Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/339

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ROUSSEAU'S CONTRIBUTIONS

return to classical models. While the man who goes to him in a sympathetic spirit finds in him a seer with inspiration for every different mood, the critic who looks to see what his teaching really is finds that there is on every point not one opinion, but several, that there is nowhere consistency, and when comparison is made between precept and act he finds every reason to suspect insincerity. The opposing theories are reconciled, however, when we recognize that we are dealing with an unstable nervous system, that Rousseau was not competent to coordinate and test his theories, nor to exert full control over his acts. His theories are dreams, his acts are the acts of a somnambulist. They should not be judged by the ordinary standards.

Enough of the psychology of Rousseau: our real question is, what did Rousseau contribute to psychology? This is somewhat difficult to answer. His specific contributions are practically nil. The psychology that he uses in his writings is varied. Passages in the Emile are evidently taken almost verbatim from Condillac, other passages he evidently owes to Descartes, while still others show the influence of Locke. In no place does he develop any important views of his own or even harmonize those that he borrowed. He had no followers in psychology. One can point to no one who was distinctively a psychologist that owes much to Rousseau. His strongest influence has been very recent and very indirect. Through his educational teachings that instruction should be based upon a knowledge of the child, he has perhaps had some small part in stimulating the studies of childhood that have been made in the past few decades.

Rousseau's greatest contribution to psychology is probably the raw material that he provided in his Confessions. No one else has attempted to lav bare the innermost secrets of his life in the same degree. Were it to be worked over carefully there is undoubtedly much of great value. Even this however suffers from two drawbacks. It is written for the most part so long after the events that it is probably inaccurate. It is rather Rousseau's theory of what his life should have been when viewed from near its close than a real account of the life itself. The second difficulty is the pathological character of the material. It has furnished much material or at least many illustrations to the psycho-pathologist, but the student of the normal mind must take all the statements with caution.

If Rousseau's influence upon psychology was negligible, his influence upon philosophy was of great importance. His greatest contribution to that discipline was through his effect upon Kant. Little as there seems to be in common between the stern German rationalist and the unbalanced French enthusiast, there is much to indicate that Rousseau affected Kant's general ideas in no inconsiderable degree. Of common knowledge is the story that Kant gave up his daily walk to read