Johann Friedrich Herbart.

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is most striking in a case where a common need occa-
sions a new common action, and from the isolated

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*' I's " a new " we " is created. Yet it is perhaps more
remarkable to observe how after a time a person appa-
rently changed becomes again the same as formerly.

The deepest impressions are given to a man's char-
acter through his external deeds when they belong to •
his vocation or his daily occupation. Here we see in
the clearest manner both the conflict and the co-opera-
tion that exist in the dominant masses of concepts
that belong to the series which is actually passing
through the mind. During labor these masses of con-
cepts are in equipoise in consciousness, and every indi-
vidual act depends on the flowing series for its place
and time, and it must be undertaken at the point fixed
by the stage of advancement of the work.

Very important determinations of character flow
from the peculiarity of the employment pursued. The
series of concepts that determine the life of the gar-
dener, or of the farmer, move slowly with disturbances
through natural causes which often necessitate his
watching and waiting. The series of the musician,
actor, etc., have, on the contrary, their distinct rhythm.
Again, the concept series of the fencer, juggler, etc.,
move quite differently and require that without definite
rhythm the right moment must be most accurately
perceived. One of the most important directions for
the practical educator and teacher is that he observe
as accurately as possible how the concept series ought
to proceed among his pupils, and how they can and
actually do proceed. Important differences which de-
mand attention are to be found here.

124. Whatever a man by inner thinking or exter-
nal action may attempt, certain permanent feelings
rise more and more out of the fluctuating mental con-

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ditions, and these feelings become decisive criteria for
him in his actual deliberation, and consequently in his
understanding and in his reason. They become these
special criteria, provided he possesses a deliberation of
sufficient strength to resist changing desires.

This is especially true in the aesthetic apprehension
of the world peculiar to every person (which in many
respects may be one-sided, and consequently even be-
come morally perverted), according to which every per-
son habitually determines his relations with the world.
The impression which family and fatherland, human-
ity and human history make upon the individual is
explained by this. This impression is compounded
of all that involuntarily pleases or displeases him.
Hence everything that hinders a man in seeing clearly
and in judging fairly works injuriously upon his in-
nermost character.

125. The passions act most disastrously upon all
development. They are the extreme opposite of the
aesthetic judgment ; moreover, through them all versa-
tility of effort is destroyed. Through their influence
imagination and understanding receive a one-sided
direction. They themselves, in case they find gratifi-
cation, result in weariness and vacuity to mind and
heart, and in case they remain ungratified they end in
sorrow and illness. Those who boast as to what they
have willed to become through passionate excitement
deceive themselves ; they ought to rejoice that, in their
shipwreck, they have not lost everything, and many
are to be commended, inasmuch as they make a better
use of the goods saved than they did formerly of their
whole fortune.

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126. Accurately considered, no one condition of
human life exactly resembles another. Everything
which is presented to the inner perception is wavering
and fluctuating. This remark which discloses the
impossibility of a fixed and definite psychological ex-
perience, was made at the beginning of the present
treatise, and must now be further elaborated. With it
is connected the observation of the different conditions
of life as every person passes through them ; further,
it suggests the sketch of the most striking differences
in human habits and human development under the
influence of external conditions ; and, finally, it calls
for a brief description of anomalous mental conditions.

127. Eeproduction through memory and imagina-
tion proves (see section 90) that no concept once
created is ever lost, and that a meeting of concepts
which has once occurred can hardly be without results.
But when, with the multitude of concepts that the
mind of a mature man has accumulated, we compare
that which he is conscious of doing each individual
moment — we must be astonished at the disproportion
between the riches of the former and the poverty of the
latter. By way of comparison, we might ascribe to
the human mind an eye which possessed an extremely


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small pupil but the highest degree of movability. The
explanation of this lies directly in what has heretofore
been taught concerning the threshold of consciousness
(16-19). Besides, the small number of concepts which
we are able to take in at any one time is often grasped
in a moment of quick transition, and by this it is pos-
sible for the intellectual man to bring his concepts into
the most varied relations, and to modify them through
one another.

128. Certain incitements resulting in a change of
concepts, by means of external impressions, are a ne-
cessity to man. The lonely man seeks social inter-
course, and if no means have been taken to keep the
mind in activity, a long stay in one place is painful
on account of the monotony of the surroundings. If
this necessity remains long unsatisfied, human life
gradually narrows down in a degree to correspond with
the slow periodical changes to be observed. Converse-
ly, the need increases through gratification. Those
who make history (like Napoleon) for this reason al-
ways find enough men ready to devote themselves to
their service just because they are restless. Even be-
hind the stove one complains of empty newspapers.

129. By virtue of the arrangement of the human
body, hunger and satiety, waking and sleep, have every
day their well-known cycle, and, in addition, seasons
bring with them their variety of gratifications and of
augmentations of bodily needs. It is not necessary to
discuss here the tension and relaxation, the reflection,
resolution, action, and rest which follow therefrom.

Note. — The noteworthy modification of sleep through dreams
may be deferred more conveniently to the discussion of anoma-
lous conditions.

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130. The earthly life, taken as a whole, has its
period of growth, of full strength, and of decline.
The child, from psychological reasons, if it be well,
moves restlessly, pursues simple, artless fancies and
plays ; it is indisposed to think connectedly, but is in
the highest degree susceptible to everything new.
Hence it is not capable of freeing itself from mo-
mentary feelings. The boy, though still very weak in
this respect, can, nevertheless, be elevated through
education without undue haste to a significant de-
gree of true insight and self-control. The youth
receives an increase of strength, but also of unrest.
If he can not act, he dreams. The man to whom
these powers are no longer new, but to whom the dif-
ficulties of human action are known, makes a judicious
use of what he has, if his childhood and youth have
not been spoiled. He acts more, and therefore he
dreams less. The later years retain as much manli-
ness as the body permits, with great individual varia-
tions. In the most favorable examples thinking takes
the place of dreaming and of action, even though it is
too late to accomplish much. Every age atones for
the sins, and suffers for the misfortunes, of the pre-
ceding one.



131. The course of life is, in the first place, modi-
fied through difference of sex. This is often observa-
ble in early youth. Girls develop worldly wisdom at an

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earlier age than boys, and are earlier inclined to hold
themselves within the bounds of propriety. On the
contrary, their period of education is shorter than that
of boys. Hence they collect less mental material, but
they elaborate it more quickly and with less variety
and specialization. The result is to be seen in the
whole life. The female sex depends upon its feelings.
The man acts more from knowledge, principles, and
relations. This explains the great variety of callings
which men follow.

132. In connection with the so-called tempera-
ment, every man has another original peculiarity, that
is to be explained by physiological predisposition in re-
gard to feelings and emotions. Of the four known
temperaments, the joyous and the sad (sanguine and
melancholy) relate to the feelings ; the excitable and
the slow (choleric and phlegmatic) to the excitability
of the emotions. The rationale of these temperaments
is generally easy to perceive ; for the common state of
feeling which the body brings with it, and which accom-
panies a man through his whole life, can not easily oc-
cupy exactly the middle place between the pleasant and
the unpleasant; according as it inclines toward this
or that side, a man becomes sanguine or melancholy.
He can not be both at the same time, but he has his
place somewhere on tjie line which runs in the two
directions. However, a fluctuating temperament is
not only conceivable, but is sometimes to be met with
in experience, by virtue of which a man is disposed to
change from joyousness to sadness without special
cause. Furthermore, as the emotions call the physical
organism into play, and find in it, as it were, the
sounding-board through which they are strengthened

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and made more lasting, there must be a degree of
adaptability in this organism by virtue of which a man
is either more choleric or more phlegmatic, so that he
may not be both at the same time, but may fluctuate
between the two.

From this arises the possible mingling of temper-
aments according to the combinations of these two
series. The sanguine temperament is either choleric
or phlegmatic, and so, too, the melancholy may be
choleric or phlegmatic. It is conceivable that one may
be neither sanguine nor melancholy, for the zero-point
lies just between the two. But it is inconceivable that
one should be indifferent in regard to the choleric and
phlegmatic temperament, for to have no excitability
whatever of the emotions would indicate an extreme
phlegmatic temperament. Here the zero-point lies at
one of the extremes. The middle is the accustomed
excitability — an arithmetical mean, which is to be
found by experience, almost like the average stature of
the human body.

Note. — The names of the temperaments may also be other-
wise derived ; and if the expression, choleric temperament, be
applied to a persistent tendency to anger, then the foregoing
does not hold good. As the subject is not purely psychological,
a physiological view may be in place here. Of the three systems
or factors in animal life, a concealed defect in any one of them
may influence the mind. If irritability (i. e., reaction against
the Environment) and sensibility are uninjured, and if the nutri-
tive system suffers only in so far as to cause a constant discom-
fort in the general feeling, a choleric bitterness of temperament
may arise. This is to be perceived in a few sad cases in chil-
dren. If the irritability suffers, good-nature, and, perhaps,
talent may exist, but a sufficiently strong external life will be
wanting. If the sensibility suffers generally, the difficulty ap-
pears to proceed from a so-called Boeotian or peasant tempera-

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ment. if only the sensibility of the brain suffers relatively, or,
to use a clearer expression, the ganglionic system predominates,
this may be the cause of the sanguine temperament. If the
nutritive system and irritability are both at the same time weak,
we find the phlegmatic temperament Thus it appears that all
temperaments perceptibly prominent imply some defect.

133. As the body strengthens the emotions by
means of its responsiveness, or by its imperturbability
weakens their outbreaks, even so it mingles in all the
changes of feeling and of thought — sometimes like the
fly-wheel, which prolongs the motion received ; and at
other times like an inert weight, which delays the
motion or renders it quite impossible. At least, it is
known that the waking of a man is not always or
merely an indication that he has done sleeping. That
narrow pupil which in a foregoing section (127) we
attributed to the human mind in general, is in the
case of individuals more or less narrow, and the
mobility of the concepts which come and go in con-
sciousness is in such cases less or greater. If to this
we add the special tendency of many persons for this
or that kind of thinking and feeling, then we have a
scale of differences, the extremes of which are called
genius and imbecility. The latter is classed with
anomalous conditions, because it is often found vnth
them, and like them renders a man useless in society.

Note.— That which is connected with physiognomy and cra-
niology is too uncertain and too indefinite to have at present
any value in psychology beyond that of being a curiosity. Many
singular facts (no matter from what department of knowledge)
may be true, but to be of scientific importance they must be re-
lated in a demonstrable manner to what iS already known and
tried ; if they remain alone, they are of no value. To wish to
subordinate psychology entirely to physiology means to exactly

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reverse the true relation of the two sciences, a mistake that has
often been made in both modem and ancient times. In the
third part of this book the true relation will in a measure be

134. The question may be asked, What talents hu-
manity is endowed with by nature. It is known that
long experience and careful study of the human dispo-
sition serves to detract much from the good opinion
which a youth may have formed from an outside view
of cultivated society ; he does not yet know how much
that is bad is hidden in men and secretly nourished
by them. But this fact shows less against the natural
talents of humanity than against the coarse treatment
which up to the present time has been generally ap-
plied where an effort has been made to educate men.
Inasmuch as this treatment, especially on account of
the imperfections of church and state, has from early
times influenced the external demeanor of men, for
centuries a disproportion has arisen between seeming
and being, which in ancient and mediaeval times could
hardly have been known to such a degree as at present,
as in those former times there was much less of trans-
planted and imitated culture than at present. Besides,
the talent of humanity is quite different from the
talent of the individual man. The former has to do
with social development in general ; hence it has to do
quite especially with the relation between the rare great
minds that make epochs in history, and the multitude
of common men who can only receive and carry for-
ward culture. Our history of humanity, which in-
cludes only a few thousand years, is much too short to
enable us to judge with any degree of certainty con-
cerning facts upon this question. Regardless of the

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old saying, " Nothing new under the sun," much, too
much that is new occurs, to render possible a general
survey of the earthly path of humanity.

135. Between the questions concerning the talents
of the individual and concerning those of humanity
we should have to place that concerning the races
of mankind, if observation furnished anything certain
in a psychological connection. But that which might
perhaps be said upon this has a closer connection with
the following subject.



136. From the empirical standpoint, no decision
has been reached in regard to what may have origi-
nated in human nature, and what may be produced by
influence from without. Our introduction to meta-
physics has warned us not to trust much to either kind
of concepts, inasmuch as the idea of a manifold of tal-
ents in the individual, as well as that of causes and
influences of every kind, belong to those concepts that
can not be retained as they are first presented to us by
experience. Here, therefore, we can only consider the
most striking phenomena as we find them vary in the
external conditions of man.

137. First, we have to consider the place where the
man lives, with all the numerous and wide-reaching
influences of climate, the nature of the ground and

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soil, the situation and neighborhood. This will be
more fully developed in our historical lectures.

138. The nation to which the individual belongs
has not merely a predominating temperament, but it
has also its history, and the individual enters this his-
tory at a certain point of time. With it is united a
degree of culture, a national feeling and conscience to
which the individual at all points in the course of his
life is linked, and through it elevated and repressed.

139. In every nation that has freed itself from bar-
barism there is a difference of ranks or castes (merely
transplanted in the case of the women, in the case of
the men original). This difference of rank is partly
a work of violence and necessity, partly a result of
natural talents, and partly a consequence of the divis-
ion of labor. A rank is assigned to the individual,
provided one is conceded him, only in so far as he
himself can produce a conformity of his action to
the special function marked out for his province (not
in so far as he is active for his own aims, for in the
idea of division of labor it is plain that he works for
all, or at least for many). Now, inasmuch as the
man seeks to concentrate his whole action into con-
formity to the specific function proposed, an outside
form that is impressed on each arises, together with
a standard of honor for each order, by which not only
(as may happen) the means used causes even the aim
to be displaced, and in part forgotten, but also the
thoughts and intentions of the man are adjusted to his
action; they vanish together in the circle of their
utility, and the efforts which remain are divided into
two parts, one of which belongs to the demands of
one's rank or station, while the other in spite of the

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rank seeks its individual gratification. In case this
contest increases, the man and his station are of no
value to each other, and injure each other mutually.

The less one has to produce conformity of his action
to the end in view — i. e., the more he is the employee
of another— so much the less does he trouble himself
with his actions and so much the less honor is there
for him; so much the more weight, however, falls
upon that second part of the effort which, notwith-
standing the limited position, seeks gratification. For
the sake of this individual gratification, if a mild
and, at the same time, firm treatment on the part
of the employer does not obviate the evil, all oppor-
tunities are made use of, and the arts of falsity are

As a rule, we find the better class in each nation
among those who have undertaken a share of the gen-
eral labor, and who manage it according to their own

140. As his rank influences the mature man, so
the family to which the youth belongs, as well as the
education which he receives, together with the exam-
ples, and all his surroundings, influence him. One
seldom trains himself in opposition to his environ-
ment, never independently of it.

141. The principal question is how much and what
freedom remains to man in the midst of all the ex-
ternal influences. It is easy to carry out these reflec-
tions to such a point that, when one yields to the im-
pression made on him by the contemplation of the
facts, the conviction arises that man either becomes
what he is through external influences combined with
natural talent which precedes his will, or at least that

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the circle of freedom is so small that its value must be

Kant admitted that the whole temporal existence
of man comes under the law of natural necessity. In
order to save Freedom he placed it in the intelligible
world as an article of faith for the moral man.

If one may presume to understand a man better
than he understood himself, then it is very easy to
show what Kant intended. Responsibility was to be
secured. But that is secured without any theory of
freedom (see note to section 118). Then, practically
to reach the essential idea of the Kantian view, we
need neither metaphysics nor speculative psychology,
nor even a critique of reason, but only on the one side
an untrammeled search for facts ; on the other, a cor-
rect concept of practical philosophy.

But it is very important to go beyond this, in order
to recognize more completely the force with which
a man often with great results works on himself, or
even against himself. This is especially important at
an age when one stands between the education just
ended and the vestibule opening into the future rank
or station. At this period the self-determination may
be greater, or at least richer in results, than before and
after. Explanations upon this point will be found
in the third pai*t of this book.

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142. For the most part, we see man subjected to
anomalous conditions, among which the dream even
in the healthy man may be reckoned. But the bom
imbecile is lost beyond ordinary measure in simplicity
and mediocrity of talent. Also in the other kinds of
mental disorder are to be found many a resemblance
(quite as striking as sad) to errors, emotions, and pas-
sions, so that it is difficult to contrast closely the well
man with the mentally diseased.

143. In all cases where an empirical manifold does
not easily admit of accurate analysis, we are safest
in beginning with the most manifest differences, with
the extremes, and afterward comparing the interven-
ing members with them. Upon this ground we begin
with peculiar mental disorders, and later shall mention
conditions of illness similar to them, together with
phenomena which are associated with sleep.

Mental disorders which make their appearance in
waking hours, and in, at least apparent, bodily health,
come under four classes (according to Eeil and Pinel,
the latter of whom has found some valid grounds for
assuming a fifth) — illusion, madness, dementia, idiocy.

144. Mental illusion ( Wahnsinn) depends upon a
so-called fixed idea, upon a wrong concept which af-
fects a part of the circle of thought, while in other
respects the thinking remains in its due course and
proceeds consistently from that concept. It is there-
fore self-evident that the wrong concept must really
deceive and will not be recognized as a delusion ; like-

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wise that it contains a groundless error from which
one can not successfully disengage the sound part of
the knowledge which he possesses. If an assumption
of mental faculties is to be based on this, then the
source of insane delusion is to be regarded as a dis-
eased imagination which in most cases has suffered
through an injurious influence of the faculty of de-
sire, or sometimes of the understanding or reason,
and sometimes also it has suffered merely from bodily
causes. With the disease of imagination is combined
a weakness of judgment and of power to reason, so that
the clearest refutations of the delusion are not under-
stood by the person who is ill. Furthermore, the dis-
ease acts upon emotions, desires, opinions, etc

The same diseased imagination, however, shows
itself to have intervals of sound health and often a
genial, exalted activity in everything that is not con-
nected with a fixed idea. Likewise the other mental
faculties show clearly that they are not weak, but are

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Online LibraryJohann Friedrich HerbartA text-book in psychology: an attempt to found the science of psychology on ... → online text (page 11 of 19)