Johann Friedrich Herbart.

A text-book in psychology: an attempt to found the science of psychology on ... online

. (page 16 of 19)
Online LibraryJohann Friedrich HerbartA text-book in psychology: an attempt to found the science of psychology on ... → online text (page 16 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

which are reproduced simultaneously, and no others,
enter into new and closer combination.

Note. — Some of the principal pedagogical notions are con-
nected with this principle. Among others we may mention first
of all the distinction between analytic and synthetic instruction.

Digitized by VjOOQIC


The former occurs through reproduction for a purpose ; the latter
seeks to produce a combination of new concepts in conformity
with a purpose. Furthermore in this connection belongs the
universal requirement that absorptiotk (Vertiefung) and self-
possession (Besinnung) should alternate with each other like a
sort of mental respiration. Absorption ( Vertiefung) occurs when
some concepts are brought, in their strength and purity, one
after the other (as free as possible from arrests), into conscious-
ness. Self-possession implies the collecting and combining of
these concepts. [ Vertiefuiig signifies that absorption in the de-
tails of some object which is attained when we lose ourselves in
its contemplation. Besinnung^ on the other hand, is the recov-
ery of ourselves which is attained when we subordinate the ob-
ject to the unity of our knowledge ; by this we come to ourselves
or to our senses,] Both take place as well in analytic as in
synthetic instruction. The more completely and the more ac-
curately these operations are performed, so much the better does
the instruction prosper. (See the author's Allgemeine PEda-
gogik, at the beginning and end of the second book.)

211. While, for the reasons above mentioned, con-
cepts, when they constantly follow the tendency toward
equilibrium, thereby change from one movement into
another, they become more firmly and more variously
interwoven, so that each excitation of a single one
among them is communicated more and more to the
remaining ones, thus assuring their reaction. In other
words, the play of the imagination partakes more and
more of the nature of thinking, and man becomes
more and more intelligent. For the intelligence has
its seat in this general connection among concepts, but
not in notions and judgments taken individually (188).
With this, however, a gradual cultivation of notions
and judgments is combined, inasmuch as the circum-
stances which were considered above occur in this con-
nection (179-192).

Digitized by VjOOQIC


212. As no man lives alone, but humanity exists
in the form of society, it may be remarked here that
conversation is the ordinary stimulant for the imagina-
tion ; customs and general opinions, however, are usually
the halting-places in which concepts become so crossed
and interlaced that, from there on, each movement of
the concept receives a determination (or direction) or
as we also may say, common understanding is based
upon common opinion, which, by the way, may be
groundless and untrue, therefore may in a higher sense
of the word be strongly opposed to the understanding.

213. A man's sense-perception {Anschauen) and at-
tention, in general his interest, depend upon his imagi-
nation and thought. Even in the same surroundings
every man has his own world.

Attention is partly involuntary and passive, partly
voluntary and active. The latter, being connected with
self-control, will not be considered here. The former
has its foundation in part in the momentary attitude
of the mind during the act of observing (Merken);
moreover, it is partly determined by the older concepts
which the object observed reproduces.

(a.) During the act of attention four circumstances
are to be observed in the mental state, viz. : the
strength of the impression ; the freshness of the sus-
ceptibility; the degree of opposition to concepts al-
ready present in consciousness; and the extent to
which the mind was occupied previous to this act of

(5.) In regard to the co-operation of the older con-
cepts reproduced, these latter may be unfavorable to
the involuntary observation, because of the fact that too
little or too much is in consciousness, inasmuch as in

Digitized by VjOOQIC


both of these cases it is impossible for that which is
newly apprehended to adjust the mental condition to
itself. For, if the new concept finds nothing, or too
little, of the old with which to combine, it is of itself
generally too weak to resist being overpowered by
other concepts which have already proceeded further
in collecting and combining. If, however, too many
similar old concepts present themselves in conscious-
ness, they weaken the susceptibility for the new. On
the other hand, the act of observing will be promoted
by two circumstances : first, when the new is contrasted
with the old, by which the reproduction is strong
enough for union without doing serious harm through
an excess of susceptibility ; second, when a reproduc-
tion of old concepts is promoted by the new, and the
old concepts would have striven after this in any case.
In this case it establishes new combinations, while it
gratifies a desire at the same time, or at least brings
up a pleasant feeling. This happens especially with
previously aroused expectation.

Note. — Attention and expectation, as the two steps of inter-
est, belong likewise to the fundamental notions of general peda-

214. Among these excitations of the psychical
piechanism which have their origin in the physical or-
ganism, we may be here allowed to pass over such as
present more physiological than psychological phe-
nomena — i. e., those in which the bodily needs are to
be considered.

Generally, however, it is very clear that every phys-
ical feeling is in a condition to bring the series of con-
cepts that are complicated with it into consciousness ;

Digitized by VjOOQIC


and that these series of concepts will come up so much
the more certainly, since with all other concepts other
physical feelings are connected (weak as they may be),
and to these physical feelings may correspond other
physical conditions which can not be brought up now.
Upon this ground, we should expect a greater (rather
than a less) dependence of the mind upon the body,
than that which experience shows us,

215. Moreover, the changes in the physical condi-
tion must correspond to the changes in the mental state,
and to the movement and interaction of the concept
series. By this the measure of time and the velocity
of the mental change may meet a favorable or un-
favorable condition of the body which suffices to ex-
plain the alternating pleasure in, and inclination
toward, this or that occupation, provided no purely
psychological reasons influence it besides.

Note. — That play of the psychical mechanism is especially
an uncontrolled one, or at least one difficult of control, which
arises when the velocity in the change of bodily conditions in-
creases to an unusual extent and thereby hastens the corre-
sponding course of the concepts. Such a phenomenon occurs
in the transition from illness to health ; during the development
of puberty; in many conditions of sickness, etc. The imagi-
nation runs away from the understanding ; in other words, the
rapidity of the self-developing concepts increases the violence
with which they remove out of consciousness those concepts
which could resist them.

216. The foregoing acquires a greater practical im-
portance when, behind the manifold and variable color-
ing of the Ego (202), we attempt to investigate the
persisting individuality of man. That coloring offers
itself to the observation of the practical educator, and

Digitized by VjOOQIC


is difficult to distinguish from the Ego. Here belong
the following considerations :

(a.) In a condition of complete health, at least of
the mature body of a man, the influence of emotion
upon the body (100) ought not to be apparent at all,
or at the most should occur only to a limited degree ;
80 that no perceptible reaction of the mental activity
upon digestion and circulation, or the reverse, should
take place. The intrepidity of the warrior in the
midst of danger is (not without reason) called cold-

(5.) On the contrary, in every human orgasm ac-
tually exists a system of possible emotions predispos-
ing it in such a manner that a careful education only
delays, rather than removes and avoids, the outbreak
of these emotions. For this reason no man can be en-
tirely spared the experiences to which he is predisposed,
because he will bring them upon himself.

(c.) The explanation of the variety of ways in
which physiological pressure (50) arises from the
organs and systems of the body belongs to physiology,
but the changes in the mental activity which this
pressure may effect must be ascertained from a knowl-
edge of the psychical mechanism and of its manifold
possibilities of arrest. The least difficult of these are
the following :

(1.) Under the influence of this pressure, instead of
immediate reproduction taking place, obscurity arises,
inasmuch as the new concepts obtained through new
acts of perception do not so much create free space for
the older similar concepts as that the concepts already
present (which had attained equilibrium with the
pressure) weaken in the reaction ; so that now the in-

Digitized by VjOOQIC


flaeaee ot the pressure increases, and the older con-
cepts, which were to receive and appropriate the new,
only present themselves in a disturbed, scanty way.
Hence, very often, where lively interest would be ex-,
pected, a stupid astonishment is exhibited.

(2.) The same pressure retards much more easily
the vaulting, consequently also the pointing or taper-
ing ; hence the concepts do not stand out sharp, al-
though they are distinguished from others, as in the
case of men who intuitively perceive nothing, who
comprehend nothing in its full relations, and who
have no fine feeling, while they perhaps learn by
means of mechanical application.

(3.) With many persons the pressure is not con-
stantly effective ; it appears only as a reaction in con-
sequence of the tension proceeding from the mental
activity. Such minds are active and easily aroused,
but without depth and sequence. For every moment
their thoughts are cut off or separated ; they can only
construct short series of concepts. They do not like
to be alone, because they are incapable of following a
line of thought.

(4.) If a constant pressure acts upon free-rising
concepts (32), their movement is disarranged, as it
enters into conflict with the strongest of the concepts
which ought to rise the highest ; and by means of this
conflict the weaker concepts become free to enter con-
sciousness in place of the former. Under such condi-
tions, active and energetic minds show themselves un-
even (rhapsodic) in their action. They may be brill-
iant, but, unless great care be taken, their culture will
have rents and fissures.

(5.) We find the rhythm of mental movements in

Digitized by VjOOQIC


general very different ; hence for this reason some at-
tain better that which is quickly, others that which is
slowly, done. These indications of very complicated
investigations may suffice here.

217. The different concept - masses depend upon
outside impressions derived from the environment.
Every new environment, indeed every new condition
of life, brings its own masses of concepts in great part,
but not entirely sepamted from the others. Among
these masses the right relations necessary for self-gov-
ernment do not by any means always arise. Here in-
struction and all kinds of educational training have
their use. We shall first consider here not the recip-
rocal action of concept-masses upon one another, but
the external relation of the man to his environment.

218. After considering, in the above, the excitation
which brings forward new perceptions, we regard the
external world here as the sphere of action ; and this
is the seat of hindrance to action as the second aspect
of the external world in its function of arousing men-
tal life. The connection between representation, ac-
tion, desire, will (the words are placed in this order
intentionally), must now be more accurately developed
than before (52).

Movements in different parts of the body, and the
feelings arising from these movements, are the con-
ditions that combine the functions of body and soul.
If, with the feeling, some kind of a concept, perhaps
of the member moved, or only of an external object,
be united, then every excitation of this concept, in case
no hindrance intervenes, effects immediately a repro-
duction of the former feeling, and of the movement
belonging to it. In regard to the latter, it will not be

Digitized by

Google '


necessary that the concept be in a condition of desire,
but without anything further it will be accompanied
by action. (This is the case with the lower animals and
with children ; only the mature human being knows
the restraining influence of other concept-masses.)
Further investigation of this requires the aid of the
theory of the concept series.

219. In a series, a, J, c, d, let the concept just men-
tioned, which is immediately accompanied by an ac-
tion, be indicated hj d; if the action meets no hin-
drance in the external world, then it occurs without
being noticed, and the series runs further on into con-
sciousness to e,/, etc., as though no action had occurred.
Examples of the above are to be found in the move-
ment of the eyeball, also in many movements of the
organs of speech, while the movements of the arms
and legs, on account of the weight and inertia of these
limbs, belong in this respect to the following cases :

If the action find a hindrance in the outer world,
the feeling belonging to the action is arrested, and by
means of it the concept d is also arrested. Since d is
blended with a remainder of c, a smaller remainder of
ft, and with a still smaller remainder of a ; further-
more, since the rapidity of the effect of these remain-
ders varies according to their magnitude, and is in
each case a different one, while the passage of the
series is stopped, the smaller remainders gain time to
co-operate as helps to d, and to strengthen one another.
If no hindrance had existed, then c would have acted
first upon eZ, and the smaller remainders would have
had no influence, because that which they could do
would already have been done without them. If the
hindrance yields upon the co-operation of &, then a

Digitized by VjOOQIC


does not come to its help ; but if it does not yet yield,
then gradually every member, however many may be-
long to the series, will give its contribution to the gen-
eral activity. So long as this lasts, every member of
the series up to t? is in a condition of desire. At the
moment, however, when the whole force of all the
united helps is at its highest tension, the desire, pro-
vided the hindrance is not yet overcome, passes into
unpleasant feeling (section 36).

All this is very easy to be recognized in experience.
One of the frequent acts of ordinary life — e. g., the
opening of a door — occurs when no special hindrance
interferes, almost unobserved, and without disturbing
our course of thought. If, however, any kind of fric-
tion opposes, then we gradually exert more force, we
desire more and more strongly that the door be
opened, until this really happens; if, however, the
effort is in vain, the desire leaves room for uncom-
fortable feeling, which lasts at least until a new series
of thoughts outside the circle of this undertaking pre-
sents itself.

220. The position of a hindrance represents often
merely something lacking in an ordinary environment
To a series of concepts, a, 6, c, d^ e, corresponds the
series of sense-perceptions, a, J, c, e, in which d is lack-
ing, hence it will be missed, because the remaining
concepts can not come into the condition in which
they can re-establish the degree of undimmed clearness
which existed when d was blended with the others ; in
which case it would be natural for them to bring for-
ward not only in the soul, but also in the organ of
sense, the concomitant conditions of the actual sense-
perception. If the series «, J, c, be strong enough, and

Digitized by VjOOQIC


the mind absorbed in it, the regret for the missing
member d becomes a longing.

221. Now, in the place of one series, let a tissue
of many series be assumed here, which may extend
through the whole circle of a man's thought, then a
general keen longing for the missing object will fill
the whole mind. This is the foundation of that spe-
cies of love to which its object is indispensable, and
which abhors every possible intimation of physical or
mental separation. It is known that love is modified
through its many different occasions, also that it re-
ceives many admixtures, some of them sensuous feel-
ings ; where it arises from mere custom, however, it is
to be observed in its simplest form.

222. The first essential of a man's character is fur-
nished in the object and manner of his love — from
mere diverting preferences all the way up to love as a
consuming passion. But just here many formal con •
ditions must be considered, that must be connected
with the notion of willing. (In this connection see
first four chapters of the third book of my General

223. Will is desire accompanied with the presup-
position of the attainment of that which is desired.
This presupposition becomes united with the desire,
when, in similar cases the effort of action has been
followed by a result — i. e., by success (219) ; for then
the concept of a period of time which contained the
gratification of the desire suggested by association the
beginning of a new similar action. From this arises a
glance into the future, which glance is continually ex-
tended in proportion as a man learns to use more
numerous means to secure his ends. Let a series, a, /8,

Digitized by VjOOQIC


y, S, be formed in the first perception of the course of
an event. Now let the concept 8 be in a condition of
desire. Although as such it strives against an arrest,
yet the helps which it sends to y, /3, a may act un-
hindered in case those concepts just indicated are not
arrested in consciousness. Then y, )3, a will be repro-
duced in proper gradation (as were 6 and a mentioned
toward the end of section 29), and, provided one of
these concepts be combined with an action (218), then
an action occurs of such a nature that, under favorable
external conditions, the previous course of the event
may be actually renewed, in such a manner that a, /8, y
act as means to the end 8.

224. The will has its imagination and its memory,
and the more it possesses of this latter so much the
more decisive is it. For a reproduction similar to that
just mentioned may run through long and very com-
plicated series in many directions, and call up action
in some remote member. Moreover, if we assume that
8 (in section 223) be one and the same concept with d
(in section 219), the effort in this action is easily ex-
plained, so that in the co-operation of a, &, c, d, lies the
strength of the will by which y, )8, etc., are roused to
the point of action which is the means to the end.
The decisive presupposition, however, that the end will
be reached is so much the firmer and more certain the
more the means are at command — ^i. e., the further the
reproductions just indicated reach.

225. The will is strengthened through the knowl-
edge of dangers and through self-denials.

True, a danger is not the less to be feared because
we know it, but the concept of the danger does not
effect so strong an arrest if it be blended with the

Digitized by VjOOQIC


other concepts. Then also not so much the purpose,
as the attempt to attain the purpose, will be resolved
upon ; but self-denials free the mind from cares and
considerations which might cause the will to wayer.

226. If, in several points of the circle of thought,
places exist in which concepts rise as desires, then in
the reproductions through which means and hindrances
are considered they may easily meet and oppose one
another. The fluctuation in this contest is the prac-
tical deliberation which will end in choice.

This latter is originally not a work of practical
[i. e., moral] principles ; rather, it makes such princi-
ples possible, inasmuch as from the frequently repeated
choices in similar cases a general will gradually arises,
and is established through additional judgments ex-
actly in the same way as the general notions (179-192).

Here, however, is the transition to the following

Note. — The fact that the greater the number of the concept-
masses which have been formed in the mind, so much the more
harmoniously do they work together, when a desire passes into
action as will, is to be distinguished from the fact of general
will. But this remark is at the same time to be regarded as
preparatory to the following chapter. On the other hand, often
in one concept-mass everything is ready for willing, but the
other concept-masses hinder the willing; thus dissatisfaction
may for a long time precede revolt.

227. The circumstances of the external life often
hinder a man from turning his whole will inwardly,
with a purpose to develop his character. At other
times the favoring circumstances of the will are too
large for the limitations of his circle of thought.

The first case is by far the most frequent. For

Digitized by VjOOQIC


this reason, especially tinder an oppressive state of
goyemment, a dangerous reserve of unknown forces
is to be dreaded. Hence the political necessity to
preserve a regulated freedom for human activity.



228. Actual self-control is to be distinguished
from that which a man exacts of himself, and this
again from that which he ought to exact of himself.

229. The child, almost unobserved, and without
being acquainted with the difficulties of the matter,
controls himself, when he puts off an action which
serves as a means to an end, and resolves to do it at a
future time. Afterward, when the future has become
the present, it is found that that present moment has a
will of its own, and that the earlier moment could not
decide for the present ; and, further, that it is a ques-
tion whether the present will is the same as the former
one — meanwhile, perhaps, hardly any thought has
been given to this question. The man only gradually
learns how easily he can be unfaithful to himself.

230. Experiences of this kind [i. e., wherein we
learn the inconsistency of the will] are more striking
in great than in small affairs [i. e., in public rather
than in private matters] because the injury is more
obvious there. Long before a man recognizes the

Digitized by VjOOQIC


psychological necessity for making a rule for himself,
and for binding himself to it, laws exist in civil
society, and these laws are the type of all that which
is enounced in later times as ethical laws.

The ruder the man, so much less considerate the
laws. On the contrary, the less the danger in making
the exception into a rule, so much the more nicely
is legislation inclined to distinguish cases; and the
greater the faith in the integrity and insight of the
judges, the more will be left to their judgment. Yet
it is a sign of a good law if it was established before
the event occurs to which it is applied, for the war-
ranty of the complete impartiality required lies alone
in the fact that the lawgiver can not know the in-
dividual case which will be subsumed under it because
it has not yet occurred.

231. Conscience follows from self-consciousness,
for, when a man beholds himself as an object, he
passes judgment upon himself. The inner percep-
tion, however, may rise to the second power, and then
a man may judge his manner of judging himself.

The question, whether the inner judge may also be
partial, arises now, and the danger of a corrupted self-
judgment may be learned in a very short series of in-
ner perceptions.

As a necessary security against such partiality, for
the inner life of a man as well as for civil society, there

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19

Online LibraryJohann Friedrich HerbartA text-book in psychology: an attempt to found the science of psychology on ... → online text (page 16 of 19)