Johann Friedrich Herbart.

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man limitations. Just as certainly ought the philoso-
phy of history to guard against smuggling in a sys-
tematic totality into the different forms in which
historical events and social combinations are shown,
as if one were to be the necessary complement of the
other, and all united were supposed to make up a com-
plete exposition ^f the human mind. All history tip
to the present time is a beginning whose sequel no one

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can foretell, and the present condition of things is as
little a condition of general wickedness as of perfection-

However, as psychology keeps in view the sinking
and the already sunken concepts together with their
combinations, in order not to be taken by surprise at
the renewed rising of those concepts, so also shall the
philosophy of history trace out the suppressed forces
and the germs of better and worse hidden in them, so
that the combinations under which the good may rise
and the bad be overcome, may be made clear ; for, in
order to know what is to be done and what avoided
every age wishes information upon this question. The
statesman demands of the philosophy of history that
which the educator demands of psychology. For both,
iron necessity which admits nothing else, and absolute
freedom, which holds nothing firmly, are equally inju-
rious delusions. Movable and tractable forces which,
however, under certain circumstances gain a definite
form, and gradually a lasting character, are the fun-
damental hypotheses of pedagogy and politics. Such
forces have been indicated in the foregoing.

243. The conditions of mental health already rec-
ognized, which change into the health of the citizen
life, demand a useful survey of that concerning which
the philosophy of history inquires in every state for
every epoch, and for the secure establishment of which
it has to seek. If with mania, delusion, dementia, and
idiocy, we wished to compare the madness of the de-
sire for innovation, the delusion of party spirit not
curable through any experience, the capricious sep-
aration of ranks or castes, communes, provinces, from
the bond of union of universal order and unavoidable
reciprocal action, the slack and blind toleration of stich

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mischievous perversions — such a comparison, since it
can not be accurately carried out, would indeed seem
too difficult and too little instructive. But certainly
equanimity, susceptibility, concentration, and recipro-
cal determination of all concepts through one another
find their counterpart in the healthy and well-ordered
nation wherein each one applies himself peacefully to
his business, yet, upon the call of a general need, each
one obeys and acts, and all together accomplish what
is required ; and also the whole receives the impulse
communicated to it from all parts. The last point
may appear the most difficult to secure, but certainly
that public life is not sound which separates itself
from the concerns of the smaller circles instead of
taking advantage of them.

244. Men form an ideal of society, similar to these
psychological features just sketched, of tener, no doubt,
than they would if under the guidance of a practical
[i. e., moral] philosophy. For that which lacks the co-
operation of the social forces, that which collides with
the rest and makes too much friction without serving
any good purpose, will be easily observed, and con-
demned as unfitting.

However, as we may imagine that which is defect-
ive improved by something better, so man assigns to
himself the place which he would like to occupy in an
ideal society. He believes it his destiny to take this.
His calling or vocation is an approximation to it, or
his position and influence, which in actual society are
as nearly as possible similar to destiny, serve the same

Here, where all plans are, as much as possible,
united, lies the unit point of his character, although

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with great di£ferences ; for the concept-masses which
concentrate here do not always hold a secure control.
Many can only at moments think of a special elevation
in their condition.

If a character, however, is to become quite mature,
a chief directing motive of the will, which furnishes
the trend for all individual acts of willing, must exist.
The man's ideal of his place in society is, in this case,
the soul, as it were, of that psychical organism men-
tioned in section 238. The forms of character differ
as greatly as do the relations of the concept-masses.

Through the above, the great difference between
plans and maxims comes to view. Men who have once
found their sphere, and have reached their place ac-
cording to their own view, now, without demanding
anything more, adjust themselves to it according to
rules of prudence, order, morality, right, duty; and
the punctual observance of these points without ex-
ception is the foundation of their inner satisfaction.

Observed psychologically as well as morally, these
characters are very different from those who live ac-
cording to dominating plans, and consequently either
have something to seek, or else something to save, so
that it may not be entirely lost. It is true that we do
not by any means find an entirely pure morality always
connected with punctilious observances; on the con-
trary, the application of the received maxims varies
greatly. On the other hand, the ideal of the vocation
and calling which is the source of all practical plans
is not by any means something indifferent to morality,
but what is held most righteous and pure by society
may constitute the foundation of this idea. But, let
plans for life be what they will, they may miscarry, and

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whoever depends upon them alone may go to the
bottom ; consequently, in order to save himself, a man
may come to the place where he will make use of bad
means. At least he may not avoid the thought of
them, and will by this to some extent be disturbed.
We must admit, accordingly, all other things being
equal, that characters with dominating plans are the
more energetic; characters with dominating maxims
are the purer.

345. A man can not be blamed, however, for con-
necting his plans according to his idea of his rank and
vocation, and for fixing the latter according to his idea
of society ; for, however necessary the moral self-con-
trol of his inner life, it is not enough to form one's
chief occupation. The individual, knowing himself as
earthly and fragile, separated from society, is in his
own eyes too small, too narrow. He needs at least a
family, and even this does not fill his mental horizon.
To fill his place in the social whole is the highest aim
which he can see clearly ; not to see so much as this
would be narrow-mindedness.

Even in the strongest characters, a source of suffer-
ing is to be found in this connection. If they wish by
means of maxims and principles to stand morally firm
above all practical details {Fldne\ they must suffer
whenever the movement of society carries them away
from their ideal ; indeed, the suffering begins as soon
as their actual occupation, instead of approaching the
ideal, begins to deviate from it. Under such circum-
stances, a man looks higher ; he peers into the ob-
scurest distances, and tries whether it be possible,
without becoming visionary, to draw a mental picture
of that distance.

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246. Since the soul is immortal, the career of the
individual man can not be confined to the earthly life.
Totally unacquainted with the arrangements of Provi-
dence for the remote future, we can, however, ask
what would necessarily occur, merely according to psy-
chological laws, and without any other influences, when
the bodily covering is dissolved and the dissimilar ele-
ments are scattered.

First must disappear the special influences which
the body was fitted to exercise at the age the man
has reached; hence must disappear the obstruction
through which the oldest concepts, which in them-
selves are the strongest, were limited in the vigor of
their action. Hence death is rejuvenescence without
bringing back childhood; for none of the combina-
tions of concepts that were gi'adually united can be
again set free. Meanwhile, the condition of the earth-
ly life which was last present, with its cares and bur-
dens, is reduced to its due share of importance in the
whole past.

247. While in general the striving for equilibrium
determines the movements of all concepts, yet, in
order to attain this equilibrium, very great revolutions
among them may be necessary. For it has been shown
how, out of the movements, new laws of movement
arise (207), and how the irregular accumulation of con-
cepts during life (208) make necessary a subsequent
rearrangement. This new elaboration and rearrange-
ment after death must, it is evident, differ greatly from
that which occurs during life here in the midst of
earthly, sensuous things. A dream can have no simi-
larity whatever to it ; for, although the senses become
closed by sleep, the latter (sleep) also depresses the

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concepts so that the laws of their connection only act
partially. Through this partial action the distorted
figures of the dream arise (216). After death, however,
when free from the body, the soul must reach a more
complete state of wakefulness than it ever did in life.

248. However, the product which concepts striving
after equilibrium gradually create can not be quite
the same in any two human souls, since all differences
of the earthly existence must exert an influence upon
them. The concepts of the child that has died young
would very soon approach their general equilibrium,
and so also the thoughts of the man of peaceful con-
science, who is simple in his actions and desires, are
not destined to any great change. On the contrary,
no restless, far-reaching mind, fettered by the world
and suddenly torn therefrom, can attain the stillness
of eternity otherwise than by a passage through violent
transformations which, owing to entirely changed con-
ditions, may be still more stormy and painful than
those by which the passionate man is so often tor-
mented in this world.

249. Finally, however, after the lapse, longer or
shorter, of what we call hours, days, and years, for
every soul, however deep and confused its disorder
may be, such a movement of concepts must take place
as will approach more and more gently, and by less
and less intervals, to the general equilibrium, yet with-
out ever entirely reaching it.

Finally, for the dying man, time becomes extinct ;
yet even this takes place in a manner that implies time.
Eternal life is an infinitely gentle fluctuation of con-
cepts, an exceedingly faint trace of that which we call

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250. WithoiTfc agitation, but in a state of the clear-
est wakefulness, the soul knows and feels the nobility
or want of nobility of its former career upon earth,
which it carries within itself as the imperishable char-
acter given to its Ego, and for that reason as an insep-
arable good or evil ; and it is incapable even of de-
siring or even of wishing that its state or condition
should be otherwise than it is.

Yet here the fact must not be overlooked that in
these disordered souls, after the great inner revolu-
tions which ensue upon death, it is impossible that all
the misery which they had brought together while
they existed in body should continue to endure. Ex-
actly the opposite. The objects of desire and the
brief period of endazzlement by the same, together
with the discord in the bodily conditions brought
about through violent passions, all this has long ago
disappeared; the child-like peace has not entirely,
though it has in part, returned, and has soothed the
wounded feelings, and healed the madness of passion.
As the delusion weakens, the truth comes forward.
More loudly and clearly the conscience speaks ; finally,
it speaks alone : the sinner is converted, and remorse
loses its sting.

251. Providence has permitted that very different
destinies be prepared for men in the world. To us
the difference seems great and important, a few years
after death it may be very much lessened. The sim-
ple sense-perceptions, this first material of the mental
existence, are for all persons the same, and, even in
the short life before the power of speech is gained, the
child, by reason of its great susceptibility, receives a
considerable number of them. Many combinations

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of this raw material which the earthly life had not se-
cured through its experience will be completed in the
future, not to create new knowledge (at least this
might be difficult to indicate), but to produce a peaceful
well-being. Now, if something of the difference that
exists in the earthly career be continued into eternity
— a difference distinguishing good men from bad — ^then
the life here may be for all full of purpose, and every
individual, considered for himself alone, without any
comparison with others, justifies the act of Providence
which caused him to enter upon an earthly existence.
252. Thus appears the remote future, seen from
the standpoint of science, whose foundation is nothing
but common human experience. Upon this nothing
can be positively asserted. Probably everything is oth-
erwise arranged because some kind of divine govern-
ment is probable ; in the foregoing statement, how-
ever, only that has been suggested which, without any
fore-ordination, might ensue of itself. If we wish to
investigate this last question more closely, the possi-
bility of such an investigation will improve with the
progress of the statics and mechanics of the mind ;
but, as all metaphysics arise from experience, and as
no experience without metaphysics furnishes a genu-
ine scientific knowledge, so on the other hand meta-
physics is not able to take a single step beyond the
limits at which the necessary development of the ideas
of experience ends.


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Online LibraryJohann Friedrich HerbartA text-book in psychology: an attempt to found the science of psychology on ... → online text (page 18 of 19)