derived
from lower forms. Then it has no value higher than that
of those forms." "Is the human will causally determined?
Then it is not free." "Is the world to be conceived as
matter in motion? Then it cannot be known as the ex-
pression of a divine spirit." These are misunderstandings
and misapprehensions, every one of which has come from
lack of knowledge of intellectual relationships. To give a
way of escape from these misunderstandings is some part
of the task of logic.

If now we turn to the conception of Education, the place
of logic in the general scheme is not hard to determine.
It is, I presume, the function of intellectual education to
give to a student a genuine and intimate understanding of


the intellectual life of his people, and to fit him to play his
proper part in the activities of that life. It is the pre-
supposition of every institution of learning that education
in this sense is good preparation for living as a man ought
to live. A man is better, we believe, for knowing what his
fellows have thought and are thinking, and for being able
to do some thinking for himself.

Now on this presumption what is the place of logic in
the curriculum? And especially, how can logic contribute
to the moral and religious values of the life of the student?
There are two lines of answer which I should like to suggest.

In the first place, the most striking weakness of the
curriculum of the American college to-day is that it is a
thing of shreds and patches with little pretension to any
unity of design or purpose. Under the wide elective system,
a student is given opportunity to devote himself to any or
all of a great multitude of intellectual inquiries, each with
its own special task, each with its own special point of view.
How is he to know the significance of these studies for each
other, for thought as a whole, or for life as a whole? It is
the pride and boast of each scientist that he does not depart
from his own problem nor from his own method. Who
then is to give to the student the bearings of that method
and that problem? That is a question which still awaits
an answer. But in these latter days certain measures of
improvement have been attempted. A number of colleges
have insisted that a student shall work for a little
while in each of the great branches of learning, and
they are beginning to require that he study thor-
oughly in at least one department of knowledge. But this
is no genuine solution of the problem. Let me ask If you
add together a little Mathematics, a little Literature, a
little each of History, Physics, Chemistry, Economics,
Social Science, International Law, and Art, what do you
get? You certainly get a great deal of something, but what
is it? In its parts it is knowledge, because within the
parts it is organized, but as a whole it is not knowledge,


for the different parts are not organized, but are simply
thrown together. The boy who gets this education knows
a great many things but he does not know the world, nor
does he in any real sense know the intellectual life either of
himself or of his fellows. If logic could only succeed in
preventing this piling together of Quantities, Qualities,
Functions, and Values into one great heap; if, as the end
of a student's college life approaches, it could help him
to single out these separate elements, to arrange, relate and
unify them, in a word, to understand them, its work would
be worth while. If this could be done the college would
send forth fewer hodge-podge dilettantes, fewer uneducated
specialists. It would give us more men of genuine culture.
But there is another contribution of logic which is of even
more immediate value to the interests of morals and of
religion. I can simply state it here without stopping to
explain. Morals and religion have always construed life
in terms of Value. In the last three or four centuries,
however, the physical and natural sciences have thrust
upon the human consciousness the other concepts, especially
those of Quantity, Causation and Function. Now the
development of these sciences has been so marvelous, their
achievements so great, that by mere fatigue of human
attention, by mere distraction of interest, the Value
conceptions have been obscured, neglected, and in many
cases even lost. Here is a situation with which every
college faculty is called upon to deal. No college has a
right to-day to send forth boys into the activities of human
living without giving them a clear understanding of what
the Value conceptions are and how they differ from the
notions of Cause and Function which dominate the fields
of Physics and Biology. If a boy has not been made to
see that human life demands a type of explanation different
from those given to matter, to plant, and to animal, then
the college has not done its work, and the boy is not intel-
lectually prepared for the moral situations which lie before


If now we sum up our conclusions, I think we may say
that logic has three contributions to make to the moral
and religious welfare of the college student.

In the first place, it has undoubted training value which
for purposes of this discussion need only be mentioned.

Secondly, by its studies of the relations of the sciences
to each other and to the total work of thinking, it makes
possible some intelligible formulation of that world-wide
view which underlies every system of religious belief. It
frees us from the limitations of special problems, special
methods, special fields. It opens up to us the unitary life
of the human spirit. This is its contribution to religion.

And thirdly, it makes clear the peculiar and character-
istic concepts of Value in terms of which we may best
understand this human life of ours. In this it brings clear-
ness and order into the field of morals.

I fear that I have made large claims for the significance
of logic. But it is hard to see how, in an institution de-
voted to thinking, one could claim less for the science which
studies thinking itself. I may also plead that this is not the
first time that the maxim "Know thyself" has been given
an important place in a scheme of liberal education.



I AM sure that you have all heard the most recent theory
of classical scholarship with regard to the real or mythical
character of Homer. It is, you remember, that Homer is

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Online LibraryAlexander MeiklejohnThe liberal college → online text (page 9 of 13)