The New International Encyclopædia/Herbart, Johann Friedrich
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Herbart, Johann Friedrich
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HERBART, hĕr'bärt, Johann Friedrich (1776-1841). A German philosopher. He was born at Oldenburg, May 4, 1776. He studied at Jena, where Fichte was just beginning to be an influential factor in the university life, and for a while he was ardent in his loyalty to Fichte's views; but after more reflection he found himself obliged to reject much of that system, and to form one of his own. After tutoring for several years in Switzerland, he qualified as docent in philosophy and pedagogy at Göttingen in 1802 and three years later was appointed professor extraordinarius. In 1809, at the instance of W. von Humboldt, then at the head of the Department of Public Instruction, he was called to a professorship of philosophy and pedagogy at Königsberg, to succeed Krug, who succeeded Kant. As in Göttingen, he conducted a seminar at Königsberg; but in 1833 he was recalled to Göttingen, where he continued in incessant pedagogical and philosophical activity until his death, August 14 1841. His writings were collected and published by Hartenstein in 12 volumes (Leipzig, 1850), and reprinted in Hamburg (13 vols., 1883-93). Another edition is appearing at Langensalza. His pedagogical works have been published in two volumes at different times (1873, 1875, and 1880). Some of his letters were published in 1871 and in 1877. His chief works are: Allgemeine Pädagogik (1806); Hauptpunkte der Metaphysik (1806); Allgemeine praktische Philosophie (1808); Lehrbuch zur Einleitung in die Philosophie (1813); Lehrbuch zur Psychologie (1816; translated into English by M. K. Smith, 1891); Psychologie als Wissenschaft (1824); Allgemeine Metaphysik (1828-29). In addition to the one mentioned above, the following translations should be mentioned: Application of Psychology to the Science of Education, translated by Mulliner (New York, 1898); Herbart's ABC of Sense-Perception, and Minor Pedagogical Works, translated by Eckoff (ib., 1896); The Science of Education, translated by H. M. and E. Filkin (Boston, 1893); Introduction to the Pedagogy of Herbart, translated by Zimson (ib., 1894); Outlines of Educational Doctrine, translated by Lange, and annotated by De Garmo (New York, 1901).
His philosophy is a thorough-going atomism (q.v.), according to which the universe is constituted of monads or ‘reals,’ simple, unchangeable, and in their real nature unknowable. These ‘reals’ stand in accidental relations to each other, and it is the changes in these relations that constitute the process of change in the world of experience. The ‘reals’ disturb each other and provoke reaction in each other in self-defense. Such reactions are our ideas, whicli are called for by the effort of our unknowable souls to maintain themselves. These ideas in turn tend to preserve themselves, and conscious life is the behavior of these ideas toward each other in the way of conflict or of mutual support — conflict when they are totally or partially opposed; support when they are alike. When conflict occurs, the intensity of ideas is diminished; diminution of intensity beyond a certain point means the disappearance of ideas ‘below the threshold of consciousness.’ The relation between ideas is thus a mechanical relation and psychology is the mechanics of ideas. In the mechanical relation of ideas, those already in consciousness have an important part to play with regard to new ideas just appearing. The ideas already present are called the apperceiving ideas, and the new ideas are said to be apperceived. The problem of education is to present such new ideas as can be most easily apperecived, i.e. incorporated with the old ideas to form knowledge. The central principle of all Herbart's reasoning is the abstract law of contradiction, interpreted metaphysically. That is, nothing can be ultimately real of which two contradictory predicates can be asserted. To predicate unity and multiplicity of an object is to predicate contradictions. Hence ultimate reality must be absolutely unitary and without multiplicity, hence also without change. Herbart's influence has been great both in philosophical and pedagogical lines. Among prominent Herbartians of recent times and of the present day may be mentioned M. A. Drobisch, O. Flügel. G. Hartenstein. M. Lazarus, H. Steinthal, L. Strümpell, W. F. Volkmann, T. Waitz, and R. Zimmermann. In America there is a Herbart Society, of which Prof. Charles De Garmo is the leading spirit, and which issues an important Year-Book. Herbartian bibliography is very extensive. For the life of Herbart, consult: Hartenstein, in the introduction to his Herbarts kleinere philosophische Schriften und Abhandlungen (Leipzig, 1842); Allihn, “Ueber das Leben und die Schriften J. F. Herbarts,” in Zeitschrift für exacte Philosophie (Leipzig, 1860), which contains a bibliography; Hennig, J. F. Herbart (Leipzig, 1877). For an account or for criticism of his views, consult: Lotze, “Ueber Herbarts Ontologie,” in Zeitschrift für Philosophie (Leipzig, 1843); Fechner, Zur Kritik der Grundlagen von Herbarts Metaphysik (ib., 1853); Kaftan, Soll und Sein (ib., 1872); Lipps, Zur Herbart'schen Ontologie (Bonn, 1874); Just, Die Fortbildung der Kant'schen Ethik durch Herbart (Eisenach, 1876); Wigget, Pestalozzi und Herbart (Leipzig, 1891); De Garmo, Herbart and the Herbartians (New York, 1895); Adams, The Herbartian Psychology Applied to Education (Boston, 1898); also the various writings of the Herbartians mentioned above.