symbols—that is, symbols whose meaning is realized only through conceptual thinking. And undue absorption at the outset in the physical object of sense hampers this growth.
(c) A thoroughly false psychology of mental development underlay sensationalistic empiricism. Experience is in truth a matter of activities, instinctive and impulsive, in their interactions with things. What even an infant 'experiences' is not a passively received quality impressed by an object, but the effect which some activity of handling, throwing, pounding, tearing, etc., has upon an object, and the consequent effect of the object upon the direction of activities. (See ante, p. 164.) Fundamentally (as we shall see in more detail), the ancient notion of experience as a practical matter is truer to fact than the modern notion of it as a mode of knowing by means of sensations. The neglect of the deep-seated active and motor factors of experience is a fatal defect of the traditional empirical philosophy. Nothing is more uninteresting and mechanical than a scheme of object lessons which ignores and as far as may be excludes the natural tendency to learn about the qualities of objects by the uses to which they are put through trying to do something with them.
It is obvious, accordingly, that even if the philosophy of experience represented by modern empiricism had received more general theoretical assent than has been accorded to it, it could not have furnished a satisfactory philosophy of the learning process. Its educational influence was confined to injecting a new factor into the older curriculum, with incidental modifications of the older studies and methods. It introduced greater regard for observation of things directly and through pictures and graphic descriptions, and it reduced the importance attached to verbal symbolization. But its own scope was so meager that it required supplementation by information concerning matters outside of sense-perception and by matters which appealed more directly to thought.