William Torrey Harris.

Psychologic foundations of education; an attempt to show the genesis of the higher faculties of the mind online

. (page 28 of 30)
Online LibraryWilliam Torrey HarrisPsychologic foundations of education; an attempt to show the genesis of the higher faculties of the mind → online text (page 28 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ing in the Ionic volute, or the bending of the acanthus
leaves in the Corinthian capital. Gravity is manifested
on. the one hand, but the Greek capital shows how easy
and gracefully the supporting column resists the down-
ward force.

(c) The Roman arch is converted into a dome by carry-
ing out its principle on all sides, instead of laterally alone.
The arch is a ready suggestion, symbolically, of the Roman
national principle. Each stone in the arch is relatively
a keystone to all the rest. All depends on each and each
on all. Each Roman citizen felt and acted as if he were
the keystone to his nation. The dome suggests the sky
over all, and hence toleration. Under the dome of the
Roman Pantheon the gods of all nations were set up and
worshipped. The dome is an appropriate symbol for the
state or nation. Each patriotic citizen consecrates his
life for the life of the social whole, and each is in turn
supported and protected by the rest, like a keystone.

(d) Romantic architecture comes to its highest com-
pleteness in such Gothic structures as the cathedrals of
France and the abbeys of England, but especiallj^ in the
Cologne Cathedral and that of Amiens, and the Sainte-
Chapelle of Paris. It celebrates the Divine not as some-
thing originating in matter and lifted up away from mat-
ter by its self-activity, but it expresses rather the com-
plete nugatoriness of matter except as supported by
spirit; for, instead of expressing the effects of weight or
gravity in its slender columns, it expresses rather the
support of what is below by what is above. The columns
seem visibly to pull instead of to push or thrust. It is
the heavens that support the earth. It seems as if the

26



370 PSYCHOLOGIC FOUNDATIONS.

cathedral floor is fastened to the columns, and these pull
up and sustain the floor by fastening- it to the roof. All
the lines point upward an'd seem to worship what is
above. The Christian religion is ex[)ressed in the Gothic
cathedral, which has been called a petrified prayer. The
Eoman dome expresses the universal sway of civil law —
a sky of justice, which extends over all. The Greek temple
shows freedom in matter. It crowns a hill, like a blossom
which has ascended from the surface of the earth to
manifest a deep inner self-activity of matter itself.

§ 230. Sculpture. — The statuary of Egypt and
the Orient does not express freedom; it abounds in
stiff and ungraceful lines; but the statuary of the
Greeks is the supreme achievement of a people whose
religion was a worship of the beautiful. In the high-
est period of its perfection it represents so much
dignity of character, so much rationality and clear
consciousness of purpose in its figures of the gods,
that the Divine itself seems to be present in material
form. Christianity has not been able to express its
distinctive ideals in sculpture. It finds painting a
far more adequate means. Painting can express sen-
timent by means of colour; it can show subjective
feelings and subtle reactions occasioned by the situa-
tion in which the theme of the work of art is placed.
Modern sculpture is often defective through the fact
that an attempt is made to express sentiment rather
than action. The highest sculpture exhibits the seren-
ity of the soul even in the presence of danger.



THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ART AND LITERATURE. 371

§ 231. Painting. — The proper subjects of paint-
ing are to be found especially in the Christian reli-
gion, and in the situations of modern life that appeal
intensely to our ethical emotions. Greek painting,
except what has been preserved for us in the frescoes
of buried cities, is known to us only through descrip-
tions. From the evidences before us, it is safe to say
that painting did not find with the ancients its appro-
priate themes. The subjects of Christian painting
are divine love and tenderness, as seen in the Madon-
nas; the soul, supported by its faith in the Divine,
manifesting its constancy even when enduring the
bodily tortures of martyrdom; the Divine, gracious
and forgiving even in the crucifixion scene; the
Transfiguration, reflecting the light of the soul when
seeing pure truth; the Last Supper, exhibiting the
emotions of the good when betrayed by the bad;
the Last Judgment, showing the return of the deed
upon the doer; not so much action as reaction, not
so much the deed, as the emotion aroused in the depths
of the soul by the presence of injustice and hate.

§ 232. Music. — Music has the form of time,
while architecture, sculpture, and painting have the
form of space; hence it can express all the steps in
the genesis of the situation which it portrays, and is
not confined to a single moment, like the other arts.



372 PSYCHOLOGIC FOUNDATIONS.

The group of statuary, the Laokoon, for instance,
must seize the highest moment of the action and
present it. In this highest moment we can see what
has happened before, and what is likely to happen in
the time that follows.

(a) Goethe has discussed this admirably in his essay
on the Laokoon. It will not do for the sculptor to at-
tempt to present us in his work of art the entire comple-
tion or working out of the theme; he must seize it in the
middle, where the spectators can easily read the past
series of actions and motives and forebode what is to suc-
ceed. Painting- is not so closely confined to a point of
time as sculi)ture. Painting can idealize space through
perspective, light and shade, colour, clearness and obscu-
rity. While actual size, actual length of line, is necessary
in architecture, in painting it can be represented by
perspective. Not only the largest temple of the world,
but even Mont Blanc, could be jiainted on a piece of ivory
which could be covered with one's thumb.

(J)) Painting, moreover, by reason of the fact that it
can present to us sentiment through the aid of colour,
finds the limitation of its theme to a single moment of
time less important. But music can take up the whole
series of actions and reactions which are presupposed by
a serious situation of the soul, and can carry these all
through to the final denouement.

(c) The material side of music is found in the struc-
ture and peculiarities of the several musical instruments:
vibration by means of strings, columns of air in wind in-
struments, and, above all, by the vocal chords of the
human being. A tone is a repetition of the same wave
length. One tone can produce with another one which
has an agreement with it partial or complete chords and
concords; with another tone not agreeing with it, it pro-
duces a discord. There is a natural order of tones, partly
discordant and partly concordant with the key-note, which



THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ART AND LITERATURE. 373

forms the scale. It includes what is called an octave. An
aria starts from the fundamental tone of a scale, or from
its third or fifth, and, by departing from the fundamental
tone or from those kindred with it, expresses its aliena-
tions and collisions. Finally, it returns to the funda-
mental tone or one of its close kindred, and the problem is
solved.

(d) There is also counterpoint, which, like j)ersons
in a drama, expresses a concordant or opposing- aria to
the chief one. With these resources music excels all the
plastic arts in its ability to portray problems and col-
lisions of human life and their solution. Emotional dis-
turbances and the restoration of harmony naturally take
on this form of expression. But there is the music of
sensuous pleasure, and opposed to it the music of moral
action. The Italian boat song or the Scotch reel may
express the former, and a sonata or symphony of Bee-
thoven will express moral action. Architecture has been
called frozen music. Neither architecture nor music deals
directly with the shapes of rational creatures or with the
image of the human form divine; they are confined to
proportions and symmetries.

§ 233. Poetry. — Poetry is the form of art that
unites in itself all the others. It is closely allied to
music — the time art — and through the imagination
it can reproduce each and all of the space arts. It
can do more than this: it can, through its appeal di-
rectly to imagination, transcend the time limitations
of music, and the space limitations of architecture,
sculpture, and painting. There is the poetry of na-
tional collisions, or epic poetry, the poetry of the in-
dividual, or lyric poetry, and the poetry of society,
or the drama, which takes the form of comedy or



374 PSYCHOLOGIC FOUNDATIONS.

tragedy. Comedy shows us a collision which has
arisen between the individual and some social ideal,
in which the discomfiture of the individual is not so
deep as to destroy him. The social organism in
which man lives is such as to convert his negative
deeds into self-refuting or self-annihilating deeds.
This occasions laughter when the individual is not
seriously injured by his irrational deed. Tragedy,
on the other hand, shows us a serious attack upon
the social whole and the recoil of the deed upon the
doer, so that he perishes through the reaction of his
deed. Tragedy, however, requires as a necessary con-
dition that the individual who perishes shall have a
rational side to his deed. A mere villain is not sufii-
cient for a tragic character; there must be some justi-
fication for him.

(a) The greatest poets are Homer, Dante, Shakespeare,
and Goethe, and these artists are in the truest sense edu-
cators of mankind. The types of character exhibited in
their literary works of art, such as Achilles, Agamem-
non, Ulysses, Macbeth, Hamlet, Wilhelm Meister, and
Faust, have helped and will always help all mankind to
self-knowledge, by showing them how feelings become
convictions and how convictions become deeds, and how
deeds react upon the doer through the great organisms
of human society.

(&) The world-wisdom of a people is largely derived
from its national poets,, not as a moral philosophy, but as
vicarious experience. Aristotle said that the drama puri-
fies the spectator by showing him how his feelings and



THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ART AND LITERATURE. 375

convictions will result when carried out. Without making-
the experience himself, he profits by participating- in the
world of experience depicted for him by the poet. It
is more or less in human nature to recoil against direct
advice, especially moral advice. We do not like to have
its application made personal; but in the work of art
we see the moral energies of society acting upon ideal
personages, and the lesson to the spectator is more im-
pressive and more wholesome, because it is accepted by
him in his freedom, and not imposed upon him by external
authority.

§ 234. All that man does contributes to a revela-
tion of liuman nature in its entirety, but art and
literature lead all other branches of human learning
in their capacity to manifest and illustrate the desires
and aspirations, the thoughts and deeds of mankind.
In the presence of the conflict of moral ideals, the
struggle of passion against what is rational, the at-
tacks of sin and crime on the divine order of the
world, all that is deepest in human character is mani-
fested. Art and literature portray these serious col-
lisions, and like the mountain upheavals that break
and tilt up the strata of the crust of the earth, and
reveal to the geologist the sequence of the formations
from the most primitive to the most recent, so these
artistic situations reveal to all men the successive
strata in the evolution of human emotions, ideas, and
actions. Thereby the single individual comes to know
the springs of action of his fellow-men.



376 PSYCHOLOGIC FOUNDATIONS.

CHAPTEK XXXIX.

The Psychology of Science and Philosophy.

§ 235. Science is the systematized results of ob-
servation. Each fact in the world is placed in the
light of all the other facts. All facts are made to
help explain each fact. Bnt each fact represents
only one of the many possible states of existence
which a thing may have. When one state of exist-
ence is real, the others are mere possibilities, or, as
they are called, ''potentialities." Thus water may
exist as liquid, or vapour, or ice, but when it is ice
the liquid and vapour states are mere potentialities.
Science collects about each subject all its phases
of existence under different conditions; it teaches
the student to look at a thing as a whole, and see
in it not only what is visible before his senses, but
what also is not realized and remains dormant or
potential."^

(a) The scientifically educated labourer, therefore, is
of a higher type than the mere " hand-labourer," because
he has learned to see in each thing- its possibilities. He
sees each thing- in the perspective of its history. In the

* Compare with this § 201, (a) and (6), above.



PSYCHOLOGY OF SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY. Sll

educated labourer we have a hand belong-ing* to a brain
that directs, or that can intelligently comprehend a de-
tailed statement of an ideal to be worked out: the labourer
and the " boss " are united in one man. There are differ-
ent degrees of educated capacity, due to the degree in
which this power of seeing- invisible potentialities or
ideals is developed. The lowest humanity needs constant
direction, and works only under the eye of an overseer;
it can work with advantag-e only at simple processes; by
repetition it acquires skill at a simple manipulation.

(6) The incessant repetition of one muscular act
deadens into habit, and less and less brain work g-oes to
its performance. When a process is reduced to simple
steps, however, it is easy to invent some sort of machine
that can perform it as well as, or better than, the human
drudg-e. Accordingly, division of labour gives occasion
to labour-saving machinery. The human drudge can not
compete with the machine, and is thrown out of employ-
ment and goes to the almshouse or perhaps starves. If
he could only be educated and learn to see ideals, he could
have a place as manager of the machine. The machine
requires an alert intellect to direct and control it, but
a mere " hand " can not serve its purpose. The higher
development of man produced by science therefore acts
as a goad to spur on the lower orders of humanity to be-
come educated intellectually. Moreover, education in sci-
ence enables the labourer to acquire easily an insight
into the construction and management of machines. This
makes it possible for him to change his vocation readily.
There is a greater and greater resemblance of each process
of human labour to every other now that an age of
machinery has arrived. The differences of manipulation
are growing less, because the machine is assuming the
hand-work, and leaving only the brain-wotk for the labour-
er. Hence there opens before labour a great prospect of
freedom in the future. Each person can choose a new
vocation, and succeed in it without long and tedious ap-
prenticeship, provided that he is educated in general



378 PSYCHOLOGIC FOUNDATIONS.

§ 236. There are three stages in the development
of science: First, there is the observation of things
and facts — the scientists map out and inventory the
objects in each department of I^atnre; secondly, the
interrelations are investigated, and this leads to a
knowledge of forces and influences which produce or
modify those objects that have been inventoried in
the first stage of science. This is the dynamic stage,
the discovery of forces and laws connecting each fact
with all other facts, and each province of Nature with
all other provinces of Nature. The goal of this sec-
ond stage of science is to make each fact in Nature
throw light on all the other facts, and thus to illu-
minate each by all. Out of this arises the system
of the whole, and the third stage of science is reached.
Science in its third and final stage learns to know
everything in Nature as a part of a process which it
studies in the history of its development. When it
comes to see each thing in the perspective of its evolu-
tion, it knows it and comprehends it.

(a) Science is said to be founded on facts of observa-
tion. Do facts have to be transformed into truths, or
are they truths already? The direct fall of an apple from
the tree is a fact to the swine that run to devour it; but
the thoug-htful man, Isaac Newton, sitting- under the tree,
sees involved in one fact the fall of the apple and the
shaking- of the tree by the wind, the wind occasioned
by the movement of the sun to the equinox, and this



PSYCHOLOGY OF SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY. 3Y9

again occasioned by the inclination of the earth's axis
to the plane of the ecliptic, its revolution round the sun,
etc.; he sees, too, the moon through the branches of the
tree from which the apple has fallen; the fall of the
apple is one fact with the fall of the moon in, its orbit:
he sees the la^v of universal gravitation in the fall of
the apple.

(6) A fact is a relative sjaithesis — an arbitrari/ syn-
thesis, we may say. It is a fragment of a larger whole of
things and events. Since it is determined by all that
exists in the universe as the totality of conditions, we can
not seize any fact in its entire compass except by thinking
the universe.

(c) A fact in its narrower compass may be easily
seized; but the exposition of a fact in its widest relations
is " a mere ingenious arrangement of words " to the one
who is not equal to the task of rethinking those relations.
Aristotle's works, taken as a whole, are an attempt to
seize the facts of the world in their entirety — each fact
in its entirety; and he finds that the entirety of each
fact — each fact grasped in all its conditioning relations-
is the entirety of all facts; in short, the ultimate fact is
one, and that, namely, what Plato calls the Self-moved
One.



§ 237. Philosophy investigates the ultimate pre-
suppositions of existence. It seeks a first principle
of all. Accordingly, it sets out from any given fact,
thing, or event, and begins at .once to eliminate from
it what is accidental or contingent and drop it out
of consideration. It does not begin with an inventory,
but goes at once to a first principle, and tries with this
to explain the inventory furnished it by experience.
All sciences deal in unity. They -unite phenomena in a



380 PSYCHOLOGIC FOUNDATIONS.

principle. If they liave become genuine sciences, they
find for a principle a definite causal energy, wliicli
unfolds or acts according to laws. These laws ex-
press the nature or constitution of that causal energy.
A science that rests on mere classification has not yet
arrived at a true scientific form, because it has not
yet shown how its general principle produces its
details and applications. Such an imperfect sci-
ence reaches merely subjective unities — mere aggre-
gates of things or events more or less independ-
ent of each other. The w^ord process names the
important idea in science. All the material of a
science should be united in one process. To con-
stitute a process, it is clear that there must be an
active cause, and its operation according to a fixed
method.

In a certain way, too, all science discusses presupposi-
tions, and philosophy is not the only knowledge of presup-
positions. Given a thing" or event, science presupposes that
it exists as a link in a chain of causality, and therefore sets
itself to discover its antecedents and consequences; in
short, to find its place in some process. This investigation
on the part of science aims to learn the history of the
thing or event. Its history reveals its former states and
transmutations — in other words, the activity of the energy
or cause by which it has come to be. The true method
of science is the historical one — the method of discover-
ing one by one the antecedent, stages of things or events,
and learning by this means the nature of the principle
that reveals itself in the process.



PSYCHOLOGY OF SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY. 381

§ 238. JN'atural science points toward philosophy
as a sort of science of science; for that there is a gen-
eral scientific method implies that all the sciences
are related one to another through some universal con-
dition, belong to processes, and have their explanation
in principles. This underlying condition in which all
objects find their unity is time and space, and all sci-
ences presuppose the possibility of a science of time
and space (mathematics and its applications).

§ 239. Ultimate science, or philosophy, finds
causality to be transcendent, and discovers absolute
or independent causality to be mind or reason — self-
conscious, absolute personality (see Chapters VI and
VII). Such ultimate science shows the place of
things or events in the system of the universe, and
reveals their origin and destiny. It explains things
and events through the self-revelation of the absolute
mind. Philosophy does not inventory anything what-
ever; it explains only what is furnished it ; something
being given in a definite manner, philosophy will
discover one by one its presuppositions, and find its
place and function in the absolute system.

(a) If the thing- or event is not so far defined by one
of the special sciences that it can be referred to some
one of their principles, then only a very vague utterance
about it can be made by philosophy. If it is only a thing"
or event, and it is not said whether it is animal, vegetable,



382 PSYCHOLOGIC FOUNDATIONS.

or mineral, or some activity of one of them, then only
the vague dictum can be pronounced that it arises some-
where in the creative process of the absolute, or, as reli-
gion states it, " it has arisen in the v^dsdom of God's provi-
dence," and w^e are sure in advance of all examination
of the thing or event that it has a place and a purpose.
If the thing or event is defined as falling within some
science — say, for example, a plant, or some activity of
it, as falling within botany — we can speak more definitely,
and predicate of it what philosophy and science have dis-
covered in regard to the place and function of vegetation
in the world,

(6) For the reason that philosophy does not inventory
any facts or events, but assumes them as thus inventoried
by other sciences, it can not be accused of " affecting
omniscience." It is, in fact, a special department of
human knowledge, and requires special study and investi-
gation just as other deiDartments.

§ 240. The principle of specialization is conceived
as opposed to that of philosophy. We are told that
specialization is the principle of all progress; that
philosophy deals with nltimate unities, and therefore
can make no progress ; that all progress comes through
inventorying anew some minute province; that di-
vision or subdivision is best, because the minuter the
field the more completely and exhaustively it may
be inventoried.

Philosophy, it is said, is the enemy to this specializing
and inventorying; it is content with any results that are
handed to it, and manages to deal quite as well with im-
aginary things and events as with real ones. But as phi-
losophy does not attempt any inventory, it is not a sub-
stitute for any one or for all of the special sciences. It



PSYCHOLOGY OF SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY. 383

presupposes them as complementary to it; they give it its
objects to explain by the ultimate first x^rinciple.

§ 241. All philosophies imply the same first prin-
ciple, although they do not all find it. Every phi-
losophy sets up a first principle as the origin of all,
the cause of all, and the ultimate destiny of all. Let
such principle be called X. Then X is assumed as
originating all that exists or has existed or will exist,
through its own activity, and hence X is a self -activ-
ity; and self -activity is recognised by us in life and
mind.

(a) According- to the current evolutionary view, all
nature is a strug'gle for survival of forms. The inorganic
forms go dow^n before the organic forms. Of the organic
forms, the plant serves the animal and yields to him.
The animal in turn yields to man. Man, in fact, conquers
all nature. Here the law of survival of the fittest comes
to mean the survival of individuals that have most intelli-
gence. All nature, it would seeni, is a process for origi-
nating individuality and developing it into rational being.
Looked at theologically, this is satisfactory. Nature is the
creation of souls. It implies, of course, the supremacy
of mind, since all its lower processes exist for the produc-
tion of spiritual beings — they depend on mind, so to
speak, and demonstrate the substantiality of mind. Mind



Online LibraryWilliam Torrey HarrisPsychologic foundations of education; an attempt to show the genesis of the higher faculties of the mind → online text (page 28 of 30)