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Critical theory of the general introduction course in philosophy

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A Dissertation
Presented to
the Faculty of the School of Philosophy
University of Southern California
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Gerard Hinrichs
June 1940
UMI Number: DP29612
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UMI DP29612
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T h is d issertation, w ritte n by
.......... 5 m M D . . H I H R l G H S . . .......
under the guidance o f h i La_ F a c u lty C om m ittee
on Studies, and approved by a ll its members, has
been presented to and accepted by the C o u n cil
on G raduate S tu d y a n d Research, in p a rtia l f u l­
fillm e n t o f requirem ents fo r the degree of
D ean
S ecretary
D a te ..
C o m m itte e on Studies
Maxima debetur puero reverentia.
Juvenal, X I V , 47.
To my friends
THROUGH ONE FAVORED SYSTEM ......................
S Y S T E M S ......................................
RELIGION, LOGIC.. .............................
ASSISTANCE INSELF-STUDY .........................
. . .
B I B L IO G R A P H Y ...........................................
This study is a critique of certain assumptions which
are habitually made in the interests of mass education in
It reveals the maze-running performance of
philosopher-teachers in their docility to commands to do a
work under conditions which negate its very idea.
minds professionally insulated against suggestions from the
outside, minds so enamored of their own outlook that they
fail the elementary requirement to distinguish it from the
purpose it serves for them, and can think of nothing more
original than new ways of presenting it.
Anything so
philosophic as objectifying and examining their own premises,
assumptions, and aims occurs to them only at rare intervals
in flashes of insight which warm their pride without moving
them to action.
Or if action follows, it is uncritical— a
rushing into print with a new outline or text-book which
brilliantly emphasizes one truth at the expense of ten
others and brilliantly exemplifies Love joy»s observation
that philosophers typically fall into love with ideas at
first sight.
If the philosopher would keep to his splendid isolation,
he would not fall under the necessity of arjpraising his own
worth, but could everlastingly assume and enjoy it, and, like
the poet and the fool, would rather retain the traditional
regard he has enjoyed for daring to be what he is.
But he
has stepped into the world of working men and has under­
taken to participate in furthering the common good under
the aegis of Education.
And now he is admitting (what his
students have been broadcasting by word and attitude) that
he is in straits and in need of clarifying his purposes.
is really faced with the task of ascertaining in what sense
what he is and represents is for the common good, and then of
determining accordingly whether he belongs within the present
educational set-up or outside it, as something to be pointed
to or at.
The point of departure of these assertions is the
fact that philosophers have gone on record as being notably
dissatisfied with the character and results of their teach­
ing in the general introduction to philosophy, and this
dissatisfaction crystallizes mainly about the introductory
Having thus placed himself on record, the philos­
opher is now available for study.
The text-book of general introduction to philosophy
contains materials selected, arranged, and presented in a
manner deemed most suitable to the needs of beginners in
Together with the rather sketchy critical
literature that has grown up about it and about the teaching
of philosophy, the text-book represents, it may safely be
assumed, the best understanding of the total situation in
the first course.
At least, these materials represent the
only understanding that has been accepted as significant for
If a better understanding is commonly possessed,
It is
strange that only'those who are ignorant of it
have got
texts and studies published and that those who
it have not seen fit or been able to do so.
The existence oftext-books of general introduction to
philosophy rests upon the assumption— really a corollary of
the assumption that mass education in philosophy is possible—
that beginners can be introduced to philosophy by reading
(and listening to) carefully selected, skilfully organized,
and appropriately uttered materials; a belief that the text,
as such, has a function, is an aid, in philosophic learning.
The solicitude expended in making texts more satisfactory
rests upon a further assumption.
The difficult content, the
high theme and abstruse thought, the price, the persistent new
attempts more appropricitely and more effectively to make these
materials available to beginners surely indicate— on the
presumption that they are seriously meant— that the introductory
text is intended to serve an important function.
They indicate
that instructors pin certain hopes on it, and base certain
expectations upon its use.
They indicate a consciousness that,
depending upon its suitability to the teaching situation, the
text will either aid the process of instruction, or impede and
complicate it, or play no part at all to the discomfiture of
student and instructor alike.
It is safe, on these grounds,
to assert the operation of this second assumption, namely,
that the introductory text, as such, has an important
A third fact,, resting upon a third assumption, is the
wide sale— intended by publishers and effected by instructors
and students— of these same introductory texts.
The fact
that a text-book is published is evidence that it is under­
stood by its author, by its publisher, and by every instructor
who adopts it for his classes to be serviceable for groups of
students other than those taught by its author.
What is
involved here if not the assumption that the introductory
text has a general philosophic usefulness, that the text­
book, as such, is suited to introduce any and all to philo­
But the assumption of general philosophic usefulness
is itself a constellation of assumptions, for it clearly
supposes that philosophy is a matter of well-grounded beliefs,
that there is a philosophic criterion common to all, and that
philosophic learning is specifically the same for all.
Now to get away from the idea of texts to actual
texts on the market and in u s e .
The mere existence of books
called text-books of general introduction to philosophy does
not necessarily ground the assumptions involved in the idea
of a text.
The existence of what may be texts only in name
testifies for sure only to the presence of a pedagogical
purpose, the purpose of introducing people to philosophy.
And not just to a colorless, abstract purpose, but to that
purpose incarnate in a specific conception of philosophy, of
the learning process, of relevant literary materials and
activities, and of the role of the teacher.
Such a specific
conception of what it means to introduce people to philo­
sophy constitutes a definite method or type of approach.
is abstractly possible that existing texts and types of
approach and even the assumptions involved in the idea of a
text are wide of the mark, and yet that people can be
introduced to philosophy.
Again, it is possible that the
text has a place in the first course, but not texts of the
kinds that are now available.
The only way of determining
the suitability of existing texts and of the types of approach
they exemplify would be to exhibit their relevance to the aim
of introducing people to philosophy.
While the mere existence of introductory texts does
not ground the assumption that the text has a place in the
first course, it nevertheless creates a certain presumption
to that effect.
This presumption, other things being equal,
would be strengthened by the increasing number of texts.
But since a presumption rests upon extrinsic con­
siderations and not upon intrinsic evidence of merit, its
basis in fact is in turn presumed, until shown otherwise, to
be challenged by -unexpected and undesired consequences to
which it appears to lead.
And if existing texts were on
record as leading to notably unsatisfactory results, then
candor would have to face the possibility that the trouble
lay not just in existing texts or types of approach, but
perhaps even in the assumptions basic to the idea of the
text and of specific types of approach— assumptions made in
the interests of mass education in philosophy.
It is a matter of record and also easily gathered from
the record that existing texts of general introduction to
philosophy are notably unsatisfactory, as also are the various
types of approach they exemplify.
The fluid state of the
introductory text betrays dissatisfaction with existing texts
and types of approach and concern to eliminate specific short­
comings and to present difficult philosophical materials to
beginners more suitably and effectively.
The various types
of approach present conflicting conceptions of philosophy, of
the learning process, of the role of teacher, text, etc.
each approach and text has as its raison d*etre the conviction
of its advocate or author that it exemplifies the true
conception of philosophy, of the learning process, and of
the role of external aids.
Are these conflicting convictions
compatible with the assumption that philosophy is a matter of
well-grounded beliefs, employs a criterion common to all, and
that philosophic learning is specifically the same for all?
Are they compatible with the claims made by advocates of each
approach that it is suited to the job of introducing beginners
to philosophy and with the charges made by its critics that
it produces undesirable results instead, including a dislike
for philosophy, a mistaken idea of it, and disastrous
Are they compatible with the fact that, for
example, the advocate of the approach through the history of
philosophy considers the approach through a single preferred
system a perversion of the philosophic spirit, while the
advocate of the approach through a single system which he
identifies with philosophy considers the approach through
history to be dangerously misleading and a useless burdening
of the mind with exploded ideas?
Texts representative of
each kind of approach are considered unsatisfactory enough by
sufficient writers and instructors to inspire and patronize
the publication of texts exemplifying other kinds of approach.
Does this conflict mean merely that existing texts and
types of approach are unsatisfactory in general or in part; or
must the explanation of the trouble be sought in their under­
lying assumptions, in their idea?
Since advocates and critics alike base their affirm­
ations on their own experiences as teachers of philosophy,
there can be no denying the factual basis of their respective
claims and charges.
The problem is not a problem of selecting
some facts and rejecting others, for mere selection leaves
facts as opaque as it found them.
The problem is somehow to
discern the structure of meaning which places all the facts
in their proper interrelationships.
Clearly9 an understanding
of the unsatisfactoriness of existing texts and types of
approach would involve penetrating the level of apparent
conflict to the level of the conception of the philosophic
aim, of philosophic learning, and of the role of external
aids of instruction.
It would mean bringing to light the
principles, structural and basic to the elements and affirm­
ations of that conflict, and working those principles into a
coherent, critical theory of the general introduction course.
In the light of such a theory it would be possible to
pass judgment on the suitability of existing text-books and
types of approach to philosophy in a scientific, as opposed
to the present merely empiric, fashion.
Such a task is truly philosophic, in that it is con­
cerned with defining the value and determining the feasibility
of seeking certain ends that are identified with philosophy.
The issue it would decide is important for teacher, student,
and academic philosophy.
The student wants a text that
justifies its cost, or else none at all.
And a text of
introduction to philosophy justifies its cost primarily on
the basis of its appropriateness for introducing people to
philosophy, whatever its value as history, biography, or
If investigation revealed that the text has no
place in the introductory course, or has no important function
to serve there, then the ground would he cut from false hopes
and -unfounded expectations in instructors and students alike,
and attention could be shifted to more productive phases of
the teaching and learning process, and expense saved.
instructor needs a suitable tool of instruction, or if that
is out of the question, at least a better understanding of
the teaching situation in the first course than seems to be
evidenced by writers of existing texts, of reviews of them,
and of studies in the teaching of philosophy.
The instruc­
tor in philosophy, like the teacher of anything else, needs,
besides knowledge of and enthusiasm for his special field9
a knowledge of the conditions that must be arranged in order
to engage and retain the interest of beginners in the values
he wishes them to experience.
And finally, such knowledge
decides not only the personal success of the instructor, but
also the fate of academic philosophy, first and subsequent
courses alike, for the effectiveness of the teacher and of
his written tool determine the enrollment and the advertising
of philosophy courses.
The objection that everybody knows that texts on the
market— even Professor Patrick»s— are unsatisfactory does not
hold water.
What everybody knows is not yet public knowledge—
first because the conviction that existing texts are un­
satisfactory does not involve a knowledge of what the un­
satisfactoriness consists in specifically and in detail,
second because the reasons for the unsatisfactoriness, if
known, have, not yet been authoritatively established.
is no record of existing or projected research on the subject.
The problem, accordingly, is stated as follows:
existing types of general introduction to philosophy suited
to their purpose?
What principles are involved in the claims that
various types of approach are suited to their purpose?
What principles are involved in the charges that
these types are not suited to their purpose?
What is the purpose of the general introduction
course conceived to be?
What is the learning situation in the first course
conceived to be?
What devices other than selected and arranged
reading and lecture materials are mentioned and used to
achieve the objective of the general introduction course?
What bearing on this study has G. W. Allport*s^
doctrine of the significance of philosophy for the development
of a mature philosophy?
In the general statement of the problem the phrase
"general introduction to philosophy" is used as opposed to
introductions to philosophy through a special subject such as
^ G. W. Allport, Personality. Jl Psychological Interpre­
tation. 1937.
logic or psychology— introductions which are courses in the
preparatory subject alone, without going into philosophy.
The peculiar pretension of the general introduction is that
it would put the beginner speedily in possession of a
perspective on philosophy which a teacher or writer has
attained in course of research and teaching.
In the term !Tsuited to" is contained the idea of
being relevant to a purpose, as opposed to being perhaps
fortuitously effective, or even popular.
As to being
fortuitously effective, to adopt a text and type of approach
on the principle that the only students who are going to
learn anyhow will learn from any text in spite of the teach­
ing is to surrender intelligent planning and to resign oneself
to Providence or to chance.
Basic to all pedagogy is the
assumption that the more that can be known about the teaching
and learning process, the more suitably and effectively can
means be devised for achieving educational objectives, and the
wiser one may become as to the feasibility and appropriate­
ness of attempting to achieve certain objectives at all.
Intelligence of ends and means is a recognized substitute for
blind trial and error, theoretically at least, even in the
teaching of philosophy.
The popularity of a text is not sufficient of itself
to ground a judgment of the suitability of the text for
introducing students to philosophy.
The popularity of a
book is not an explanation but a problem.
It may be little
more than a tribute to the author»s literary quality or to
his canny reading of the public’s momentary taste for "heavy"
literature in the form'of outlines— as Will Durant admits.
The question, What is the interest of Durant’s readers a
function of, philosophy or something else? cannot be answered
merely by pointing to the title of his book or even to his
purpose in writing it.
The answer depends upon the suitability
of his selection, arrangement, and presentation of materials
to elicit the reader’s philosophic interest.
.hold good of spoken discourse.
The same remarks
The "enjoyment" of a poetic
or grand manner and utterance in lecturers and preachers is
not always a satisfaction deriving from comprehension, but
sometimes merely from a sense of privilege, enhanced by the
listener’s inability to follow the language.
Under the term "purpose" comes the triple idea of
a) effecting a development b) in American college students
c) into philosophy.
American college students and texts
available to them directly or by translation indicate the
scope of the present study.
The materials of this dissertation were found in
text-books of general introduction, in reviews of them, and
in periodical articles and studies bearing directly or
^ Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy. p. viii.
significantly on the general introduction course.
The investigator has refrained from using his own
appraisals of existing types of introduction, and has limited
his subject-matter to judgments made by writers of published
Only the attempt to discover, order, and apply the
principles involved in these public judgments is original in
this study.
The significance of the study of Allport for this
dissertation is that his conception of the psychological
function of philosophy is confirmed by the idea of philosophy
which is implicit in the criticisms of existing types of
approach to philosophy— criticisms based on the teaching
experience of critics.
Maine de Biran^* observed over a
century ago that a psychological doctrine whose implications
were belied by educational experiment was thereby branded as
untrue or incomplete.
Allport*s study of the structure and
development of personality has not only shown and elucidated
the incompleteness of certain psychological doctrines2,of
personality *development and structure, but has also pointed
out their place and relative importance for an understanding
of personality.
And 'while no one acquainted with the rudiments
1 Maine de Biran, Oeuvres, translation XIII, p. 90
(ed. Tisserand).
^ E.g., the biological theory of personality, the
Freudian interpretation of religious and aesthetic personalities,
TTeonditioning,T and !!imitationTT as generalized theories of
learning, etc.
of logic would assert tiie truth of a psychological hypothesis
on the strength of the confirmation of its implications in
the field of education, nevertheless he would be justified in
preferring it to theories it displaced on the strength of its
confirmation by the available evidence to date, and in
attributing its superiority over those theories to that
feature of it for lack of which they were displaced.
feature of Allport*s psychology which is significant to the
present study is his doctrine that a consciously possessed
philosophy of life is essential to the maturity of one’s
personality, conferring unity and a sense of direction under
conscious control.
Claims tliat the historical approach is suited to
its purpose.
Simply to suggest the general nature of the inquiry,
are interested in the historical approach in its capacity
a) engage the studentTs interest and
develop it into
What is there in the claims made for its suita­
bility to this purpose that commends it to its advocates?
Engaging the student’s interest.
Some advocates of the historical approach significantly
qualify their claim that the historical approach is interest­
ing to students- by specifying the caliber of student.
must be the "thoughtful," "intelligent" type:
The thoughtful student finds this history fascinat­
ing, and full of inspiration. reviews the philosophical experience of the ~
race (in which) intelligent persons are interested.
By implication, Patrick lays the student’s interest in
the historical approach to its concreteness and ease, when he
1 J. H. W. Stuckenberg, Introduction to the Study of
Philosophy, p. 376.
2 Frank Thilly, A History of Philosophy, pp. 2-3.
Owing to the abstract and difficult character
of philosophical inquiries, their study is
usually approached historically.
The history
of philosophy is perhaps the best approach to
the whole subject.1
Stuckenberg says this much better in the words:
The genesis of problems in history corresponds
largely with that in the mind of the individual.2
Windelband speaks of the “great.. .didactic valuen of
beginning with Greek philosophy, especially in its earliest
It is of a highly instructive character, because
of the splendid simplicity and resolute onesided­
ness with which these gifted founders of science,
not yet distracted by an abundance of material,
conceived their intellectual work and naively ac­
complished it.&
Thilly, too, in the following passage seems to iden­
tify or at least to assume a necessary connection between
simplicity of starting point and student interest:
It likewise serves as a useful preparation for
philosophical speculation; passing, as it does
from the simpler to the more complex and diffi­
cult constructions of thought.^
Cushman and Rogers deny that the beginner has any
interest in the mere history of philosophy, but claim that
interest in the history of philosophy is generated in the
1 G. T. W. Patrick, Introduction to Philosophy, p. 64.
2 Stuckenberg, op. cit., p. 370.
® Wilhelm Windelband, An Introduction to Philosophy,
4 Thilly, o£. cit., pp. 2-3.
student "by pointing out to him the significance of the history
of philosophy for an understanding of the political and liter­
ary history and the geography which they bring to the study of
"If the history of philosophy is to have any sig­
nificance for the beginner, it must be shown to give a mean­
ing to h i s t o r y * .
Dotterer echoes this belief in the words:
One may approach the study of philosophy by at­
tempting to gain a knowledge of the principal
movements of thought from the time of the clas­
sic Greeks to the present.
It is interesting
to observe how the various schools of thought
were Influenced by the political and economic
conditions of the time when they arose; and how
every great system has influenced those which
have succeeded it.2
Further treatment of this departure from the mere
history of philosophy occurs on page 115.
Hocking sees interest generated not only by linking
the history of ideas with its cultural background, but also
by the student’s contact with the living personalities who
gave the world those Ideas:
He discovers thought in its living context of
biography and social change, and his own concern
for truth Is deepened by association with the
motives which animated the heroes of human specu­
H. S. Cushman, A Beginner’s History of Philosophy,
vol.l,; see also A. K. Rogers’ review of Cushman’s A
Beginner’s History of Philosophy, in Philosophical Review,
20: 212-215, M a r c h , 1911.
2 R. H. Dotterer, Philosophy by Way of the Sciences;
An Introductory Text-Book, pp. 16^17.
3 W.
E. Hocking, Types of Philosophy,p. vii.
It should be noted that Hooking*s second point has
strength only when students would be required to read the
works of the "heroes of human speculation” themselves; and
could hardly be realized by their reading textbook accounts
of such men and their works.
However, if such biographical works as Durantfs
Story of Philosophy are rightly treated under the history of
philosophy, they very well exemplify in another form what
Hocking had in mind, for Durant, for example, chooses the
biographical form because in its dress philosophy retains
...its beauty and its joy. We shall seek it not
in its shrivelled abstractness and formality, but
clothed in the living form of genius; we shall
study not merely philosophies, but philosophers; we
shall spend our time with the saints and martyrs of
thought, letting their radiant spirit play about us
until perhaps we too, in some measure, shall partake
of what Leonardo called, "the noblest pleasure, the
joy of understanding.
Hudson, in his study of a questionnaire sent to advo­
cates of the historical approach among others, reveals that
in the minds of some,' student interest is linked with the idea
of the reality of problems to students.
They assert that the
history of the actual rise of problems is indispensable to
making problems real to the student, who comes with no realiza­
tion of the problems of philosophy.^
Durant, o£. cit., p. 4.
W. Hudson, "The Aims and Methods of Introductio
Courses; A Questionaire,” in Journal of Philosophy, 9: 33,
January 18, 1912.
The history of* philosophy then engages the interest
of students who are thoughtful and intelligent; hy being fasci­
nating, full of inspiration, beautiful and joyful in its living
context, concrete, easy; by presenting problems in an order
which largely follows the order of their psychological occur­
rence in the individual mind; by being splendidly simple and
resolutely onesided (in the case of the early Ureeks), by
giving meaning to history in general, by deepening the studentTs
concern for truth when studied in its living context of the
motives which animated the heroes of human speculation, by
making the problems of philosophy real to students.
Developing the studentfs interest into philosophy.
Under this head is comprised a double theme:
A. the
question of the nature of the development, whether it is a
process of acceptance or of conquest, a matter of memory or
sympathy and imagination or reasoning or criticism;
B. the
question of the results of the development, whether information
or perspective, knowledge or wisdom, new facts or a sense of
direction, a world-view or a habit of looking for the meaning
of things.
For Stuckenberg the development is of the nature
a conquest or mastery, which he regards as one of the
elements of philosophizing:
"The effort to master the various
systems is a fine discipline for philosophizing.”^ Such effort
Stuckenberg, o£. cit., p. 376.
is for him rightly called original thinking, a term which he
says is little -understood by many who strongly emphasize it
as essential for the true study of philosophy.
According to
him, original thinking
...consists in all those efforts of thinking which
lead to the discovery of what was before unknown to
the thinker himself, though it may have been known
to others. A discovery to the individual may be old
in history.3*
Thilly speaks of what goes on in the student in the
historical approach as a "training” of the mind in abstract
Kulpe, who believes that moderns can be disabused of
their mistaken idea of philosophy as each m a n ’s opinion only
by showing them what philosophy has always meant throughout
history, refers to what happens in the student as a "survey
of opposing tendencies and changing definitions," which "can­
not but impel anyone who thinks for himself to indicate what
seems to him to be the probable solution or explication of the
questions under discussion."
With Stuckenberg and Thilly there is consciousness of
the need of considerable, effort on the part of the student to
understand the historical material; with Kulpe there is simply
cit., p. 372.
Thilly, o£. cit., p. 2.
Oswald Kulpe, Introduction to Philosophy; Handbook for
Students of Psychology, Logic, Ethics, Aesthetics and General
a survey or looking-out-upon from a point of vantage.
This metaphor of leisurely and lordly contemplation
of, rather than active struggle with, historical materials is
found also in Patrick, who assures the beginner:
No matter how large the problems are, we may at
any rate quite modestly approach them by historical
inquiry. We may read what Plato and Aristotle, what
Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, and Royce have written
about them. We may associate for a while with the
great men of the past.l
Hocking, also, employs this (what may have been intended
as a)
subtle device of understatement, of great psychological
to beginners, in his statement that the beginner "discov­
ers" thought in its living context, and that his own concern
for truth is deepened by "association" with the motives which
animated the heroes of human speculation.
Rohrbaugh, to whom "philosophy is a corporate, cooper­
affair,” changes the metaphor again and speaks of an "ex­
amination of the routes travelled by other minds,” which is
necessary before plunging into the problems.
Calkins’ idea of the process in which the beginner be­
comes a philosopher by the historical approach is the direct
opposite of the easy reading or survey conception.
She speaks
of "hammering out the meaning of Spinoza, of Kant, or of
Patrick, o£. cit., p. 64.
Hocking, o£. cit., p. vii.
L. G-. Rohrbaugh, A Natural Approach to Philosophy,
p. ix.
Aristotle,” of comparing passages to get at their common sig­
nificance or divergence, of estimating the different state­
ments of a philosopher with reference to the date of their
She also speaks of the historical approach as "forcing
the student to take different points of view” .
On one hand, then, the development of the student
interest is spoken of as an arduous conquest of textual mean­
ings, an active mastery of recalcitrant material, a hammering
out of meanings, the overcoming, by the student himself, of
his own narrow, dogmatic, and uncritical outlook by forcing
himself to take different points of view; an examination.
the other hand, it is described as a simple reading and associ­
ating and surveying and discovering process, perceptual or
contemplative in its effortlessness.
As to the results of the development of the stude
interest into philosophy by the historical approach, whether ad­
dition of information or development of attitude— concerning
the latter Stuckenberg remarks that "the genetic study of philosophic thought...develops the mind” .
Thilly adds that it
M. W. Calkins, The Persistent Problems of Philosophy,
Loc. Cit.
3 Stuckenberg,
0 £.
cit., p. 370.
..•trains the mind in abstract thinking.
In this
way we are aided in working out our own views of
the world and of life.
But it is hardly fair to dissociate the disciplinary
from the informative effect of the historical approach, for
the former is be consequent upon the latter.
in different ways, as the following study will show.
According to Stuckenberg, the effect of the histori­
cal approach is that it t?not merely develops the mind," but
also "both reveals and solves difficulties," and "develops
philosophic thought."
For Thilly, "we are aided in working out our own views
of the world and of life" both because our minds were trained
in abstract thinking and because we have reviewed the philosorz
phical experience of the race*
Calkins points out that an important advantage of the
historical over the science approach to philosophy in point of
result is that the former, by reason of its larger and longer
view, avoids leading the student to a possible confusion of
the scientific with philosophic method.
Another valuable result, according to Calkins, of the
Thilly, o p . cit., pp. 2-3.
2 Stuckenberg,
cit., p.370.
3 Thilly, 0 2 • cit., pp. 2-3*
^ Calkins,
cit., p. 7.
historical approach is breadth of view in the sense that the
student sees serious alternatives and progressive corrections
in various systems, which prevent his remaining uncritical and
For Maritain, the valuable features of the historical
approach are that it
...acquaints beginners with the problems of philoso­
phy, introducing them into the world, entirely new
to them, of rational speculation, and furnishing them,
incidentally, with much extremely useful knowledge.
Their first requisite is to know'what they are study­
ing, and to possess a sufficiently live and accurate
notion of the problems of philosophy presented in
their simplest form.2
But this is not all, for by a judicious selection of
the history of philosophy stopping with Aristotle, "that is
to say until the conclusion of its formative period” (sic!),
it is possible to show "how the transition was effected be­
tween the teaching of common sense and the scientific know­
ledge of philosophers...and how a particular conception of
philosophy...results inevitably from this historical inquiry,
and naturally forces itself upon the mind.”
Wright, too,.approves such an historical survey on
the ground that it
1 h o c * cit.
Jacques Maritain, Introduction to Philosophy, pp. 18Loc. cit.
...orients the student in the problems, and when
he meets them for the second time in the latter
half of the book he is ready to attack them with
renewed interest and prof it.3Hibben, on the other hand, wrote his Problems of
Philosophy in order to orient the student of the history of
For Rohrbaugh, the significant result of the histori­
cal approach is knowledge of the routes travelled by other
minds, which is vital to the attempt of the individual to
solve these problems; they yield only to the continued pres­
sure of the race.
The individual lacks enough experience to
use as materials.
With Hocking, the conception of the individual obliged
to arrive at solutions of the great problems after a study of
all that the great thinkers have thought about them is not
emphasized as much as the idea of discovering how thought func­
tions in its living context of biography and social change,
and the idea of having o n e ’s concern for truth deepened by
association with the motives which animated the heroes of
human speculation.
• He speaks of foiming a few enduring in­
tellectual companionships.
1 W. K. Wright Ts review of <T. A. Leightonfs An Outline
of Lectures on Introduction to Philosophy, in Philosophical
Review, 28: 216-817, March, 1919.
s J. G-. Hibben, The Problems of Philosophy, pp. v-vi.
s Hocking, ojo. cit., p. vii.
Hud s o n rs questionnaire study records a claim that in
the historical approach the student has a better chance to
escape partiality and onesidedness than in an independent
introduction; also that the indispensable function of the
study of the actual rise of problems is that it makes the
problems of philosophy real to the student, who comes with
no realization of these problems
Bakewell echoes the claim that the student escapes
indoctrination by the historical method— alone, he insists:
So, in spite of the familiar criticisms, which
recur at regular intervals, the introduction to
philosophy by way of its history remains the best
method of approach, for it is the only way in which
a student has any chance of being protected from
the prejudices of his instructor. Prejudices may,
indeed, peep through the cloak of impartiality in
which the historian hides, but a free use of the
sources will minimize their influence,2
Its great positive values are rehearsed in the fol­
lowing hymn of praise:
One sends a student to the history of philoso­
phy that he may sojourn for a while in the worlds
of those whose vision has been broadest, in order
that he may be able to face present day problems
from the vantage ground of the history of thought,—
just as the much traveled man when he returns home
is able to view his native land and its problems in
larger perspective*
1 Hudson, o£. cit,, pp. 32-33.
2 C. M. Bakewell*s review of Cushman*s A Beginner*s
History of Philosophy, p. 329.
The history of philosophy is a cure of the provin­
cialism which comes from isolation in time, — in
o n e ’s own time, and from isolation in some little
hamlet of the world of mind.
The value of the
study is obvious, its aim clear, but...*1Cushman repeats the refrain of perspective as of
central importance to .American students:
The .American student is sufficiently imbued with
the "modern spirit." If there is one impression
more important than all others that an .American
student should receive, it is the historical.
Above every thing else he should get a recognition
of perspective.
The history of philosophy is one
of the most important subjects in the curriculum
to teach him the value of the historical.^
the results of the historical approach,
or what the student is introduced to, are variously described
as knowledge of the philosophical experience of the race and
mental training which aid us in working out our own views of
the world and of life; the revelation and solution of diffi­
culties and the development of philosophic thought; the avoid­
ance of a confusion of the scientific with philosophic method;
the achievement of a breadth of view which realizes the in­
dividual insufficiency and the mutually corrective character
of the various systems; the providing of the student with
vicarious racial experience and technics for attacking the
problems of philosophy, which do not yield to independent
1 Ibid-. PP* 329-330.
2 H. E. Cusliman’s review of H. Hoffding's Brief History
of M o d e m Philosophy, in Journal of Philosophy, 10: 386-388,
July 3, 19T3^
attack; the discovery of how thought functions in its living
context of biography and social change; the deepening of one's
concern for truth by association with the motives which animated
the heroes of human speculation; the inevitable acceptance of a
particular conception of philosophy (Scholasticism, perhaps
MaritainTs own Thomism), which naturally forces itself upon
the mind; the escape from the partiality and onesidedness which
threaten the student in independent introductions; the indis­
pensable function of making the problems of philosophy real to
the student, who comes with no realization of the problems of
philosophy; perspective on present-day problems; cure of pro­
vincialism; the joy of understanding.
Calling to mind the specific .question we have just
answered— namely, what principles are involved in the claims
that the historical approach is suited to its purpose?— ;the
reader will note that what has just been summarized above as
the results claimed for the historical approach all falls under
the rubric ”philosophy,” for it represents what the student is
said to be introduced to by the historical approach.
The start­
ing point is the student who, because he is thoughtful and in­
telligent, is interested, fascinated, inspired by the reflec­
tion of his own commonsense attitudes in early Greek philoso­
phy and by the splendidly simple and resolutely onesided develop­
ment of these concrete and easy problems in an -order which provi­
dentially follows the order of their psychological unfolding in
his mind; by seeing these problems in the light of their con­
temporary civilization and of the noble motives of the heroes
of human speculation, so that the problems are sensed by the
student as real problems— to him. -And the development of the
student’s interest from this point to what was revealed above
to be ’’philosophy” or the term of his development is, if pre­
sided over by hulpe, Patrick, or Hocking, and perhaps Rohrbaugh,
a relatively effortless judicial reading, surveying, discover­
ing, or eavesdropping process, where meanings are obvious and
constitute no problem, but merely provide opportunity for a
selection or choice.
With Bakewell it is a ”journey” to a
marvelously instructive foreign land.
YThereas in the ease of
Stuckenberg and Calkins the development is regarded, perhaps
because of their insistence upon original texts, as a strenu­
ous battle with recalcitrant material by an unseasoned mind,
a hammering out of textual meanings, a disciplined strengthen­
ing of the powers of the mind and an enforced sympathy with
unfamiliar points of view in detail.
Escape from prejudices
of the teacher is achieved by reading in the sources, and the
whole effect is a cure of provincialism and a larger perspec­
tive on the present, as in the case of a widely-travelled man
returned home.
charges that the historical approach is not suited
to its purpose.
student’s interest.
In the matter of the starting point— engaging the
Stuckenberg believes that there are serious disadvant­
ages in employing the historical approach:
The student is not yet prepared to comprehend
the leading problems, much less the systems
themselves; for this, the study of philosophy
proper is the only adequate preparation.
Hegel was certainly not inclined to make phil­
osophy easy for students; but he pronounced
the history of philosophy, which Herbart and
Schelling recommended as propaedeutics to phil­
osophy, too difficult for that purpose.—
Philosophische Propaedeutik, XVIII.1
Hocking charges that the interest, of students, when
not killed by "the appalling multiplicity of systems,"2 is
It is hard, in an historical course, to get up
steam on the problem, let us say of free will,
as many times as there are philosophers who have
had something to say on it.*5
Hibben has it that the victim of the historical ap­
proach fails to see the drift of things owing to his ignor­
ance of the stoek problems of philosophy; this Is the reason
why Hibben wrote his Problems of Philosophy— to supply the
defect of the historical approach:
One who is undertaking for the first time a course .
in the history of philosophy finds himself natural­
ly at a loss to understand the relations between
earlier and later periods of thought, and therefore
wants a proper perspective; accordingly he fails to
appreciate the drift of things.4
Stuckenberg, o£. cit., p. 376.
2 Hocking,
cit., p. viii.
3 Itid. P* ix.
4 Hibben, o£. cit., pp. v-vi.
Charges that the nature of the development is un­
suited to the purpose of the course.
Barrett maintains that it is impossible to introduce
the student to that spirit of reasoned inquiry which is the
essential characteristic of all philosophical thinking "merely
through description of what others think or have thought’1'!:
other words, mere memory work is not yet philosophizing.
There is something about the following statement of
Stuckenberg which suggests that the mere history of philosophy
is a challenge only to the memory of the student; that, depend­
ing upon the student’s interest and motivation, the historical
approach might or might not stimulate him to critically master
systems rather than to commit them:
Memory is valuable as an aid in philosophizing,
but a hinderance if it becomes the substitute.
The philosopher is not made by learning, but by
critically mastering systems; not by committing,
but by thinking and perhaps transcending the
thoughts of other thinkers.
This suggestion is strengthened by the following re­
Many current views of philosophy have their source
in the reading of the philosophic thoughts of others,
rather than in the study of philosophy itself.3
Stuckenberg here pointedly contrasts "reading" with "study."
1 Clifford Barrett, Philosophy, An Introductory Study
of Fundamental Problems and Attitudes, p. v.
s Stuckenberg,
3 Ibid., p. 377.
cit., p. 370.
Paulsen objects to the aimless and wandering character
of the historical paths along which the mind is led:
It is full of deviations and circuitous .paths.-**
ffindelband echoes this sentiment:
The former (a predominantly historical method) open to the objection that the phil­
osophers themselves, at least in their purely
historical succession, seem to be a confusing
and conflicting group, in the study of which
one is apt to lose the real thread, or to miss
the most important points.2
Windelband goes on to say that in the study of that
portion of history— the early Greek period— which the beginner
could follow by reason of its simplicity, he is losing his
time, because
...the grandiose and primitive schemes of these
pioneers do not meet the more complicated prob­
lems of modern times. Their simple, strong lines
cannot provide an expression of the finer struc­
ture of modern thought, which goes deep into the
multiplicity of the individual.3
The remainder of the charges against the historical
approach repeat the refrain that the mind of the beginner is
too empty and too weak to follow and understand the history
of philosophy, with disastrous results, which are now taken
Charges that the historical approach does not
introduce students to philosophy, but produces undesirable
1 Friedrich Paulsen, Introduction to Philosophy,
p. xviii.
2 Windelband, o£. cit., p. 24.
3 Loc. cit.
Confusion and loss of bearings are the tenor of many
For example, Stuckenberg:
The mind unprepared for this history is confused
by the numerous perplexing themes, and lost in
the labyrinths of speculation.1
Again, he asserts that "instead of clear conceptions, a medley
of indistinct notions is usually the result” .2
Cunningham connects the student’s confusion with lack
of mental power and with condensation of material:
The historical part of the book will very pro­
bably not serve the purpose which the author
intends; on the contrary, l am inclined to think
that it will defeat its own end.
instead of help­
ing the student for whom the book is presumably
written, this historical introduction will rather
confuse him.
in my opinion, it is simply impos­
sible to give in one Part of an introduction to
Philosophy a summary of the whole history of phil­
osophical speculation, even though one hundred and
seven pages be devoted to that purpose, which will
be of very much assistance to the average student
in comprehending problems discussed in another
part. This arrangement presupposes powers of syn­
thesis which the uninitiated student does not pos­
sess. 3
Cunningham believes this method to be inferior to the
plan of "using the historical background for the one specific
purpose of orienting the student with reference to the problem
in hand" as each problem is taken up.
**■ Stuckenberg, o p . cit., p. 376.
2 Ibid., p. 377.
3 C. W. Cunningham’s review of 0. 0. Fletchers’ Intro duction to Philosophy, in Philosophical Keview, 33: 318-31$, ’
March, 1914.
4 Ibid.. P* 220.
Rogers bears witness to the beginner*s lack of mental
power in his observation that "the wealth of material (e.g.,
in such a complete history as Web e r ’s) is bound to confuse
the beginner,
no matter how clearly it is put."'*'
Windelband adds his opinion as follows:
The philosophers themselves, at least in their
purely historical succession, seem to be a con­
fusing and conflicting group, in the study of
which one is apt to lose the real thread, or to
miss the most Important points.
Other writers point out how the beginner’s confusion
in turn leads
to seriously mistaken notions of the nature of
Paulsen links confusion with scepticism:
If history is presented to him at the outset
Y/ith its endless great and little differences
of views and arguments, helpless confusion
easily results, and the end of it all is a
frightful scepticism, i±e comes to believe
that the history of philosophy teaches that
every philosopher is opposed to the other and
hence that the entire undertaking results in
Cushman argues that, taught alone, the history of
philosophy is strange territory to the beginner, and that
the possibility of its giving a meaning to history in general
is something that must be explicitly shown; if it is not, the
result for the student is a wrong historical perspective:
1 A. K. Rogers, A Student’s History of Philosophy, p. vi.
. cit.,
2 ?/indelband, ojd
p. 34.
® Paulsen, o£. ext., p. xviii.
If the history of philosophy is treated only as
a series of doctrines, the student beginning the
subject feels not only that the land is strange,
but that he is a stranger in it. Besides, to
isolate the historical philosophical doctrines
is to give the student a wrong historical perspec­
tive, since philosophic thought and contemporary
events are two inseparable aspects of history.
Each interprets the other, and neither can be
correctly understood without the other, if the
history of philosophy is to have any significance
for the beginner, it must be shown to give a. mean­
ing to history.i
Leighton, in effect, says the same thing when he
states that
A beginning course which attempts to cover, in
detail, the entire History of European and
American Philosophy is beyond the grasp of most
beginners. They are bewildered by the constant
succession of theories not easily distinguishable,
and become confused as to the fundamental issues
and standpoints.
They fail to get the connections
between philosophy and the general culture of a
Dotterer links the student’s bewilderment with an
attendant self-deception that the philosopher is essentially
an exegete:
There are two very serious objections to the
practice of beginning the study of philosophy
with the history of philosophy.
In the first
place, there is danger that the beginner will
be bewildered by the succession of strange
ideas, and that he will come to think of phil- osophy as nothing but a parade of bizarre doc­
trines and off-color points of view, which no
sensible person is expected to take seriously.
Cushman, o p . cit., p. vi.
2 J. A. Leighton, The Field of Philosophy; An Introduction to the Study of Philosophy, p. v.
In the second place, there is danger of falling
into the error of identifying philosophy with
its history, and of regarding philosophizing as
merely a species of literary criticism*
student of philosophy thus becomes primarily an
exegete who imagines that his work is done when
by the aid of grammar and dictionary (supple­
mented by such biographical information as he
has been able to amass) he has succeeded in de­
termining the (probable) meaning of the most
important passages in the masterpieces of phil­
osophy *1
The California Associates make a suggestive connec­
tion between the undesirable results of the historical ap­
proach in science students and the latters* characteristic
They tell us that the science-trained student
is scandalized by the conflicting answers of philosophy,
owing to his inability to see that the subjective side of
ideas is as instructive as the objective (truth) side.
sequently, when he is introduced to philosophy by the histori­
cal approach, is not strange, then, that the student
frequently emerges from an introductory study
of philosophy, convinced that there is little
to it but the clash of competing systems, or a
bewildering assortment of intellectual patterns,
between which he can only choose in an arbitrary
and subjective way.s
Lamprecht, in his preface to the California Associates*
Knowledge and Society, lays the difficulty to neutrality of
Dotterer, o£. cit., p. 17.
2 California Associates in Philosophy:
G. P. Adams,
W. R. Dennes, J . Loewenberg, and others, Knowledge and Society,
a Philosophical Approach to Modern civilization, p ."1581.
attitude on the part of the writer of the history:
When an introduction to philosophy tries to
achieve neutrality and to avoid dogmatism by
reviewing all the historic types of philosophy,
the outcome is only too often the opinion, as
I have heard people say in reminiscence about
their undergraduate courses, that *it makes no
difference what one believes because all opin­
ions have alike been sponsored by some great
thinkers and opposed by others.,-‘In short, the historical approach «issues too many
times in...a confusion that retards fresh inquiry.”2
Paulsen has it that the reason why, students are ad­
versely affected by a writer’s attempted neutrality in set­
ting forth the history of philosophy is that explanation in­
volves a standpoint, or is made from a platform, so that the
attempt to get away from a standpoint or to cut loose from a
platform deprives the student of the point of reference which
makes the explanation significant.
man can explain philosophical problems and
their solutions unless he has himself taken an
independent stand in reference to them, nor
can he do so without introducing his own views
into the exposition.3
Reviewer H. T. G. remarks that if the writer or teacher
sedulously refrains from introducing his own views, the student
will draw his own devastating conclusion that philosophy is
not important since it has apparently not taken hold of the
1 Ibid., pp. v-vi:
See also S. P. Lamprecht*s review
of Maritain1s An introduction to Philosophy, in journal of Philo sophy, p • 307‘T™May 2l, 1&31.
2 u a l i f o m i a Associates, ££. cit., p. vi.
3 F h ^ ^ e hfliFjvsiuXntSgQdiaQtldhotoolhilbi^Qphy,:cp. xi.
writer vitally at any point:
Suck an attitude (strict impartiality, no con­
clusions; does leave the reader with a feeling
of frustration, even with a conviction of the
futility of philosophizing.
...too judicial an attitude in the classroom
may leave the student with the feeling that
the professor does not really care.1
The general criticism that the beginner will lay hold
of just enough scattered facts
to choice his under standing of
philosophy is about takes another form in the case of
This way has its dangers; they arise chierly
rrom the plenitude of genius which has been
poured into philosophy during two thousand
years of reflection.
There is a multitude,
a growing multitude, of thinkers worthy of
The mind becomes fatigued by
its riches; and may gain the paradoxical im­
pression of futility.
It is hard for tne be­
ginner, especially if he reads dutifully, to
take history in the right way: not as an ob­
ligation to imow all that wise men have thought—
no one achieves this— but as an opportunity to
make a few durable gnd important intellectual
If five out of forty great
names light up with a personal allurement, one
has found his friends among the philosophers,
and his reading of history has been a success,
xhe likelihood that an .American student will
achieve this Is increased, I believe, if history
is his second course rather than his first.2
Stuckenberg suggests that the studentTs deception as
to the nature of philosophy results in misrepresentation of
philosophy to the general public:
i±. T. C ’s review of Patrick’s Introduction to phil­
osophy, in journal of Philo sophy, 33: 160-161, march 12, 1936.
2 Hocking, op. cit., p. vii
Some imagine that in this history they study
philosophy itself, and perhaps claim to under­
stand philosophy after learning a few ideas
from different systems. Many current views
of philosophy have their source in the read­
ing of the philosophic thoughts of others,
rather than in the study of philosophy itself.1
Robinson recognizes this danger, but adds that it
can be overcome:
The chief danger is that the student gets only
a smattering of the various systems, with very
little comprehension of what philosophy is....
Heed not have this effect if the student is
serious, alert, and willing to work, and the
teacher a real philosopher, and not a pedant
with an axe to grind in the form of a philoso­
phy of his own he is trying to inculcate.2
Robinson himself apparently has decided that teachers
and students who meet his requirements will fare better with
an approach other than the historical, as his own text*— An
Introduction to Living Philo sophy— bears witness.
Bakewell graphically depicts the usual alternative
fates of histories of philosophy in a way that the reader
will remember later in connection with the difficulties in­
volved in the problems approach and the single system approach
He intends to compliment the man whose book he is reviewing,
but succeeds only in being ambiguously amusing:
Most histories of philosophy are either his­
tories with a purpose, the purpose, namely,
of establishing the historian's own philoso­
phy as the sum of the wisdom of the ages; or
1 Stuckenberg, o£. cit., p. 377.
2 D. S* Robinson, An Introduction to Living Philosophy; A General Introduction to Contemporary Types and Problems
p. 7.
else they give us a succession of philosophies
which resemble Kaleidoscopic pictures, each
pretty after its fashion, all intricate and
more or less fantastic, and none very definitely
related to what goes before and what comes after.
Professor Thilly has hit the happy mean.1
Concluding his review, Bakewell enunciates a princi­
ple which ruthlessly restricts the suitability of the histori­
cal approach to those individual students for whom specific
periods of history do not have to be exhaustively reconstruct­
In other words, he implicitly adopts the principle of a
student-centered rather than a content-centered course,
enunciates this principle in the course of expressing his
criticism of Thilly*s generous treatment of the mediaeval
period— a concession to completeness which Bakewell pronounces
pedagogieally futile:
The way of life, and the fashions of thought, in
the middle ages make the mediaeval mind far more
remote from us than the Greek.
To understand the
greatness of that period, to appreciate the vital­
ity of its thinking, one must literally soak in its
atmosphere; one must bring to life again the exper­
ience of which the mediaeval philosophers were the
interpreters, and this means a thorough study of the
whole historical, social, political, religious and
intellectual setting. Apart from.this, one is
pretty sure to carry away the old prejudices, that
the mediaeval philosophers spent their time in idle
and profitless debate, and in the spinning of hypersubtle distinctions, bailing such an exhaustive
study, one had better be content to sample the
mediaeval mind by extensive reading in one or more
of its representative writers.2
1 G. M. Bakewell<s review of P. Thilly*s A History of
Philosophy, in Philosophical Review, 34: p. 330, May, 1915.
2 Ibid., p. 331
This same argument is applicable to any period of
history with which the individual student is unfamiliar, and
to students # lose outlook is mediaeval rather than modern
as well as to those whose outlook is modern rather than medi­
It emphasizes the radical heterogeneity of individuals,
which is only slightly overcome by such academic devices as
the entrance requirements of certain schools, which differ
moreover among themselves.
The comparison of this
thepreceding section on pages
section with the summary of
27 to 29 reveals the following
Both claims and criticisms regarding the suita­
bility of the historical approach for Its purpose are made
from a common understanding that the historical approach Is
a means as well as an end, a device, an instrument.
is question of its being a suitable instrument.
is apparent in all claims that it trains,
This fact
guides, and broadens
the mind; and in all criticisms that it confuses, misleads,
and bewilders the mind.
Defense and attack have to do with
what the historical approach does or does not, can do or
cannot do.
Even the claims that the historical approach re­
and solves difficulties, and provides the student with
information and technics fail to establish the intrinsic
value of the historical approach, for the admitted purpose
of providing the student with this material is to equip him
to solve problems for himself.
The claim that the student is interested in the
historical approach by reason of its concreteness and its
historical and biographical context is qualified on the one
hand by requirements that the student be ^thoughtful*1 and
*fintelligent** (which is a petitio), and is nullified by the
criticism of Windelband that the simplicity of early Greek
thought is out of effective relationship with modern problems.
If these points are well taken,
then the only problems which
the historical approach will make '’real11 to the student are
problems other than his own present-day ones.
The claim that the historical approach trains the
mind and provides information so -that the student can then
work out his own outlook on life is met with the charge that
there Is nothing in historical materials that challenges the
do more than memorize them; that not training, but
confusion, bewilderment, a sense of futility, of the unimpor­
tance of philosophy, and loss of bearings attends the tyrofs
useless attempt to deal with the appalling multiplicity of
systems, the conflicting authorities, the circuitous routes
and deviations, the endlessly repeated and never solved problems.
Instead of achieving a breadth of view in which
all systems have a place in their order, the student becomes
sceptical of them all.
The impartiality of teacher and text
Instead of having his concern for truth deepened,
he has had it dissolved.
instead of understanding even one system and ap­
preciating the meaning it lends to existence, he prefers to
live, undeceived,
in the world of unaided perception;
other words, he does escape the partiality and onesidedness
which threaten the student in independent introductions, hut
becomes a champion of his own lack of any development, which
is worse,
ne is like the traveler whose trip has only con­
firmed his opinion of the silliness of other beliefs and
customs than those of his native land.
The very perfection of the historian's art— his
impartiality and detachment— is held to disqualify the his­
torical approach, for it precludes taking an independent
stand, and the latter is essential to the explanation of phil­
osophical problems and their solutions, as well as to convey­
ing a sense of the reality and importance of philosophic prob1 ems.
in the purpose to train and stock the mind of
the student with the problems, the experience, and the tech­
nics of the race, there is implied the idea that the individ­
ual has something at stake in these problems; that what he
has at stake in these problems is everything that is really
important to him; that wherein he as an individual falls out­
side what he has in common with all other individuals of the
race, therein he has nothing important at stake; that he ex­
hibits ^thoughtfulness” and "intelligence” by the interest he
shows in problems common to all men; that he has an obligation
to attack these universal problems; that he can do so signifie
antly only by arming himself with the armor and weapons of his
predecessors; that this can be done in a course of general in­
troduction by the historical approach.
There is a decidedly
rationalistic ring to all this, an assumption that human na­
ture in general is the locus of intrinsic values and central
problems and that individuals are the locus only of instru­
mental values and derivative problems,
it involves the corol­
lary that ”thoughtfulness" and flintelligence” are exhibited
by a determined recession from the concrete world to the ab­
stract, from the perceptual to the rational, from dealing with
particulars to dealing witn universals and generals.
The ped­
agogical problem is how to lead the beginner from his interest
in particulars to an understanding of universals.
The solu­
tion by the historical approach is a business of having the
student read how the problems arose in the consciousness of
his forebears, with what weapons and technics they were at­
tacked, in order that he may carry on where they left off,
instead of repeating their mistakes.
But if one questions the assumptions back of this
endeavor to burden each individual with the racefs problems,
and takes the stand that each individual is the locus of in­
trinsic values and of the important problems, then the ped­
agogical problem is modified, and it is no longer necessary—
might perhaps even be noxious— to insist upon burdening each
individual with all the worries or all the privileges of the
r o r in such a conception the emphasis is upon the de­
velopment of the individual person— his soundness, integrity,
and fitness.
And the past would be consul tea, not primarily
for the purpose of remaking the individual into an image of
a racial ideal, but rather for the purpose of consulting the
type of well-being suited to the complexion and possibilities
of each individual.
Is it possible that a study of the relation of phil­
osophers to their problems would disclose, not that they were
concerned to solve them because they were problems common to
all men, but that their own peace of mind depended upon their
solving these problems?
What is the significance of the fact
that each philosopher refused to rely upon authority and
merely accept solutions from other thinkers no matter how
superior the latter were?
Is there any connection between
the inability of students to understand the speculations of
great thinkers and the question of the pertinence of those
speculations to the student’s present stage of development?
Even if the student understands the great thinkers, what
that his obligation is to push the great problems
as far as he can with the help of the great thinkers, or
that he may merely contemplate their work with pleasure
without even allowing it to affect his outlook, in case it
threatened the integrity of his outlook?
On the answer to these questions depends the suit­
ability of the historical approach to philosophy considered
as helping the student to meet his obligation to carry on
philosophy as a racial enterprise; or even to engage in phil­
osophizing for his own peace of mind.
Is it necessary to re­
frain from philosophizing until one has before him all the
materials and technics of the race and is skilled in their
What assumption is b ack of such a belief?
Do teachers
of philosophy confuse the technics necessary in arriving at
conclusions acceptable to scientific researchers with the
learning process of students?
Are there no problems and
solutions except for him who possesses the maturity and
special training and historical resources necessary to a
strictly scientific investigation?
solving problems?
What is the purpose of
To whom is what a problem when?
When Bakewell dwells upon the pedagogical
futility of teaching that period of the history of philoso­
phy which, owing to the student's unfamiliarity with it,
would have to be exhaustively reconstructed, he is in effect
sounding the deathknell of the teaching of all periods of the
history of philosophy— or has the alternative of suiting the
teaching of the period to the student for whom that period
does not have to be exhaustively reconstructed,
in other
words, he has Implicitly surrendered the concept of the his­
torical approach as content-centered in favor of the concept
of it as student-centered.
Claims that the approach through one favored '
system is suited to its purpose.
In the matter of the starting point— engaging
the student’s interest*
Kulpe listed as ’’the great advantages possessed by
works of the first type (whose authors attempt to lead their
readers to philosophize, by enumerating the principal phil­
osophical problems and indicating their solution)— definite­
ness of fundamental principles, and the interest which is
lent to all exposition by a warm personal conviction...their
stimulating quality.”1
Development of student’s interest into philoso­
Paulsen maintains that teaching of philosophy can
take place only by persuasion; hence, that a man can teach
only what he is convinced of himself:
Or we might consider the problems and thoughts in
the form of a discussion of these questions. X
have chosen the latter method, or rather 1 was com­
pelled to employ it, because it seemed to me to be
1 Kulpe, ojj>. cit., p. 5
the only possible method, no man can explain phil­
osophical problems and their solutions unless he
has himself taken an independent stand in reference
to them. .Nor can he do so without introducing his
own views and judgments into the exposition. Hence
I shall not merely set forth the problems together
with their possible and historical solutions, but X
shall at the same time attempt to convince the
reader that my solution is the correct o n e .1
But Paulsen’s conception of the type of persuasion
that will be effective is decidedly superior, for it is
grounded in thorough historical study and proceeds by pre­
senting the student with the relevant historical materials,
so that he may be convinced of the fairness of Paulsen’s
Speaking of the kind of lectures of which his
Introduction to philosophy is a written transcript, he says
The first and foremost purpose of university
lectures is to teach: they are not meant to
stir up emotions by a flow of eloquence in
order to influence the judgment; and still
less, of course, can it be their purpose to
amuse. They must appeal to the understand­
ing so as to stimulate independent thoughts
and judgment.
This will be accomplished
most readily if the lecturer begins with a
presentation of the facts, followed by an
exposition of the various possible views con­
cerning their interpretation and construction
together with the reasons governing the deci­
sion. Thus he is brought to state his own
views, not with an air of dogmatic inf alii- .
bility, nor with belittling invectives against
those entertaining different opinions, but with
the calm assurance which springs from a good
conscience, or in other words, from the con­
sciousness that one is guided only by reasons
and always willing to yield to reasons that
are better than o n e ’s own.
In this way the
student is brought in touch with the facts
1 Paulsen, ££. cit., p. xi
themselves, and his mind is set free to inquire
into them and come to its own decision.1
Paulsen’s essential position is that each person has
the right to draw his own conclusions to
the best of his abili­
ty after studying the evidence as far as
it makes sense to him.
Speaking of his outlines of the historical material in connec­
tion with each problem and of the conclusions to which he felt
himself bound to come on the basis of his understanding of the
evidence, he remarks frankly:
Both methods regularly lead to the same goal. Of
course, the choice of the historically-significant
points by which the direction of the development
is determined ultimately and always depends on their
agreement with o n e ’s own thoughts.3
This is a serious admission, for
it means that the stu­
dent is given no more opportunity to disagree with the author
when reading the historical background of a problem than when
following the author’s argumentation— for the selection of
which historical background is relevant to the problem is mere­
ly the shadow of the argumentation.
however, Paulsen justifies this procedure on the ground
that such indoctrination serves the indispensable pedagogical
function of reducing the welter of historical material to a
relatively simple outline intelligible to the beginner.
charges that he minimizes differences between the great ideal­
1 ^ i e d r i c h 4 P a u l s e n , an autobiography, p. 466.
2 Faml senp.
1Intro due t ion to Philosophy, pp.
istic systems, and harmonizes them he replies:
And yet it may he expedient for the time being
to disregard the differences and to emphasize
the great features that they have in common,
in geographical instruction we first place be­
fore the pupil charts which show only the main
outlines of countries and oceans, the principal
mountain-chains and the great water-courses.
Special charts showing the smallest details
would simply confuse him.1
Sellars concurs that the student himself has the
job of understanding the evidence on the basis of which
the writer has come to his conclusions, and speaks of the
effort required as a Mwrestling,f with the problems,
What the student is introduced to.
Paulsen frankly admits that he presents his histori­
cal material in such a way as produce the conviction that the work of
philosophical reflection which has lasted for
so many centuries has not been in vain, but
rather that it leads to a view of the world
that is uniform in its main features and as­
sumes a more pronounced shape as the years roll
if this sounds like reckless optimism to anyone, he
is assured by miss Calkins that it cannot last if unjusti­
Even the scrupulous and rigorous study of any
one great philosophical system must reveal the
1 XjO c • ext.
2 R. W. Sellers, The Essentials of philosophy, p. 14.
3 Paulsen, o£. cit., pp. xviii-xix.
means for the correction of its own inconsistencies.
Hume, for example, implies the existence of the self
which he denies, for he employs the 1 to make the
Kulpe willingly granted that the philosophizing ap­
proach nmay, no doubt,
stimulate an occasional student to
philosophic thought, and so lead him to undertake a closer .
study of philosophy itself.11^
the student!s interest is caught,
lated, and fed throughout by the author’s warm personal convic
tion and by the definiteness of his fundamental principles.
By representing his position as the outcome of reason on the
basis of evidence which he submits in toto to the student, the
author displays his good faith to the student, allowing him
to make up his own mind.
Of course,
the author’s choice and
presentation of materials make the student’s agreement with
his position a foreordained conclusion.
But this practice is
pedagogically sound because when the student later becomes
aware of the need of modifying the system, he is by that time
presumably ready to develop further.
Meanwhile, his wrestling
with the materials even under the guidance of the author is
sustained by the author’s faith that there is a reassuring
unity and direction to the bulk of philosophic reflection
throughout the centuries,
so that he may be led to undertake
1 Calkins, op. cit., pp. 7-8.
Kulpe, op. cit., p. 4.
a closer study of philosophy itself (says isnlpe, for whom
philosophy itself is what he nas found it to be— the whole
literature of philosophy understood as so many attempts to
solve three irreducible types of problem. )***
Charges that the approach through one favored
system is not suited to its purpose, but produces undesir­
able results.
In the matter of the starting point— engaging
the studentfs interest.
iiindelband implies that this approach is faulty as
a pedagogical device for the reason that its users mistake
what interests themselves for what interests their students:
The systematic method of solution has appealed
chiefly to philosophers because it could be used
as an introduction to their philosophies.. .Treat­
ment of this kind is more to the taste of the
author than of the reader, for the reader, as a
rule, desires an introduction to philosophy in
general, not to a particular system.2
Windelband's assumption is that the course is to be
designed to meet the desires and expectations of the reader
rather than those of the author.
It is Windelbandfs opinion
thatthe reader desires an introduction
al, but
to philosophy in gener­
the principle he has Implied is hospitable to other in­
terpretations •
Robinson1s idea of the most serious objection that
Kulpe, ££. cit.» pp. 237-239.
2 Windelband, ojd. cit., pp. 24-25.
this approach (in common with the approach through history
and through special philosophic disciplines) has to meet is
that "they do not give any attention at the outset to the
student’s own philosophy."**'
Langer has it that the student instinctively shies
away from all attempts at indoctrination:
If the text-book e g r e s s e s an opinion, the reader
fears that he is being lobbied for one of the con­
tending factions.2
Durant charges that philosophy, when dismembered and
reduced to Metaphysics, Logic, !Epistemology, Ethics, and the
rest loses all its joy and beauty, and hence its interest.3
In short, this approach is mistaken because based on
a confusion of what interests the teacher with what interests
the student, because it does not give any attention at the
outset to the student’s own philosophy, because the student
instinctively resists indoctrination, and because a living
thing has been reduced to an autopsied corpse.
These critic­
isms are made from a platform which maintains that the approach
is to be designed to satisfy the desires and expectations of
the student rather than those of the teacher, that the stu­
dent’s own philosophy is to be the starting point of the ap­
proach, and that people can be interested in and possibly
1 Robinson, o£. cit., p. 6.
2 Susanne K. Langer, The Practice of Philosophy, p. ix.
3 Durant, ojd
. cit., p.
instructed "by philosophy only when it is presented to them
as making a difference in a human life.
Development of the student*s interest.
Burnham and Wheelwright object that the attempt to
indoctrinate the student by exhibiting the necessity of coming
to given conclusions on the basis of selected historical and
dialectical materials is bound to fail, because
However valid t h e .structure of a philosophical
doctrine may be, there is nothing whatever to
force us to accept those presuppositions and that
method. No matter how self-evident they may
seem to those who accept them, experience is
sufficiently complex to lend, when we shift
the emphasis, plausibility to a denial or at
least a limitation of their validity. When we
examine the history of philosophy we find that,
in fact, no one system has ever been accepted
for long by a majority of those who think about
such things. • .even many of the neo-thomists admit
that a great deal of straining is necessary to
assimilate m o d e m science .1
Strictly speaking, this not an important objection to
the approach, for the problem is not to give the beginner his
final philosophy in a single first dose, but to get him nicely
However, it is a healthy reminder of the futility
and perhaps danger to the student of so effectively indoctri­
nating him with a system that he feels obliged to ignore or
condemn whatever is incompatible with it.
Nicholson employs an expression which, v&ille not per­
haps adequately describing what happens in a student who really
1 J. Burnham and P. Wheelwright, Introduction to Phil­
osophical Analysis, p. 449.
strives to master a system,yet suggests the attitude of stu­
dents who envisage their job as one of memory at most; he
speaks of the student "who with a glassy eye contemplates a
structure already complete.
Results of the approach through one system— what
it really introduces the student to.
Leighton maintains that what the student has been
introduced to is simply not philosophy, but the ideas of
other people.
Philosophy is not something added to the stu­
dent from the outside:
He cannot take his philosophy at second hand from
his fellows or tradition.. .a philosophy is a m a n fs
own life-attitude.
Therefore, it is the most in­
timate and personal quality of an individual life.
Philosophy is not the system of any man or school.
It is the individual mind animated by the spirit
or openminded and persistent endeavor to discover
the whole truth in regard to life and reality.
Barrett concurs that this approach misleads the stu­
dent as to the nature of philosophy, because philosophy is
essentially not a content of conclusions,but the spirit and
method by which they were reached.
Robinson is emphatic on the perversion of philosophy,
teacher, and student produced by this method:
*** J. A. Mieholson, in Introductory Course in Philoso­
p h y , p. 244.
Leighton, o£. cit., p. 15.
3 Ibid. p .
^ B a r r e l ojo. cit., p. v; also California Associates,
op.cit.t p. vii.
One method is to indoctrinate the student as
soon as possible with some special brand of
philosophy.•.This method never produces a
philo sopher.3*
(produces)...pompous conceit...cads in phil­
osophy. ..closes the mind of the student to
the realm of philosophy .2
Beware of the propagandist type of philosopher.
Me has missed his calling. He belongs either
in the pulpit or in the journalistic profession.3
Micholson’s mild observation is that
Philosophy is much more a movement than a monu­
ment; and the student who acquires habits of
critical thinking is much more of a philosopher
than he who with a glassy eye contemplates a
a structure already complete .4
Editor S. T. Lamprecht judicially points out that the
very success of the method of indoctrination is the production
of an attitude hostile to the philosophic spirit:
When an introduction to philosophy seeks to pro­
mote conviction and to avoid inconclusiveness by
sponsoring some one philosophical point of view,
the outcome is not infrequently the supposition
that problems have been settled and need not be
reopened...Thus courses in philosophy issue too
many times in...a complacency that is hostile to
a philosophic spirit .3
Maritain’s position is that to attempt to indoctrinate
a student with a system without having first persuaded him by
historic review that the system is historically inevitable,
Robinson, o£. cit., p. 5.
2 Ibid. p. 6.
Ibid. P. 52.
0 £.
cit., p. 244.
3 California Associates, o£. cit., p. vi.
would be to give him a false impression of philosophy, that
•..would be to present the traditional conception
of philosophy under an arbitrary and a priori as­
pect wholly alien to it, and to risk enslaving our
pupils to empty formulae .1
Leighton, in another passage curiously different in
tenor from the two passages quoted above, but compatible with
them, complains that the purely topical and systematic intro­
...does not bring the student into contact with the
most significant historical developments of philoso­
phy. Me does not, in this way, begin to see what
role philosophy has played in the life of civiliza­
Leightonfs emphasis, like Paulsen 1 s, is upon the right
of the individual to come to the conclusions that are meaning­
ful to him, a right tempered by the duty to learn to the best
of o n e rs ability from other thinkers of the past and present.
K u l p e ’s essential criticism of the approach through
one system is that it is unsuited to the present cie facto need
of philosophy to appear as a racial as opposed to an individu­
alistic enterprise:
But today we hear, only too often, the voice that
proclaims the approaching end of philosophy, or
condemns it as a useless superfluity.
of this kind cannot arise except from ignorance of
what philosophy is and what it means, and cannot
be corrected except by an accurate report of what
the main business of philosophy has been in all
times . 3
Maritain, ojd. cit., p. 19.
Leighton, ojd. cit., p. v.
KjJilpe, ojo. cit., p. 4.
That is to say, the single system approach is unsuited
to present needs because it is not a full and accurate report
of philosophic history and literature,
it is, "as a rule, en­
tirely without the characteristics whieh we judge to be valu­
able"*** in the omnibus approach of iiulpe^ preference,
teristics which he enumerates as follows:
• find out what has been done in the past, to
get a vocabulary of technical terms, to understand
the reasons for the divergence of the schools, and
the significance of the supreme efforts of our own
time towards the advancement of philosophical sci­
ence , 2
Criticisms therefore are made from the platform that
philosophy is not an outlook accepted from the outside but
each m a n Ts own life-attitude; that the development of each
m a n Ts life-attitude is unduly restricted by confining it with­
in any one of the historical systems; that it takes place not
by the addition of more facts from the outside but by the ac­
tivity of each mind, which selects and appraises and uses ma ­
terials that It understands; that each m i n d Ts radical autonomy
of judgment is mistakenly regarded by all attempts to indoc­
trinate students as an evil to be overcome,
n u l p e ’s criticism
is made with the belief that the beginner should have no espe­
cial trouble reading and appreciating the significance of a
P* 5.
2 IkM*> p * 4 *
full and accurate report of the business of philosophy in all
times, and that the presentation of this report to the student
is what is meant by introducing him to philosophy.
criticism is therefore an objection to the limited material
presented to the beginner; philosophy is not just one system,
but all systems.
The difference between hulpefs criticism and
that which precedes his at the beginning of this paragraph is
the difference between insisting that the student proceed on
the basis of his peculiar personal mental complexion and abili­
ties and insistence that a person judge of the true nature of
philosophy only after coming to know the historic business of
The objection to the way the approach through one sys­
tem leads the student to the acceptance of it is based on the
belief that it is unphilosophieal to make the student accept
definitively a set of conclusions based on selected evidence.
The reasoning of the student is simply a dog-like following
of the thoughts of another, or a glassy-eyed contemplation of
a structure already complete.
With regard to starting point, the criticisms involve
the assumption that the approach to philosophy should be de­
signed to satisfy the desires and expectations of the students
rather than those of the teacher, that the studentTs own phil­
osophy should be the starting point, and his sense
the judge.
of reality
Comparing this summary of section 2 with the summary
of section 1 on page 4E, the reader will note the following
If there is anything common both to the idea of
the student*s interest being engaged by the author’s warm per­
sonal conviction and to the idea that the student1s own phil­
osophy should be the starting point of any approach to philoso­
phy, it is perhaps that the student is captured by the teacher*s
real concern about issues which are of concern to the student,
or perhaps we should say, about issues of the same Kind, as
those which concern the student.
appear later.
What these issues are will
It is the satisfaction of desires and expecta­
tions linked with these issues that any approach to philosophy
must at least begin to effect.
Ihe idea common to having the student follow and
check the reasoning of the teacher in the light of historical
materials selected by the teacher and to having the student
branch out by his own self-initiated activity into materials
selected from a wider field by himself in answer to issues
raised by his own desires and expectations— is that the stu­
dent must learn the spirit and acquire the habit of understand­
ing, to the best of his ability, what he is about.
In short,
the development of reasonableness and understanding as opposed
to mere acceptance without understanding.
If Nicholson is be­
lieved, it is possible to accept a system without having grown
in sympathetic and critical thinking.
The special goal of the approach through one sys­
tem is at best the understanding and at worst the mere accept­
ance of it; the special goal of the survey approach of its
critic hulpe xs the acquaintance of the student with a full
and accurate report of the business of philosophy in all times;
but the goal of the approach, to philosophy, according to
Leighton and P aulsen’s basic assumptions, is each student’s
best understanding of issues raised by his desires and expec­
tations that is possible to h i m .
There is simply a difference
of emphasis and, in the case of the approach through one system,
a difference of scope.
In the third case, the emphasis is upon
issues raised by the student’s desires and expectations as start
ing point, as principle of selection of materials for their sa­
tisfaction, and as judge of the v<rorth of those materials.
the other two cases, the emphasis is upon content as such, as
in Kulpe, or on content that has proved satisfactory to issues
raised by the desires and expectations of the teacher.
The more successful the approach through one system
has been, the more certainly has the student been indulging in
literary appreciation and mental calisthenics rather than cop­
ing with issues arising from his desires and esqoectations and
If there is any difference between the problems ap­
proach and the approach through one system, it is, generally,
first of all a desire to treat problems separately instead of
emphasizing their essential systematic interrelationships and
selectively instead of covering the whole terrain of philoso­
phy; secondly, a professed desire— not always realized— to es­
cape from o n e ’s bias in the esqposition of problems and solu­
tions and the attempt to stimulate independent thinking on the
part of the student instead of persuading him to the w r i t e r ’s
own views*
G. Kennedy puts this very clearly in a review of four
Introductions of 1924 vintage:
Each one presumes that philosophy is a definite sub­
ject-matter which can be presented in a straightfor­
ward and impersonal fashion.
This subject-matter
consists of a number of "problems" for which there
are certain solutions.
The purpose of an introduc­
tion to philosophy is to inform the student that
these problems exist and then acquaint him with all
the extant theories about them, and the chief merits
of the writer of an introduction will be clearness
and impartiality. He must be careful to remain a
professor .1
i G. Kennedy’s review of G. P. Conger’s A Course in
Philosophy; J • H . R y a n ’s An Introduction to Philosophy; G T lv.
Cunningham’s Problems of Philo sophy; G. T. W. Patrick’s Intro­
duction to Philosophy,~Tn journal of Philosophy, 22: 360-362,
June 18, 1925.
Leighton emphasizes fewer problems more fully treated:
I feel that Professor Cunningham has attempted to
cover too much ground in the space laid out.
am sure that it is better to take fewer problems
and to hammer away at them,
unless the students
that have fallen to my lot were an exceptionally
dull group, 1 feel that my experience warrants the
prediction that the average undergraduate would
carry away from Professor Cunningham*s text, if it
were used as the basis of the course, much confu­
sion of mind.31
claims that the problem approach is suited to its
Engaging the student’s interest; starting point.
Patrick prefers the problem method to the historical
on the ground that it is ”still more modest** than the latter,
and easier for the student:
Finally, there is a still more modest method of
studying philosophy than that of its history.
Preliminary even to this is the definition of
terms and the mere statement and exposition of
the various problems, with the mention of the
different theories about them...we may define
terms and explain theories and perhaps to some
extent examine critically the concepts used.
Possibly we may find that the divergence among
the various systems of philosophy— a divergence
much exploited by the critics— is not so great
after all. This would seem to be the ideal way
to take up the study of philosophy: first, through
an *Introduction,* to get the terms, problems, and
typical theories before us; second, through the
study of the history of philosophy, to gain a know­
ledge of the opinions of its great men; third, to
apply to all the problems the method of critical
1 <
J• A. Leighton’s review of G. W. Cunningham’s Prob­
lems of Philosophy; An Introductory survey, in philosophical
Review, 34: 586-627, September, 1925•
analysis and reflective thought .1
Rohrbaugh uses the metaphor of the introduction:
When we introduce one person to another, we do
not think of rehearsing the deeper facts lying
back of each personality; we let them learn to
know each other. Likewise, as we approach phil­
osophy, it is better to examine from different
angles the issues belonging to the field, to in­
quire concerning the paths which a few highly
respected individuals and movements have taken,
thus pointing impartially to possible interpre­
tations...An elementary approach of this kind
then does not aim to lead the reader to the very
heart of its problems; nor do introductory treat­
ments of mathematics, physics, or any other sci­
Investigators get into the heart of their
problems only as they continue to live in their
respective fields.^
Cunningham confronts the student with the historical
material relevant to each problem, and leaves him to draw the
conclusion he sees.
He has done for the student the drudgery
of collecting and ordering the materials; he allows the stu­
dent to use them in his own way:
Instead of giving a separate summary survey of
the main historical systems of philosophy, as is
sometimes done in introductory texts, 1 have
undertaken the more difficult (but I think more
fruitful).task of weaving the relevant histori­
cal material into the consideration of the prob­
lems as they severally arise.
This promises more
for the student .3
Editor S. T. Lampreeht makes a point of the fact that
Patrick, o p . cit., p. 65.
Rohrbaugh, o£. cit., pp. vii-viii.
W. G. Cunningham, Problems of Philo sophy; An Intro­
ductory Survey, p.
the kind of problems that are interesting to people are the
"current problems which force themselves insistently on the
attention of thoughtful people,^ and in the same connection
commends "subject-matters that are of current .import to
.American students#"
Hocking*s understanding of the value of the problem.
approach is that it gives the student what he wants, namely,
answers to his questions, and so is consistently interesting:
The second way is by direct attack upon the prob­
lems of philosophy: what is the mind? how is it
related to the body?
is the behavior of human
beings a part of the machinery of nature?
is there
a soul? does it survive death? what are these
qualities we call good and evil? what have we to
do about it? how much, if anything, can we know
beyond what we call science? The answers to these
and other such questions constitute a m a n ’s phil­
these are the things he wants to know .3
The problem approach answers to a mood of impatience
and good courage in the student to plunge directly into these
questions, with the best light today available, and nocking
believes in taking advantage of the courage while it is strongf
M e N u t t ’s hymn of praise to the problem method includes
the claim, important if true, that "it changes routine monotony
into expectancy” in the student.
California Associates, o p . cit., p. v.
2 rbid- > P* v i *
u Hocking, op. cit., p. viii.
4 koQ.>uit#
5 w.
Study, p.
S. M c N u t t , The Story of Philosophy Told in Problem
Also, "the problem method of approach motivates and enriches
the life of the student " . 1
The promising claim that he makes
for it is that it vitalizes the tool sciences which have to be
drawn upon to solve a given problem by making them serve a de­
sired end— the solution of a real problem .2
Some of the authors so far quoted exhibit
an astonishing and anomalous conception of problems as external
to people and resident in philosophical literature.
lems are universals, the people are particulars.
are there, the people are here.
The prob­
'The problems
The pedagogical puzzle is how
to introduce a particular here to a universal over there, or
to insert a cosmic difficulty there into an atomic con­
sciousness here.
One formula (Bohrbaugh’s ) is to have the stu­
dent v/alk around the problem and view it from different angles.
Another (Patrick’s) is to give rough equivalents for its lang­
uage and exhibit its constituent parts, with summary statements
of solutions offered.
A third (McNutt’s)is to furnish the stu­
dent with the title of an historical problem and refer him to
literature in which he is to discover for himself both problem
and materials for its solution.
Other authors speak of problems as forcing themselves
upon people, or as difficulties already in the minds of people
and pressing for an answer,
2 Ibid.# PP- 1
in this way of looking at the
matter, the student is already involved in the necessity of
philosophizing, for he is an element in its problems*
in the first way of looking at it, he has to cultivate an
interest in it, as in the Foreign Missions*
Development of student’s interest.
Nothing is more obvious about the first species of
problems approach than that it is a memory process, for, as
Kennedy has pointed out, the aim is to ”inform” the student
that certain problems exist and then "acquaint” him with all
the extant theories about them.
These are materials to be
committed and given back in recitations.
in the second species of problems approach,the stu­
dent "follows” the philosophizing of the author without being
led to a definitive conclusion, or in the formal problem study
method of McNutt learns to unearth, formulate, collect mater­
ial on, and come to a decision about a problem as the result
of discussion, reading, and writing.
With Hocking the problems are in the students, but
history supplies the solutions for the student’s choice; with
McNutt the teacher supplies a title, the student discovers the
problem and materials relevant to its solution in philosophical
literature, and himself passes judgment; with the others, both
problems and solutions are presented to the student.
A. H. Jones speaks of the learning process as ”an
exposure to greatness."-1*
Besults of the problems approach— what the studen
has been introduced to.
Of course, the student has been informed about prob­
lems and acquainted with solutions.
But the important result
is not a mere "schooling in opinionsy but rather "an exposure
to greatness '1 as a result of which we anticipate "that the
heterogeneous interests of life be unified, that new and wider
prospects be revealed, and that the mind be enriched and steado
ied for daily tasks."
However, the results of such an ex­
posure to greatness are very problematical, yet should not be
If we bear this in mind, we shall not be greedy of
results which are evident to the student, or which
even the teacher can see with definiteness— for
when and where greatness shall take, or how it shall
work on lesser lives we rarely know .3
Strange that a philosopher should not think to examine the
validity of a principle so equivocal in its effects.
The stock claim for the problems approach is that it
liberates the mind from the thralldom of set factuality and
prejudice and opens up new vistas of possible realization,
by giving the student an understanding of the inconclusive-
1 A. H. Jones 1 review of Cunningham *s An Introduction
to Philo sophy, in Philo sophical Review, 29: 5 0*1^5, September,
2 h o c * cit.
hoc. cit.
ness of available evidence on ultimate problems owing to the
inexhaustible extent and richness of the universe *1
value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its
un certainty.”
Hibben wrote his The Problems of Philosophy explicit­
ly to precede and prepare for the history of philosophy:
One who is undertaking for the first time a course
in the history of philosophy finds himself natural­
ly at a loss to understand the relations between
earlier and later periods of thought, and therefore
wants a proper perspective; accordingly he fails to
appreciate the drift of things*
to all such an in­
troduction to the main problems, and general tend­
encies of philosophical discussion, should prove an
invaluable assistance in interpreting the evolution
of thought historically*3
bumming up:
the problems approach ideally eventuates
in a liberalized and broadened mind, unified in its interests,
enriched and steadied for daily tasks, ready to interpret the
evolution of thought historically*
These results were achieved by the studentfs being in­
formed about and acquainted with problems and solutions which
constituted an exposure to greatness, and,in the case of
McNutt,more prosaically provided also materials on the basis
of which the student came to his own decision about the prob-
1 Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, Chapter
XV*, The value of philosophy.
I*>icL., p. 243.
3 Hibben, o£. cit., pp. v-vi.
With some writers problems are difficulties outside
of students and they offer a mutual resistance; with others,
problems are outside students, but clamor for attention; with
still others, problems are inside people like a hunger call­
ing for food from the outside.
uharges that the problems approach is not suited
to its purpose.
In the matter of starting point— engaging the stu­
d e n t s interest.
Jones’ criticism is that the attempt to bring philoso­
phy down to earth and link its problems with the affairs of
life has in one case resulted in too obvious and external a
linkage to trap the s t u d e n t s imagination and hold him long.
Me esqplieitly makes this criticism from the platform that
...the b e g i n n e r s demands on philosophy are fun­
damentally the same as the t e a c h e r s , viz., that
the heterogeneous interests of life be unified,
that new and wider prospects be revealed, and that
the mind be enriched and steadied for daily tasks .1
Kusso lists the type of problems which have no inter­
for the student because archaic:
The introductory course called the .problems of
.Philosophy is still more futile.
The old problems
of ontology and cosmology, the tabula rasa, P a l e y ’s
jones’, o p . cit., p. 505.
watch, the billiard-ball universe, psycho-physical
parallelism, the Ding-an-sich, and other bric-abrac and heirlooms of philosophy have lost their
charm. They are the antiques of philosophy and
have their place in the history of the subject .1
The platform from which Russo makes this criticism
is apparent in the following:
Unless philosophy addresses herself anew to the
problems of life, it will remain what it has
been throughout the twentieth century, the
sterile and exhausted soil of the sciences .2
Marvin criticizes Dubray for not limiting himself
to those problems which are in closer or more apparent re­
lation to life .3
Hudson believes that the reason why it is so not­
ably hard to induce students to do independent thinking is
that "the problems with which we confront them do not seem
to them worth while."
And the reason why the problems do
not seem to them to be worth while is that they "do not arise out of concrete situations with which they are themselves
involved or with which they are familiarly interested." For
-*• S. Russo, "Course in Philosophy for Junior Colleges,"
Junior College Journal» 7: 257, February, 1936.
Ibid., p. 258.
W. T. M a r v i n ’s review of C. A. Dubray's Intro duo to ry
Philosophy; A Textbook for Colleges and High Schools, in Journal
of Philosophy, 10: 446, July 31, 1913.
4 J . W. Hudson, "An Introduction to Philosophy through
the Philosophy in History," Journal of Philosophy, 7: 573
October 13, 1910.
--------------- ---5
Loc. cit.
example, in itself the metaphysical problem of the one and the
many, or the problem of teleological criteria in ethics is not
"likely to heighten the pulse of the average sophomore.”**H u d s o n ’s criticism is made from the following platform:
But the conditions are changed when the problem is
made to emerge from an absorbing concrete social
conflict or a compelling national crisis, historic
or contemporary*
It is not an artificiality thus
to relate philosophy, philosophy from of old was
born of just such concrete situations *2
This point of view is emphatically asserted in H u d s o n ’s
study of the results of a questionnaire involving thirty-five
teachers of philosophy:
There is a general insistence that the problems
shall be presented in connection with presentday issues and solutions, and that they should
first emerge through a Socratie questioning of
the student’s own attitudes toward life* As a
typical reply puts it:
"Introduce the student
to philosophy through his stock on hand* Begin
where the students are and grow into philosophy
v/ith them. Drag the problems out of them; they
are already infected.”3
Wright commends Leighton for his admirable choice of
topics on the ground that they are "the very ones which, in
the experience of the reviewer at least, undergraduates in
their first course most wish to know something about.”
Loc. cit*
L o c * cit*
3 t
l• W. Hudson, ”The Aims and Methods of Introduction
Courses; A Questionaire, ” Journal of Philosophy, 9: 33,
January 18, 1912.
4 W. K. W r i g h t ’s review of d. A. Leighton’s An Outline
of Lectures on Introduction to Philosophy, in Philosophical
Review, 28:216, March, 1919.
Lafferty rebukes Robinson for substituting philoso­
phical riddles and technicalities for real problems:
The so-called problems into which Parts IX, III,
and XV are divided are not real problems.
quently there are no solutions to them and thus
they are given the appearance of eternal problems.
They are the dialectical difficulties of idealism.
Dialectical difficulties lead only to the bikering
evidenced by this book; real problems present goals
of cooperative human progress.**Lafferty states the platform of his criticism thus:
In an age engaged in reviewing the foundations of
its science, the place of that science in its human
life, the readjustments of its social structure re­
quired by technological advance, the nature, pos­
sibilities, and necessities of a good life in its
world...there is need for an introduction to living
philosophy .2
Summing up:
the problems approach has failed to en­
gage the interest of students when it began with problems too
external to the student’s life, too archaic, too many to be
covered, out of apparent relation to life, not worth while to
the students because not emerging from concrete situations
with which they are themselves involved or with which they are
familiarly interested, riddles of technical philosophy instead
of real problems capable of solution.
The criticisms are made from the platform that the
problems of the introductory course must not be external to
1 T. T. Lafferty’s review of D. S. Robinson’s An Intro­
duction to Living Philosophy, in journal of Philosophy, 3&:
April 13, 1933.
2 Loc. cit.
the student,but must emerge from concrete situations with which
they are familiarly interested, that thus they will seem worth­
while to the student and be a suitable starting point; that all
philosophy is b o m of such concrete situations as absorbing con­
crete social conflict or a compelling national crisis, historic
or contemporary; that the problems should emerge through a
Socratic questioning of the studentfs own attitudes toward life,
his stock on hand.
Development of studentfs interest.
When the same text-book appears to two different re­
viewers to exhibit a radically different plan of execution and
order of materials, it must be admitted that the relatively sub­
tle continuity which the one reviewer missed and on the basis
of which he condemned the book would very likely be missed by
the student also and fail to achieve the effect it intended in
Tuttle sees the dialectical style of the author in the
problems he suggests to the studentfs reflection, and praises
the result as not being material to commit and recite.
He com­
mends the author for the suitability of his method to stimulate
the student to form habits of philosophical thinking rather than
to acquire a smattering of all the manifold tismsf.'1*
A.Balz, on the other hand, sees in the book an exhibi-
^ J . R. Tuttlefs review of J • E. RussellTs A First Course
in Philosophy, in Philosophical Review, 23: 93-94, January, 1914.
tion of a perverse, even though inevitable, condensed maimer
of presenting conflicting philosophical solutions— perverse
in that the very form of exposition predetermines the issue
for the student•
Where Tuttle saw the dialectical movement,
Balz notices only the absence of historical background which
would prepare the student for each view more naturally.
In short, where Tuttle saw an interesting because tantalizing
and suggestive development of problems, Balz (and probably
the student) see only material to be committed.
Results of problems approach— what the student
was really introduced to.
Balz criticizes the approach as lending itself to
making philosophy artificial to students, and mediating doc­
trines suspicious because they seem to reconcile TTwhat must
seem, from the very form of presentation, so patently irrecon­
He asserts further that "for the pupil the issue is
apt to be predetermined by the esqposition of alternatives^.
And the result is a misconception of the aim and nature of
philo sophy:
1 A. Balzfs review of I. E. Russell fs A First Course
in Philosophy, in Journal of Philosophy, IS: £22-223, April 15,
3 Loc. cit.
The study of philosophy may appear to him to be a search
for the best solutions that history affords, rather than
a search for the problems to be solved . 1
Overstreet points out the tendency of theproblem
approach in one case to convince the student of the author’s
solution instead of remembering that the student is not yet
prepared for conviction and needs rather to be made vividly
that there jLs a problem and given some notion of its
and difficulty. Otherwise,
In the first place, the student fails to see what the
real difficulty of the problem is; and in the second
place, he marvels that most of the thinkers of the past,
have childishly blundered in matters of very simple moment.
Tawney points/out a pedagogical difficulty Involved in
making the judgments of common sense not only the starting
point, but also the justified conclusions of philosophy:
In thus hoisting the plain man into the position of a
philosophical authority we are apt to mislead students
into an attitude of distrust and scorn, not only toward
all historic systems of philosophy, but also toward the
very attempt to think clearly about real things.
lighted with this very interesting championing of the
plain m a n ’s view of the world, It is just possible that
the student will afterward hear nothing of any other
The teacher may find himself forced to
defend the attempts of such men as Plato, Aristotle, and
Hume. ^
Kennedy’s criticism reveals the dilemma of the advo-
. cit.,
^ Balz, ojd
pp. 222-23.
^ jj.
Overstreet’s review of G. S. Fullerton’s An
Introduction to Philosophy in Philosophica1 Review, 17: 218,
March, 1908.
3 G. A. Tawneyfs review of G. S. Fullerton’s An
Introduction to Philosophy, in Journal of Philosophy, 4: 357,
June 20, 1907.
cate of the problems approach, for just as the attempted
indoctrination of the student miscarries, so an attitude of
strict impartiality fails of its objective by taking all f,contagion" for philosophy out of the introduction:
For what subject would not be dull when presented
in texts which read like brief encyclopedias?
.And especially this subject which is so much
more than mere subject-matter.,
If philosophy is the love of wisdom then to teach
philosophy is to communicate more than knowledge.
Clarity and impartiality and thoroughness are not
The teacher of philosophy must be careful not to remain a professor, for only philosoph­
ers can introduce us to philosophy, just as artists
alone can introduce us to art .1
Summing up:
the criticisms are made from the plat­
form that philosophy must not seem artificial to students nor
mediating doctrines suspicious, that the form of exposition
must not predetermine the issue for the pupil, that the pupil
is not ready for conviction or making his mind up until he has
been made vividly aware that there is a problem and has some
nation of its scope and difficulty, that taking as o n e ’s prob­
lem the justification of the judgments of common sense is apt
to mislead students into an attitude of distrust and scorn,
not only toward all historic systems of philosophy, but also
toward the very attempt to think clearly about real things.
Of course, this attitude will not bring students to advanced
1 Kennedy, ojd. cit., p. 368; see also, R. T. FI sw­
ell i n g ’s review of Cunningham’s Problems of Philosophy, in
The Personalist, 6 : 308, October, 198^.
classes in philosophy nor advertise philosophy flatteringly
to the general public.
And finally, strictly impartial intro­
ductions to philosophy are too dull to communicate a love of
Returning to the matter of developing the student’s
interest, one sees how easy it is for a reviewer (and a
fortiori for the student) to miss the significant continuity
of the book as the result of the inevitable form of presenta­
tion, for the condensation necessary in a text-book calls for
unnaturally rigid contrasts between divergent views, and gives
the impression of being matter to be committed rather than
problems to be grown into and felt.
Harking back to the matter of starting point, one
finds that if it is pedagogically risky to attempt the justi­
fication of the judgments of common sense, as Fullerton was
criticized for above, it is also reprehensible to start from
common sense judgments for the purpose of transcending it,
for this generates pseudo-problems which are insoluble and
which give philosophy an air of artificiality.
The students
are said not to be interested in the dialectical difficulties,
riddles, and technicalities of idealism, lafoich are external to
their lives, but rather in problems which emerge from concrete
situations with which they are themselves involved or with
which they are familiarly interested, which thus seem worth­
while to them, and which are capable of solution; such situa-
tions as absorbing concrete social conflict or a compelling
national crisis, historic or contemporary,
tod the way to
ijtake such problems emerge from such situations is by a Socratic
questioning of the 3tudentfs own attitudes toward life, his
stock in hand.
This procedure addresses philosophy to life
instead of limiting its interests to the bric-a-brac and heir­
looms of past philosophic housekeeping.
The guiding principle
is that the beginner1s demands on philosophy are fundamentally
the same as the teacher 1 s; and this principle suggests that
since the teacher was not content to adopt the viewpoint of
another, but considers himself a philosopher by virtue of his
having achieved his own understanding of the world and life,
so ought he to suit his instruction to the business of aiding
each student to achieve his own understanding instead of accept­
ing the teacherfs outlook or of being unwittingly led to scorn
philosophy before he is in a position to judge of its value.
For the admitted goal is that the student understand, not that
he accept, or make a choice between transparent alternatives,
or prematurely scorn philosophical .literature and the clarifi­
cation of ideas.
Comparing this summary with the summary of claims made
for the problems approach on page 69, one sees no difference
of opinion concerning the objectives to be sought, but con­
siderable difference in the matter of starting point and
That is to say, the problems approach is crit­
icized in its character as an instrument or tool.
The attempt
to start with problems external to the students miscarries
.disastrously, the exposure to greatness really occurs only
when the student is in a position to realize the greatness. A
program which of set purpose undertakes to justify the judg­
ments of common sense and takes that as its problem will sat­
isfy or displease some students just as it satisfies or dis­
pleases some teachers of philosophy; and the same may be said
of the undertaking to transcend common sense in a system of
Only the principle that problems should be elic­
ited from the student’s own stock in trade and from situations
of concrete social conflict or compelling national crisis, his­
toric or contemporary, remains— elicited by a Socratic ques­
tioning of the student’s own attitudes toward life.
There has
been a cancelling out of the various teacher-originating
routes of development as leading to results satisfactory, when
successful, only to the teacher concerned because flattering
to his vanity, and there remains only the general principle
that the student follow his own lines of growth to a better
understanding of his own attitudes toward life.
The problem
apparently is to get him to become conscious of those attitudes
and of the conflicts possibly involved in his desires, beliefs,
theories, knowledge, purposes, and so forth, and then set about
clarifying and bringing order into that situation— not into a
special problem abstracted from its context in the life of
Plato or the history of ureece, or in the life of the teacher.
In short, not a problem and process of growth which is teachercentered or book-centered, but one that is student-centered*
Under the title of survey of philosophy approach are
included works like jLulpe’s which are encyclopedias of phil­
osophic information; not works which present the whole field
of undergraduate special subjects in a b i r d 1 s-eye view*
aims are analogous, but works like n u l p e ’s profess to give a
report of the field of philosophy alone, while the usual under­
graduate orientation course gives a report of non-philosophical
fields or of both philosophical and non-philosophical fields*
Claims that the survey approach is suited to its
In the matter of starting point— engaging the stu
d e n t s interest.
Kiilpe courageously assumes that he is dealing with the
kind of student who is trying to gain some real preparation for
the study of philosophy: find out what has been done in the past, to
get a vocabulary of technical terms, to understand
the reasons for the divergence of the schools, and
the significance of the supreme efforts of our own
time towards the advancement of philosophical science .1
Developing the student’s interest.
The process of being introduced to philosophy is a
matter of reading and storing in o n e ’s memory the survey of
opposing tendencies and changing definitions .1 In this way
the student can be better ’’sped upon his course” than by the
approach through a single system.
Results of the approach— what the student has been
introduced t o •
Kulpe claims the student has knowledge, a vocabulary,
and understanding.
The author’s survey of opposing tendencies
and changing definitions has inevitably impelled him to indi­
cate what seems to him to be the probable solution or explica­
tion of the questions under discussion,4 so that the survey ap­
proach has something of the stimulating quality of the single
system or indoctrinating approach.
The understanding is ap­
parently that, just as the survey has impelled the author who
thinks for himself, so will it inevitably impel the student
who (he assumes) thinks for himself, to indicate what seems
to him to be the probable solution or explication of the ques­
tions under discussion.
Ibi d ., p . 5.
2 Ibid-, p- 4.
Loc- cit.
Ibid., p. 5.
Another result of reading this accurate report of what
the main business of philosophy has been in all times is that
it alone can correct contemporary judgments that philosophy is
nearing its end and stands condemned as a useless superfluity-judgments made in ignorance of what philosophy is and what it
m e a n s -1
Summing up:
the survey or orientation approach is the
approach by formal presentation of facts to be committed in
preparation for the student’s subsequent attack on the prob­
lems of philosophy-
Mo mention is made of training the mind>
but only of stocking the memory with knowledge and a vocabu­
lary, and there is assumed to be no difficulty about the re­
p o r t ’s ability to give the student an ’’understanding” of the
reasons for the divergence of the schools, and the signifi­
cance of the supreme efforts of our pwn time towards the ad­
vancement of philosophical science-
It is asserted that the
survey ’’cannot but impel” anyone ’’who thinks for himself” to
arrive at a solution of the questions treated-
There is here
no consciousness that thinking for oneself is done on differ­
ent levels, some of which are beyond the capacity or the de­
velopment of given individuals.
This possibility is what
throws a shadow over the claim that by such a survey alone
can contemporary misconceptions of the aim and nature of phil­
osophy be dispelled.
1 Ibid-, p. 4-
Charges that the survey approach is not suited
its purpose,
In the matter of starting point— engaging the stu
d e n t s interest,
Wenley criticizes works of this type on the ground
of its "appeal to more advanced students only."'1' Nor should
a single book aha to serve both beginners and the advanced,
but two kinds of introduction are required:
One for beginners and subordinated to the plan of
telling ’what is the nature of philosophy, i.e.,
what is the aim of philosophic thinking, * and de­
signed to point out the way in which one may one­
self attain to philosophy...; another to be used
on the Jiulpe prescription as a species of tonic
by students somewhat more advanced . 2
Mrs. Langer vividly depicts the expectant beginner’s
deflation and surrender in face of the mass of material to be
The study of philosophy seems enticing to many
people...but for the beginner, and the autodidact
especially, the subject is almost hopelessly com­
plicated from the very start by the mass of unorg­
anized, jumbled material that confronts him. He
finds innumerable philosophies, but nothing that
he can identify as philosophy; he meets with a
crowd of opinions rather than with a body of know­
ledge. At this point, text-books are of little
help, for they all expound these collected opin­
ions and leave the innocent student to choose be-
-** R. M. W e n l e y ’s review of 0. K u lpe’s Introduction to
Philosophy, in Philosophical Review, 7: 351, May, 1898.
2 Loc. cit.
tween doctrines which all sound equally peculiar*
If the text-book expresses an opinion, the reader
fears that he is being lobbied for one of the con­
tending factions.
Every doctrine is refuted by
some other, every problem is solved in half a dozen
different ways and yet survives, essentially un­
solved— the study of philosophy, as it presents
itself to the novice, has presumably no end, and
certainly no beginning.^
I'he criticism that Bobinson makes of three other types
of introduction applies with peculiar force to the survey ap­
proach; namely, "they do not give any attention at the outset
to the student’s own philosophy . " 2
All problems approaches and single system approaches
are implicit rejections of the survey approach as too compre­
hensive for the beginner to cover.
Development of the student’s interest.
Barrett significantly points out that an author’s mere
description and exposition of what others think or have thought
are not sufficient to introduce "the student to that spirit of
reasoned inquiry which is the essential characteristic of all
philosophical thinking . " 3
He makes this criticism from the
following platform:
If there is to be even the beginning of a genuine
knowledge of philosophy’s purpose and method it
must be won through an expending of effort to under­
Langer, op. cit., p. ix.
Robinson, op. cit., p.
Barrett, op. cit., p. v.
stand the significance of problems, to grasp re­
levant issues, and to deal with them as best one
can for oneself.
Incidentally, from such effort
alone can come not ohly profit, but any enduring
Results of the survey approach— what the student
has been introduced to.
Barrettfs criticism of the results of the survey ap­
proach deals with the lack of mental training effected;
The ever-present hazard confronting introductory
or even somewhat advanced courses in the general
problems of philosophy lies in the possibility
that at their close, students who may feel a cer­
tain elation at having surveyed so vast an ex­
panse of human thought nevertheless, in fact may
have gained no greater skill in analysis, no in­
creased ability in rigorous thinking, no heighten­
ed deftness or subtlety in the treatment of intel­
lectual issues.^
Hinman has essentially the same criticism to make in
his observation:
If the teacher throws the emphasis more strongly
upon wholes, he may produce a very interesting
catalogue of the vagaries of human opinion, but
make little impression upon the serious personal
thinking of the individual student. His men have
then simply been attending a moving-picture ex­
The California Associates in Philosophy admit that
technical vocabulary,
employed by the survey, is unavoidable
Loc. extt
h o c , cit.
3 E. L. Hinman, rfThe Aims of an Introductory Course
in Philosophy,” in Journal of Philosophy, 7: 561, October 13,
for the advanced student*
t7For the beginner, however, more
essential than the letter is the spirit of philosophy . 71^
They also point out that wstudents misapprehend the
the nature of philosophy in survey or indoctrinating courses . 77
the survey is too advanced for the begin­
ner; its extent, complexity, and technicality either baffle him
or, if he covers the ground, give him a feeling of elation un­
accompanied by increase of mental power; it does not give any
attention at the outset to the student*s own philosophy; its
purely expository form challenges only the memory; no lasting
impression has been made upon him; he has misapprehended the
nature of philosophy.
Comparing this summary with the summary of claims for
the survey approach on page 75, one sees in the survey approach
an example of the doctrine of education as preparation for
later activity; also the assumption that students possess greater
mental power and cultivation than critics in this country grant
to American students.
The criticism that the survey approach
does not give any attention at the outset to the studentfs own
philosophy is based on the assumption that the starting point
of any approach must be the student’s own philosophy.
The ob­
jections that the survey approach is too advanced, too extensive,
California Associates, o£. cit.» p. ix.
Loc. cit.
too complicated, too technical for the beginner obviously are
based on the principle that the student and not the content
or even the teacher is the center of the course and that any
approach has to begin with him where he is, proceed with him
as he is able, and not set a priori a single goal to be at­
tained by all students* but consult the general direction and
quality of result implicit in each student.
The vehicle of the historical approach is the chrono­
logical story of all systems and system-makers, that of the
single system approach is the single coherent system of one
man or one school, that of the problems approach is certain
selected problems with indications of their unsolved character
in samples of contrasted solutions that have been advanced,
that of the survey approach is the complete record of philoso­
phical activity arranged formally according to divisions of
philosophic subject-matter and types of systems, that of the
approach through selected types or historical systems is cer­
tain types of system that recur in every age and represent
complement airy points of view which taken together are thought
to give a view of the whole*
The historical approach and the
problems approach emphasize the open character of philosophical
questions; the single system approach and types approach dwell
on the practical demand to come to definite conclusions*
advocates of the types approach use "pure” types, simplified
for pedagogical purposes, others use historic systems*
Claims that the Types approach is suited to its
In the matter of starting point— engaging the
student’s interest.
Hooking shows how the Types approach combines the best
and eliminates the worst features of the historical and the
problems approaches:
By selecting certain types of world-view that re­
cur in the history of thought, the appalling mul­
tiplicity of systems is reduced. O n e ’s primary
interest is in the validity of the world-view, not
in its historic role; we are, in fact, attacking
the problems of philosophy for their own sakes.
At the same time, we are becoming acquainted with
representative thinkers; and under conditions
which are, at least in one respect, more favorable
than in the historical series. I’or we meet them
when our own concern with a given philosophic
problem is at its height, and their thought may
most readily come to the aid of our ownl
In contrast with H o c k i n g ’s ’’pure” Types, Miss Galkins
believes that tTthe problems of philosophy are, at the outset,
best studied as formulated in the actual systems of great
thinkers . ” 2
Developing the student’s interest.
Miss Calkins sees an advantage in the fact that ’’the
historical sequence of philosophies, from Descartes’s to H e g e l ’s
seems to coincide, roughly, with a logical order.” This is the
period and group of systems she selected for study.
Hocking, op. cit., p. ix.
Calkins, pp. cit., p. vii.
^ L o c . cit.
And this
business of following the logical order of the systems she
speaks of as "hammering out the meaning of Spinoza, of Kant,
or of Aristotle,” of comparing passages to get at their com­
mon significance or divergence, of estimating the different
statements of a philosopher with reference to the date of
their formulation, of wforcing the student to take different
points of view?” so that he himself overcomes his narrow, dog­
matic, and uncritical outlook.
This, she contends, is any­
thing but floating around in a sea of vague abstractions.
For Hocking the process is one of the student*s.recog­
nizing one of his beliefs as belonging to a certain Type
that he sees it for what it is and for what it leads to.
His job is to follow the exposition.
Results of the Types approach— what it introduces
the student t o •
Ualkins view is listed above under b).
Hocking lists four results:
It is the work of the Types to give us the neces­
sary means first of self-defense— and then of selfpossession, the discovery of our own affinities in
the world of thought, and, at the best, the solu­
tion of some of our restless questionings .4
I b i d ., p. 7.
S Loc. cit.
hocking, op. cit., p. x.
Loc. cit*
It is difficult, however, to appreciate the signifi­
cance of these promises without knowing the situation to
which hocking has adapted his method of the Types.
He en­
lightens us as follows:
The chief advantage, however, is this: that for
the great majority of our people, who are not
devoting their lives to the study of philosophy,
this way seems best adapted to pick up their
thoughts helpfully where they are* Our heads,
as readers and listeners, are full of fragments of
philosophy, hailing from every quarter* Lvery in­
structor, whatever his subject,, conveys a philoso­
phy; the teaching of imglish, of history, of eco­
nomics, of science is at the same time a teaching
of philosophy, if only because the instructor is
a man and cannot help communicating himself via
his subject. Likewise our editors, our novelists,
our preachers and priests, our poets and play­
wrights, our politicians and men of business, are
consciously or unconsciously injecting streams of
philosophy into our mental veins. Our unrescued
state is one of philosophic confusion: the theories
we thus absorb in fragments do not agree.
The first
step toward sanity is an ability to recognize a pro­
posed view or belief for what it is, and for what it
leads to. It is the work of the Types . . . 1
H o e m l e ' s view is more akin to Miss Galkins*, for he
emphasizes the necessity of getting acquainted with other points
of view:
It is possible to entertain a theory without accept­
ing hold a theory as an hypothesis and to
explore it as such...Without intellectual sympathy
it is impossible to acquire genuine philosophical
scholarship, and the lack of this is always likely
to appear in some narrowness and blindness of o n e ’s
own v i ews . 2
ibid., pp. ix-x.
R. F. H o e m l e ,
Idealism as a Philosophy, p. 55.
Slimming up:
the Types approach meets each student
where he is by enabling him to place his beliefs in their pro­
per philosophical setting,
so that he sees them for what they
are and for what they lead to.
The process whereby he does so
is a "recognition” of his beliefs in the context of a Type,
and this recognition occurs as he follows the author’s exposi­
tion of the Type in its characteristic reactions to various
in this way the student becomes acquainted with re­
presentative thinkers under very favorable conditions, namely,
when his own concern with a given philosophic problem is at
its height, and their thought may most readily come to the aid
of his own.
This is an advantage over the conception of h o e m l e
and Calkins, who speak of the student as "forcing" himself to
become interested in other viewpoints,
with Miss Calkins, too,
the student wins his rewards not by "recognizing" his beliefs
in a book as his attention is pleasantly led by engaging ex­
po sit ion, but by hammering out meanings, comparing and evaluat­
ing them, in the works of the classic philosophers.
Again, the
student gets what he wants by the Types approach— namely, the
answers to his questions,
in the approach through historic
systems he gets much self-discipline in logical reasoning,
and breadth of intellectual sympathy and understanding of the
mutually corrective character of different systems.
Charges that the Types approach and the approach
through historic systems are not suited to their purpose.
nocking deals with t?purew Types rather than with his­
toric systems because the latter have three disadvantages for
Mocking*s purpose of enabling students to place their beliefs:
We shall be aiming to study pure types, extreme of
their kind, and therefore not precisely identical
with the outlook of any contemporary mind, which
is likely to be sophisticated, composite, *eclectic*,
holding a mixture of types in which each view is
mitigated by some ingredient from another.
composite philosophies may be nearer the truth than
the pure types; but they are (1 ) not so good as
types, (2) not so consistent, and (3) not so valu­
able in finding our bearings. Tor winning our own
truth, we would better work with pure colors than
with mixtures .1
nocking hardly expects anyone but an initiate to ap­
preciate the order of succession of his Types ,2 and the ques­
tion arises whether it is likely that the average student will
see more in his book than reviewer Malz saw in Fullerton's
book— namely, an array of irreconcilable opinions.
uditor S. T. Lamprecht is of this view in the follow­
ing statement:
When an introduction to philosophy tries to a*diieve neutrality and to avoid dogmatism by re­
viewing all the historic types of philosophy,
the outcome is only too often the opinion, as
I have heard people say in reminiscence about
their undergraduate courses, that *it makes no
difference what one believes because all opin-
Hocking, o£. cit., p. 23, note.
•> P • xi •
GjPid supra, p p .165-66.
ions have alike been sponsored by some great
thinkers and opposed by others.T
Thus courses in philosophy issue too many times
in...a confusion that retards fresh inquiry .1
Lafferty makes the following severe criticism of
Robinson, whose book, except for a first part, exemplifies
the Types approach:
Realism and pragmatism are significant not by
their opposition to idealism but by their in­
sistence that problems be solved .2
...the so-called problems into which Parts II,
III, and IV are divided are not real problems.
Consequently there are no solutions to them and
thus they are given the appearance of eternal
problems. They are the dialectical difficulties
of idealism.
Dialectical difficulties lead only
to the bickering evidenced by this book; real
problems present goals of cooperative human pro­
gress . 3
...conclude on a note of pessimism. Por I can
not escape the feeling that the student may very
easily finish this text in a confusion of theories
and counter-theories, rebuttals and surrebuttals,
and with a brief finale, Twell, what of it.f This
is accentuated by the very fairness of presentation
and by the wealth of detail.
Is there no choice but this confusion, or a super­
ficial eclecticism or the sedative of dogmatism?^
On page 64 above may be found the first part of the
platform from which Lafferty makes his criticism.
He adds:
California Associates, o p . cit., pp. v-vi.
Lafferty, o p . cit., p. 221.
Ibid.. p.
Loc. cit.
But the purpose of that introduction is not the
production of technicians in philosophy; the pur­
pose of that introduction is the production of a
civilized and educated philosophy of life.-*The California Associates point out that the lack
of preparation of science students is at the root of their
scandal at the conflicting answers of philosophy; they do
not see that the subjective side of our ideas is as instruc­
tive as the objective (truth) side.
It is not strange then, that the student fre­
quently emerges from an introductory study of phil­
osophy, convinced that there is little to it but
the clash of competing systems, or a bewildering
assortment of intellectual patterns, between which
he can only choose in an arbitrary and subjective
w a y .2
Carr insinuates that Ho eking fs approach through the
Types was inspired in the main by the consideration that "the
young people today who take philosophy want credits , " 3 for its
gentleness makes it as innocuous as "the general knowledge
books of our grandparents* generation, which portrayed the
various races of man with their strange but picturesque man­
The Types, like the races of men,
All are equally lovable and each in some way
specially commendable.
There is certainly
Ibid*, p.
2 S1
California Associates, o£. cit., p. 381.
3 H. W. Carr*s review of Ho eking *s Types of Philosophy
in Personalist, 11: 133, April, 1930.
^ Loc. cit.
variety enough yet we feel it could not have
been attractiveness of this kind which drew
Socrates, Spinoza, and Hegel into the philoso­
phic path.l
Summing up:
it is questionable whether the average
student will see in the Types approach the author’s intent,
and if he does, it is questionable that he will agree that
the argument leads him where, for example, Hocking urges,
namely, to objective idealism in the last chapter.
doubts that this device will lead the student into the phil­
osophic path, since it bears no analogy to the kind of at­
tractiveness which drew Socrates, Spinoza, and Hegel into it.
Others see either confusion or a superficial eclecticism re­
sulting from the wealth of detail, the unreal problems, the
never-resolved controversy, and retarding fresh inquiry.
ence students, by their very training, are unprepared for the
variety and discordance of viewpoints in such an approach, and
condemn philosophy because not in a position to appreciate the
peculiar reason for divergence of opinion.
The approach is too
gentle to be suited to introduce students to philosophy, and
was inspired mainly by the necessity to enable students to get
credits by passing the course.
These criticisms stem from the following principles:
the student ought to see or to be made to see the author’s
1 Loo. cit.
intent in employing a device such as a method of approach;
the author ought not to try to lead the student to the author’s
philosophy; the student ought to be led into the philosophic
path, which is not the special systems of Spinoza or Hegel or
the specific beliefs of Socrates, but an imitation of the kind
of thing they were doing, in consequence of which each developed
a system; there must not be such wealth of detail, such unreal
problems, and such contrasts of viewpoint as to confuse and
bewilder students by reason of their lack of preparation for
it, and retard fresh inquiry and condemn philosophy, for they
are not yet in a position to judge it; finally, if students
must be put in a position to seem to earn credits in philosophy
and if this can be done only by adopting a device which is un­
suited to draw them into the philosophic path, even that is
Comparing this summary with that on page 85, one sees
the following facts emerge:
if the Types approach does not
square with the kind of attractiveness that drew Socrates,
Spinoza, and Hegel into the philosophic path, neither does
Miss Calkins’ method of textual study square obviously with
the kind of attractiveness that drew Socrates into the phil­
osophic path.
Again, philosophical literature, or the phil­
osophic remains of historical philosophers, has been dis­
tinguished from philosophy itself.
In other words, it would
be a confusion to' identify philosophy with the literary by­
products of the philosophers.
The assumption of the historical approach is that when
the student has mastered the history of philosophy, he has
attained not only the letter but the spirit and understanding
of philosophy.
The same is true of the single system approach,
the problems approach, the survey approach,
and the Types
approach with respect to the single system, the problems, the
survey, and the Types, respectively.
Each is an approach to
itself through Itself.
With the approach through the sciences, however,
is a slight shift in emphasis from the terminus ad quem to the
terminus a quo.
The problem becomes less one of trying to
bring a great subject down to a mean intelligence than of build
ing a bridge between the mean intelligence and the great sub­
Yet even that statement is a bit overdrawn, for the
problem is usually taken as a job of building a special sub­
ject-matter out into leaping distance of philosophic subjectmatter, on the assumption that the student is familiar with
the special subject-matter and thus will, with the running
start provided by the swift survey of the special subject,
easily and triumphantly land in the midst of the philosophic
sub ject-matter.
And so there are approaches to philosophy through prephilosophic subject-matter, the various academic special fields,
and the latter are treated as matrices of philosophic problems—
the sciences, religion, history, literature— or in the case of
logic, as the technic of philosophy,
The center of attention
is not what the student is going to end up with, but the aca­
demic subject-matter as leading out of itself into philosophy
or the instrument for appraising phildsophy ; not the immediate
attack on philosophic problems, but an account of how they are
involved in and emerge from familiar academic subject-matter,
or a description or illustration of philosophic procedure.
The emphasis is still on subject-matter, but there is
a tacit concession of the relative difficulty of different
subject-matters and a recognition of the pedagogical value of
leading the student from a less difficult subject-matter into
a more difficult one, or of arming him for the fray, even at
the price of sacrificing a considerable portion of the time
that was of old jealously claimed for philosophy alone.
In this chapter five kinds of approach through spec­
ial subject-matters are studied— the approach through the sci-:
ences, through literature, and through ■Kulturgeschichte,
through religion, and through logic.
They have a place in this
study because they fall under the plan to treat types of gen-
eral introductions which have been tried and discussed in pubi
The Approach through the Sciences•
Claims that the approach through the sciences is
suited to its purpose,
In the matter of starting point— engaging the stud­
e n t s interest*
According to Hudson* s questionnaire study, the advan­
tage most stressed by advocates of this method is that it enables
the teacher
to show the inevitableness of the philosophic task,
and at the same time to distinguish this task in
aim and method from that of the scienees.l
A second advantage listed in the same place is that "through an
examination of the presuppositions of science" there is possi­
ble "the opening of an attractive and easy way to the probliems
of' epistemology . " 2
Development of the studentfs interest*
Dotterer says that the student will be led to adopt the
genuinely philosophic attitude of calm, unbiased consideration
by approaching the problems of philosophy by way of a survey—
a survey of the principal achievements and perplexities of the
special sciences*
An important feature of this survey is that
*** Hudson, op. cit., p. 34.
Loc. cit.
it provides results which are reflected upon and woven together,
by comparing many insights, into a world-view, as contrasted
with reliance upon "intuitions” or "mystical insights” , or upon
authority of book or institution in matters of fact.-1Rohrbaugh commends Dotterer’s stand on this point with
the words:
"Philosophical investigation, if it is to be ret-
spected, must proceed, as far as possible, in terms of accepted
facts . " 2
For the same reason, Galkins points to H e g e l ’s scorn of
the common view that philosophy consists in the lack of scien­
tific information and his severe condemnation of the "arm-chair
philosophy” vfoich makes of metaphysic a "rhetoric of trivial
She follows up with the information that
Paulsen’s assertion that philosophy may be reached
by way of any one of the sciences is confirmed
by the experience of the great philosophers.
cartes and Leibniz and Kant were mathematicians
and physical scientists as well as philosophers;
and Locke, Berkeley, and Hume were psychologists . 3
Eesults of the approach thro ugh the sciences— what
the student is introduced to.
According to Galkins, the approach through the sciences
is the student’s only way to avoid certain pitfalls and perils
which constitute the peculiar menace of the student of philo-
Dotterer, op. cit., pp. 18-20.
Rohrbaugh, op. cit., p. viii.
Calkins, pp. cit., pp. 6-7.
Because the systematic observation of phenomena
is the peculiar province not of philosophy, hut of
science, the student of philosophy is tempted to deal
in vague abstractions, in lifeless generalities,
often, alas, in mere bloodless words and phrases*
And because he admits that his own study is, at the
beginning, a setting of problems, a questioning, not
a dogmatic formulation, he is tempted not to press
for a solution of his problems, to cherish his ques­
tions for their own sake*
The only way of avoiding both these pitfalls is to
approach the philosophical problems by the avenue
of scientific investigation, and from time imme­
morial. the great philosophers have emphasized this
Dotterer notes that the approach through the sciences
provides a subject-matter which is less stimulating to the
emotions than the approach through problems of religion, and
hence is better suited to lead the student "to adopt the genu­
inely philosophic attitude of calm, unbiased consideration * " 2
Rohrbaugh follows up with the observation that the
natural outcome of the approach made on the basis of the spe­
cial sciences is
...a better understanding of the universe and of
the various types of values involved in human rela­
tionships— not only as a goal in itself but also
and chiefly as a means to greater appreciation and
1 I b i d .. P- 6.
Dotterer, ojd. cit., p. 18.
3 Rohrbaugh, o p . cit., p. viii.
Robinson sees a valuable result in.the approach through
the sciences in that it "brings out the relation of philosophy
to the other aspects of culture with which the student is pre­
sumably more familiar."***
Burnham and Wheelwright speak of the discovery of the
basic terms and propositions in each realm of discourse as an
objective of philosophy, and indicate the scope of an introduc­
tory study with respect to this activity as follows:
It is probably already clear that the discovery of
these terms and propositions is extremely difficult,
and that complete success is scarcely to be hoped
In fact an introductory study can do little
more than indicate the type of problem that arises . 2
Summing up:
the approach through the sciences relates
philosophy to other aspects of culture with which the student
is presumably more familiar;
exhibits the inevitableness of the
philosophic task; provides in opposition to unaided common sense
the only respectable basis of a world-view; proceeds by system­
atic comparison of many insights in the light of tested facts
instead of by single "intuitions" or "mystical insights" or by
authority of book or institution; in so doing, follows the ex­
ample of the great philosophers; avoids dealing with lifeless
generalities and words, and the cherishing of questions for ques­
tions* sake instead of pressing for a solution; leads the stu­
dent to adopt the genuinely philosophic attitude of calm, un-
Robinson, pjo. cit., p. 7.
Burnham and Wheelwright, op>. cit., p. 21.
biased consideration by having subject-matter less stimulating
to the emotions than problems of religion would be; leads natur­
ally to a better understanding of the universe and of the var­
ious types of values involved in human relationships— not only
as a goal in itself but also and chiefly as a means to greater
appreciation and happiness; indicates the type of problem that
arises in the search for the basic terms and propositions of
the various realms of discourse.
Charges that the approach through the sciences is
not suited to its purpose.
According to H u d s o n ’s questionnaire study, objections
to this method are more outspoken and specific than to any of
the others discussed.
Hudson says further:
No one considers this, taken by itself, a good
mode of approach for the average class, although
some think it commendable for students with spe­
cialty scientific preparation. Nevertheless, as
many as twelve out of thirty-five deem it a valu­
able auxiliary method .1
Serious specific objections listed in H u d s o n ’s question­
naire study are as follows:
a) Students are not at the outset interested in
the presuppositions of science.
b) Their knowledge of the sciences is too limited,
except in isolated cases; for the special student
in the sciences, who would be qualified, rarely
cares anything about philosophy.
1 Hudson, Q£. cit., p p . 33-34.
e) The problems aroused by science soon suffer
from abstractness#
...the very worst method, for it brings preco­
city and conceit .1
Dotterer points out that there are those who believe
that the approach through the sciences is misleading, for is on the wrong track.
In particular,
they hold, science has gone wrong in the matter
of evolution.
And, in general, these good people
would condemn all conclusions of science which do
not square with the letter of the biblical narra­
tives .2
Anyhow, these persons continue, reflecting and dis­
coursing on the results of the sciences is an inadequate
method of arriving at a satisfactory view of reality:
They seem to feel that science is able, after
all, to give us but a superficial and inadequate
view of things; and they hope, by means of "faith”
or "intuition” or some kind of mystic insight, to
gain a more satisfactory apprehension of reality
than science gives us.^
Robinson criticizes the narrow outlook of this ap­
A philosophy which is departmental in its basis
and outlook is likely to result,
such a philoso­
phy ignores the central problems, and falls short
of that total interpretation of all aspects of
culture which constitutes the heart of philosophy .4
L o c . cit.
Dotterer, op. cit.» p. 18.
® Ibid., p . 19.
cit.» p. 7.
Calkins warns of the misunderstanding that imports
scientific methods into philosophy:
But though metaphysics may be approached from any
point on the circumference of the sciences, it is
not to be denied that certain inconsistencies and
even fallacies have often characterized the sys­
tems of mathematicians and natural scientists who
turn to philosophy.
It is equally certain that
these defects have been due to a confusion of sci­
entific with philosophic ideals, of scientific
with metaphysical standards .1
Ward criticizes the approach through the sciences in
one case for its "omission of systematic discussion of the
social sciences."^
The principles on which these criticisms
are based are the beliefs that an approach must start from
what the student is interested in, what he already has know­
ledge of, and what does not soon suffer from abstractness;
that an approach must not be narrowly restricted to one field
of human interest; that an approach must not tend to permit
or encourage confusion by the student of scientific ideals
and standards with philosophic ideals and standards; that the
beliefs of students, if in keeping with the tenor of the ap­
proach employed, will permit their participation in the ap­
proach, but if out of sympathy with the starting point,and
truth standard of the approach, will preclude their participa­
tion in the approach; that precocity and conceit in the student
^ Calkins, op. cit., p. 7.
2 P. W. W a r d Ts review of R. H. Dotterer’s Philosophy by
Way of the Sciences, in Journal of Philo sophy, 27: 303-304
May 22, 1930.
vtfho has learned them as the result of following an approach
to philosophy marks that approach as the very worst, and ut­
terly unsuited to its purpose.
uomparing this summary with that on page 96, one
marks as salient facts the identity or the clashes of subjectmatters and methods which different students are interested in
with the subject-matter or method of the science approach; and
the consequent promise or failure of the approach.
The approach through literature,
Philosophical literature.
The word "literature” in this connection is not ordi­
narily taken in an honorific sense.
Bakewell, who in the pre­
face to his Source Book in Ancient Philo sophy suggests these
readings as a possible substitute for the usual history text,
evidently is thinking of philosophical literature in general,
without discriminating between the felicitous and the crabbed.
iMicholson, one-half of whose new introductory text is
made up of readings, also has in mind only the writings of
philosophers by profession, but he selects from their works
also on the basis of their literary quality.
"An introductory
course,” he says, “in which the student does not actually read
for himself from the great philosophers never seems entirely
s a t i s f a c t o r y . A n d the possible reason for this is that phil­
1 Bieholson,
cit., p. viii.
osophers are never more humanly appealing and inspired in ut­
terance than when, like other people, they show themselves
deeply concerned and with their peace of* mind at stake over
a familiar kind of ultimate problem,
for invariably in sueh
moving passages there is question of the p h i l o s o p h e r s almost
staggering realization of the issues involved in a problem he
has just had forced upon his attention, or in a solution at
which he finds he has arrived,
iuid if the student rails to
see the philosophers in such moments, as the saying is, "with
their hair down,H but only in their moments of dispassionate
dissection of philosophic cadavers, their spade-work of textual
study, their myopic grubbing of facts, or even their Jovian
rendering of a decision, he is not likely to be inspired by
the study of philosophy, for he fails to see that it makes a
deeply felt difference to philosophers themselves.
Collingwood expresses these sentiments in discussing
the essential sameness of the philosopher’s interest with
that of his reader; an interest in the process of self-dis­
...the difference between the w r i t e r ’s position
and the reader’s, which is b o clear in historical
literature, and is the cause of its didactic man­
ner, does not exist in the literature of philoso­
rhe philosophers who have had the deepest:
instinct for style* have repeatedly shrunk from
adapting the form of a lecture or instructive ad­
dress, and chosen instead that of a dialogue in
which the work of self-criticism is parcelled out
among the dramatis personae, or a meditation in
which the mind communes with itself, or a dia-
lectical process where the Initial position is
modified again and again as difficulties in it
come to light.
Common to all these literary forms is the notion
of philosophical writing as essentially a con­
fession, a search by the mind for its own fail­
ings and an attempt to remedy them by recogniz­
ing them .1
Phis community of feeling and likeness of human con­
cern in philosopher and reader alike is what Will Durant had
in mind as the natural starting point of philosophy for the
beginner, when he wrote:
We too have had the experiences they had, but
we did not suck those experiences dry of their
secret and subtle meanings: we were not sensi­
tive to the overtones of the reality that hum­
med about us. Genius hears the overtones, and
the music of the spheres; genius knows what
Pythagoras meant when he said that philosophy
is the highest m u s i c .2
He conceives the beginner’s progress in philosophy
as dependent upon the author’s maintaining that bond of sympa­
thy with the reader even as its complexion is changed by ad­
miration for the philosopher’s greater vision and power, and
the reader finally attains to understanding:
We shall see it (philosophy) not in its shrivelled
abstractness and formality, but clothed in the liv­
ing form of genius; we shall study not merely phil­
osophies, but philosophers; we shall spend our time
R. G. Collingwood, J&l Essay on Philosophical Me t h o d ,
p. 210.
Durant, o p . cit., p. 5.
with the saints and martyrs of thought, letting
their radiant spirit play about us until per­
haps we too, in some measure, shall partake of
what Leonardo called ’’the noblest pleasure, the
joy of understanding.”l
While there is no certainty that the two-hundred
percent increase in the sales of the philosophical classics
after the publication of Durant’s Story gwas due exclusively
to the interest aroused in philosophy by the Story, there is
very likely what has been cautiously termed a positive cor­
relation present.
The correlation, in most general terms,
was between the number of copies both of Durant’s Story and
of the philosophical classics, and an important ephemeral
public interest in literature of the biographical and out­
line kinds— biography being philosophy in its very first and
very last stages, its most humanly appealing stages, and out­
lines suggesting the royal road to knowledge and wisdom.
T o r Windelband, however, literary excellence has the
magic power of making the middle stage of professional phil­
osophizing intelligible to the beginner, of bringing it down
to earth:
The truth is that it is not so much the difficulty .
of philosophy as the poor literary standard of phil­
osophical writers which perplexes the student.
cannot liberate themselves from academic formulae
I b i d .» p. 4.
^ Ibid., p. xii.
and attain a free and living contact with the
thought of their time .1
However, Windelband goes on in the same passage to de­
fend the right of the philosopher to develop his own t e m i n o l o g y
and concludes that one of the jobs of an introduction is to ac­
quaint the beginner with that terminology.
Fuller agrees that Y/indelband’s Introduction is a work
beautifully done, philosophically and literarily, but questions
the pedagogical power of the literary magic evidenced:
On the other hand, we believe it would be dif­
ficult to interest the average college Freshman
or Sophomore, or even to make it understood by
Windelband, of course, wrote his book for the educated
German layman, and in the light of this fact, known to Fuller,;
the following passage takes on the significance of the principle
that a text-book is to be adapted to "the children" and not the
children to the text-book:
Perhaps this aim was not in the author’s mind.
There are numerous distressed professors of
philosophy who would, however, welcome such
a book. We scarcely know whether to blame
philosophy, the philosophers or the children.
In the light of our own early college experi­
ence we are prone to sympathize with the
children and to wait in h o p e . 3
It is in the discriminating light of such a principle
cit., p . 15.
2 B'.. TA-FlewellYng’s
review of Windelband’s Introduction
to Philosophy, in Personalist, 5: 67, January, 1984.
Loc. cit.
that the blanket claims for the value of philosophical clas­
sics such as the following one of Miss Calkins must be under­
I cannot, indeed, too emphatically eapress my
sense of the value of a study of texts, and my
conviction that this Introduction, and any other
should be used to supplement and not to supplant
a reading of the philosophers.^And that of Robinson:
In studying philosophy it is essential to go to
the original sources .2
The dangers of indiscriminate reading or of requiring
beginners to do reading indiscriminatingly in the philosophical
classics are recorded by Paulsen in the following:
More than once I have in later life made this
same observation that the value of a certain
book to a certain reader does not depend alto­
gether on its intrinsic importance, but quite
as much on the fact that he happens to come
across it at the right time. No matter how
valuable in itself, if read before the proper
time a book may become a serious impediment
to further progress#
K a n t ’s three Critiques
have that effect, I fear, only too frequently.
They are likely to repel the beginner, leav­
ing in his mind nothing but the impression
that he is unfit for philosophy.
That is why
I deem myself lucky in having come upon the
books I mentioned— L a n g e ’s "History of Material­
ism," Uber w e g ’s "Logic," and B e n e k e ’s works—
at just the right m o m e n t . 3
Calkins, o£. cit., p. viii.
0 £.
cit., p. 567.
3 Friedrich Paulsen, Friedrich Paulsen, An Autobiography,
p. 188.
Collingwood develops this key-idea of the exclusive
appropriateness of student-centered reading plans in the fol­
lowing words:
..•in philosophy no one can get much good by read­
ing the works of a writer whose problems have not
already arisen spontaneously in the reader’s mind.
Admitted to the intimacy of such a m a n ’s thought
he cannot follow it in its movement, and soon loses
sight of it altogether and may fall to condemning
it as illogical or unintelligible, when the fault
lies neither in the wri t e r ’s thought nor in his
expression, nor even in the reader’s capacities,
but only in the reader’s preparation,
if he lays
down the book, and comes back to it ripened by
several years of philosophical labour, he may find
it both intelligible and convincing.
These are the t^ro conditions on which alone a reader
can follow or understand a philosophical writer: one
relating to the reader’s aesthetic or literary educa­
tion or his fitness to read books in general, the
other to his philosophic education as fitting him to
read this particular book.3if lack of preparation, in this very wide sense of
limited stage of development with respect to a particular
book, is an unsurmountable obstacle to intelligibility in
the reading of books (including text-books), which may be
put away for future re-reading, it is all the more serious in
the case of the oral devices of lecturing, reciting, and even
discussion, for here the meanings are gone with the wind, and
make no contact with problems spontaneously arising in the
reader’s mind a year or two hence#
1 uollingwood, o£. cit., p. 216.
In the light of the principle stated above, then,
which is simply the old apperception principle or still more
ancient Scholastic aphorism, quicquid recipitur in recipiente
recipitur ad modum recipientis, the principle of reading in
the philosophical classics is significantly qualified, as is
also Robinson’s well-meant advice in the matter of having stu­
dents write themes on the basis of readings in philosophical
literature, and his suggestion that promising students cooperate
in the imitation of good models of the dialogue form.
Paulsen issues the reminder that it is possible for
the student to train himself in the "art of intelligent read­
This process, unfortunately for students victimized by
the attitude that knowledge and understanding are effects pro­
duced in them by causes emanating from a point outside them,
is self-initiated and self-sustained; an active and not a pas­
sive affair:
I carefully perused, pen in hand, the entire
series of P l a t o ’s Dialogues...The dialogue form,
unlike the systematic form of presentation, does
not enable the reader to grasp the purport of the
discussion and the organization of its contents
without any further effort on his own part, but
compels him to work it.out for himself by paying
close attention to the drift of the discourse and
also to the little hints, which are not lacking,
regarding the significance of the individual parts
and their connection.
There could be no better
training in the art of intelligent reading . 2
Robinson, o p . cit., pp. 567 ff.
Paulsen, o p . cit. , p. 190.
The "pen in hand" is not only the symbol but the agency
of growing intelligence:
In a biological laboratory much can be seen with a
The same is true in philosophical
studies .1
Reading with pen in hand would be a means of the stu­
d e n t ’s self-protection against indoctrination if the pen were
a symbol of critical reflection to him; but it might also be
merely a symbol of selectivity controlled by a specific task
of class-room routine; and again it might be a symbol of pride
in presuming to find fault with the expression or opinions of
an author rather than in trying to discover his real meaning.
So that there is no sure-fire virtue in it any more than there
is in any other device.
Intelligence is needed.
.And guidance.
Where Durant earlier used the language of sympathy and
common concern of the student with the philosophers, Hudson
uses a strong figure:
Philosophers since Plato have not been greatly en­
cumbered with a literary style, and.philosophy
proper can very well do without it. But an intro­
duction to philosophy can not. in introduction to
philosophy, in the very nature of its task as de­
fined, should be a seduction 'to philosophy . 2
As effective elements of the process he instances the
poetic imagination, dramatic instinct, pathos, ridicule, humor,
Hinman, op. cit., p. 568.
I. W. Hudson, "Hegel’s Conception of an Introduction
to Philosophy," in Journal of Philo sophy, 6 : 352, June 10, 1909.
satire, and keenest sarcasm of H e g e l ’s Phanomenologie.
question of the place of such methods in an introductory course
has been taken up in connection with the discussion of indoc­
trination and special pleading in the chapters on the approaches
through a single system, through the problems of philosophy, and
will be treated in the next chapter.
Other critics have taken up the matter of the appropri­
ateness of the very familiar manner in "telling” philosophy to
instances will suffice.
Youtz notes that
Larrabee has chosen an exciting central theme— the relation of
philosophy, religion, and science— and expects it to produce an
exciting book.
But the subject loses all edge under his mono­
tonously chatty treatment.
The book lacks the 1
dramatic essence' of philosophy which is thought.
The other reviewer, D. M . , brings to light a point
missed by Brightman in his joust with Fuller in the Personalist:
No doubt it is a relief to substitute the refresh­
ing familiarities of professor Full e r ’s style for
the dry, pedantic mannerisms of the academic tra­
dition. But in being entertained a student is not
necessarily being instructed.
There is danger
that the very ingenuity of the* illustrations may
cause him to lose track of t h e .argument, or that
too much familiarity of stjrie may breed contempt
for the content . 2
1 P. N. Y o u t z ’s review of H. A. Larrabee’s What Philo so
phy i s . in Jo u m a l of Philo sophy, 26: 220, April 11,” 1§2¥^
2 D. Bi.’s review of puller’s History of Philo sophy, in
Journal of Philosophy, 35: 464, August 18, 1938.
This criticism stems from a principle which uollingwood
expresses by saying that in the use of metaphors or imagery
"the philosophical writer in especial follows the trade not of
a jeweller but of a lens-grinder,"..."using them just so far
as to reveal thought, and no farther."^- Dut the further signifi­
cance of Dm M . ’s criticism is that metaphors and imagery that
are effective and transparent on one level of mentality become
problems and distractions and occasions of witless perversion
on a lower level, as is instanced in the field of music by
"Swing" versions of Brahms* "Lullaby" as "Mr. Brahms Rocks the
Cradle," and of Bach as "Mr. Bach Boes to Town."
Assuming that the reader has a book which he is pre­
pared to read and desirous of reading, his first task becomes
one of "using his activity to follow where he is led,"
mitting to "the discipline of following the authorTs thought
and reconstructing in himself the point of view from which it
Then, "Since the p h i l o s o p h e r s experience con­
sisted in, or at least arose out of, the search for truth, we
must ourselves be engaged in that search if we are to share
the experience."
Uollingwood, o p . cit., pp. 214-215.
S Ibid. , p. 215.
Ibid., pp. 218-219.
4 Ibid., pp. 215-216.
•..the attempt to comprehend without criticizing
is in the last resort a refusal to share in one
essential particular the experience of the writer;
for he has written no single sentence, if he is
worth reading, without asking himself fis that
true? *, and this critical attitude to his own work
is an essential element in the experience which we
as his readers are trying to share .1*1
Accordingly, "Comprehension is inseparable from criticism in
the sense that the' one necessarily leads to the other, and
reaches its own completion only in that process."
"The critic
must therefore work from within,
His negative position is based
on his positive."^
In sum, philosophical literature, to be effective as
a teaching tool, must be selected on the basis of its intel­
ligibility and interest to the student, and the criterion of its
suitability is'the prior spontaneous arising of problems in the
mind of the student to which he recognizes the book as relevant
and sympathetic and helpfully addressed, helpful in reasonable
proportion to the effort required to understand it.
The sympa­
thy is significantly a recognition by the student of a concern
which he shares with the writer of the book— a need to under­
stand a common'problem.
Problems as things which the philoso­
phic enterprise is concerned with are difficulties felt by
Ibid., p. 217.
ibid., p. 218.
Ifria*. P* 219.
so that the task of finding suitable philosophic litera­
ture for beginners is a task of finding literature which answers
to the difficulties felt by the individual minds concerned, on
the various levels at which answers are seen by them to be
answers to their difficulties,
buch literature is of the nature
of a confidant who anticipates or suggests, from his own experi­
ence, the expression of the reader's problem and talks with prop­
er concern and assurance about it.
of the reader is demanded
attention or active following of the self-revelation, but this
interest cannot survive a didactic tone or unsympathetic treat­
ment, and may be wholly diverted from philosophic to other chan­
nels by a manner whose very familiar tone is misinterpreted,
but assuming a continuity of sympathetic effort to understand
the writer, the completion of the reader’s task is the adapta­
tion of the writer's experience and self-study to his own prob­
lem in its context in his own life,
xhis is the point at which
he decides what of the author’s story is applicable— true— to
What is helpful to the student is not the mere recital
by the author of the conclusions he and other thinkers have
come to, but the revelation of the process by which the prob­
lem was progressively clarified and understood.
Ihe reader
judges the conclusions by the reality and justice, to him, of
the mind-process that led to those conclusions.
is a business of his seeing sense in the way the author arrived
at his position.
In contradistinction to science, which "deals
with those questions the answer to which we can he content to
take at second hand," W. A. Brown points out, philosophy "deals
with those questions the answer to which each man must give for
Or as Collingwood puts it, "What we demand of the
historian is the product of his thought; what we demand of the
philosopher is his thought itself."
People trust the logic
which their battle with life up to date has equipped them with,
whether that logic is the habit of scientific research or the
habit of divining the motives of persons they have to deal with
or any other attitude and way of handling the peculiar lifesituation facing them.
Through the great literatures.
The approach to philosophy through the great literatures
or through any period or genre of literature was declared, by
one-third of the replies received in a questionnaire study in­
volving thirty-five teachers of philosophy, to be "a valuable
means among others, especially if used judiciously and discrimi­
natingly . " 3
1 W. A. Brown, "The Future of Philosophy as a University
Study," in Journal of Philosophy, 18: 677-678, December 8 , 1921.
s Collingwood, op. cit., p. 211.
See also B. Blanshard*
review of Leighton’s The Field of Philo sophy, in Journal of
Philosophy. 21: 362, June 19, 1924.
3 J. W. Hudson, "The Aims and Methods of Introduction
Courses; A Questionnaire," in Journal of Philo sophy, 9: 35,
January 18, 1912.
Its specific use, according to several, is to
relate the history of philosophy to the total
life of a people; according to others, its
value is in furnishing material and food for
thought along the line of special problems
under discussion.-**
Its special significance is that it represents a re­
action to the teaching of formal philosophy to beginners:
It is a shame to have students break their
heads over conceptions and systems and imagine
that is philosophy the first thing.
It is a
piece of good luck if they get through it all
with a taste left for philosophy . 2
The disadvantages listed are not deterrent:
Most literature is not philosophic enough— or
is so diffuse that a beginner loses sight of
the, philosophical problem.
Most of those who affect literature seem to be
usually devoid of philosophic interest. not produce any adequate preparation for
more advanced w o r k .3
Hudson urges more study of this approach, as he had
done three years earlier in another article in which he
pointed out the pedagogical value of this feature of H e g e l fs
Phanomenologie, which
...searches out the philosophical meaning in­
volved in great literary masterpieces— master­
pieces in which the man of average culture is
*** Ibid • * P • 3 4 .
2 ibid.•, p « 5 5 .
Loc. cit.
already interested for their o m sakes.
is a happy tendency of late to connect philoso­
phy and literature in certain introductions.
It is conspicuous in P e r r y ’s ’’Approach.” But
they might be connected with a still more pre­
cise and significant method than has yet been
Brown points out that every teacher of literature who
is worth his salt is doing just this very thing,
The approach through Kulturgeschichte.
In this approach the attempt is made to show that the
history of science, morality, art, religion,
and political life
in short, the history of institutions— is to be found inter­
preted and evaluated in the history of philosophy, and accord­
ingly provides the best stepping-stone to philosophy.
The a p ­
proach is an attempt to overcome the shortcomings of the mere
history of philosophy as a pedagogical method.
See the discus­
sion of uushman on page 7 of this study.
Hudson lists as advantages of this approach that it
prevents students from mistaking philosophy to be ’’intellectual
gymnastics performed in v a cuo,”
it leads him to philosophy
through familiar highways, and ”philosophy can best be made to
emerge from a consideration of. the metaphysical implications
J. W. Hudson, ’’H e g e l ’s Conception of an Introduction
to Philosophy,", in Journal of Philosophy, 6 : 35E, June 10, 1909
^ Brown, oj>. oit., p. 679
of the history of institutions .” 1
The familiarity of the student with history in the in­
clusive sense is predicated on the grounds
a) that "history
is a part of the student's curriculum from the grammar school"
and is generally elected in college;
b) that "history is in­
trinsically interesting to the average man;”
c) that ”it is
indirectly communicated through countless channels, through
novels, poetry, newspapers, and conversation;” and finally,
d) that politics is ”a perennial topic of conversation and a
quadrennial topic of agitation.
Such an approach would be "psychologically adequate”
because made ”by way of a natural and cultivated interest.”
And it would also be "philosophically adequate,” because the
reader would ”be effectively introduced to that to which we
wish to introduce him.
Of all the conceptions of what the introductory course
should aim at, "there is one purpose among these purposes in­
dispensable to the attainment of any one of the rest, namely,
the purpose of developing the power of spontaneous philosophic
thinking . ” 5
1 J ♦ W. Hudson, "The Aims and Methods of Introduction
Courses; A Questionnaire,” in Journal of Philosophy, 9: 35,
January 18, 1912.
2 J . W. Hudson, "An Introduction to Philosophy through
the Philosophy in History,” in Journal of Philosophy, 7: 571,
October 13, 1910.
3 Ibla., p. 572.
4 Loc,
Ibid., p. 573.
Philosophy has always arisen from conerete situations
of absorbing social conflict or a compelling national crisis,
or the like,
ihid once the student has become accustomed not
merely to philosophize, but to find life as he
knows it and cares for it the subject-matter of
his philosophizing, h© surely is effectively in­
troduced to the sine qua non of philosophy: phil­
osophy is indeed to him a life and all is grist
for- the philosophic mill. Hot only history but
contemporary events assume a new meaning .1
It is apparently a cruel thing to point to facts which
would deflate such enthusiasm, yet Hudson himself concludes his
article with an important obeisance to the facts but a commend­
able insistence upon the psychological principle he has.laid
The facts and principle enunciated by Bakewell above on
31 and 37
together with the comment of this study, sug­
gest important limitations to H u d s o n fs projected approach through
But Hudson regards the fact of the possible
mis-choice of Kulturgeschichte as a method as something to be
corrected by his very principle; he does not regard the method
as the only way to introduce students to philosophy.
My main desire is to emphasize by an illustration,
which could well enough have been otherwise, cer­
tain conditions which any adequate introduction-to
philosophy should observe and which none adequately
do observe--principally the condition of connecting
philosophy vitally with the studentfs average interest.
Whether that interest be named as history, or litera­
ture, or football, or comic opera, or law is of course
an important question of fact: but the paramount thing
is to introduce him through his interests, whatever
they are.
Loc. cit.
This for two reasons: first, because a m a n ’s mind
w o n ’t let you introduce him in any other way; and
second, because the very best service you can do
for the good fortunes o f m e t a p h y s i c s is to show
that it is not an abstraction snatched from the
upper air, but. , .an abstraction working in and
through life and so no mere abstraction at all . 1
The first of the reasons given above has to do with
the student’s getting some good out of philosophy; the second,
with the advertising he will give of philosophy to the public.
They mark the bed-rock of principle on which the question of
the suitability of methods of approach to philosophy may be dis­
Close at hand, of course, there is the quicksand level
of planning the course for credits.
With H u d s o n ’s treatment of the approach through
Kulturgeschichte, the approach shifts from the original plan of
tieing in a special academic subject-matter with technical phil­
osophy to the frank standpoint that in the last analysis it is
not a question of linking subject-matters but a question of per­
sonal interests to be served, whatever their nature; and that
the job to be done is a business or rinding material which will
be provocative of philosophic thinking because it involves mat­
ters of personal concern to students at each o n e ’s stage of
Hudson says this in a passage which he believes
justly describes kulturgeschichte, and no doubt he was right—
with reference to himself:
1 Xbid., p. 574
Every philosopher recognizes that philosophy
grows out of the demands of life: the best way
to introduce philosophy to living men is to
lead them to discover it as implied in l i f e ,1
The point is that there are no demands in general just
as there is no life in general and no average student,
demands of life are the demands operative in each personTs life,
and the complexion and emphasis is different in each case.
The approach through religion.
Hudson indicates that none of the thirty-five teachers
of philosophy who contributed to his questionnaire study relied
on this approach alone.
But several claimed, on the basis of
experience, that the "best way to a realization of the meaning
of philosophy is through the religious interest.
Through this,
they find, is best reached the life and thinking of the majorit^."
Dotterer concurs that the interest in problems of reli­
gion is deep and widespread.
"When religious questions are
broached in the classroom, they are found, as a rule, to arouse
intense interest."
He considers it a helpful pedagogical device
to show the analogy or logical connection between theological *
and philosophical issues.
Ibid., p. 572.
2 J. W. Hudson, "The Alms and Methods of Introduction
Bourses; A Questionnaire," in Journal of Philo sophy, 9; 56,
January 18, 1912.
Dotterer, o p . oit., p. 18.
/ objections to the method reveal that he believes
philosophizing should not he attempted until the student is
ready and able to make the approach through the sciences in
mature fashion, according to scientific method*
His objec­
tions are that .the emotional stirrings aroused by problems of
religion are an impediment to the genuinely philosophic at­
titude of calm, unbiassed consideration, and should be used
sparingly to arouse and to maintain interest in the drier
problems of philosophy .1
His answers to religious objections
to the approach through the sciences are given above on page 95.
The approach through, logic.
By the approach through logic is not meant the course
in logic which traditionally was, and widely is, prefaced to
other courses in philosophy proper; but rather the course in
which logic is identified with philosophy or is summarily con­
ferred upon the student, much as a rifle is conferred upon the
hastily conscripted war recruit, so that with this weapon he
may immediately take issue with the problems of philosophy,
all in one semester.
Langer's conception of philosophy as a practice of
seeing possibilities of interpretation rather than demolish2
ing literal propositions sharply marks it off from the older
L o c . cit.
Langer, op. c i t ., p. x.
formal logic.
To this end she offers fta fairly extensive
study of the logic of relations, which supplies a powerful
instrument of metaphysical thought, and is, incidentally, the
most elementary, restricted, and definite philosophical sci­
L a n g e r ’s position is that certain
...preliminary questions must he answered before
we can even inquire intelligently into the great
mysteries, such as the relation of body and mind,
the structure of the world, or the nature of G o d .2
To the objection of nmany an experienced teacher 11 that
tfto require logic as propaedeutic to metaphysics would kill the
student’s interest and joy in the whole subject,” she replies
bravely that this is
...probably true of the disinclined and indifferent
student...for the pupil who must be cajoled into his
study, anything as fundamental as relational logic
is superfluous, for he will never use it; he will at
best acquire a learned vocabulary and repeat some of
the strange propositions he has heard.
The serious beginner, however, will be quite satis­
fied to commence with a science that is recommended
to him as an instrument of personal understanding...
We do not ask whether the student (of physics) would
not prefer to begin with engineering instead of
geometry . " 3
The method of philosophy is logical analysis, which is
to philosophy what observation is to science— "namely, the first
L o o , cit.
3 Ibid., p p . x-xi.
step in finding and formulating a problem and a means of test­
ing the answer .” 1 It is the only way ”to bring all things under
clear concepts.. .whose rational connection with each other beg
stows rhyme and reason upon the whole world.” The philoso­
p h e r ’s program is to find some concepts- tfso general that every­
thing in the world exemplifies them, that all things may be re3
lated by means of them.” By perfecting we transcend the tech­
nique of discerning structures everywhere, with their limita4
tions and points of view, and finally are prepared to read the
history of philosophical systems not for the purpose of believ­
ing the strange doctrines met there, but for the pleasure of
contemplating their conceptual content .5 Philosophy is practice
in discerning structures and relations of progressively greater
generality and inclusiveness and clarity.
The Columbia Associates address their logic to the ”aveage man,” and endeavor to make clear to him ”the importance of
thought in a life which is interested in the selection of the
They recognize at the outset the very wide variation
in human ability to think, and admit that their book ”cannot
Ibid., P- 37.
Ibid., p. 53.
Loc. cit.
Ibid., p. 316.
I b i d ., p. 221.
6 Columbia Associates in philosophy; L. Buexmeyer, W. F.
Cooley, An Introduction to Reflective Thinking, p. 15.
I bid., pp. 6 f f .
expect to make men think, but it may make them desire to do
and aid them in their effort.
This book is written to emphasize the part which
thought plays in the formation of beliefs, and
to stimulate its readers to a more lively real­
ization of the road to a more congenial world
which lies open to those who do think.
It hopes
to point out some of the workings of thought and
the habits of mind which- those who desire to par­
ticipate in the enterprise of knowing should culti­
v a t e .2
The method of treatment is by illustrations taken from
the history of scientific and philosophic investigations:
the accomplishment of its purpose the book follows the method
of presenting contrasting solutions of a series of problems.”
This is claimed to be ffa new approach” to the end sought
by the older fomaal logic— "the increase of thought and the Im­
provement of its quality . ” 4
By watching the thought game of some of the
masters perhaps the rules which they used will
be better understood and followed by the novices
than they could be if the rules were all read to­
gether in the "Laws of Thought.” The older socalled formal logic seems strangely technical -and
remote to the student of the present d a y .5
in short, logic is presented inductively to the student,
Ifria. p. 16.
s Ibid. p. 15.
Ibid. p. 16.
13Sor rather it is not presented at all but is exhibited in con­
texts and is given to the student as the problem of finding
the inferential structure and research habits implicit in the
accounts of model scientific and philosophic investigations*
The selections are chosen to illustrate the steps in -Dewey’s
analysis of how we think.
tfMueh of the material which logic
has treated in a formal way is shown in a setting so concrete
and real as to bring it near to the actual thinking of the
The authors are under no illusion as to the adequacy
of reading or listening to an account of how we think, whether
illustrative or merely descriptive.
practice in reflection.
They insist upon abundant
This illustration of critical reflection at work on
vital themes is advocated by Adams and the other California
Associates in their text, Knowledge and Society,
Having in
mind the majority of philosophy students, who do not pursue
the subject beyond the preliminary stages and for whom the
initial view of philosophy remains the final view, and not
wishing them to misapprehend the nature of philosophy in
survey or indoctrinating courses, the authors purposed to ex­
hibit its peculiar relevancy to the major tasks of human civili­
zation aside from recondite thoughts and reflections which
h o c , cit,
s Ifria.. p. 342.
demand sustained professional study.^
Its approach is that which historically has been
the approach of all great instances of significant
philosophical reflection, namely, current problems
which force themselves insistently on the attention
of thoughtful people.
It assumes...that philosophy
is not one subject-matter among many, but the art
of reflection when reflection is thorough, sustained,
and aware of its far-reaching implications. Philoso­
phy is not correlative with physics, theology, poli­
tics, or economics. Rather it is the sophisticated
and subtle treatment of any subject-matter...Courses
in philosophy can hardly add to a student’s informa­
tion in the way in which courses in physics and
economics do (unless the courses in philosophy happen
to be concerned with the history of philosophy); but
they may help to show our physical and social problems
in their human setting and may help to reveal how all
our physical social investigations bear upon the
mature and wise conduct, of an integrated l i f e .2
In the light of this extended passage it becomes clear
that the objective of this approach is not more facts but the
development of a habit of mind:
love for the intellectual life,”
"to cultivate in students a
”the habit and enjoyment of
Information about philosophical principles and system­
atic points of view in the traditional literature "occurs here
in the discussion of subject-matters that are of current im­
port to American students; it is part of the technique of
Ibid * 9 P • vii.
Ibid., p. v.
L o c . cit.
> p*
procedure rather than the end of investigation . ” 1
The book is a survey,, but not a survey in the sense
of an encyclopedia of factual information about philosophical
problems and systems.
It is a !,reflective survey of m o d e m *
civilization” whose objective is ”to show that a thoughtful
approach to contemporary culture is at the same time a humane
introduction to philosophy.”
Nicholson also conceives his Introduction as a ” suc­
cession of illustrations of philosophy understood” not
as a system of ideas to be contemplated or to be
memorized but an activity in which to participate...
a movement rather than a monument.
The purpose of
the movement is to bring to clearer consciousness
the vague ideas in the background of our thinking
that give direction to our activities, theoretical
or practical # 3
Burnham and Wheelwright conceive philosophy as an at­
titude and a technique .4 The attitude is synoptic as opposed
to the specialized attitudes of investigators in particular
fields, and its problem is set by the illegitimate extension
of ideologies outside their own realms of discourse.
of these illegitimately extended partial points of view calls
for appreciation or understanding of each from its own point
Loc. cit.
Loc* oit.
Burnham and Wheelwright, o p . cit. p. 14.
0 £.
cit. p. vii.
of view, followed by analysis that makes possible a viewingtogether of all partial viewpoints without being trapped by
the insularity of any one v i e w .1
This analysis is the critical
and dialectical technique which the authors expound in the first
half of their book and illustrate the working of, on various
philosophic themes, in the second half.
In connection with the discovery of the basic terms
and propositions in each realm of discourse the authors re­
mark that:
...the discovery of these terms and propositions
is extremely difficult and complete success is
scarcely to be hoped for.
In fact an introduc­
tory study can do little more than indicate the
type of problem that arises .2
The above exposition of Burnham and Wheelwrightfs posi­
tion is sufficiently extensive to indicate the lack of complete
justice in the following appraisal of it by Mrs. Langer, who is
aware of the character of their work as a text-book:
(They) fail to realize that a strict use of logic
in philosophy does not entail a method wholly, or
even predominantly, analytic. Analysis of our com­
mon-sense ideas usually serves only to show that they
have no consistent structure; philosophy, therefore,
.is essentially a work of logical building— -not an
analysis, but a reconstruction of our ideas of things.
If a fellow-logician can fail thus to glimpse the real
purpose and explicitly declared method of this book (synopsis
Ibid., p . 18.
2 rbid., p. 21 .
Langer, S. K . , review of Burnham and Wheelwright’s
Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, in Journal of Philo sophy,
29: 495, September 1, 1932.
after analysis), one could hardly hope for better results
from mere beginners.
Lamprecht’s criticism of Langer*s approach through
symbolic logic is an accusation that Langer has in effect
identified logic with philosophy and that the book should
be re-titled, The Practice of Contemporary L o g i c .1
Pisch flatly says that the book is not suited for
beginners and autodidacts, for it presupposes a knowledge
of the history of philosophy.
Paine says of the Columbia Associates* book that.
"a book like this introduction to Reflactive Thinking has
value for purposes of reference or collateral reading rather
than as a text-book"— collateral reading for a course in
formal logic.
Of all approaches through logic studied in this sec­
tion it may be said that since they are materials to be read,
their suitability for their purpose is subject to the same
criteria as other reading materials.
That is to say, the
learning process must be kept distinct from the process of
scientific investigation with reference to the various fields
1 S. P. Lamprecht*s review of Langer* s Practice of
Philo sophy, in Saturday Review o f Literature, 7: 140,
September £0, 1930.
2 m. H. Pisch .1 s review of Lang e r 1 s Practice of Philoso­
p h y , in Philosophical Review, 45: 325, May, 1934.
3 L. T. P a i n e ’s review of Columbia Associates* An intro­
duction to Reflective Thinking, in Philosophical Review, 34: 202203, March, 1925.
which have been scientifically exploited and have yielded com­
municable factual data.
The process of discovering and con­
firming facts is not the same as the process of teaching those
Applying this principle to the study of logic as identi­
cal with or propaedeutic to philosophy, one sees the necessity
of teaching logic in a way accessible to the mentality of the
particular students facing one in a class, instead of insist-
ing that they go back over the steps of the investigation that
resulted in the logic they are being taught.
The learning pro­
cess would be involved in an infinite regress if it called for
a scientific approach to the approach to philosophy as well as
to philosophy itself,
in point of fact, when philosophy is viewed as a move­
ment not a monument, as a technique for opening new possibili­
ties of interpretation, as the restless play of reflection on
any material, as the way thought moves in solving difficulties,
philosophy is not distinguished from logic but is,identified
with it, for these operations are simply descriptions of the
way the mind works over its experience when it is the type of
mind which is satisfied only by the ,Tlogical” way as the
peculiar way of thinking which is real to it.
Now, Mrs. Langer points out that the student whose
mentality is docile to the suggestion that logic is indispen­
sable to dealing with the problems of philosophy will put up with
the brute drudgery of mastering the rules of logic.
This is
simply a recognition of the principle that what the student
recognizes, or can be made to believe, as answering to his
desire to know, that he will learn.
What he recognizes as
answering to his need pertains to the doctrine of interest;
what he can be made to believe as preparing him to satisfy
his need pertains to the doctrine of preparation.
The doctrine of preparation in philosophy is under
suspicion of assuming philosophy to be essentially a subjectmatter like physics or economics, and also of assuming that
there is only one legitimate kind of philosophy, which it
is the duty of the teacher to stamp on every mind.
In the
case of the advocates of the approach through logic, that sub­
ject-matter is the doctrine of the nature of the human mind
as essentially the same in all persons and hence as bound to
arrive at given results when confronted with (presumably) the
same materials of experience to work with.
If there is anything that strikes the eye in studying
even logicians, it is the variety and incompatibility of their
several views of the nature of mind and of logic, and hence
. of the results they claim for their logics, for obviously the
symbolic logic of Mrs. Langer is not the logic of the Deweyite
Columbia Associates nor that of the Hegelian California Associ­
iMor are the mind-ways of these good people as logicians
the mind-ways of advocates of the many other approaches to phil­
osophy thus far discussed.
The approach of each, as Sellars
has said,
is determined first of all by his own conception
of philosophy and then by his pedagogical ideas of how to
teach that conception of philosophy.
The moral of this chapter on the approach through
logic is that logics too are types of mind-ways which determine‘
the type of philosophy a man will have, but that there is no
one logical mind-way acceptable to all minds, nor (recalling
the lesson of previous chapters; are the logical mind-ways,
with their explicit doctrine of the nature of the mind, the
only mind-ways which must be reckoned with in the teaching
of philosophy.
Tor the lesson seems to be that each philoso­
p h e r ’s mind-way is simply his sense of reality, born of his
experience and of the kind of the situations with which he
has had to deal in the business of living.
His philosophy
is simply the sense he makes of his own living, as distinguished
from the sense another philosopher makes of his living.
since not only philosophers, but also students differ among
themselves in the kinds of life situations they respectively
face and with which they have learned to deal, it seems reason­
able that the teacher of philosophy should accord the same
respect to each student’s outlook and sense of reality that
he demands for himself,
and conceive his task not as one of
R. W. Sellars* review of D. D r a k e ’s Invitation to
Philosophy, in Journal of Philosophy, 30: 667-668, November 23,
making over the studentTs outlook and sense of reality or of
replacing them with his own or P l a t o ’s, hut rather of help­
ing the student to understand the value and the limitations
of that outlook and sense of reality and so become a philoso­
The student whose mind-ways rim in scientific chan­
nels, the literary student, the history-minded student, the
religious minded student and many more represent mind-ways
that have been generated by situations facing students in
their academic and perhaps extra-academic career, and developed
by dealing successfully with those situations.
They are what
is structural and functional in the students * lives through
training and as a matter of habit.
The student is already
a successfully going concern by the time he gets into philoso­
phy, in the sense that he has a sense of reality and a mind­
way which, together with specific factual knowledge,
tute for him the starting point of philosophic activity and
the judge of its worthwhileness and realness.
refuse to
meet this starting point and to.respect this judge, and to
insist on the student's adopting a mind-way incompatible with
his own is to preclude the possibility of leading the student
to what the philosopher himself claims to be philosophy, namely,
an understanding of the
ife-attitude each one has and assumes
to be the correct answer to what everything is all about.
The teacher of philosophy whose aim it is to develop
in his students a spirit of openmindedness ordinarily resorts
to the expedient of impartiality of attitude and utterance in
his treatment of philosophic materials.
He does not declare
himself, or If he does so, does it deprecatingly,
ful of great presences.
On the other hand,
as if mind­
the teacher who
aims to satisfy his students* demand for answers to philoso­
phic problems ordinarily resorts to the device of indoctrina­
tion of his own philosophy.
for his own system.
He resorts to special pleading
In this connection, the history of phil­
osophy provides the most convenient subject matter and contin­
gently flowing sequences for the former teacher, and the approach
through a single system provides the most suitable moulding
device for the second.
The question of this chapter is whether there is reason
to believe that the aims just stated are compatible and might
both be sought.
The treatment of the historical approach in the
first part of this study confirms the statement of Dodson that:
As there is no magic in Hebrew literature through which
readers of it are infallibly made good, so there Is
nothing in the history of philosophy,
which, regardless of the way in which it is
taught, inevitably produces those large, judicial,
comprehensive views at which philosophic instruc­
tion aims.
It may be presented in such a way as
to leave the impression that it is the record of
a series of futile and profitless efforts.^
Hocking points out that the keenly troubled state of
the student who has been introduced to philosophy in the form
of its history is due to his lack of preparation for the im­
partiality of the teacher, which he misinterprets, and is some­
thing which cannot wholly be attributed ITto the mental idleness
of flabby souls who wish results without labor." The principle
of self-help, in the form of throwing the student wholly upon
his own resources in solving his own problems,
is incomplete.
And so Hocking raises the question
...whether, without falling into any of the vices
of orthodoxy (i. e., indoctrination), we cannot do
what the instinct of our students seems to require
of us, and present philosophy as having something
to say both objective and sayable .3
This, incidentally, is the procedure of every writer
of introductory text-books in philosophy, and in studying
Hocking the reader has a representative example of the kind
of thing each author and teacher does at the outset of work­
ing out a teaching program.
The result of each such attempt
G. R. Dodson, "The Function of Philosophy as an
Academic Discipline," in Journal of Philosophy, V, 17, pp. 454459.
2 W. E. Hocking, "What Does Philosophy Say?”
phical Review, 57: 136, 1928.
3 rbia., p. i3v
sets the objective for the course or book and determines the
arrangement of material, to the extent, at least, that the.
author*s intent endures through the arranging.
Hhis statement
may be confirmed by reference to any of the standard introduc­
tions, which start out with a definition of philosophy either
accepted without question or inductively achieved— but in either
case, purportedly setting the direction and determining the
selection, arrangement, and presentation of materials.
Hocking* s answer to his own question is an attempt to
find a basis of ■unity in philosophy.
He significantly accepts
the problem of the unity of philosophy as a persistent problem,
not as an achievement, and thereby lays upon every teacher and
text-book writer the job of tackling it— before they can claim
to be philosophers; for he is concerned with philosophy as
something objective and sayable, so as to have a content to
He attacks the problem not, as he says, by trying, as
Simplicius did, to find a common multiple of the systems he
severally accepted, nor by trying to formulate, as Stace does
with Hegel, a sort of historical common divisor, nor like Fichte
by attempting an apocalyptic vision of the great day of philoso­
p h i c a l unity, but by revealing the
...views about the universe which are assumed or
postulated by the philosophical enterprise itself,
so that every philosopher by his activity, if not
by his doctrines, acknowledges them.1
1 Ibid., p. 140.
Assuming that philosophy is an examination of beliefs,
he goes on:
••.it is the necessity of understanding which drives
us to philosophy; and whatever interprets the world
to men will be to them "philosophy," whether we ac­
knowledge it as such or not.
With this understanding, X submit that every one of
us as philosopher requires at least three presupposi­
First, that things have a meaning.
Second, that we human beings are competent to grasp
that meaning, or some of it.
Third, that it is worth while to do so, and ought to
be attempted.1
Hoeking ends his development with a myth whose lesson
is that each traveller (philosopher) is able to catch only a
few disconnected fragments of the meaning of the universe, which
he works up into a song with the aid of his imagination, and
sings it to men.
The polyphony of all songs produces the sym­
phony of the universe.
It is this conviction of the meaning of philosophy that
fathered Hocking*s Types of Philo sophy.
The Types are what is
peimanent and objective and sayable about philosophy, a content
and at the same time a pedagogical method.
What Carr says, on
page 88 of this study, of credits as ultimate motive of the
method is not the whole story, although his criticism of the
appropriateness of the method of approach to philosophy stands,
» P* 141.
for the reason he gives#
To those readers ahle to followr the book, it would
serve— if suitable follow-up work in class were required—
to enable each reader to identify and collect the fragments
of his own philosophy and go on from there to more and more
coherent and clear formulation of it, which is what every
philosopher does when he writes a book, including an intro­
duction to philosophy#
summary on page
But, as pointed out earlier in the
89, the book alone is likely to be just so
much subject-matter to the beginner, instead of being a tool#
He takes it literally as the answer to his demand for phil­
osophy as something objective and sayable; for him it is
organized matter instead of the vehicle of meaning.
It does not follow from the demand of students for
philosophy that is objective and sayable that philosophy is
a subject-matter that can be conveyed to them by book or by
word of mouth#
A careful reading of the quotations from
Hocking above will reveal that just as the philosopher claims
to have attained to philosophy by reason of his uncovering of
the presuppositions and hence of the meaning of the philosophic
enterprise, so in the case of each student philosophy will be
attained not as the addition of things sayable never heard by
him till now, not by the addition of more facts, but by reason
of his uncovering the presuppositions and meaning of his be­
liefs, his examination of them, his need to understand.
The teacher of philosophy had to do it for himself;
T1: •
so does
the student.
But it is not a matter of throwing the student
wholly upon his own resources.
It is simply a recognition of
the fact that philosophy for him must emerge from his own re­
flection on his own beliefs and necessity to understand, and
that the job of the teacher is to assist in the delivery, as
Socrates would say.
The philosophy which is objective and
sayable is the studentTs formulation in connected discourse
of the philosophy which he exemplifies and enacts in his
person and total activity.
Any philosophy from the outside
which challenges that philosophy challenges his person and,
since nothing is more real to a man than his own convictions,
is by no means objective to h i m , however sayable it may be.
Hocking is in principle,.if not in fact, in accord with this
argumentation in the statement, quoted above, that is the necessity of understanding which
drives us to philosophy; and whatever inter­
prets the world to men will be to them tTphilosophy,tf whether we acknowledge it as such or not.
The aim of openmindedness, then, miscarries when sought
through its stock historical approach, as we have seen that it
does from an attitude of impartiality in the teacher or book,
and again gives rise to the problem of discovering what philoso­
phy Is as something objective and sayable.
But this aim in^.turn,
In its vehicle, the Types approach, also miscarries, and brings
to light the principle that what the necessity of understanding
which drives us to philosophy concretely drives us to is the
formulation, by each man, in more and more clear and coherent
fashion, of the philosophy incarnate in his person and enacted
in his thinkings and doings.
Alone, existing text-books will
not effect such a formulation, but with the aid of certain
devices to be discussed later they may.
W. A. Brown has roundly debunked the historical approach
as philosophy reduced to the status of a specialty among other
curriculum specialties, driven from its original quest of wis­
dom by the trade interest— the philosopher’s need of showing
that there is some particular thing that he can do that nobody
else can do, in order to justify the salary which he draws—
and by the game interest, the interest of doing a thing for
the sake of showing how well he can do it irrespective of the
end to be accomplished by the doing of it.
In the philosopher it is the interest of thinking for
thinking’s sake, of defining and redefining, analyzing
and reanalyzing, controverting and recontroverting not
for the sake of getting anything in particular accomp­
lished by this elaborate paraphernalia but for the
sake of showing that you are cleverer than the other
fellow at the game you are both playing.1
Brown believes that these interests have their place
in philosophy as elsewhere in life, but that ^of themselves
they are not capital enough on which to run the business of
philosophy in a modern u n i v e r s i t y . H e
calls .for a return of
philosophers to its ancient function--that is to say, to what
it was trying to do, not to what It actually did:
1 Brown, o p . cit., p. 675.
2 Loc. cit.
It is the old service with which philosophy be­
gan, the service of teaching men how to look at
things in the large and to establish standards
by which to measure values and appraise differ­
As to its relation to other curricular aims:
What philosophy must do for the university stu­
dent is not to set up a rival study to compete
with those who are teaching religion and history
and law and other similar subjects in a philoso­
phical spirit, but to provide that unifying point
of view, which will enable the student to utilize
to the full that which they have to give to him.^
iMor is it limited in its activity to students, but to
be effective with them must enlist the willing cooperation of
teachers from all departments of the school:
As the philosophical classroom ought to be for
the undergraduate student a clearing house of
the different ideas which come -to him from the
different classrooms, so the philosophical de­
partment ought to be for the faculty as a whole
a clearing house of the different theories and
problems which emerge in the varied fields of
university research.3
Such a faculty movement, he points out, proved practic­
able in the Seminary on Jurisprudence, given by Dean Pound of
the Harvard L a w School under the Department of Philosophy and
Psychology of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of that Univer­
1 LojC. c i t .
2 Ibid., p. 679.
Ibid., p. 680.
See also Dodson, ojd. cit., p. 456.
The significance of the discussion thus far is that
the starting point and matrix of problems in the introduction
course is the aggregate of materials which the student carries
around with himself from the different academic subjects he is
engaging in, as well as from his total past.
The single system approach is the stock device for
satisfying students* demands for answers.
and fifty-two
On pages forty- nine
the reader can find reasons for doubting the
wisdom of one man or one b o o k Ts undertaking to settle the funda­
mental problems of many students once and for all.
And the
blanket reason is that no such thing actually happens.
However, pressure is exerted upon the teacher from an­
other side, namely, by the equal though opposite failure of the
attitude of impartiality on the part of teacher or book.
so the advocate of the single system and the fugitive from the
historical and problems approaches take counsel each of the
other and turn up with a formula for extracting a mitigated use­
fulness for the single system approach.
What has happened is
a recession from the stand that the introduction to philosophy
is the introduction to a single system through that single systen, and the adoption of the single system as a means to an end
other than itself,
in short, it is a dissociation of philosophy
from a particular system, while retaining that system as an ap­
proach to philosophy.
The beginnings of such a change of heart are seen in
such statements as reviewer H. T. C . fs:
Trying to force facts into a system is sometimes
good for the facts as well as chastening for the
system. You come to see what the facts may mean,
and question the evidences.1
Smith speaks of the value of mastering the single sys­
tem— for the student capable of such discipline— as a power of
A critical understanding of the best contribu­
tions to human thought of a single age, or in
many cases of a single man, takes logical pro­
cedure, and comprehensive gathering of material,
with reflective weighing, sorting, comparing—
all processes which require sustained effort
from students throughout an appreciable period
of study. But a student capable of undergoing
this discipline emerges from it with a power
of self-orientation utterly different, because
useful, from the superficial chart of orienta­
tion supplied by the syllabus of the O r i e n t a ­
tion course.”2
Since there is here no insistence upon the studentTs
being subjected to a particular philosophical system to the
exclusion of all others, the above suggestion may be regarded
as a mild instance of the doctrine of preparation as opposed
to the doctrine of interest.
But in the case of ecclesiastical
regulations requiring the teaching of the system of St. Thomas
in all Catholic colleges and seminaries, the doctrine of pre­
paration is present in full flower, or full virulence, depend­
H. T. C., o]D. cit., p. 161.
Ethel S. Smith, ftPhilo sophy and Practical Education,”
Personalist, 15: 29-30, January, 1934.
ing upon the point of view.
The pedagogical function officially
assigned to Aquinas * system may be stated in the apt figure of
St. Basil the Great in his address to the Christian
of the ancient university of Athens.
St. Basil informed them
that their young minds were like new cloth about to be dyed with
the patterns and colors of supernatural truth, but that like
n e w cloth the natural powers of their minds needed to be treated
with the solution of the best earthly truth of ancient Greece,
in order that the dye might "take," for it would only take hold
when minds and characters were prepared for it.
This theologi­
cally ancillary role has been assigned to neo-thomism.
cautious interpreters of the provisions of the Codex Juris
Canonici point out, however, that while the uodex enjoins upon
Catholic faculties the teaching of St. T h o m a s ^ system, it says
nothing about the necessity of accepting the system as true.'*'
The advantages of the exclusively instrumental role of
the single system approach are clearly set forth by Dodson:
It has long seemed to me that as a means of effect­
ing that organization of the mental life which is
a condition of normal growth, the student should
be encouraged to study some one system well.
If he
becomes for a time a disciple, so much the better,
for he will then knov/ one system from the inside,
and he will have set up a pair of ordinates in the
flux, by reference to which all other systems can
be understood.
E. A.‘M o o d y Ts review of L. de RaeymaekerTs Intro­
duction a l a Philosophie, in journal of Philosophy. 36: 77,
February 2, 1939.
He who never sees plausibility in any world­
view, who has no sympathy with any, understands
But he who has once entered into a system, can
then get at least partially out of it, and make
the necessary concessions to other views, so
that the danger of partizanship and fanatical
discipleship will be escaped.!
Dodson goes on to say that whoever follows this method
must decide on the system to be used as a point of departure*
Me lays down no
specific principle of what is to guide
teacher in this selection, other than to say that
•••if he selects one of the physical or mechanical
philosophies, his task is to supplement or expand
it so that life, mind and purpose action shall have
a natural place in it...on the other hand, if one
begins with one of the great moral philosophies,
that of Aristotle, for instance, the problem is
reversed; it is to find a place for physics,
any event, there is no question of final solutions.
What is to be aimed at is the production of an
awareness of the cosmic setting of human life, a
widening of the intellectual horizon to the utmost,
a knowledge of past efforts at unitary views suf­
ficient to serve as a protection from philosophic
diseases, an understanding of what the great prob­
lems are. and the awakening of the deathless desire
to know.2
Ihe difficulties attaching to this approach are the
same as those attaching to the attempt to indoctrinate students
with the system, and perhaps even more formidable, for the can­
did admission that the students are being inducted into a sys-
Dodson, og. cit., p. 458
Loc. cit*
tern which the author or teacher himself does not wholly be­
lieve in will not make the task of teaching very promising;
and there is danger that the realization on the part of some
students, that-the system they are learning is utterly re­
jected and perhaps ridiculed by the kind of people or thinkers
who have prestige in their eyes will kill what initiative that
remains in them.
The instrumental use of the single system has even
less chance to be successful than the attempt to indoctrin­
ate it, for it is a resented attempt to force the doubtfully
valid mental pattern and outlook of one person upon another
who already has a mental pattern and outlook that gets him
through the d a y ’s work pretty much to his satisfaction.
dust as in the case of the historical approach, then,
the approach through one system underwent a change involving
a shift from the system as both end and means to the system
as a mere means of setting up a pair of ordinates in the flux.
But since learning philosophy is not a mere matter of picking
up a ready-made technic or a set or instruments, but an at­
tempt to understand, and since understanding is always a mat­
ter of each person’s experience and grasp of it, the attempt
to give a man tools instead of the understanding he wants
will meet with resistance from him.
The fortunes of the single system approach, then, fare
the same as the fortunes of the historical approach.
strictly individual source, direction, and quality of growth
of the philosophy of any person at all is well put by H. G.
Brown in a paper in which he indicates the role of other
minds in the formation of a philosophy*
To the attitude that
all that is necessary is to affiliate with a prosperous sect
on the ground that if its master knows it all, all is well,
he objects that we cannot remain inactive just because Sandow
is strong, or boast of our cleanliness because our doctor
takes baths:
An attitude towards life is not a thing that can
be borrowed from someone else, but must be in­
dividually achieved by integrating impulses and de­
sires with knowledge of fact into a consistent pro­
gramme of action.
It is essentially an acquisition
of healthy-mindedness, and most men are afflicted
with the ailment for which philosophizing is the
remedy. Philosophizing is a personal need and, like
proper exercise, is an individual matter dependent
upon mode of life, environmental conditions and
inner state.
The man who has not a philosophy lacks
a coherent character and through mental conflicts
is wasting in futile frictions those energies that
ought to be expended in full freedom of living.
philosopher by occupation, like the physician, can­
not effect a cure by the extent of his -own knowledge,
but only by what he can stimulate his patient to do
for himself.
As a man may become well by his reaction
to those things with which a skilful physician brings
him in contact, so he may be aided to find himself
through reacting to the reflections of a philosopher.^
The answer to the question asked at the beginning of
this chapter may be indicated as follows:
both the spirit of
openmindedness and answers to the student’s questions may be
sought by the teacher and, perhaps,by .the book which stimulate
1 H. C. Brown, ,fThe Problem of Philosophy,” in Journal
of Philosophy, 17: 281-300, May 20, 1920.
the student to discover himself— his answers are his own
formulation of his own very convincing desires, impulses, pur­
poses, and stock in hand, and his openmindedness is the grow­
ing realization of the sketchiness of his answers and of his
consequent need of the help that the teacher, can give, since
he has gone through the same kind of experience himself, and
has learned through sympathetic understanding of many other
philosophers how to assist in the unfolding of mentalities
widely differing from his own as well as mentalities similar
to his own.
In short, answers and attitude have to be sought
by the student and encouraged by the teacher on the level of
each student, instead of dispensed by the teacher from the
level of the teacher and of Plato.
Besides philosophical and pre-philosophical subjectmatters, other devices of instruction are to be found in
existing text-books of general introduction to philosophy.
And it is with them that this chapter deals, with an eye for
the principles governing their use— principles sometimes
explicitly stated, but again sometimes simply exemplified
in the devices.
These devices reflect the Insufficiencies
of mere subject-matters to do the job of the general intro­
duction to philosophy.
Cushman conceives all devices that he uses as "memory
hooks11 on which to hang the facts of the history of philosophy.
Under this heading he lists not only the student*s "good geo­
graphical knowledge,
some historical and some literary know­
ledge,"^ but also "summaries, tables, and other generalizations
^ Cushman, o p . cit., vol. 1, p. vi.
& Loc. c i t .
3 Ibid., p. v.
including geographical maps and (in the chapter on Nineteenth
Century Philosophy in volume II)' diagrams.
Rogers is inclined to deprecate the use of summaries*
as'spoon-feeding the student, hut admits that although bad in
theory, the summaries are needed in practice, in text-books—
to save the teacher disappointment.
On the other hand, Gilbert is averse to mechanical aids
such as maps, tables, diagrams,
and summaries, and to all at-
tempts to bring philosophy down to the level of the beginner.
Love joy observes that summaries are bad when written,
as they are in Thilly's History,
in a crowded note-book style,
and give the impression of being series of logically unrelated
This is a charge of unintelligibility due to con­
If the original matter were itself unintelligible be-
•causg of its intrinsic difficulty, the summary would only deepen
the mystification of the student.
Where the main text is, how­
ever, intelligible in itself, the summary would profitably
gather up the ideas for the student— especially if he were read­
ing material so diffuse as to provoke such a comment as Youtz's:
"What is chiefly remarkable in this section of the book is that
**• A. K. Rog e r s 1 review of H. E. C u s h m a n s A
History of Philosophy, in Philosophical Review, 20:
2 Katherine G i l b e r t s review of Cushman's A
History of Philosophy, in Philosophical Review, 29:
September, 1920.
Beginner *s
6, March,
3 A. 0. Lovejoy's review of F. Thilly's A History of
Philosophy, in Journal of Philosophy, 12: 272-277, May 13,
the author finds something to summarize at the conclusion of
each chapter***"
But summaries do not, even when successful, make the
material they summarize suitable to introduce beginners to
philosophy, unless philosophy is mere information.
And the
point of convergence of the various chapters of this study does
not favor that identification.
The connection between philoso­
phy and information is that philosophy involved recognition of
the meaning of knowledge for the interests of selves or persons.
Knowledge, meaning, recognition,
interests do not exist in print#
but only in individual minds, as conditioned by those minds*
Only cues to knowledge and to meanings exist in books, and the
suitability of those cues to elicit philosophy or recognition
of the relevancy of certain facts to the interests of different
minds is determined first of all by those interests and then
by the ability and willingness of those minds to recognize
the relevancy of the facts in terms of the written cues supplied.
Where summaries are able to meet this test of suitability, they
will serve a philosophic purpose; otherwise they merely pre­
sent a problem for memory*
This same judgment may be passed on outlines of text­
books, as in G-amertsfelder and E v a n s ’ Fundamentals of Philoso­
p h y , and on the device of a net-work of cross-references in a
Youtz, ojo. cit. p. 220.
text-book, as in F e r m ’s First Adventures in Philosophy, which
makes the book a philosophical directory.
Of F e r m ’s book, re­
viewer H. A. L. has made the comment;
The student who is to go adventuring with Pro­
fessor Ferm must be capable of finding the meta­
physical, the systematic, and the theological,
After so much carefully-indexed ’’learned argu­
ment,” however, one wonders whether the really
adventurous soul would not flee tag-affixing
forever, even to that alternative ’’chaos in
thinking” which the author professes to abhor?
This is only a way of formulating the principle that
the teacher of philosophy, if he is to teach philosophy, must
teach it on the student’s own terms.
Lexicons of philosophical terms, as in Brightman’s In­
troduction, glossaries of the same, as in F u l l e r ’s History and
footnotes with the intent to clarify terms, as in Cushman, all
are subject to the same law.
Even an immanent approach to the
meaning of philosophical terms leads the student who follows it
to philosophy and not just to the satisfaction of an assignment
or of curiosity only if it serves to effect a recognition of
the relation of knowledge to the interests of the person con­
Ryan subscribes to the same principle in the matter of
1 H. A. L . ’s review of F e r m ’s First Adventures in Philo sophy, in Journal of Philo sophy, 34; 193, April 1, 1937.
2 I b i d .. p. 194.
3 J. W. Hudson, ’’H e g e l ’s Conception of an Introduction
to Philosophy,” in Journal of Philo sophy, 6: 11-13, June 10,
appropriate titles in reading lists or references at the end
of each chapter or of bibliography at the end of the text:
The references .cited are neither .complete nor mandatory.
Every teacher has his -favorites among reference,, works,
and is guided in the selection of them by the capacities
of his auditors and the resources of the college library.
The device of putting questions,
exercises, reflections
at the end of chapters in text-books is ordinarily intended
**to test students1 comprehension of the text, but primarily
to open doors for his further s t u d i e s b u t
serves also ’’for
mental discipline” ;^ ”and as a basis for class discussion.11
But the kind of philosophizing that really is philosophiz
ing because relevant to the personality problems of students at
a critical age of their development is not a business of finding
answers to questions other people have thought up in connection
with the mastery of a subject matter-unless those questions have
a familiar ring to the student who reads them, so that the search
for their answer in the text serves the purpose of clearing up a
philosophic problem of his own.
Questions testing knowledge of
material, exercises, reflections are at best anticipatory and
suggestive of the formulation of problems already dimly and
vaguely, or clearly and definitely, felt by the student— much
in the sense that in reading Shakespeare one is struck, in
-*• Cunningham,
2 Stuckenberg,
o p . cit., p. 342.
0 £.
cit., p. iv.
cit., p. v, and Columbia Associates,
3 Nicholson, ojD. cit., p. viii.
different passages at different readings, by his apt, concise,
jewelled expression of human conflicts and riddles and is al­
ready half-way along to their solution or reconciled to the
common plight of m e n . . At worst,
test questions and exercises
repel by their lack of philosophic promise.
The clearest indication of the insufficiency of mere
selections and arrangements of philosophic subject-matter to
introduce novices to philosophy appears in specific chapters
devoted to instructing the student how to study philosophy, what
to look for, what to try to do, what to beware of doing.
street mentions the value of this foresight in his review of
Fullerton;! so does Tawney.2 The refrain of all these asides
to the student is essentially the same: philosophy is not mere
memory, not mere imagination, not mere method, not mere content,
not mere discipline--but rather,
clearly defined understanding by
the individual of his world in its unity and multiplicity and
value; and books must be used accordingly, taking note of the
inevitable incompleteness of all philosophies,
the special pre­
styles, methods, motivations of different philosophers,
the development of problems and of answers,
the universally pro­
fessed, but variously conceived concern for truth alone*
Fullerton devotes all of Fart VI (three chapters)
! H. A. Overstreetfs review of G. S. Fullerton’s An
Introduction to Philosophy, In Philosophical Review, 17:217-19
March, 1908.
2 G* A* Tawn ey’s review of G. S. Fullerton’s An Intro­
duction to Philosophy, in Journal of Philosophy, 4:356-59,
June 20, 1907.
this task;-*- Hoernle, an important first chapter;^ Stuckenberg,
an extended and important final chapter;5 Robinson, all of Part
wOrientation,11 and intended to cover, in connec­
tion with Part Two (11Ideal ism”), a semester* s study;4 Hocking,
a valuable first chapter, to whose program he returns In the
last two chapters,
for the purpose of telling how and of showing
how one formulates his philosophy of life.
Robinson, wisely
taking nothing for granted in instructor-users of his text,
add sr. an important appendix entitled 11Supplementary Work, Mwhich
contains instructions on how to use his book in connection with
specifically mentioned source-books and with other specified
devices of oral and written nature.
Such advice to teacher and student alike bears witness
to the concern of the authors mentioned that philosophy be not
confused with philosophical literature on the one hand or with
mere mental calisthenics on the other, but be understood as the
progressively clearer vision of the meaning of things--the unity
of understanding which can be mentally distinguished, but not
really separated, into the process of understanding and the mean*
1 G. S. Fullerton, Introduction to Philosophy.
^ R.
F. Hoernle, Idealism as a Philosophy.
3 J # H. W. Stuckenberg, Introduction to the Study
of Philosophy.
4 D.
S. Robinson, An Introduction to Living Philosophy.
5 W.
E. Hocking, Types of Philosophy.
** Robinson,
op. cit.
ings understood.
They testify to the continual need of both
teacher and student to be/reminded of the end to be sought and
misunderstandings and distractions to be guarded against--mainly
against mistaking the means of instruction for the end of instruction.
Among speech devices for introducing beginners to phil­
osophy there is the opportunity provided by class meetings.
use this opportunity exclusively for lecturing is either to sup­
pose advanced students present or to pretend to be able to read
the minds of students for what they expect of philosophy.
Marvin says, ”The ideal introductory course in systematic phil­
osophy seems to me to be not a lecture course nor a series of
recitations, but a critical and systematized discussion--a
Socratic discussion, if you wil l . ”'*'
This presupposes— just what
he claims--that he intends his text to furnish the student with
a problem and enough information about the problem for him to
take a n active part in a discussion in class.
This makes his
book ”not exactly a text-book,”
to be expounded and accepted.
that is, not a book of texts
It may be asked whether a d i s ­
cussion on an assigned problem taken from a book of the history
of philosophy,.is rightly termed ^Socratic.”
Socratic dis­
cussions originally arose not from books which provided prob­
lems and solutions, but from conversations on street corners
and on other informal occasions, and the intent was to clear
^ W. T. Marvin, An Introduction to Systematic Philoso­
p h y , p. ix.
2 Loc. c i t .
s Loc.
up meanings of important words and to trace the consequences
of current beliefs and policies as advocated by specific per­
Discussion is a device which may be employed on m a ­
terial useless to the particular students facing an instructor
as well as on material valuable to them because answering
their philosophic problems.
Hinman sounds a warning against
fostering debates and discussions on minor matters which give
rise to puppy-dog bickering.'*’ Hudson calls for discussion
engineered so as to make philosophy emerge from studentsf
points of view,
and prescribes Socratic questioning as a means
of getting problems from the students themselves.
After the
problems are gotten, and not before, should students be sent
to books for help; this is the proper use of books.
YJhen the
problems are made to emerge from class discussion, "the class
becomes a group w i t h a common problem, enlisted in the search
for its solution."
The catch in this method, Fisk goes on,
is that "it is far easier to deliver a lecture than to conduct
a successful discussion hour, and the latter takes far more
preparation than the former.
Preparation not in selecting a
1 Hinman, o p . cit.» p. 3.
2 J. W. Hudson, "The Aims and Methods of Introduction
Courses; A Questionnaire," in Journal of Philo sophy, 9: 12-13,
January 18, 1912.
3 Ibid.. p. 4.
A. G-. Fisk, "A Functional Approach to Philosophy,"
Junior College Journal, 8: 75, November, 1937.
5 Ibid., p. 76.
problem and collecting solutions, but in trying to set a trap
for a kind of problem which the teacher, in his knowledge of
his students, has reason to believe they will bring to class
with them on a given day#
Problems are difficulties felt by
Robinson's plan to divide students into discussion
groups after completing each part of his text, with one group
defending and the other attacking the type of philosophy under
consideration in a discussion contest or debate, promises
success only if the students have been led to feel the abstract
issues involved as integral with the concrete problem with which
the study of the type began— if it did actually begin with such
a problem.^
Even the selection of capable leaders for each
group will not make the discussion live if it deals with what
is no problem to anybody present.
The problem will merely be
one of using up the class-hour.
Goldenson makes a number of interesting suggestions on
the basis of the assumption that philosophy, like other subjects,
should be evaluated in the light of its contribution to the development of the individual student.
The present investiga­
tion has found support for this assumption in the discovery of
reasons why that is the only way philosophy can be taught.
Briefly and generally, the reason is that philosophy is simply
the individual mind's becoming conscious of the meaning of its
^ Robinson, o p . cit. 371.
R. Goldenson, "Some Approaches to the Teaching of
Philosophy," Progressive Education, 14: 323, May, 1937.
experiences and knowledge for its interests and purposes in
the world it faces*
Goldenson*s program for "drastically revised approaches
to the subject" "stem from one change:
shifting the center of
gravity from the study to the student."
A too general "world as a whole" and a too narrow
set of classic systems will then be subordinated
to the ongoing experiences of individuals*
aim will be to cultivate philosophic thinking prima­
rily, not so much for the examination of traditional
arguments as for the formation of personal outlooks*
Moreover, this process will not be restricted to any
traditionally prescribed area, but will arise from a
critical approach to any subject whatsoever.^
Significantly, all his suggestions are suggestions for
class discussion, and are "based on a conception of the re­
latedness of experience— by which I mean the experiences of in­
dividual persons, not experience in general."2
By almost the mere mention of such terms as happiness,
evolution, intuition, God, or puritan a class discussion of
meanings can be started, which can be directed in such a way as
to make the students see the necessity of examining and clarify­
ing their convictions.
The fundamental relation, Goldensen
points out— and the present study grounds what in his paper is
a mere assertion, supposedly self-evident— is "not that of
teacher to student, or of student to classic authority, but of
' the student to his own meanings as revealed in the presence of
^ Ibid^, p* 524.
2 Loc. cit.
other active minds.”1
Such an inquiry can become "a search for presupposi­
tions and a search for implications (what ideas are based on,
and what they lead to)*”
He lists as a value accruing to discussion of such a
concrete problem as how successful our technics are for study­
ing individuals, the discovery of the value and limitations of
such technics; of such a problem as how art is related to sci­
ence, the discovery of the unique qualities of experiences of
art and of science in their proper setting; the encouragement
of flexibility and breadth of view as a result of constant
emphasis on alternatives and on thinking in terms of the pos­
sible; such discussion is "creative in its effect, since those
who engage in it will rely more and more on their own resource!”
again, "they will also have a definite sense of contributing
something to the class, derived from independent thinking;^
Informative books would not necessarily be ignored;
but they would fall into place as references or as
sources of suggestions when the class discussion
needs supplementing*
Their use would naturally in­
crease as the work progressed; but they would tend
to clarify and substantiate independent thought
rather than forestall it, as text-books notoriously
2 rbid., p. 335.
3 Loc. cit*
4 L o c * cit*
Loc* cit.
His last claim is that "the habit of searching for al­
ternatives and the ability to think carefully and express mean­
ing accurately can .be carried over to any portion or sphere of
is really a superfluous claim, for the very
business of entering upon a philosophic discussion at every
class meeting is a business of discussing problems of meaning
often enough to make looking for meaning a habit with the stu­
dents, so that they increasingly w i l l , and not just can, look
for meaning in their experiences*
However, the stimulation to thinking must always be
made to eventuate in a judgment— "judgment that results from
no mere weighing of words or logic, but from a direct encounter
between suggested ideas and existing states of mind, feelings,
and points of view, however inchoate and inarticulate they may
The exercise of judgment can be evoked by pointing out
the moral aspect of the meanings discussed.
Goldenson makes
three concrete suggestions: first, direct the attention of
students to kinds of people with whom he must live— the pes­
simist, the pagan, the hedonist, the esthete, the ascetic, the
materialist, the individualist;
characters in literature.
dents have a stock of information from which to draw, in this
L o c . cit.
2 Ibid*» P- 326.
connection— their everyday experience and acquaintance with
Second, to provide entree to more special at­
titudes and ways of thinking, guide a discussion from contem­
porary communism to Marx and to Hegelian method, or from
Christian Science, Buchmanism, the revival of mysticism and
other religious movements to religious beliefs and problems,
or from common expressions like "planned economy,n "the man
of action," and "wishful thinking" to a-discussion of pragmatism.
The principles back of all these suggestions are
important— and incidentally, independent of the suggestions:
All these tie-ups with current experience are
preludes to philosophical problems of the tech­
nical sort. But they are more than mere preludes,
and more than mere analogies and illustrations:
the "high, abstract philosophy" is not to be re­
garded as the end, but only as a means.
Its func­
tion is to elucidate and suggest, for the benefit
of the i n d i v i d u a l s experience and not the other
way around.3
Third, Goldenson suggests that "since the main cur­
rent of the student*s experience is within the college it­
self, it is here that undergraduate philosophy should go for
ways and means."
He is here stating the principle that for
effective teaching the school situation must be treated as the
studentfs life and not just as the student*s preparation for
1 Loc. c i t .
2 Ibid., pp. 326-327.
3 Loc. cit.
This policy has the advantage of making every phase of
the educative process the student’s appreciation and understand­
ing of his activities in school as intrinsic instead of merely
instrumental and derivative values.
Rewards, the longer de­
ferred, the more uncertain do they seem of attainment and in
worth, and hence the more grudgingly and impatiently are tasks
endured which only by the word of fallible teacher lead to them.
But when attention is centered on the enjoyment and meaning of
the school situation itself as the locus of interest, then the
school situation becomes capable of generating philosophic prob­
lems which the student has an interest in solving as constitut­
ing an obstacle to his intrinsic interest in school life, and
the school is in the unique position of being able to take ad­
vantage of its character as educative by providing students with
a recognized opportunity to solve the philosophic problems which
the very educative situation generates for them.
G-oldenson presents three conceptions in this connec­
first, the philosophy class as a forum for methodology;
second, the approach to specific technical philosophic problems
via other subjects; and third, the nature of a college as a
source of problems and illustrations.1
His first suggestion is
familiar though misnamed, as can be seen from what he means by
From the academic standpoint, the student’s situa­
tion consists of pursuing many studies separately,
1 Loc. cit.
usually without considering their wider mean­
ings or their ultimate function in suggesting
terms on which he can live. But there is one
place that is most appropriate for considering
the significance and inter-relations of the
many disciplines, and that is the philosophy
class. i?or this special purpose, it can he
regarded as a seminar, a forum, or a labora­
tory— in fact, a Platonic "receptacle” in
which the methods and materials (but particu­
larly the methods) of other subjects stir and
percolate and, finally, through the instru­
mentation of certain basic ideas, come to the
surface as meaningful objects.In short, in such class discussion the student is pro­
vided with the opportunity and guidance to begin seeing the
meaning of knowledge he already possesses for his life and
The problems emerge from his felt need to find
such meaning— to make connections and resolve conflicts in his
stock on hand of knowledge from various quarters, of interest,
purposes, habits; to achieve unity and direction of person­
tie can be bombarded with cues and suggestions from
teacher, classmates, and text-book, but only he can see the
connections or resolve the conflicts, because they are within
him and the seeing and resolving are dependent upon his ability
and willingness to see and to decide.
The value of having a special time and place for dis­
cussion of these things is that "here the student can be re­
latively free from the entanglements of mere learning, and is
in a position to survey the entire panorama of his experience.”
That is to say, he has an opportunity, after being on the re­
ceiving end of education in content courses, to exercise the
initiative of relating his knowledge and training to his.job
of living— a relating that involves assessing their value to
him, seeing their meaning for the good life.
In the process
of doing this,
He can not only inquire how each of the mental­
ities goes about its work, but can use them as
means of discovering his own Ways and his own
In this way, the philosophy class,
when viewed as a methodological forum, can further
what is in many ways the primary aim of college
education, that of self-exploration.1
The nature of a college as a source of problems and
illustrations suggests the college as a concrete example of
the whole-part relation and brings up the problem of totali­
tarian versus cooperative communities.
It also is the locus
of the problem of time as concrete duration;
it can illustrate
the nature of deductive systems in suggesting the relation of
the general aims and principles of the college to the particp
ular aims of its graduates, and so forth.
The significance of this extended consideration of
u-oldenson is his confirmation and supplementation of principles
brought to light earlier in the present study: his clear enunci­
ation of the principle of philosophy as student-centered rather
than study-centered, his recourse to class discussion as the
1 L o c . cit.
2 Ibid., pp. 388-329.
pedagogical point of origin of problems, his emphasis on the
kind of problems which not only start student discussion of
meanings but stimulate the exercise of judgment and the coming
to a decision which relates meanings with the concrete prob­
lem from which the discussion started, his insistence that
"high, abstract philosophy" be not taken as an end* but made
to elucidate and suggest for the benefit of the individual’s
experience, his suggestion that college life be recognized
as the locus of philosophic problems and as offering valu­
able illustrations of items of technical philosophy, as well
as providing, in the philosophy class, a needed forum for the
discussion of the philosophic problems that college life gener­
ates fo r student s .
While Goldenson mentions jotting down terms in opposite
categories in connection with a particular problem of class
discussion, he lays no stress upon writing.
But McNutt follows
a complete and detailed program, involving the student’s selec­
tion of a problem,
conference with the teacher for hints on how
to get started on it, follow-up conferences on literature gather­
ed, reading done, and compilation of sources; writing the paper
with an eye on the eight rules of procedure of the problem method,
reading the paper to the class, and conducting a round-table dis­
cussion on it.-*- Another device he uses in his chapter on "Truth,"
written in blank verse, is to instruot the reader to study the
^ McNutt, oj). cit., pp. 5-6.
poem, write out the truths he finds in it, write an essay on
his own ideas about truth, read and criticize the literature
on truth selected for the chapter, write a poem on truth after
the criticism of the class on the nature of truth, read his
poem to the class, work out a definition for truth in one
This triple device of reading, writing, and discuss­
ing the same thing sounds promising in that the student is
permitted and instructed to choose his own problem, and the
author accords him personal assistance without reservation.
Add to that the sophisticated attitude cultivated in the stu­
dent toward the books he consults, the insights possible in
his careful preparation and writing of a paper to be subjected
to class discussion, the further initiative, training, and in­
sights possible by the student*s chairmanship of the discussion
of his own paper by the class, and the result may easily be
prediet&blae as either great lovers or great haters of philoso­
phy, but certainly nobody indifferent to it.
Pages 189 to 194
of McNutt*s text are left blank, except for a line dividing
each page vertically, the left side with the caption^Problems”
and the right side with the caption "References.”
These blank
pages are to be used according to instructions on page 188.
Add other problems (other than the fourteen
worked out by McNutt), collect literature, and
1 Ibid., pp. 29-30.
work the problems out independently of your
professorfs help.
Under Problems on the following pages write
out complete statements of your problems pro­
posed for solution.
under References list all of the literature
you read on the problems, giving authors, titles,
and pages.
In short, McNutt has provided models of problem solving,
detailed instructions of procedure, and offers personal assist­
ance in conferences.
He has each student contribute to the
writing of the text, at first in close dependence upon the in­
structor, later independently.
Beside this
solicitude, other devices appear weak.
Dubray offers an appendix of 150 topics for essays, in the form
of quotations from various literatures.1
Hinman's suggestion
is indefinite, to the effect that student insight and reflec­
tion can be secured through carefully arranged studies culminia2
ting m essays.
Lewis recommends a four-part notebook, one
section dealing with Problems, a second with notes towards
Solutions, a third division on the refutation of such common
fallacies as may appear, and a final division on Philosophers,
in which only clear and significant statements from philoso3
phers are put down.
1 u. A. Dubray, Introductory Philosophy, appendix.
Einman, oj>. cit., pp. 3-4-*
3 John Lewis, ”H o w to Teach Philosophy,” in Philosophy,
October, 1932.
Robinson recommends assigning a written report to each
student on a typical representative of each type of philosophy
treated in his text,
lie requires extensive reading in books
of that philosopher."**
an alternative to this more formal written report
on one m a n ’s philosophy, he suggests having those students who
vrould be interested in doing so study models of philosophic
dialogues (he names those of Berkeley, Santayana, Montague,
Pratt), and then write a short dialogue,
setting forth the var­
ious attitudes of the different types of philosophy on one or
more of the great problems*
or three gifted students*
This is a cooperative job of two
But he is in favor of any method,
he says, that will make philosophy the subject of talk in students1 bull-sessions.
There is one significant device remaining to be dis­
cussed, and there is a difference of opinion about the idea of
uushman observes:
A good many years of experience in teaching the
history of philosophy to beginners have convinced
me that students come to the subject with four
classes of ideas, with which they can correlate
philosophic doctrines:
good geographical know­
ledge, some historical and some literary know­
ledge, and many undefined personal philosophical
opinions. Of course, their personal philosophical
opinions form the most important group, but more
as something to be clarified by the civilizing in-
■*" Robinson,
Ibid., p. 371.
cit., p. viii
fluence of the subject than as an approach to
the subject itself.1
Kobinson, on the other hand, is of the considered opin­
ion that:
Perhaps the best introduction one can get to
philosophy is to become conscious to the fullest
extent of the philosophy he has when he begins
the serious study of the subject,
since this
philosophy is shared by many, let us call it
isveryman’s Philosophy.^
At the close of his book, in the supplementary Work,
Robinson advises assigning an essay on the subject nM y Phi l ­
osophy of nife” at the end of the course in philosophy,
gives detailed instructions on how to write such a paper.
advises awarding the philosophy prize of the year for the best
essay among these.
Again, nocking emphasizes the initial uniqueness of
each m a n ’s philosophy: matter what your philosophy is, it will
necessarily be an individual perception, the
report of an intuition of the world which cor­
responds precisely with that of no other person.
Since each human being is both universal and uni­
que: universal as sharing a world of sense, of
thought and of history with his kind, and unique
as seeing these from a position and in a light
peculiar to himself;— so is the principle of his
philosophy universal and also unique.
I would
say it is unique first and universal afterward,
ihat is, the life of each individual is at first
ojd .
cit., vol. 1, pp. v-vi.
Robinson, o£. cit., p. 8.
a summary and uncharable Intuition or reality:
it becomes
his business to find what that intuition means, and then
to convey or express so much of it as he can.
This is
at once his duty and his happiness.1
Cushman believes with Robinson and Hocking that the
raison d !etre of studying philosophy is the clarification of
each student1s personal philosophical opinions, but he differs
from them in the method of approach.
He advises an indirect
attack; he believes that the clarification of personal philo­
sophical opinions will automatically parallel the directly
sought integration of the student’s literary, historical, and
geographical knowledge with the history of philosophy.
on the other hand, would have the student use his Types for the
purpose of identifying his own philosophical opinions so that
he might deal then with them directly and formulate them in a
coherent and critical fashion.
Robinson also favors the direct
approach to each student’s philosophy, although only at the be­
ginning of the course in the sense of Everyman’s Philosophy and
only at the end of the course as a formulation of each student’s
outlook on life.
Hocking, Types of Philosophy, p. 455.
Problem of this chapter.
From the point of view of present curriculum arrange­
ment, the first course in philosophy presents the problem of
how to effeet a juncture in the student fs mind between the
analytic, descriptive technics and literatures of particular
sciences and arts on the one hand, and the integrative,
cal technics and literature of professional philosophy on the
From the point of v iew of the student, the first course
in philosophy is in each case a means to a different end; and
the administrative premium placed on larger and larger intro­
ductory classes necessitates the development of a versatility
and showmanship on the part of the teacher which shall make it
possible for each enrolled student to realize the end for which
he enrolled in the course.
The teacher is between the devil—
the curriculum builder— and the deep blue sea of his students.
His problem is to posit a cause— during the class hour— which
shall produce the multiple, varied effect expected by each mem­
ber of the class— to drop the apple which one student will in­
sist on enjoying as an edible fruit, but another will be con­
tent to observe as embodying a universal law of motion.
1 Gordon W. Allport, Personality.
Fortunately for the teacher, there is such an apple.
It is the interest that each student— especially the adoles­
cent— has in himself.
Whether he loves himself or hates him­
self, he is intensely and continually curious about himself
as something he never expected he was.
He is just meeting
himself, and finds himself very strange.
He begins to be both­
ered about what everything is all about.
He is acutely con­
scious of a lack of perspective that would let him see how
things are related to one another and to the good life.
bull-sessions center around that problem.
He feels the need
to hold forth on it, and finds himself alternately baffled by
the many-sidedness of the problem and pleased by ideas he d i d n ’t
know he possessed.
But he has to talk about it, and amateur
treatments of it catch his eye in his casual reading in news­
paper, magazine, and novel.
The man, woman, or god who will
answer his comprehensive question in a manner consistent with
his ideas and interests, he will listen to.
But in the nature
of the case, since he is the only one who knows his ideas and
interests, he is the only one who can give that answer.
job of the teacher in the first course is to use appropriate
means to get him to do so.
It seems that the answer to what everything is all
about is what is meant by the phrase ’’philosophy of life.”
if the teacher can learn just what significance attaches to
being conscious of o n e ’s philosophy of life, he will be better
IB 2
able to guide the student in his formulation of it.
For it
in turn seems to be a means to a further end; to involve the
tacit assumption that the individual's future course of action
can be more advantageously directed and more fully enjoyed if
the field of his consciousness is enlarged to take in all his
capacities and interests as self-conscious possessions.
The.purpose of this chapter is to examine the validity
of this assumption in connection with Allport's doctrine of
the significance which attaches to making one's actual philoso­
phy of life a conscious possession, as against being merely
series of habits built up by home and school and religious,
etc., training.
And also to discover whatever suggestions he
may have on appropriate means of making one's functional phil­
osophy of life a conscious possession.
Allport on the significance of having a conscious
philosophy of life.
In chapter II, entitled, "Defining Personality,"
Allport1 marks off a man's philosophy of life from his "dis­
tinctive habits of thought and expression, his attitudes, traits
and interests:'*
In addition to separateness and uniqueness a
human being displays psychological individuality,
an amazingly complex organization comprising his
distinctive habits of thought and expression, his
attitudes, traits and interests, and his own pe­
culiar philosophy of life.
It is the total mani-
1 Ibid., p. 34
fold psycho-physical individuality, commonly
referred to as personality, that engages the
attention of the psychologist.
The phrase, "philosophy of life," appears on page 117
as an aspect or a function of the central nervous system in
its role (in the biological theory of personality) as execut­
ing the demands of the autonomic nervous system in its adjust­
ment to its environment.
But on page 120, where the biologi­
cal theory of personality is criticised as "over-simplified,"
Allport seems to distinguish the chemical from the personal
aspect of the individual, and to align a m a n ’s philosophy of
life under his personal or psychic quality in opposition to
his chemical aspect,
in contrast with habits and attitudes,
o n e ’s philosophy of life here refers to o n e ’s conscious con­
trol over means to a chosen end.'*’
Granting that the chemistry of the body has much
to do with the general cast of temperment, and
that severe dysfunctions of the glands bring with
them characteristic types of emotional disorder,
there is still no reason to suppose that a speci­
fic and proportionate relationship exists between
the chemical and psychic constitution of normal
Tensions produced by glandular activity
are absorbed into the more integral tensions that
comprise personal motives.
Suppose, for example,
that there is a marked secretion from the adrenal
glands. A vague emotional excitement will prob­
ably ensue; but the w a y in which this excitement
is handled is a matter of deep-seated habits and
attitudes, even of o n e ’s underlying philosophy of
1 Ibid., p. 120
In chapter VIII, entitled,
”The Mature Personality,”
Allport develops this cleaning of philosophy of life in connec­
tion with his three general criteria for distinguishing a fully
developed personality from one that is still immature.
,a man must have the capacity to lose himself in the pursuit of
chosen objectives;
second, he must be able to regard himself,
his abilities, aims and interests objectively, detachedly, even
with humor; third, he must have a philosophy of life.
The role of the philosophy of life is unifying, integra­
Since there is an obvious antithesis between the
capacity for losing oneself in vigorous participa­
tion and the capacity for standing off.
u ontem­
pi at ing oneself, perhaps with amusement, a third,
integrative, factor is required in the mature per­
sonality, namely, a unifying philosophy of life.
Such a philosophy is not necessarily articulate,
at least not always articulate in words.
preacher, by virtue of his training, Is usually
more articulate than the busy country doctor, the
poet more so than the engineer, but any of these
personalities, if actually mature, participates
and reflects, lives and laughs, according to some
embracing philosophy of life developed to his own
satisfaction and representing to himself his place
in the scheme of things.
Allport makes an important statement in the words,
Such a philosophy is not necessarily articulate,
at least not always articulate in words;
for it is possible to have a philosophy of life properly socalled without ever having formulated it in written or spoken
The philosophy of J. S. Bach is articulate in his music,
1 Ibid., p. 214.
as is the philosophy of uhopin, Beethoven, Handel, and George
The philosophy of Michelangelo is expressed in his
sculptures; that of Edison,
in his inventions.
But a philoso­
phy of life is always at least to some extent a consciously
formulated possession, a man's embracing consciousness of his
place in the scheme of things.
It is the program which he has
developed and in some way expressed to his own satisfaction
and according to which he is content to live.
Allport'*' brings out the autonomy of the philosophy of
life as a motive force in the mature personality as opposed to
"The genetic over-emphasis of other dynamic psychologies that
regard motivation as sessile to the roots of the past:”
Which interpretation is correct? Are esthetic
and religious philosophies of life due to a
flatulent condition of the Id that "never changes;”
or are they precisely the opposite, autonomous
master-sentiments that give objective coherence
and subjective meaning to all the activities of
their possessor's lives? By now the reader is in
a position to decide for himself.
Again, on page 226, he says, referring to types of philosophy
other than the religious:
...they too serve as autonomous systems wherein
every detail tends to corroborate every other de­
tail under some fundamental conception of value.
On page 227 he speaks of them as "dynamic formations:”
By and large psychology has done little to give
systematic setting to all these various dynamic
formations that represent the apex of development
in the mature personality.
Ibid., p. 227.
But what is a philosophy of life?
It is, says Allport,
a matter of desires, of ideals and goals imaginatively con­
ceived, desired, projected into the future, and sought.1
Intelligent and perspicacious planning for the future
is always a significant feature of any mature life.
The individual imagines things as they might be, even
picturing his own personality as he would like it.
This planning for the future determines the subsequent
development of personality quite as effectively as do
the forces of the past.
It is not only the vires a
tergo that create a style of life, but also the plans,
ambitions, ideals, and images that mediate goals pro­
jected into the future.
Every mature personality may
be said to travel toward a port of destination,
selected in advance, or to several related ports in
succession, the Ego-ideal always serving to hold the
course in view.
That which lies ahead in o n e 1s life
is at every moment dynamically taking shape, not
merely by virtue of the push of this habit and that
stimulus, but because the course of development is
being steered in a certain direction by the Egoideal itself.
...without some sustained goals somewhere, a personality
remains childish.2
Philosophy is a matter of the self's becoming conscious
of its purposes and of their relations to its social and natural
contexts; a consciousness of being distinct from other things
and from society, but at the same time of being dependent on
While differentiation and Integration are under way
there develops gradually an important core of selfconsciousness. Perhaps nothing contributes to the
unity of personality as much as this subjective
1 Ibid., pp. 218-219.
2 Ibid.. p. 220.
3 Ibid. • P. 345.
point of reference, by virtue of which the in­
dividual feels that there is coherence between
his memories of the past and his plans for the
Self-consciousness is necessary for
self-esteem, for aspiration, and is a pre-condi­
tion of status in the social group (by which,
in turn, it is profoundly modified).
All these
factors are unifying in their effects, gradu­
ally the self extends in such a way that it is
closely identified with personal possessions,
with other people, and with introcepted ideals
and cultural standards.
The self becomes the
center of an orderly psychological universe.
Whether the self is regarded as the innermost
nucleus of all conscious ego-systems (Koffka)
or as the interplay of all conscious states
(James), does not greatly matter.
In either
case the self is the subjective moderator of
whatever unity the personality may have.
Philosophy is not a matter of mere memory, but a matter
of harnessing memory to imagination in setting up and working
toward goals dear to the Ego:"**
In order to bind the past with the future, m e m ­
ory must be supplemented by imagination, another
unifying capacity of the self, with its aid the
human being may plan his life when he is young,
and spend years of concerted effort in pursuit
of his chosen goals.
Perhaps the most significant property of the self •
is the peculiar inward quality of emotional life,
represented variously as the principle of Egoism,
self-esteem, the sentiment of self-regard, or as
the "upward tendency of the Ego". Whenever the
beloved ego is the object of regard, as it very
often is, unity is enhanced, for at such moments
all activities have a common point of reference.2
But the goals dear to the Ego are not necessarily self­
ish goals.
Psychological integration of outlook, which is the
^ Loc. cit.
2 Ibid., p. 345-346
philosophical or maturational stage of the development of the
personality, is achieved by any inclusive, consistent plan of
Such selfishness, however, is not the whole story.
An individual who devotes himself to one mastersentiment, whose personality is distinguished by
one primary Bestimmung (Buhler) likewise finds
psychological unity,
in fact the pursuit of ex­
ternal goals can be more consistently maintained
than the opportunistic pursuit of selfish ends
which of.necessity vary from time to time.
conception of intention as a principle of unifica­
tion is related also to the conception of the egoileal. (p.. SI8-S O } Whenever the ego-ideal is 'de­
rived by virtue of introception from the ethics of
culture, it helps to hold the individual within a
single course of development. Any Weitanschauung,
however derived, by engendering intelligibility
upon the diversity of experience, serves as an im­
portant unifying influence.
Stating the case still more specifically, some
writers find the unity of personality achieved
in its life work. Burnham has pointed out that
just as a concrete task (the Aufgabe) integrates
available energy for the moment, so too, in the
long run, a life work confers stability and con­
Philosophy ministers to the maturing personality by
making it aware of what it wants so that it may marshall its
forces to that end, hitherto dimly and inchoately sensed.3
iiere is a curious fact:
the attainment of unity
depends more upon knowing what one wants than upon
getting it.
Xt is the striving towards the known
goal that confers unity, not the successful ar-
1 Ibid., p. 346.
2 Ibid., p. 350
3 Loo. cit.
rival. Love of learning— to take an example—
is more of a unifying force than the possession
of learning, so too is love of art, of money,
or of fame. Unity of intention offsets failure
of accomplishment; it is a matter of what a man
loves, not of what he has or acquires.
ment may even he destructive of unity, for at­
tainment forthwith abolishes the unifying desire.
Prom this point of view unity lies only in the
struggle for unity.
Philosophy is not a play with mere abstractions, but
an attempt to understand a concrete problem of how to achieve
wholeness of personality by understanding the concrete pur­
poses involved in o n e ’s life-work.
It involves harmonizing
the concrete aims that clash in most lives:1
Faust as the prototype of man, found that striv­
ing for completeness was not merely an abstract
fhe only practicable condition ofuunity
that he discovered was the seeking of specific
objectives related to a life work,
when every
moment of effort is directly or indirectly pointed
to the same progressive series of goals, these m o m ­
ents are then bound to one another,
such an inter­
locking series of moments constitutes what Paulhan
has called a "harmony of striving", and serves as
the prime condition of unity in personality.
harmony is rarely perfect, for in most lives aims
clash with one another quite as readily as they
reinforce one another.
Lasurski rightly warns against mistaking pseudo­
unity for true unity.
The former is an illusory
product of suppression and dissociation, "which
consists in the fact that some inclination or
group of related inclinations control all others,
inhibiting them or suppressing them, men who are
given to self-denial and asceticism, often serve
as examples of this specious unity." A. Lasurski,
"Uber das stadium der individual it at,T, P a d a g .
1 Ibid., p. 351.
Monog., 1913, jn'o . 14, 37. freudian psychology
deals at length with the duplicity and lack
of genuine unity in such personalities.
Repeating the sentiment that the philosophy of life
consciously possessed is to be the finishing touch to the m a ­
ture personality,
"conferring unity- upon it, Allport says:1
Spranger5s classification (of the six ideal
types or x)hilo sophy of life) offers a start­
ing point for empirical investigations of
those complex philosophies of life that serve
more than anything else to confer unity upon
the mature personality.
On page 331 he uses the phrase ’’Foci of development” .
Significantly he observes that Spranger’s six ideal
types are too few.
In other words, each person has a different
philosophy of life as one of the qualities that makes him uni­
que in his personality.
On page 336 Allport speaks of religion as
...the search for a value underlying all things,
and as such is the most comprehensive™cTf all the
possible philosophies of life...the authentically
religious personality unites the tangible present
with some comprehensive view of the world that
makes this tangible present intelligible and ac­
ceptable to him. Psychotherapy recognizes this
integrative function of religion in personality,
soundness of mind being aided by the possession
of a completely embracing theory of life.
This statement would be more satisfying if the author
gave a definition of religion in connection with it.
to make it synonymous with philosophy of life.
He seems
Ho thing is clear­
er than that the philosophies of life expressed in Lucretius’
1 Ibid., p. 230.
De Rerum Nat u r a , L i p p m a n ’s Preface to Morals, and D e w e y ’s A
Common Paith, are as comprehensive as many popular brands of
religion and stand for just as powerful and far-reaching
master-sentiments as they do.
But it seems useless to debate
the worth of abstract categories, when the business at hand
calls for the understanding of this and that person and his
philosophy of life.
It will depend upon the individual whether
his religion is also his philosophy of life and master-senti1
ment, or only what Allport calls a "eompartmental interest” .
When it is the latter, it is justly distinguished from the
master-sentiment, which may be anything at all, as is left
to conjecture in A l lport’s question.
”What is his religion,
and what his philosophy of life?”
On page 504 Allport quotes the phrase, "Philosophy of
life materialistic and mechanistic,” from a sketch of the per­
sonality and character of Professor D; and on the next page
reveals that under philosophy of life he includes here D ’s
attitude toward philosophy:
Inferences extend beyond the direct evidence
offered in the classroom; there are conjectures
concerning D fs sensitivity to liquor, his at­
titudes toward bridge, politics, and philosophy.
This is not at all a correct statement, for a m a n ’s philosophy
of life may or may not include an attitude toward what is
1 Ibid., p. 226.
2 Ibid-» P* 393.
academically known as philosophy and philosophical literature.
At best the adjectives "materialistic and mechanistic” give
the proximate genus of a m a n Ts* philosophy of life.
The brief schedule for a psychological interview on
page 510 lists "philosophy of life” seventeenth and last among
the topics to be covered*
A passage of great significance to the purpose of this
study, since it deals with the question of who has access to
the philosophy that is to be made a self-conscious possession,
is the section on the psychology of ’’Verstehen” , pages 539-542,
Interpreting this theory, Allport first states the basic prin­
ciple as follows:1
It is only when the life and actions of another
are intimately and intelligibly bound together
that I understand h i m ,*.verstehen is,..the mental
activity that "grasps events as fraught with mean­
ing in relation to a totality.”
The difficulty is, how is an observer to discover that totality,
in reference to which individual acts become meaningful?
The answer lies in the discovery of the individ­
u a l ’s direction of striving, that is to say, in
his constellation of personal values.
Then follows a remarkable break in the sequence of pertinent
suggestions concerning how to determine the individual’s direc­
tion of striving.
Broad categories are suggested in which any
1 Ibid.. P- 540.
Loc. cit.
individual philosophy of life would he lost:^
Dilthey had proposed three forms of
Weltanschauung which serve as a basis for the
unity of the personalities of great philoso­
There is first the materialistic or
naturalistic outlook (represented by Democritus,
Hobbes, and Hume), secondly, transcendental
idealism (represented by Plato, Kant, Fichte),
and finally objective idealism (Goethe, Schopen­
hauer, Hegel).
Such typical Lebensverfassunger
pervade not only the writings of these philoso­
phers, but their personal lives as well.
After this historical aside, Allport tells us how Spranger
would determine the i n d i v i d u a l s direction of striving:
A m a n ’s philosophy of life reflects itself in his
speech, his conduct, his mannerisms; f,it is one
with his character.**
What is this but telling the reader
to observe fragments of behavior and then to
reason by analogy (which really means binding
these fragments to the lives of other people)—
a process which the Yerstehen psychologist condemns for the
reason that it
will never yield an understanding of individ­
From this position to the following sentence there is only a
bridge of wishful thinking:
1 Loc. cit.
2 L e e , cit.
3 Loc. cit.
4 Loc. cit.
5 Loc. cit.
As soon as an individual1s philosophy of life
is known, his personal activities, which taken
by themselves are meaningless, become understood.
Allport’s own conclusions are that persons have no
direct insight into the motives and conscious processes of
other persons:***
No person can understand any other person com­
pletely, for it is impossible for one human
being to share directly the motives, thoughts,
and feelings of another.
One person can judge another only by the latter*s total be­
In summary, to secure the most trustworthy judg­
ment from first impressions (and probably from
long acquaintance as well), it is necessary to
have a gifted judge, applying his skill to certain
overt and readily accessible traits in a subject
who is himself not deceptive or enigmatic,
That is to say, each person judges by analogy from (-ultimately)
his own experiences.
The behavior he witnesses,
if it means
anything at all to him, falls into a pattern of which he has
experienced at least the elements, and his **under standing** of
the behavior takes the form of imputing aims, interests, motives,
feelings, and sentiments in a pattern which, he believes, approxi­
mates the personality of the person in whom he witnessed the be­
When this reconstruction of the personality of another
is done in the language of the pretentious psychological analy­
sis of a population for its common traits, and each step in the
1 Ibid., p. 499.
2 Ibid., p. 509.
process of interpretation is made explicit, lie talks of infer­
ring the personality of people*
When he sizes up a new ac­
quaintance during two minutes of formal introductions, hand­
clasp, and appreciative comment on the school set-up, he tends
rather to speak of intuition and insight into his personality;.
he is dealing with a present totality in perception rather than
with an assemblage of ideas separated from an absent living
totality of an original.
There are several important points to be gleaned from
the discussion thus far;
The personality of a student requires, for maturity,
that he be able to objectify his modus vivendi to himself, so
as to see it in perspective and if possible with humor.
needs consciously to clarify and to integrate his modus viv e n d i ,
so that he becomes aware of its implications and possibilities
and consequences;
and so that he becomes an orderly personality,
at least in anticipation,
purposes with himself*
instead of a personality at cross­
It follows that it is either use­
less or seriously harmful to the personality of students to
attempt, by dialectical or other means, to have them adopt a
philosophy of life notably at variance with their actual modus
vivendi;3' for a philosophy of life is simply o n e ’s modus vivendi
formulated consciously,
clarified, and integrated— not just
1 This is the tenor of a militant anti-epistemologist
article by G. Stanley hall, entitled "College Philosophy," in
g o r u m , 29: 409-422, June, 1900. He speaks of students whose
outlook on life has been debunked by the teacher as "psychically
starved," as victims of "precocious maturity, and senescent
cephalization," pp. 419-420.
conceptually, "but with the purpose of unifying and coordinat­
ing one's theory with one's practice.
Each student, and
he alone, has direct access to his own personality,
can study
it intimately, and formulate its features accurately.
alone, then, is in a position to work out his philosophy of
life— bring it to light on paper, develop its implications,
consequences, and possibilities; formulate its unsolved prob­
It follows that until each student has brought to
light the problems of his philosophy, the teacher will only
complicate the job of getting the student to understand him­
self if the teacher attempts to introduce him to the litera­
ture, the technics, and the vocabularies of professional phil­
To sum up:
the significance which attaches to making
o n e rs philosophy of life a conscious possession is that o n e ’s
personality depends for maturity on this achievement.
in brief, is that a man comes into conscious pos­
session of his life aims, interests, abilities, and disabili­
ties— he becomes,
at least in anticipation, unified in out­
look and single in intention.
He comes to see the pattern of
his life, and the consciousness of problems which are relevant
to his interests and aims gives him guidance in his recourse
to philosophical literature for solution of those problems.
Allport on how to make one's philosophy of life
a conscious possession.
Does Allport have any suggestions concerning what
means would be appropriate to make o n e ’s functioning philoso­
phy of life a conscious possession?
Yes, he does; although
the technics he advances are intended for the external ob­
however, they suggest means that each person may use
in the study of his own personality.
On page 370, in figure 27 (tfA Survey of Methods for
Studying Personality"), Allport lists four types of personal
records: diaries,
systematic guides to self-study, personal
and thematic writing.
he gives the first important clue:
Under the head, "Diaries",
More intimate than social records are those docu­
ments prepared by oneself for the express purpose
of giving vent to o n e ’s feelings and private
Special significance must be attached to
These range in scope from semi-personal
notebooks to intimate self-revealing autobiographies,
often of great value as psychological data.
Me goes on:
More formal than diaries are the systematic guides to
These may range from informal casually
arranged questions to be answered by the subject
in any way he chooses, to the standardized pencil
and paper test.
In the latter case, the technique
is so specialized that it deserves separate list­
Allport says of standardized questionnaires:4 "Sometimes they
1 Allport, o]3. cit., p. 377.
^ Loc. cit.
^ Loc.
4 Lb i d ., p. 380.
are called tests of attitudes, sometimes interests, or opin­
ions , or traits.”
And"** "Its (the standardized questionnaire's)
final diagnosis depends upon the individual's report of his “be­
havior in many different types of life-situations.”
As most persons do not keep carbon copies of their
letters to friends, in which they most reveal their personal­
ity, this study omits reference to the third type of record,
personal correspondence.
The fourth type of record has more promise.
A method used especially with school children is
■fc*10 Aufsatz-method which in English may be called
thematic writing,
when a child is asked to write
a school composition on such a topic as "What Hero
I should Like to Resemble,” or "My Personal Ambi­
tions,” often a surprising amount of information
comes forth.
Some children favor religious, or
philanthropic heroes, other athletic or domestic
heroes. One adolescent girl chooses a movie queen
as her ideal, another her mother, a third Jane
In employing this method, however, it is
necessary to determine whether the writer is giv­
ing mere lip-service to conventional teaching or
is revealing spontaneously his own guiding-image.
The method may be used likewise with adults who
in writing, for example, on their dislikes or
"pet aversions” may betray a number of personal
traits, among them fastidiousness, prurience,
paranoia, irascibility, or humor.
The three methods of autobiography,
systematic self-
study by standardized questionnaires, and thematic writing
should bring to light a student's personality, where he is
and where he seems to be going, and what his daily living re­
veals as his de facto idea of what everything is all about.
1 Ibid., p. 381
2 Ibid., p. 377-378.
From this factual basis he can then begin a systematic and
critical examination of the grounds, implications, and con­
sequences of his daily
0 und
and his ideas, in the course of
which he may come to feel the need of recourse to philosophical
literature and formal training in philosophy.
But without such
a preparation, he will not feel that need badly enough to sus­
tain his interest through the barren period of brute mastery
of the technics of professional philosophy.
The idea of this sort of approach is at least as old
as Socrates, who endeavored to have individuals get thoroughly
acquainted with themselves and their routine ideas and working
Mot by merely holding up a'picture of other p e o p l e 1s
outlook on life, but by getting each person to appreciate the
worth and realize the limitations of his own working ideas and
habits can a teacher hope to make him grow in the direction
of reasonableness,
whatever reality may be, each person*s
actual interests and ideas constitute what he thinks reality
is and what he is meeting reality with, as a going concern.
These are the facts for him, however much he may be academically
impressed with facts which are not functional in his present
Flewelling on discovering other persons to them­
There are many more passages in Allport dealing with
Weltanschauung, metaphysics,
and the like, which in the interests of brevity will not be
discussed here since the gist of them has already been given.
But the point that emerges from Allport's treatment of the im­
portance of becoming conscious of one's philosophy of life may
be fittingly reinforced by representative quotations pertinent
to this study from Dr. R. T. Flewelling's book, Creative P e r ­
sonal ityf
It may be that our best contribution to social ad­
vance shall come through the discovery of other
persons to themselves,
bo fire the creative imagi­
nation of the young to successful effort is very
often to make a far greater contribution through
other lives than through one's own.
No task in the community is more important than
the discovery of genius to itself, and genius is
not so rare a possibility as is sometimes thought,
being simply interest with power to concentrate
imagination and effort on a given end.
bhe reason
that so much faithful work in the world lacks the
touch of genius and originality is because the in­
dividual has not achieved harmony within himself,
he has not learned to tie up his dreaming with his
his (the teacher's) supreme value to the community
lies not so much in the method or content of his
teaching as in his ability to discover students to
themselves.. By the power of suggestion he sends
1 i b i d .. PP. 33, 45, 138, 144, 169, 816, 837, 348, 349,
505, 533, 568.
2 I b i d .. pp. 41, 47, 131, 170, 173, 539, 540, 551, 559.
5 I b i d .. pp. 138, 144, 893, 346, 540.
4 Ibid., PP. 171, 178, 310, 348, 349, 351 (note), 501,
541, 550, 551, 558, 555.
5 E. T. Flewelling, Creative Personality, p. 898.
6 Ibid., p . 880.
individuals out to the careers for which they
are fitted.1
fhe community of intent in these and the following
passages with the psychological doctrine of Allport is apparent.
if there is complete unity within the self,
mental, moral, and spiritual, so that one is
free from fears, inhibitions, and conflicts,
so that one grasps situations through the
n single eye” of pure motives, then is developed
the greatest power of achievement
Reflection is one of the main elements in secur­
ing unity of outer and inner self.3
It is essential then that the imagination should
be set in the direction which we v/ish the outward
life to take,
if the imagination goes in one
direction while we try to send external acts in
the other, there will be serious conflict.^
When we note the cases of men who have profoundly
affected not only their own age, but the ages that
have come after them, we discover a curious simi­
larity in one respect.
Self-discovery has come
to each with the power of a great conviction.3
In the light of Allportfs thesis it seems that the power
of suggestion which Dr. Flewelling speaks of would be found at
its best and as most fruitful when an individual was made to
realize the practical logic of his actual life, habits, and
ideas--their implications for achievement and for frustration.
1 ibi d ., p. 279.
2 I b i d ., p. 277.
Loc. c i t .
4 I M S - > P- 2745 I b i d .. p. 292.
There would be no justification for the teacher to harness
students to his own pet ideas or to ideas alien to their own
mental and moral make-up;
but there hope of doing
good in making it possible for a student to become enthusiastic
about his own possibilities and concerned about his own limita­
tions in the light of the life-situation which faces him.
Allport regards the conscious possession of
o n e ’s philosophy of life— self-Knowledge— as essential to the
maturity of o n e ’s personality,
conferring unity and a sense of
direction under conscious control.
And three of the means he
lists for study of the personality by an external observer are
suited to give the person who employs them on himself a selfknowledge'which can be made to yield his philosophy of life,
in all its suggestiveness for thought and action, and in all
its specific limitations.
The teacher who can make a skillful
use of the three methods of autobiography,
systematic guides
to self-study, and thematic writing will be the teacher who
will most fruitfully suggest to each student what his possi­
bilities in living the good life are, on the basis of what the
student has been made to discover himself to be.
The teaching
method of the first course in philosophy ought to be heuristic,
not indoctrinating,
scious expression,
it ought to be designed to elicit a con­
in systematic and somewhat critical form,
of the philosophy of life that is implicit in the student’s
actual mode of living.
Of course, the aim is to give the student such a
taste of the rewards of reflection that he will cherish it
as the vessel of his well-being.
The general problem of this dissertation was to
determine whether existing types of general introduction to
philosophy are suited to their purpose.
Of the preliminary
questions into which this general problem was divided, the
first two received their answers progressively in the
principles brought to light in each chapter from the second
to the eighth.
The fifth question was answered in chapter
nine; the sixth in chapter ten.
The third and fourth
questions find their answers in the critical theory of the
general introduction course to be developed in the present
The elements of such a theory have been sought in
notions and principles elicited from the claims and criticisms
of existing types of introduction to philosophy.
and principles center about the aim and the learning situation
in the first course.
Ordered into a unity as an idea or theory,
they will represent an explicated problem, that is, a practical
situation made articulate by and to the m i n d ‘which can resolve
it into a purpose conceived in terms of, and appropriately
related to, the materials available for realizing it.
of the suitability of existing types of approach will be
followed by studies of several feasible forms of a preferable
type of approach.
It would not be entirely true to fact to interpret the
order of presentation adopted in the table of contents as a
temporal sequence of the fortunes of the various approaches
However, since criticisms presuppose already exist­
ing approaches, it was possible to see just how unsatisfactorily
long historical approaches were followed by telescoped historical
approaches such as Rogers» and by approaches through selected
systems and types of systems such as those of Calkins and
Hibben*s approach through the problems of philosophy
followed upon his criticisms of pedagogical lacunae left by
the approach through history, and the problems approach
generally was preferred by those who sympathized with students*
helplessness before and misinterpretation of the whole series
of historical systems and the infinitely divisible historical
Again, chapter eight expressly dealt with two trends
which are significant of the vaguely felt and imperfectly
glimpsed basic conception of the introduction to philosophy
underlying all claims and criticisms of specific existing
These trends show how opposite types— the
historical and the single system approaches— passed into
modified forms in their convergence upon the same point, the
interests of the learners.
In fact, as each existing approach was studied,
criticisms revealed more and more the glaring externality of
the conception of philosophy exhibited by them all.
And this
increasingly lamented but seemingly inevitable conception was
found to be the result of identifying philosophy with
philosophical literature or with the philosophy of teacher
and text-book.
Philosophical problems, process, and solutions
were conceived as an achieved body of knowledge stored in books
and in teachers and communicable by language.
This deposit
represented the level of knowledge, technics, and understanding
attained by a tradition or by the race.
The teacher and text­
book writer conceived their task as providing the student an
opportunity to possess himself of it.
In the first five approaches— through history, the
single system, the problems of philosophy, the general survey
of problems and systems, and selected types of systems— the
emphasis is laid upon philosophy itself, so conceived.
problems, method, and solutions are to be laid hold of directly
and immediately.
The teacher*s job is conceived either as
helping the student to rise to the level of philosophical
literature and jargon, or as trying by the magic of fine
writing, of succinct statement, of selective exposition to
bring that philosophy down to the level of the beginner with­
out its meeting the fate of all incarnations, namely, of
failing- to be 'identified for what it was expected to be.
The next five approaches— through sciences, literature,
kulturgeschichte. religion, logic-— emphasize and devote most
of the time to the matrix and methodology of philosophy.
They bear witness to the belief of their advocates that the
very problems of philosophy (still the professional variety)
will be felt and recognized as problems, and successfully
attacked, only if their point of origin in pre-philosophical
subject-matter is made clear, or if the logical structure of
their solution is prepared for by acquainting beginners with
the propaedeutic, logic.
The emphasis is- upon the pre­
conditions of intelligibility of the very starting-point
of philosophy— its problems— -and upon acquaintance with
(little or no time for training in) the abstract forms of
the professional process of solution of those problems.
But just as the heights of philosophy discouraged
beginners, and philosophy brought to earth disappointed them,
so philosophy through pre-philosophy was seen to presuppose
knowledge not possessed by the student or study and training
whose reward is too long deferred, too dearly bought, or too
uncertain in character and value.
And so criticism, the
willing genius of action, entered its blade between the soul
and the spirit and turned up with a distinction between
philosophy conceived in terms of the experience and mentality
of mature thinkers and philosophy conceived in terms of the
experience and mentality of adolescents.
The necessity of this elastic conception of philosophy
pulled like an undertow in the criticisms directed against
the various approaches.
The step from philosophy as content-
centered to philosophy as student-centered was seen to be the
inescapable implication of Bakewell»s principle that periods
of history which need exhaustive reconstruction for the
student preparatory to his philosophizing are unsuited as
approaches to philosophy for him.
This criticism was seen to
be predicated from a belief in the radical heterogeneity of
individuals, which-is only slightly neutralized by the
academic device of entrance requirements and graduated courses/
^Jhen thus generalized, the principle does not just reveal the
weakness of one method, but rather expresses the protean
character of the subjects of the educative process— the "wide
range of that variable, the psychological make-up of each
In view of its potential diversity that one variable
was found to have the unique property of determining the kind
of materials which can relevantly be subsumed under another
variable in the educative formula known as external a ids .
Philosophy thus conceived was seen to be as numerous
as adolescents themselves.
But there is no choice.
being obliged to admit the disproportion between the studentts
mentality and professional philosophy, and the inadequate or
entirely wanting preparation of students for, or interest in,
certain approaches to philosophy, critics were shown to employ
principles which reveal the inconsistency of advocates of any
one approach with their own understanding, claim, and practice
of philosophy.
After bringing out the necessity of dissociating
the concept of philosophy from a particular high level of
philosophy in philosophical literature and teacher, because
of the diverse limitations and interests of. the learners,
this study called attention to the fact that even teachers
of philosophy differ among themselves in their philosophies,
and that each considers himself a philosopher not in virtue
of ideas accepted from other thinkers, but in virtue of
having arrived at a convincing understanding and attitude
with regard to philosophical problems felt by himself.
the light of this fact, to identify the approach to philosophy
with any given body of information was seen to be inconsistent
ivith the teacher*s own understanding and practice of philosophy.
This point is the unexpressed assumption in Windelbandfs
criticism that teachers should not confuse what interests
themselves with what interests their students, but should
design their course to meet the expectations of the learners
rather than their own.
Again, it underlies Robinson*s
criticism that the approaches through history, through a
.single system, and through special philosophic disciplines are
all liable to the same serious objection that they do not give
any attention at the outset to the student*s ovm philosophy.
It appears also in the discussion of the problems approach,
which concludes with the statement that the beginner!s demands
on philosophy are fundamentally the same as the teacher!s— a
business of each finding his place in the scheme of things.
Once more, it turns up in the observation that a program
which undertakes to justify.common sense will satisfy or
repel some students-— and advertise philosophy accordingly—
just as it satisfies or repels some teachers of philosophy;
and that the same may be said of the undertaking to transcend
common sense in a system of idealism.
Finally, the' incon­
sistency of the teacher with his own fundamental conception
and practice of philosophy appears in the study of the
approaches through the various logics.
Each teacher and
professional philosopher prefers to be convinced in his own
He tends to trust and to generalize the logic he has
developed in dealing with his own life work--cases in point;
De w e y ’s emphasis on the social criterion, Peirce’s upon the
mathematical, James’ upon the individual.
Why 'then ask the
student to be convinced by the way of another’s mind?
The significance of philosophical literature and of
the professional philosopher was seen to lie not in what they
are, but in the kind of thing they testify to.
For the
teacher the important thing is the kind of thing that the
philosopher does, not the actual thing he does.
Hocking’s principle that philosophy•must be something both
objective and sayable was found, so far as the teaching of
philosophy is concerned, to be not an absolute, but simply
a function of the unique centrality of each person’s psycholo­
gical make-up in that person’s philosophy.
Although objective
and sayable, philosophy is incommunicable.
To beginners
it is unintelligible in its professional state; unrecognizable
in a "simplified” state; inaccessible or unwanted in its prephilosophieal state; conflictingly exemplified by its
professional exponents in their conception and handling of
its problems, method., and answers.
It is obviously not any
one thing, but rather a kind of thing.
It is a peculiar kind
of problem, of method, and of solution.
In the nature and locus of philosophical problems,
process, and solutions is found the idea of the general
introduction course.
Where there is a problem there is an
aim whose non-realization causes dissatisfaction and un­
Where there is a method or process there is an
agent who acts purposively.
And where there are answers
there is a mind satisfied that its aim has been achieved so
far as available materials permit.
What is the peculiarly
philosophic aim which gives rise to the kind of problems,
process, and solutions called philosophic?
It was said that the beginnerTs demands on philo­
sophy were fundamentally the same as the teacherfs— an
understanding of his place in the scheme of things.
it was said that the primary aim of the approach through the
history of philosophy and, with some, through-the problems
approach ?jas the production of openmindedness; that of the
approach through one favored system, the production of
conviction or certitide, the supplying of answers.
But it
was found, in chapter eight, that the means used to effect
openmindedness failed to satisfy students* equally pressing
need for answers, and the single system approach was criticized
as giving students answers at the expense ox making them the
opposite of openminded.
However, it was pointed out that the
ideal expressed partly by openmindedness and partly by
intellectual satisfaction (answers) is simply the ideal of
attaining a satisfying consciousness of o n e ’s'place in the
scheme of things.
This more abstract ideal has no necessary
connection with the contingently flowing sequence of the
history of philosophy and the attitude of impartiality on
the part of teacher and text-book; nor with the cogent and
inescapable argumentation of a single system and the success­
ful propagandizing suggestion of final conviction on the part
of teacher and book.
It is, however, necessarily bound up
with each student’s reflex consciousness of his own function­
ing ideas of wrhat everything is all about, and of the sketchi­
ness and improvable quality of that self-consciousness and of
those ideas.
This conclusion is borne out by the study of
the trend from the historical to the types approach, where
the significance of the latter is seen to be its character as
an aid to the student’s formulation of the philosophy of
life which he actually exemplifies.
It is also borne out by
the study of the trend from the single system as an end in
itself, identified with philosophy, to the single system
conceived as subservient to the function of aiding each
student to set up a pair of ordinates in the flux*
Another facet in the concept of philosophic aim is
supplied in the study of the class as a forum in which
students raise and solve philosophical problems generated in
their minds by the very school set-up in which they are
Here the philosophic aim appears in the guise of a
value-judgment sought under pressure of the necessity and
desirability of continuing school life as an intrinsic interest.
The aim is clarification of the students * aims and decision
among values•
Cushman was seen explicitly to state that the philo­
sophic opinions which each student brings to the study of
philosophy— although he believes that such clarification
must be sought indirectly.
The study of Allport*s theory of
the significance of philosophy for maturity of personality
revealed the aim of philosophy to be a vision and understand­
ing of goals and traits actually functional in a person, a
conscious program without which he remains a child, and to
which he alone has direct access for discovering and fashion­
The nature of this vision and understanding bf o n e fs
place in the scheme of things appears to best advantage when
discussed in each of the three phases between which it
These phases are not three separate things, but
only three distinguishable moments of the unity of philo­
sophic consciousness.
The first moment is characterized by
relative instability and dissatisfaction, the second by
activity calculated to deal with the source of this in­
stability and dissatisfaction, and the third by relative
repose -attended by satisfaction.
Since this analysis is
generic and not limited to the philosophic enterprise, it is
necessary to specify the character of a problem, a process,
and a solution which are concerned with one's vision and
understanding of one's place in the scheme of things.
The discussion here takes the form of a theory of
philosophic interest.
Philosophy seems to be a late interest
that emerges at a state in the development of personality at
which the necessity of facing life as a responsible integer
imposes the job of taking stock of one's interests and of
ordering them for effective and satisfying living.
philosophic interest is the imperial interest of effecting a
satisfying order among all one's interests.
The test of what
is satisfying philosophically is the sense of what is real.
Philosophy, then, is concerned with clarifying and ordering
one's interests in the real in the order of their reality
according to one's sense of reality.
A philosophic problem is philosophic interest in the
moment of relative frustration.
It is decidedly not the
same as lack of interest.
It is thwarted interest in
philosophic security in much the same sense as a pressing
thousand-dollar debt represents a real though relatively
thwarted interest in o n e ’s financial security.
nature of a thwarted philosophic interest?
What is the
interest is thwarted whenever o n e ’s interests are felt to be
in conflict or when they are -so.few or operate so inadequate­
ly as to cause apprehension that one lacks effective under­
standing of o n e ’s place in the scheme of things.
It is not the presence in the individual of interests
which are potentially in conflict or too few or too inadequate­
ly functional that constitutes the philosophic problem.
a situation would constitute a philosophic need but not yet
a philosophic problem, for problems and interests have their
exclusive locus in foro conscientiae.
And really the need
itself could be said to exist only in view of some aim with
reference to which an individual’s interests are potentially
in conflict or too.few or too inadequately functional.
In the
absence of consciousness of the unsatisfactory relation of
o n e ’s interests' to a given aim there is no place for philo­
sophic interest, since philosophic interest is just that
Philosophic problems are a kind of self-
consciousness which involve a relatively obscure and in­
distinct perception of o n e ’s true interest in a given situation,
and an urgency to effect an order among interests that will
permit the attainment of some end accepted as desirable, or
to clarify the desirability of that end in the light of its
possible realization, the cost of realizing it, or its relative
value among alternative ends.
Without such recognized and
felt necessity there exists no philosophic problem.
It arises
whenever a new experience or a new type of experience is seen,
disconcertingly for o n e ’s present understanding of his interests
to conflict with past experience or to have no apparent relation
to it.
Philosophic problems are conflicts or wonderments which
challenge o n e ’s understanding of his larger welfare.
who is intent only on the incoming experience is either un­
wittingly or deliberately ignoring his philosophical status.
If unwittingly, he has not yet experienced the philosophic
interest in its phase as problem.
If deliberately, he is
living a solution, whether philosophically arrived at or not.
The importance of being thus conscious philosophically
is that it is the only possible point of departure for the
philosophic enterprise of the student.
This doctrine is the
significance of the earlier insistence upon the existence of
different levels of mentality exemplified by beginners and by
professional philosophy; of the discovery that starting with
problems external to students is philosophically irrelevant
and may miscarry disastrously; of the observation that there
are no interests or demands in general, no life or mind in
general, no average student.
That each student’s own philo­
sophic consciousness is the only possible starting point for
the philosophic interprise is also the essential meaning of
the distinction between what interests the teacher and what
interests the student; of the reproach that certain approaches
fail because they do not give any attention at the outset to
the student’s own philosophy; of the principle that philoi
sophic problems must be elicited from the student’s stock in
trade; of the principle that no mind will allow itself to be
introduced to philosophy iri any other way than through its
de facto interests, whatever they may be; of the principle
that the fundamental philosophical relation is that of a
student to his own meanings; of the rule that group discussion
must start from a problem felt by those participating; of the
advice to start with problems that elicit value-judgments; of
the advice to look for philosophic problems generated by the
students’ relations to the school set-up considered as an
intrinsic interest; of the advice to use any device that
will make philosophy the subject of talk in students’ bullsessions, where discussion goes on with reference to problems
felt by those participating, or if not discussion at least a
rough-and-tumble unburdening of each o n e ’s mind.
relevant points made were that the student’s philosophical
interest other things being equal, can be elicited by an
attitude of real concern and urgency manifested by teacher
and authors in treating philosophic issues recognized by the
students as akin to those raised already or in causis by the
studentTs own desires and expectations.
Allport?s contribution
to the meaning and importance of a philosophic problem is the
concept of it as a conscious need experienced at that stage
in the development at which each person experiences uneasiness
over the obscurity, unrelatedness, or conflict of his interests
and the need of understanding what responsible, satisfying
self-hood consists in.
In short, it is the dawning inclusive
interest, following upon the development of many particular
interests, in achieving psychological unity over and in terms
of these partial interests, a unity representative of or
anticipatory of practical unity, and a sense of direction
under conscious control.
The philosophic problem is an
expression of the purposiveness of persons in their need to
understand (spuriously, to rationalize, in the pejorative
sense) the value of their interests, of the goals they seek,
so that they know and savor what they are living for and what
sense there is in it after all.
The comprehensive need felt
is for understanding o n e ’s purposes, and this undertaking is
a matter of overcoming the obscurity and confusion which is
detected in the meanings which a mind has set up for itself
in dealing with its experience, and guides itself by.
So much for the concept of philosophy in its phase
as problem.
The unity of philosophic consciousness which goes by
the name of process of solution or learning process is
characterized by action calculated to deal philosophically
with the source of the instability and dissatisfaction which
mark the existence of a philosophic problem.
There is no
inevitability that anyoneTs consciousness of a philosophic
problem will be followed by a philosophic process in that
personas mind, especially in the case of beginners.
philosophic process is not a flight to authority or to the
subconscious, for problems are not understandingly solved by
plunging them back into their matrices; yet under pressure
of time or of incompetence people fall into the habit of
oracular intercession within or without instead of develop­
ing the philosophic habit of understanding their own pur­
poses .
It was pointed out in the study of Allport that each
person, and he alone, has direct access to this own personality
and hence to his philosophic problems, and can formulate their
features accurately and study them intimately.
He alone, then
is in a position to work out his philosophy, to bring it to
light and objectify it on paper and in speech, develop its
implications, consequences, and possibilities, formulate its
unsolved problems.
By thus making oneself aware of the
pattern of o n e Ts life, one becomes conscious of.problems
which are relevant to one*s interests and aims, and can have
intelligent recourse to teacher, to philosophical literature,
and to other external aids for solution of those problem.
But no external agency can bring o n e fs problems to light or
attack them, and without seeing to it that each brings to
light the problems of his own philosophy, the teacher would
only complicate the job of getting the student to understand
himself if the teacher attempted to introduce him to the
literature, the technics, and the vocabularies of professional
Such merely external procedure would not be ad
The philosophic process is decidedly a self-study,
carried on with such reading materials as reflect and such
speaking and writing devices as effect the objectified self.
It is self-initiated and self-sustained study of self.
More light is thrown on the nature of philosophic
learning by the argumenturn ad hominem developed earlier in
the present chapter.
Since teachers and other professional
philosophers consider themselves philosophers not by virtue
of having adopted the views of other philosophers but by
virtue of having achieved their own understanding of their
place in the scheme of things, apparently the student can
become a philosopher only by following suit.
Each person's
logic is simply his mind-way or sense of reality, born of
his experience with the kind of situation with which he has
had to deal in the business of living.
Since students as
well as teachers differ in the kinds of life situations they
respectively face and with which they have learned to deal
more or less to their satisfaction, it seems necessary to
admit that students as well as teachers differ in the kind
of logic that is real to them and gives convincing results.
Consequently if a student is to deal with his own problems
in a way convincing to himself— and the concept of philosophy
demands satisfaction in terms of o n e ’s sense of reality— he
can be the only jjudge of what constitutes a satisfactory
handling of his problems.
The philosophic learning processes
of students differ just as the logical structure of various
professional philosophies differ.
Now, philosophic satisfaction in terms of one’s sense
of reality is not the satisfaction experienced in the function­
ing of blind feeling, of impulse, or of instinct.
is here synonymous with clearly defined, articulate, explicit,
distinct, exact, orderly, consecutive, true to self.
In the
learning phase of philosophy attention and interest has
shifted from the nature of the difficulty to the nature of
the process by which the difficulty may be philosophically
overcome, and the ideal nature of the philosophic process is
expressed by the epithets chosen above.
They express the
characteristics of which philosophic satisfaction is a
function in' all phases of the philosophic interest.
philosophic process is the process of making explicit and
deciding the relative value of o n e ’s purposes.
It is not a
thing done once and for all, but a habit or way of facing
and dealing with problems involving the welfare of selves—
the ideally human way of understanding them or ordering them
in terms of one»s sense for the real.
The study of devices supplementary to selected and
arranged reading materials brought out the centrality of
student-agency in this phase of philosophic interest.
concession to spoon-feeding the student by supplying summaries
is clearly a face-saving expedient resorted to under pressure
of mass education; it smells of collusion with minds to whom
a show of memory work or a collection of authoritative opinions
by students entitles the students to philosophy credits.
was pointed out that summaries, tables, maps, diagrams,
questions, .reflections, footnotes, glossaries, outlines,
lexicons, collateral readings, lists of problems in connection
with readings done, net-works of cross-references, theme topics,
assigned discussion subjects were suitable to the business of
introducing students to philosophy only if they were related
to their philosophic interests and enlisted the ability and
willingness of different minds to use them philosophically.
Such is the infinite variety of minds and philosophical
problems that a whole library of materials would be largely
irrelevant if the job to be done were simply and exclusively
a matching process, a finding of pieces in book and teacher
which are flawlessly congruent with a given student*s mind.
But philosophy is not such a" static geometrical totality;
and philosophizing is not a matching process, nor is it
merely the registering of an effect produced from without
by an external a g e n t ; it is a cultivation of a sense for
clarity, breadth, and order in judgments on one's interests.
This conception of philosophizing as self-activity is
especially in evidence in those passages, ranging from asides
to whole chapters, in which writers of Introductions instruct
the student how to study philosophy, what to look for, what
to try to do, what to beware of doing.
Here is unmistakable
conviction that philosophizing is something done by_ each
student, not to him.
The same conception appears in
Goldenson’s insistence that philosophizing involves the
responsibility of passing judgment, of making up one's mind,
of coming to a decision.
Induction of general premises or
rules must be followed by syllogism or application to specific
cases, for philosophy is an attempt to arrive at truth.
belief is brought to focus in the conception of the class as
a forum in which students raise problems generated by the
very school set-up in which they are involved.
The necessity
and desirability of continuing school life thrusts upon them
the responsibility of straightening out cases of conflicting
interests by discussion for clarification of issues., leading
to decision or passing of judgment in terms of relative
McNutt’s device of having the student read, write,
and discuss in connection with his research on a problem of
his own choosing, with the ready counsel and assistance of
his instructor, is another exemplification of the conception
of philosophizing as the student»s formulation and systematic
resolution of his own philosophic problem.
However, McNutt’s
claims for this comprehensive device are:made in language
which reveals no inkling of the abyss separating the mentality
of beginners from the mentality to which the problems of
technical philosophy are felt as problems; no awareness of
the long, intense life within a philosophic tradition which
is prerequisite to understanding the jargon, the key concepts,
the peculiar drift of that tradition— no matter how recent
and clear of print the books in its new editions, no matter
how colorful and attractive their jackets.
problems are simply not the kind which permit of solutions
or even of being understood by combing the authorities for
opinions, adding the positive and negative answers, and
concluding with the sign of the remainder.
The growth of
a beginner to the stature of which he is capable even within
his own tradition is a growth which cannot begin with problems
recognizable and materials manipulable only at its term;; &
fortiori his branching out into alien articulate traditions.
Nevertheless, McNutt’s device is invaluable in its character
as expressing the need and providing the opportunity for the
student to find his own philosophic problems, to formulate
them, and systematically, by reading, writing, and discussing,
to generate the understanding or degree of resolution of them
which his own intellectual power, experience, and the
materials available to him make possible for him.
Similar significance attaches to Lewis * recommen­
dation that the student keep a notebook, provided it be
graced i¥ith a clarity and an orderliness effected by the
student in his consecutive effort to state and explicate
problems felt by him.
Robinson dropped a hint to this same
effect, when he said he was in favor of any method or device
which should make philosophy the subject of talk in students1
bull-sessions; for in bull-sessions the philosophy is not a
fixture installed complete in the students by a teacher, but
a production, no matter how spasmodic and blundering, of
minds at grip with a problem, each dealing with the problem
as he sees it.
Philosophizing begins with the appearance of a pe r s o n ’s
vague urge and infantile random attempts to utter his modus
vivendi to himself or a friend, to objectify it, as Allport
says, to see it in perspective and if possible view it with
Philosophizing becomes adult and worthy of responsi­
bility to the extent that it becomes articulate as sense of
The indispensable and central agent of this
operation is the student himself, aided by counsel and records
of similar self-studies available in literature and in
conference and discussion.
His level of mentality, his
study habits, his willingness to follow actively the written
or spoken self-revelation of another and to judge of its
relevance to his own case will determine the suitability of
external aids to introduce him to philosophy.
Paulsen had
student-activity in mind when he spoke of the valuable self­
training in the art of intelligent reading which the dialogue
form of philosophy provides the occasion for.
But he emphasized
the peculiarly individual character of that activity when he
spoke of the danger to the student of trying to read the wrong
books at the wrong time; he referred to Kant*s head-breaking
Collingwood, too* made the point that what is
helpful to the student is not the mere recital by the author
of the conclusions he and other thinkers have come to, but
the revelation of the process by which the problem was
progressively clarified and unravelled.
The philosophical
reader is the reader who judges the conclusions of an author
by the reality and justice, to him, of the mind-process that
led to those conclusions.
His understanding is a business of
his seeing sense in the way the author arrived at his position.
This same thought was in the mind of W. A. Brown when he
pointed out -that, in contradistinction to science, which
deals with those questions the answer to which we can be
content to take at second hand, philosophy deals with those
questions the answer to which each man must, give for himself.
As Collingwood put it, "What we demand of the historian is
the product of his thought; what we demand of the philo­
sopher is his thought itself."
People trust the logic which
their battle with life up to date has equipped them with,
whether that logic is the habit of scientific research or
the habit of divining the motives of persons they have to
deal with, or any other attitude and way of handling the
peculiar life situation facing them,
philosophizing is for
each person a business of making his sense of reality more
articulate, clearly defined.,^ true to self.
It is necessary to indicate the note of self-imposed
discipline involved in the truly philosophic process, what­
ever the individuality of its experiential materials.
no circumstances is philosophic learning to be confused with
whimsical or blindfolded or prestige-induced selection of
ready-made principles or answers, nor with aimless although
beautiful reverie, nor with mere creative imagination, any
more than with committing to memory.
perceptual or contemplative.
Nor is it merely
It involves going to the trouble
of bringing into the forum of consciousness all elements
relevant to deciding a problem involving the welfare of the
responsible self.
The satisfaction of a particular interest
such as the biological, the psychological, the musical,
without reference to the bearing of such special satisfaction
on the responsible self, occurs strictly within biological
science, psychological science, musical creation or
appreciation, respectively.
But the satisfaction of the
philosophic interest in its moment as philosophic process
involves judgment upon issues affecting the imperial self—
on the basis of the understood degree to which the known
subject and its objects provide content for, and at the same
time limit, the conception of what is for the best
real) welfare of the total self, actual (achieved under­
standing) and potential (understanding previsioned on the
basis of the achieved).
In short, philosophic judgment
is passed in terms of what is understood by each to be the
most ideal, because most real, self; and hence involves
the self-discipline of delayed and orderly and exhaustively
sought decision.
To the extent that the learning process is of such
a nature it is philosophic.
Non-philosophic processes
include reverie, suspension of judgment without effort to
assemble materials for a judgment, jumping to conclusions,
blind flight to authority of person, book, or institution.
Imperfectly philosojjhic processes are exemplified by
sentimental logics which emphasize the subject at the expense
of objects, and mathematical logics which emphasize the
objects to the deluded exclusion of the subject.
Both types
are 'untrue to the ideal (potential) self, and are only
approximately true to each actual self.
The direction of philosophizing is self-determined
both in the sense of the regulative intent to realize the
ideal (potential) self and the sense of being conditioned by
each self*s actual sense of reality.
There is a tension
between the actual self and the potential self— a tension
arising from the desire of the actual self to arbitrate its
philosophic problems in its own interest, for its own
greatest satisfaction and well-being.
The philosophic problem
is a recognition of obstacles to that best satisfaction or
The philosophic process is a business of throwing
light on the obscurity, by ascertaining all claims and weigh­
ing them, in an effort to determine what is the best satis­
faction and in what it consists.
It may be none of the
interests now possessed, but an interest intimated and
Thus the philosophic process is a deliberately
cultivated interest in understanding what the best interest
is at any given time and how to possess it and how other
interests are related in value and instrumentality to it.
Jamesf remark-*- that a man fttrusts his temperament”
above his logic means that a man trusts the whole above the
part, that is, he trusts a judgment toward which the whole
weight of his experience inclines him rather than a judgment
toward which a merely academically employed logic or special
scientific method compels- him.
The logic that is compelling
to any man is the logic which cla.rifies his total experience,
not the special method which stultifies or denies what he
feels to be its most real part; and under total experience
William James, Pragmatism, p. 7.
must be included not only actual knowledge but also the
implicit intent to assign to actual knowledge only that
place and significance which belongs to it in the total real.
This intent is what gives rise to the tension between the
known real and the total real.
to the total self.
It orients the actual self
To philosophize is simply to make this
intent progressively more explicit and detailed.
The journey from the actual self to the potential
self is a matter of converging upon an infinitely distant
The route to that point is different for each
traveler, each is at a different point on his own road.
starting point and experience of each is unique and never
shared or communicated.
Flashes of greeting occur momentarily
when the travelers come within hailing distance.
The under­
standing which lengthy discourse among even sympathetic minds
generates is usually mainly a greater understanding of self
and a clearer awareness of the distance between the experience,
logic, and outlook of those minds.
The unity of ultimate
intent to attain truth generates in each the present truth
that modes of- experience and bases of judgment are disparate
and distant, and that truth itself is therefore differently
conceived by each.
Now to set forth the character of the. third moment
of philosophy known as the philosophic solution.
It is the
moment of relative philosophical repose and satisfaction as
opposed to the relative philosophical instability and dis­
satisfaction which characterized the philosophic problem,
and as opposed to the orderly purposive movement which
characterized the philosophic process.
The central character of the philosophic solution is
that it is a solution whose relevance to the problem of the
person concerned is understood by that person.
A philosophy
of life, in Allport’s conception, is simply o n e ’s modus
vivendi formulated, clarified, and integrated— not just as a
system of concepts but as a coordination of o n e ’s beliefs
with o n e ’s practice in a meaningful and realizable program.
For Allport, maturity of personality and philosophy of life
are the same thing.
The mature person is, as mature, a
subject who has cultivated the ability to envisage or intuit
his interests as interrelated in value and instrumentality.
He is self-endowed with the ability to generate light enough
to encompass and order his interests in the order of their
reality and hence of their value.
To adopt blindly or to concentrate o n e ’s Y^hole
attention on a philosophy of life notably at variance with
the one of which his interests and habits are the vital
exemplification could not be said to be getting a philosophy
of life.
Such a philosophy would be possessed verbally only,
not vitally.
It would be understood only in the sense of
being recognized as a conceptual system internally consistent,
judged by its definitions, postulates, and inferences.
it would not be philosophy to anybody, for example, who would
be repelled by the fact that it justifies or transcends
common sense, that it is incompatible or compatible with
science, scientific method, religion, religious intuition,
social science, or ’
w ith the beliefs of persons who lack or
have prestige in his eyes— or incompatible with anything else,
including the learner!s ability to make sense of the discourse
involved, and his awareness that there is any philosophic
Relevant to these conclusions also are the
observations made in connection with the survey approach,
where it.was pointed out that a suitable approach must begin
with a student where he is, proceed with him as he is able,
and not set a priori a single goal to be attained by all
students, but consult the general direction and quality of
result implicit in each student.
The unique suitability of a philosophy for its maker
only was also shown to be the truth underlying Hocking*s
assertion that philosophy is objective and sayable, for this
assertion does not necessarily identify philosophy with
ideas external to the beginner.
If, as Hocking claims, the
professional philosopher claims his name by reason of his
having uncovered the presuppositions and hence the meaning
of the philosophic enterprise for himself, then each student
can claim to have attained to philosophy not by the addition
of tilings sayable never heard by him till now, not by the
addition of more "facts," but only by reason of having un­
covered the presuppositions and meaning of his own beliefs,
his examination of them, his need to understand what every­
thing is all about.
The discussion of the different logics which some
philosophers identify with philosophy is significant of the
fact that any beginner whose major interest is a particular
way of doing things— mathematical reasoning, scientific
method, divining the motives of people, religious intuition
or feeling— will, tend to identify philosophy with the
rationale of that major interest, so that other brands will
simply not be philosophy to him at that stage of his
philosophic development.
The study of the issue of openmindedness versus
answers as the end of philosophy resulted in the conclusion
that they represent compatible and complementary aspects of
the self-understanding that is the goal of philosophy in
any mind.
-They are simply each student’s reflex conscious­
ness of his own functioning ideas of what everything is all
about, and of the sketchiness and improvable quality of that
self-consciousness and of those ideas.
They are not the kind
of mental state that can be effected in a mind by an agent
external to it.
They are together a quality or habit only
of those minds which cultivate it, a habit of seeing things
together, related as ends and means in the order of their
Nor is philosophy a static homogeneous whole, like a
picture puzzle, parts of which exist in the student*s mind
and the remainder of which exist in the teacher or in books.
Philosophy as solution is not all of one piece nor any one
thing, but a kind of thing which remains in the mind which
has generated it as the vigor and style of that mind.
is not philosophical literature nor mental calisthenics, but
a self-produced unity of understanding, which can be mentally
distinguished, but not really separated, into subject, process
of understanding, and meanings understood.
In the philosophic
solution, as in the philosophic problem and in the philosophic
process, the fundamental relation is between the student and
his own meanings.
Subsidiary only are the external relations
to the teacher and the classical authority.
But although merely subsidiary, the teacher is in­
The fact that the student is the prime agent of
his own philosophy, working with materials to which he alone
has direct access, attacking problems which only he feels,
with a sense of reality developed in terms of his unique
experience, does not mean that every callow youth inevitably
grows a consciousness of the philosophic aim and develops
the sophisticated art of facing life philosophically.
that aim and that art are born of recollection* and
recollection implies opportunity, time, and inclination to
get acquainted with, oneself*
Class periods in which from two
to five hundred students are present are the subtle opportunity
offered by mass education for recollection*
And the opportunity
is further enhanced by the requirement that those present
recollect the thought of somebody else.
Yet what is being
attempted— if it is— is really indispensable, namely, teach­
ing what philosophy aims at and how it proceeds.
Somehow, by
being told, by being shown, by studying and reporting on
models, each student must be made aware of what a philosophical
problem is, what philosophizing is, what a philosophical
solution is, or he will have nothing to guide his own philo­
sophical activity.
But even if philosophical illustrations
give him a momentary idea of the nature of the philosophic
enterprise, what is there to insure the persistent relevant
use of it in his own life and thinking?
What support of his
philosophic morale would there be, in its feeblest stage, if
his initial efforts were not seconded by the easy personal
availability of a teacher who had prestige in his eyes?
At this point it becomes appropriate to decide the
issue of the dissertation as a whole:
Are existing types of
general introduction to philosophy suited to their purpose?
The general character of existing types of general
introduction to philosophy is that they present philosophy
as an impressive carnival float whose theme is problem, Logic,
or Solution (differently conceived according to the temperament,
occupation, nationality, religion, etc., of its maker or
The effort of the advocate of any particular
philosophy seems to be to get his students to agree that
his philosophy is the truest to the nature of things, and to
climb aboard his float and ride where it takes them— forget­
ful that whatever truth and reality may be, each person’s
actual interests and ideas constitute what he thinks reality
is and what he is meeting reality with, as a going concern.
These are the facts for him, however much he may be
academically impressed with facts and methods and ideals
which are not functional in his present outlook.
less, philosophy as presented in the various types of approach
in the text-books is a system of ideas external to the persons
who have come to study philosophy.
Yet, in contrast with what they show philosophy to be,
at bottom all philosophers believe and at the beginning of
the introductory course they all declare that the raison
d ’etre of studying philosophy is the clarification of each
person’s own philosophical opinions, as Cushman said.
was seen to be of the opinion that these personal philosophical
opinions are not an available method of approach to their
own clarification, and that such clarification is to be
sought rather through the integration of the student’s
(presumed) literary, historical, and geographical knowledge
with the history of philosophy.
This opinion, mutatis
mutandis. is shared by all advocates of approaches through
ideas other than each student*s own stock.
The attack is
indirect— a business of taking the student through a gallery
of portraits with the coy promise, Now one of these pictures
is a picture of yourself and y o u will recognize it| or with
the portentous pronouncement, That* though y o u cannot now
understand it, is a picture of what y o u and life really are.
However, in Robinson and in Hocking*s approaches
there is a belated attempt on the part of the text-book
writer and the teacher to get a direct approach under way
instead of assuming that the clarification of personal philo­
sophical opinions will automatically parallel the studentTs
direct concern with other people*s ideas.
For Robinson,
suspicious of the effect of trying magically to hoist the
beginner all at once into a world of unreal problems, methods,
and solutions, takes the trouble to try to contact the student’s
own beliefs at the outset, although he does so only generically,
under the pathetic title, Everyman1s Philosophy.
And at the
e n d o f the first course he prescribes, with minute directions
as is proper, how each student shall write an account of his
own philosophy, lured, if possible, by the prospect of winning
the y e a r ’s philosophy prize.
Here is realistic awareness that
the assumption of an automatic carry-over from watching other
people clarify their ideas and purposes to clarifying o n e ’s
own is over-optimistic.
Hocking, too, it has been seen, has designed his
approach through the types of philosophy as a sort of trap
for the scattered, unrelated beliefs of newcomers to phil­
osophy, by the aid of which they might identify their beliefs
as leading them perhaps— heavens 1— elsewhere than to the
true city of Objective Idealism, and if so, be forewarned.
At the end of his Pilgrim’s Progress
(really his own progress)
he prescribes a written examination of conscience for each
student, a formulation of the student’s philosophy.
Why is it that none undertakes the directly sought
clarification of each student’s opinions?
Is not this direct
attack the one exemplified par excellence in the literary
remains of all the philosophers?
Why is the clarification of
each student’s philosophical opinions sought in the main in­
directly or as a final w e e k ’s application or imitation of
other philosopher’s activity?
Transfer occurs for sure only
when it is directly taught, and is cultivated by the student
as a habit.
The answer seems to be the philosophy teacher’s un­
critical acceptance of the conditions of mass education for
the teaching of philosophy to beginners.
Driven to under­
stand the relation of those conditions to the aim of phil­
osophy, the learning capacity of the student, and the prestige
of teacher and subject, the philosopher may now well inquire
whether philosophy is the kind of thing which fits into the
picture of mass education.
For it would be fantasy or
charlatanry to simulate, with imposing apparatus, what
simply does not in the nature of the case occur.
One is
not teaching philosophy if he simply hopes to heaven that
his discourse will be followed in his students by an imitation
of what his discourse exemplifies— if it does really exemplify
He is not teaching philosophy if he conceives
his task as requiring the memorization of the definitions
and formulas of a canned system, and the handling of such
propositions in logical form.
He is not teaching philosophy
if he conceives his task as debunking his student*s ideas,
even if he substitutes his own for their acceptance.
teaches philosophy only in the sense that he somehow elicits
from each student an awareness, evokes from him an expression,
of his own philosophical problems, and carries him through to
a judgment of how far his initial concrete problem is affected
by the thinking he has done about it.
In the light of the idea of philosophy developed in
this study, even the beginner*s course should lead to the
discovery of sense and meaning and relatedness in his habits
of life, so that richness of appreciation and of understanding
is added to habits of life already functioning.
The problems
of mass education have distracted the attention of teachers
of philosophy from the fact that they cannot assume that
this desirable effect is being realized by the teacher*s or
a book*s discoursing about matters whose relevance to the
student’s life escapes him for any reason, including the
reason that he was too thoughtless to ask himself from time
to time why he was studying philosophy and what it was.
teach on this assumption is to lose the opportunity of doing
the only thing which makes studying philosophy justifiable
and relevant to each student.
Too readily assuming that
lecturing, reciting, debating, theme-writing, and reading
books to be the only means available under the system of mass
education, and neglecting to analyse the teaching situation
in the first course and the idea of philosophy, teachers
conceive their task as a business of transmitting their own
philosophy, with the result oftentimes that they strip
beginners of confidence and satisfaction in the bent which
total previous training has given to their personality.
a procedure is like disconnecting the belt from the fly-wheel
of a machine, so that the built-up momentum and vitality is
no longer harnessed to the work it is able to do.
happens,- the student’s past is undone.
When this
His outlook dis­
His living and thinking and enjoyment remain
superficial instead of being tied in with the workable
wisdom back of his training that he could have come to under­
stand and enjoy.
And he is left not more mature, but merely
suspicious of ideas.
But can existing indirect approaches to philosophy be
taught to groups in such a way as not to offend against the
idea of philosophy?
Only supplementarily, if what is merely
a method of approach is not mistaken for the objective* for '
the idea of philosophy; if mass education be liberally
construed as not ordinarily requiring that the group be
engaged in a common problem, and if both students and teacher
realize and proceed on the understanding that each student is
the sole locus of the philosophic enterprise*
The only teaching method that is appropriate is the
teacherfs policy of making himself available to direct and
second the varied learning processes of his students as seems
best in each case with reference to each one's philosophical
This office is a matter of a personal relationship
with a student in conference or conversation ad r e m .
ing upon the attitude and intent of others present, whether
permitted to intervene or not, such a relationship will serve
a philosophic purpose for them also.
But such a policy is
not a method; it is an art cultivated by the teacher, the art
of making friends on the basis of common interest in the good
and the true.
A method is at best one incarnation of the idea of
Divorced from the consciousness of their basic
aim or identified with that aim, approaches to philosophy
repel students as a threat to their uniqueness as persons,
as inviting friendship with a body without life.
A method has
come to mean a mere fragment of an idea, an object abstracted
from its context of purpose.
So misunderstood, one method
will fall short of the multiple situation it is mistakenly
employed to meet.
Only an idea can begin to do justice to a
situation, for an idea exhibits the purposive principles
which innervate and order any given corpus of materials.
idea of philosophy developed in this study is not to be mis­
taken for just another method.
It is a structure of principles
resident only in minds able to grasp it, a consciously possessed
style directive of all methods.
It calls for that preparation
in and. enthusiasm for philosophy, that understanding of the
philosophic teaching situation in the first course, that
personableness, freedom, and support of the teacher which will
enable him to cultivate a philosophic friendship with each
Whoever employs existing types and text-books of
general introduction to philosophy in accordance with the
principles just outlined is using a suitable method of approach.
Less canny use of special approaches and of given text-books
may be fortuitously effective or even popular with students,
but it can hardly be said to be worthy of the teacher who
professes to be a philosopher, because it means carrying on
a program whose idea is apprehended only obscurely, confusedly,
and untruly to self.
When existing texts and types of approach are found to
be unsatisfactory , their unsatisfactoriness will be trace­
able, if the present study has reached legitimate conclusions,
to the breakdown of their users* assumption that they have a
general usefulness*
They lack general usefulness because of
the personal nature of the philosophic aim, problem, process,
and solution; because of the differences in literacy and in
literary pleasure between writer and teacher and student;
because of the varying susceptibility of students to the
_ philosophic prestige of this teacher, this type of approach,
this text-book, and this general interest (philosophy); and
because of the special nature of philosophic instruction
prescribed in what in Chapter Twelve are called proprietary
The overcoming of any one or of several of these dis­
abilities in the face of a given group of students would
involve close acquaintance with those students and their
individual differences, and with quite a large number of the
text-books and types and devices of approach studied in this
Close acquaintance that would be relevant to
the idea of philosophy is not something predictable in advance
or communicable by language, but is a quality cultivated by
each instructor with reference to each student.
It can be
cultivated by the instructor who, trained in philosophy and
in the idea of philosophy for beginners, undertakes, as
every text-book writer undertakes, to make clear to himself
and to each student who faces him what philosophy is and does
and how to become philosophical. . The distinctions and
principles brought to light in the present study should serve
to supplement and correct the comparatively restricted
personal experience of the average teacher and text-book writer
in the matter of selecting, arranging, and presenting literary
materials and of utilizing available external aids to philoso­
phizing .
The results of this study are not such as wholly to
discredit existing types of approach and of text-book, but
simply such as to exhibit the kind and degree of relevance
existing teaching instruments have to the philosophic aim,
to the conditions under which it can be realized with beginners,
and to the opportunities for, and support of, philosophic
activity that must be arranged if philosophic instruction is
to be ah r e m .
As for the implications of these conclusions for the
curriculum planning and officious bookkeeping which character­
ize mass education in philosophy, it is fortunate for philosophy
that the breach has already been made in primary and secondary
education, so that administrators on the university level
need only follow precedent.
Administrators are gradually
allowing themselves to be persuaded to wink at departures
from types of program which, however sanctified by tradition,
simply negate or pervert the objectives prescribed by the
administrator himself.
However, whether caution or pedagogical inertia is
responsible for the late attention given by philosophers to
individual differences in beginners, it ivould have been just
as uncritical to fall in line with changes found necessary in
early stages of education as to ignore them completely.
special character of philosophy and the special stage of
development of its students called for a special study, such
as the present one; a study springing from the admitted un­
satisfactoriness of existing ways of achieving the special
objective of its own field, and carried out by a student in
that field.
A certain habit of mind was required to discern the
general beliefs in terms of which critics passed judgment
upon specific phases of the various approaches to philosophy,
and also to work out the organic relations of these beliefs
in an idea, for an idea is not a mere enumeration or serial
aggregate of self-evident instructions.
And unhappily a
certain minimum intellectual candle-power will be required
in the person who undertakes to utilize this idea in
connection with the suggestions given, for he will have to
understand it first.
It will be difficult for the teacher
of psychology or of social science, even with the inane re­
assurance of the administrator who inducted him into the
department of philosophy, to bring to birth and recognize
the general notions of the idea of philosophy and subsume
under them the appropriate individuals.
It will be difficult
for him to grasp the significance of principles elastically
ordered according to their degree of generality and spheres
of application.
He will lack the experience and the power
to make the idea intelligible to himself and applicable by
He will seize upon the abstract principle of greatest
generality— the purpose to teach philosophy; but what that
means in terms of the available materials which at once
limit and make possible its realization will not see day in
his mind.
Lacking the power to light the way before himself,
how will he light the way-of his students?
How can he exhibit
philosophic enthusiasm, when the reality and value of his own
purposes is clouded, indistinct, and uncertain?
What force
will his plea to seek truth have since it will be only too
apparent that he has not experienced the value of finding thetruth about himself?
Apart from an understanding of the idea or theory of
the general introduction course developed in the preceding
chapter a new approach will be capable of being employed to
just as little effect and just as inappropriately as an
approach whose designer directed its construction on the
mistaken assumption of automatic transfer and of knowing
better than the student the nature and inherent direction
of his own beliefs.
Without keeping in mind the important
distinctions between a particular philosophy and the idea of
philosophy, between this or that system of philosophy and the
kind of activity it testifies to, between what philosophy is
for the professional and what philosophy must do for the
tyro just attaining miurity, between gathering a store of
scientifically attested facts or opinions and achieving an
understanding of the relative value ana possibility of realiz­
ation of o n e ’s interests— a teacher will neither see himself,
nor be in a position to teach his students, what it is
absolutely essential for them both to know, namely, what they
are trying to do, and how t h e 'available materials and activities
are related to that aim as body is to soul.
But to any teacher of philosophy who has made his
purposes clear to himself— and no one else can give him his
philosophy of the teaching of philosophy— the following account
of the general nature of a direct approach to philosophy may
provide cues for dealing with specific types of teaching
The concrete teaching situation within these
specific types is so numerous as to be available only to the
instructor who faces it.
The distance between even specific
types of situation and concrete situations gives rise to the
problem that must be dealt with by the intelligence of
individual instructors.
Consequently a study such as the
present cannot tell just how to meet a concrete situation in
all its detail.
The materials available— students, teacher,
literary materials available, curricular set-up, and the
like, are various and unequal in different situations.
If teaching the general introduction course in
philosophy means conceiving the objective (what philosophy
shall be for the beginner) and utilizing available external
aids or materials in terms of the psychological make-up of
the students concerned, then the primary job of the course
is to determine and follow the psychological make-up of each
student, for it is pivotal to the whole course.
If the
approach to philosophy must start from the student*s own
philosophical problems and proceed in terms of the sense of
reality already possessed by each student, then the student*s
formulation of his own philosophy ought not to be put off
until the course is almost over, but ought to constitute the
student!s program all through the course.
The most that can be done in that direction before the
event is to indicate, on the basis of the materials brought
to light, the conditions "under which beginners may be expected
to have sufficient interest in philosophy to become philosophers.
Such a discussion will comprise a statement of the forces which
must operate to elicit and support the student^s intrinsic
interest in philosophy.
What these forces are and how important
is their right functioning may be best shown by examples of
their partisan use in what have been called proprietary or
private institutions.
It is only too painfully evident that, as George Boas
has remarked,*^* in this country philosophy labors under the
disability of being the exercise of professors who are paid
to teach a funded body of doctrine.
How reconcile the idea
of philosophy with the command to regard and teach that
philosophizing as erroneous which arrives at conclusions
1 George Boas, The Adventures of Human Thought, p. 419.
incompatible with authoritarian pronouncements? with the
command to teach as uniquely philosophically true a system
whose credentials are primarily the fact that it most
cogently "demonstrates" certain beliefs vital to certain
religious or political or economic movements?
So conceived,
philosophy is simply the instrument of propaganda and is
prevented from being its judge.
Yet, even so conceived, philosophy might possibly
serve a valuable philosophic purpose*
It might have the
valuable effect of giving to students trained and moving
comfortably in a given culture and tradition an understanding
of the rationale of that tradition.
Such a f m o t i o n , rightly
undertaken, is the first job of philosophy sanely conceived;
branching out into alien traditions should come later.
student thus initiated has had the chance to make himself
articulate, to develop the ability to give reasons for the
faith that is in him, whether that faith be religious,
artistic, scientific, economic, or political.
With some
students, the undisputed prestige which such a faith enjoys
in their milieu is sufficient incentive for them to study
its theoretical bases.
But such sheltered spots are not the
rule, and the homogeneity of minds is mainly apparent.
side these island worlds— which means sometimes, outside a
pile of masonry— such students usually encounter difficulty
in regarding as real either their hot-house philosophy or
certain phases of the world into which they have stepped,
depending upon how completely their inoculation has taken.
Some students are immune to start with, for any of the many
reasons touched upon in chapters two to nine of this study.
But in so far as a successfully inoculated student of
philosophy so conceived remains in his insulated world
physically or by mental ostrich-tactics, he has made the
philosophic progress of having understood the rationale of
the life to ivhich he chooses to limit himself.
His philosophy
has been an intrinsic interest, supported by the prestige
which it and its teacher enjoy in his world, and developed
with the aid of literary materials, discussions, conferences,
and literary effort seen by the student as significant to his
aim to understand his purposes.
But without the fact of the undisputed and oftenaffirmed prestige of this kind of philosophy within a given
circle, and without the student*s complete acceptance of the
well-foundedness of that prestige and his being strongly
impressed thereat, this brand-of philosophy fails to interest
It slips into the category of completely external
approaches, and as such is simply not philosophy for those
of whose outlook it is not recognized to be the rationale,
but simply a rationalization.
And incidentally, to assert
that any great system represents the rationale of an underg r a d u a t e d beliefs is to assert, ridiculously, that a parrot
is in possession of a content of meanings which the funded
experience and ripe reflection of thinkers of the first
water have taken centuries to develop.
Such a system may possibly represent the ideal term
of a member of a tradition’s philosophical thinking, but how
shall the teacher of philosophy determine beforehand, or what
competence has he, as philosopher and as teacher of philosophy,
to prescribe what shall be the term of a student’s philosophical
Is it at this point that it becomes appropriate for
the philosopher to submit to the statesman and to the ecclesi­
astic and to the industrialist turned financer and directer of
education? and teach only that brand of philosophy which his
administrative superior finds to be in keeping with the trans­
mission of a tradition structural to civil or industrial or
ecclesiastical society?
And who is to determine whether this
alleged necessity of a given philosophy is the case?
Practically this issue is decided by the administrative
superior, and practically
(Kant assenting, Socrates dissent­
ing) such decision is accepted by teachers of philosophy
either from conviction of the truth of the system of philosophy
or from recognition of a broader philosophic outlook in the
administrator than they themselves possess or by reason of
having accepted appointment, in a proprietary institution.
The second reason just mentioned is the reason of those who
make a distinction between being a philosopher and being a
teacher of philosophy— a necessary distinction in places
where the assumption operates that the teacher of philosophy
need not be much of a philosopher himself, for in such places
philosophy has deservedly -fallen into contempt, being
confused with not knowing what everything is ail about.
Even professional recognition among teachers
been forthcoming, under the general provision of academic
freedom, of the right of administrative officers in
proprietary schools to restrict the right of free speech of
teachers within the limits of the institution*s special
However, such professional recognition is accompanied
by the stigma that the institution is professedly not concerned
Y/ith the discovery and teaching of truth in all of its aspects,
and henc,e by the penalty of being known as not entitled to
public support in view of the school’s avowed intention to
serve special interests rather than the common good.
Practically,, then, the teacher of philosophy, by
accepting an appointment in a proprietary school, thereby
accepts the duty to achieve the idea of philosophy within
the limits of the institutional tradition or purpose to
whose transmission he makes himself a party, and of that
tradition as defined or in some way indicated by the
institution’s officers.
1 American Association of University Professors Bulletin.
XXVI, no. 1, "Annual Report of Committee A", pp. 42-45.
Philosophy in such institutions suffers particularly
from an evil generated partly by the irrelevant grounds on
which students enroll in them and partly by each school»s
identification of its special purpose with the common good.
F e w students who enroll in an institution classed as an
institution for the furtherance of special interests are
aware of the special significance of the type of training
they have let themselves in for.
Nevertheless, in such a
set-up any objection on the part of enrolled students to the
brand of philosophy that is taught in conformity to official
prescription, with the aid and in the spirit of approved
texts, may rightly be regarded as unfounded and expressive of
the students* ignorance of the significance of having enrolled
in that institution.
With reference to such students the
teacher of philosophy knoT
ws he is not teaching philosophy if
he is faithful to his commitments to the explicitly special
purpose of his institution.
He is prevented from making a
real distinction between a particular system and the idea of
philosophy, for he has committed himself to teaching the
identity of'the idea- of philosophy with a particular system.
He can only point out that the total lack of philosophical
interest of such students in the brand of philosophy he is
prescribed to teach is due at least in fatal part to the fact
that this particular system has no connection with the idea
of philosophy for them, and hence no philosophic interest for
Of course, the expression of such a judgment would be
treason in the eyes of officers of the institution.
alternative is unworthy of a philosopher and incompatible
with the teacher’s self-commitment to the explicitly special
purpose of the institution.
It is to try to appeal to
students’ esthetic or logical or historical interest by
teaching the prescribed system, if possible, much as a teacher
of literature would teach a poem or a teacher of mathematics,
Principia Mathematica— as an artistic or architechtonic
But, to repeat, this expedient is unjustifiable
in one. who has committed himself to teach the system as
philosophically true, unless the teacher has reason to
believe or to presume that it is officially condoned.
such is the case, the teacher of philosophy is only nominally
such, and philosophy is not the gainer but the loser, for it
becomes associated in students’ minds with entertainment and
games, which are mere matters of taste and skill.
The decision
whether a teacher of philosophy who does not accept the
prescribed system as philosophically true can be considered
a suitable teacher of the truth of that system- rests with
administrative superiors.
So does the obligation to inform
themselves on this point, if an obligation exists.
The teacher of philosophy in the proprietary school,
then, finds his work suitably and effectively seconded by
the prestige which his subject enjoys with reference to those
students whose experience and dominant aim make them susceptible
to that prestige; but he finds his work with other students
just as decisively blocked or even leading to a perverted
notion of philosophy *
He may start ’
w ith each student»s stock
of beliefs, as outlined below, but he is committed to bring­
ing them into a prize court for confiscation in the interests
of the country of the prize crew.
It is a practical application
fata volentem ducunt. nolentem trahunt.
There remains the task of indicating the program of a
general introduction course which could be conducted under
auspices favorable to the essential idea of philosophy.
is a program available— ■theoretically— only to teachers of
philosophy in public institutions where the instruction is
aimed at the common good in terms of the truth in all its
In such institutions, by contrast with the type
referred to above, the teacher has accepted an appointment
to translate into fact the essential idea of philosophy and
is thereby debarred from the attempt to propagandize for any
single brand of philosophy, including his own.
He is committed
to carrying out his program in terms of each studentfs philo— ,
sophical interest.
Luckily for the teacher of philosophy, it is more
interesting for adolescents to talk about their own philosophical
problems than to rehearse the mental processes of other thinkers,
because they are on familiar ground with their own very real
working convictions, than which there is no better argument*
If a m a n ’s name is the sweetest music in his ears, then his
voice and pen, formulating his attitude toward life, the
reasons back of it, the results he expects from it, are the
best guarantee of interest in the first course*
The bull-sessioner and the soap-box orator bear
witness to the interest of the layman in the things which the
teacher of philosophy promises his students to treat system­
atically and critically.
The teacher of philosophy has a
professional monopoly on the subjects which a collegian never
tires of talking about, but which he is never taught to talk
about in a sustained fashion undisturbed by emotion.
collegian may not have a professional interest in the
natural or social sciences or in art, but he always has a
philosophic interest in what he knows of these fields.
is always curious about their implications for the good life
in a way he can understand and feel to be real.
His constant
effort is to formulate a better and more satisfactory state­
ment of what the good life is.
He is trying to state just
what he is aiming at and what he considers v^orth while.
The beginner in philosophy is at an age at which he
experiences an acute need to know for sure just what every­
thing is all about anyway.
What makes him curious about
academic philosophy, if he is, is that it is asserted to
give a clear and convincing understanding of what everything
is all about.
With such an understanding and clear sense of
what he does and wants and knows he feels that he can face
life as a unit, a definite and well-ordered personality, an
integer instead of a heap of fractions.
For this is the g o a l -
different for each person— toward which he gropes whenever he
turns from collecting new facts in biology, psychology,
history, literature, sociology, religion, and so forth, and
asks himself how these things are related to one another and
to the good life.
The beginner, in desperation or in obedience to
previous training, turns to others for the answer, not
realizing that he already has within him the only judge,
sense of reality, and decisive materials of an answer that
he will vitally understand.
Each beginner*s different mental
content, slant, and sense of reality make him the sole possible
developer of a significant philosophic answer, and the sole
judge of the reality of the answer as far as his willingness
to act on it is concerned.
That answer is the direction in
which his living and thinking are even now taking him.
only philosophizing he is really interested in at this time
is the discovery of that direction, the factors which determine
it, its possibilities, desirability, eventuation.
By the
time he got to college he had the elements of his fundamental
philosophy already in him.
They are his habits, his working
convictions, his aims, his daily round of interests.
are in a loose, chaotic state in his consciousness, although
functional in his behavior; and the pattern of relations
that their conceptual formulation would reveal is unsuspected
and unappreciated.
The job of the teacher is to have the
student bring all this to light, to look at himself thus
objectified, and to formulate these materials in as coherent
and clear a fashion as they permit.
This document tells the
student, at any given stage of its preparation, his de facto
answer to what everything is all about.
It is by repeatedly re-thinking and re-working these
materials that the student brings to light the problems of
his philosophy, his burning questions.
He uncovers connections,
blanks, obscurities, contradictions in his fund of beliefs,
habits, and aims, as is to be expected from their different
He is faced with the philosophic task of evaluating
his aims in the light of his equipment, his beliefs in the
light of relevant evidence, and the sources of his beliefs.
In each person is a new and differently mixed aggregate
of elements from his social and biological past; hence each
o n e rs philosophy begins with his perception of the significance
of these elements in the proportions in which they operate in
As in a picture-puzzle, the pieces have to be put to­
gether in the pattern into which they actually fall by their
structure, before their meaning can be seen for sure.
anticipation of what the picture is going to be is the peculiar
pleasure of philosophizing.
It is the pleasure of discover­
ing for oneself what everything is all about, of seeing the
significance and the goal of what one is doing and thinking.
the student finds his bearings he
back of
urgency of making obvious adjustments.
sense of urgency is the impulsion
learning, and is a function of
the aim or
direction he perceives himself to be working toward.
book or an imprudent teacher can effect a violent, whole­
sale disposal of his beliefs, but self-criticism done system­
atically results in a gradual sloughing off of old ideas with
new ones taking over their job as oner's purposes become more
clearly'apprehended and defined.
This type of adjustment in
connection with philosophy is counselled by the idea of
philosophy in its guise as prudence.
It is understood, sought,
and achieved surely because lighted up by o n e ’s purpose.
multiplicity and complexity of the variables that go into the
making of each personality make the job of integration and of
direction-finding unique in each person, and constitute a
problem 'so nice and so indispensably constitutive of personality
that no man will in the last analysis entrust it to another.
It is the one large creative act that marks the change of a
trained animal into a person, and each person realizes that it
can be funked only at the price of remaining childish.
The job of the teacher of philosophy is an advisory
and inspirational job, not a legislative or propagandizing
He misses his calling if his inspiration and his
advice— personal and .through such forms of student activity
as reading materials, speaking and writing devices— are not
ad reiBf
He is a menace to the individual concerned if
instead of consulting the further development of each
studentfs possibilities he tears down and attempts to build
up the student into his own or any one *s else image and like­
On the other hand, he would fail both the individual
and society if he neglected to effect the student»s under­
standing of his lim tations and narrowness of outlook.
These two services set the job of the teacher of
philosophy, in the introductory course at least.
It is a
business of getting each student to work out his own idea
of the kind of thing philosophy is— on his own level, with
reference to his own unique life-job, of which it is simply
the clear, distinct, detailed understanding ; making him
aware of the direction his life has already taken and of the
necessity of attaining his objectives in inescapable
dependence upon the context of physical, social, and spiritual
fact and principle which he at once exemplifies and is caught
The student whose god is science has much to start with,
but not enough to live among men, for whole men must know
the bearing of science upon social and spiritual values, and
vice versa.
The student who has confined his attention to
social studies needs to be made aware of their physical and
spiritual contexts, and the student of the Ideas needs to
realize that he works only with dreams when he works apart
from natural and social fact.
But this is only a broad
sketch or frame or myth to be made to appear to each student
in the content of his own beliefs— the relation of his
interests to the whole of his world.
Philosophizing is not
mere vocation-finding in the narrow sense, nor merely
ancillary in the narrow sense, nor merely the development of
a social philosophy in the narrow sense; any more than it is
merely an attempt to master the rationale of a culture.
Philosophizing is a business of each i n dividuals conscious­
ness of his purposes radiating out from himself as an
individual to the social, physical, and spiritual environ­
ment in which and in terms of* which his purposes are going
to take their form.
It is a business of consolidating and
extending the sphere of the familiar and the functional
by rendering it intelligible in its value and instrumentality
and intelligibility has reference to inclusive judgments of
vital reality as opposed to single direct experiences of
dramatic quality, as in art, or to experiences of being
under command, as in religion.
How make the student the subject and agent of such
a program?
Since the aim is to bring to light the content
and direction of the studentTs interests, and since interests
develop over a period of time, it would seem that any activity
of the .student which enabled him to recall the growth of his
interests would constitute and further his working out of the
idea of philosophy.
The activity, to avoid monotony, must be varied enough,
carried along simultaneously on several fronts, to keep the
student directly making his own philosophy and at the same
time following similar processes in others, so that he can
quickly get his bearings on what he is doing by comparing
his own efforts with those of others and vice versa.
central labor of writing a fuller and fuller account— in
the form of an autobiography— of how he came to be the kind
of person he now is, doing the things he does, having the
interests, habits, and knowledge he now has, should be
relieved and lubricated by opportunities for speaking about
these things, for speech is easier than writing, although
alone unsatisfactory because the meanings are gone with the
And from reading both writing and speaking receive
inspiration as to content, form of thought and of expression,
which make them more grateful and satisfying than when
employed alone.
Diaries, if available, provide materials
for autobiography; thematic writing grows out of problems
that appear in the course of autobiography.
A notebook of
commonplace daily decisions and of striking thoughts written
down immediately will, over a period of time, provide
materials for arriving at a judgment of the value one
attributes to doing or failing to do something that appears
as a regular feature of o n e ’s daily life, and thus is an aid
in clarifying o n e ’s real functioning interests as opposed
to professed ideals which are realiy inoperative velleities.
Such a notebook is a regular feature of the lives of members
of religious orders who take progress in their chosen ideal
of life seriously enough to plan it and check it; and recently
Professor Paul Weaver of Stephens College, in an unpublished
paper read at the annual meeting of the Southwestern
Philosophical Conference, 1959, outlined a similar recording
device as a feature of his philosophic instruction.
The read­
ing of biographical and autobiographical materials and the
published letters of philosophers and other writers in their
interesting and philosophical moments is valuable for
illustrating to the student how philosophic problems emerge
from the matrix of currents and themes in individual minds
and are philosophically attacked by being understood in their
relation to experience of the minds concerned.
Occasions for speaking and writing about what a given author
was trying to do philosophically and how he went about it
tend to bring to greater clarity the mere reading of such
things, and to improve the quality of the student’s own self­
The very process of trying to formulate clearly
and coherently the direction and meaning of the items of
knowledge, habit, convictions, and purposes he finds in him­
self is the philosophic task, on his level, of making sense
of and resolving conflicts in his daily round.
As he proceeds
in such statement of what he thinks everything is all about,
he feels the need of talking about it with his fellows, with
his instructor, and with the authors of books that seem to
him to make sense.
And as long as that feeling of personal
need can be kept alive the student perseveres in his philosophic
attitude and endeavor.
As Goldensen said, philosophizing is
a matter of clarifying o n e ’s own meanings, and in the
philosophic chagrin which a student can be made to experience
at being pushed for a statement of simply what he means and
why the instructor has found his most effective pedagogical
In this connection it is desirable to point out that
the philosophic friendship between instructor and student
which was spoken of earlier is not to be thought of as a
watery sentimental Alphonse-and-Gaston relationship, with
student and instructor on the' same level.
The philosophic
interest of each is directed not to the person of the other
but to the truth achievement and-truth intent of the other,
and since these qualities are presumably in a richer state of
exemplification and cultivation in the instructor than in the
student, the philosophic regard of each for the other will be
Other things being equal, the instructor’s philosophic
influence on his pupil is a function of the difference in
philosophic potential which the pupil can sense to exist
"between himself and his instructor.
The strength of the
student*s regard for his instructor is the measure of the
extent to which he will push the latter in testing the latterTs
philosophic vigor and the measure of his docility in accepting
and working out the directions of his instructor.
The philo­
sophic understanding between them is not an understanding of
face-saving but one of complete candor, of trueness to self,
which involves willingness to be pushed to o n e ’s best statement
of meaning and truth and if necessary to admitting and defining
the point at which one falls short of it.
All this in the
interest of being true to o n e ’s idea of philosophy.
Where philosophy is elected by the students and where
a relatively homogeneous group faces the instructor— say, all
law students, all science students, all medical students, all
fine arts students— the task of the teacher is simplified to
a certain extent.
For a student who has chosen his field
comes to philosophy presumably to make clear to himself the
rationale of that field, for his own greater understanding and
The philosophic enterprise for such students
starts from and works out from each student’s experience and
grasp of his field and of all his interests.
Such students
will be aided by biographical and autobiographical materials
of men in their own fields, as well as by such materials in
the general history of philosophy, to work out their own
autobiography and outlook.
But for these people as for any
others it remains true that the philosophy of a person’s life
cannot be taken over from another person or from a book in
toto, but simply represents the tissue of purpose and fact,
clearly and thoroughly worked out, which constitutes a person’s
understanding of himself and of his place in the scheme of
It is incommunicable, as is o n e ’s personality.
Where such a homogeneous group faces the teacher, but
by curricular prescription, much depends upon whether the
prestige of philosophy in that institution, or the personal
prestige of the teacher of philosophy, or both, makes the
prescribed course also a matter of the students* intrinsic
philosophic interest, even when the teacher can in other
respects be true to the idea of philosophy.
However, prestige
in a philosopher does not inevitably operate to philosophic
purpose in his students, for it can be so all-determining as
to make its victims
(or its benefactees) believe more in the
reality of an unattained and faith-conjectured ideal than in
the reality of the interests they now enjoy.
Where this over-,
effect takes place, where the actual sense of reality is
ignored in favor of a faith-accepted version of the true
total (potential) self, all contact with philosophy has been
Only when there is a vital tension between an actual
sense of reality and a potential sense of reality— a tension
created by some understanding of the direction and organic
growth of the present sense of reality— can philosophy be
Where a teacher enjoys the prestige— which means,
is so known by and so knows the student as— effectively to
suggest to him the direction of growth implicit in the
student»s own life and thinking, so that the student
recognizes the justice of the suggestion, prestige has
served a philosophic purpose; the philosophic interest has
been elicited and engaged.
Where the instructor knows for
sure just what everything is all about, he will be likely
to affect his students unphilosophieally, because he will
teach his own opinions as identical with philosophy and as
communicable information.
Where students interested in several or all fields,
or even students of widely different preparation in and
grasp of the same field, are permitted to enroll for a
general introduction to philosophy, the activity of the
teacher of philosophy toward the group as a group is almost
Even telling what philosophy is and pointing
out examples of philosophizing in o n e fs speech and in literary
materials is addressed to no one in particular.
One arrow has
to hit every inch of the target; philosophic buckshot or
shrapnel does not exist.
Wholly individual contacts become
necessary, because such radical heterogeneity obtains that
the concept of prestige itself is stripped of all apparent
connection with the assumption of a common-to-all criterion
of philosophic truth.
For prestige is related to the f m o t i o n ­
ing interests of people and speaks with effect and reality
only to those functioning interests.
Prestige is operative
not exclusively in terms of the remote ideal of total truth,
hut in terms of each person*s psychological distance from
that total truth, and that psychological distance from the
total truth and the vital tension between them are different
for each person, and the situation is complicated by the
different major interests of people, so that they live each
in his o i m world.
Prestige is a matter of belief^ people
believe differently and are affected accordingly.
a group, an instructor in philosophy gives a single impression
interpreted variously by different students.
Only by deal­
ing with them individually can he, by virtue of his experience
with direction the philosophic growth of many different
minds, be philosophically inspirational and directive to
widely different minds— minds widely different in their
major interests.
Yet even in such a motley crew the instructor may
find the lack of common vocational purpose or of shared
experience partly compensated by an encouraging literacy
among his students.
Where students are articulate, they
offer the possibility of being lured— seduced, in Hudson*s
phrase— into that minimum coherent formulation and appraisal
of their interests and purposes which there is time for in
the first course to which students tend with fierce restraint
to limit themselves.
Where such skill already exists and is
savored, it can find in the philosophic enterprise its
greatest stimulation and its greatest challenge, for its
subject is closest home and most familiar yet least known
and most mysterious.
But where reading, writing, and speaking are painful,
slow, inaccurate, and incoherent, the language skills
foundational to philosophizing themselves remain to he laid;
and the double or quadruple job facing the aspirant is
formidable even to one elect.
And where there is no acquaint­
ance with the mother languages of philosophy, it only
complicates instead of clarifying the studentfs self­
revelation to suggest that he divide and rule it according
to the traditional partition of philosophy, and thus make
contact with the inspiring self-revelations of the great.
It is not the instructor of philosophy, and it may not
even be the students themselves— although they are pretty
well permitted to call the tune to ?jhich they shall dance in
their previous education— who are to blame for coming to
philosophy (or to the age at which responsible self-hood is
indicated) so unskilled in the human art of literacy that
they neither have nor can talk and write coherently about
their distinctively human interests and aims, and look upon
concern with and proficiency in those skills with an air of
superiority which is denied the plants and animals whose
mode of life they exemplify by choice.
Faced with such primitives, the teacher of philosophy
is practically limited to calling, attention to what he is and
stands for with reference to the civilized living of which they
enjoy only the physical advantages.
He can only point out
that because they do not function with ease in civilized
ways above the physical and aggregational levels, they have
no enjoyment of them, and are cut off from understanding the
desirability of something, they have never experienced the
desirability of.
He can only point out that civilized living
is not something that just happens whether people know what
it is or not, or whether they really want it or not; that it
is a business of knowing and seeking the things that satisfy
now and in the long run, for the individual and for the
group; that the aim of education is to give people such
facility in all the elements of civilized living, such enjoy­
ment of its returns, and such an understanding of its nature
and goal that people learn to prefer that mode of living
because of its superior benefits all along the line; that
philosophy is simply each person*s awareness of the extent
to which his continued participation in the benefits of
civilized living implicates and is dependent upon his use of
his intelligence.
In this connection, the philosophizing which is
relevant to the philosophic interests of the over-privileged
will appear to be reactionary rationalization to the under­
privileged, and that which is relevant to the philosophic
interests of the under-privileged will appear to be radical
revolutionism to the over-privileged.
The philosophizing
of the over-privileged will, if true to the idea of philosophy,
tend to an understanding of the limits to which human beings
permit themselves in given times and places to be used as
means; and the philosophizing of the under-privileged will
tend, if true to the idea of philosophy, to an understanding
of the degree of participation in the benefits of civilized
living which concerted intelligent effort can use the
physical and institutional resources of the community for.
But in each case the tendency is toward realism in the
interests of idealism, toward the factuality which limits
at the same time that it provides the only materials for
and renders possible the realization of purposes or values.
It is appropriately the teacher of philosophy, as
concerned ex professo with the common good, whether within
the individual or in the group, who^ offers opportunity to
disparate elements of the (assumed and intended) democratic
community to come to a full consciousness of their
respective statuses in the group life, of their inter­
dependence, and of their being at the mercy of their under-
standing of their purposes as individuals and as a group.
Each teacher of a special subject-matter serves a different
interest in his students, with the result that the student,
before he begins systematically to philosophize, reflects
the special interests of his several teachers.
If, as at
present obtains, each teacher is required to stay within
his field of competence in the class room, the student is
simply a shelf of pigeon-holes, some on the way to being
filled, others empty and overlooked.
Added to the natural
unrelatedness of these spaces in the mind of the student,
there is the ignorant practice of some teachers who convey
by word or attitude the impression that life is only physical
science or only social science or only mathematics or only
religion or only art.
Two things are needed effectively to overcome this
anti-civilizing and anti-philosophic teaching condition.
The first concerns teachers themselves.
It is the recognition
and exemplification to students and public by teachers of the
pressing truth that one-sided views of life are fatal to
civilized living.
Such recognition and practical action
must work from the inside out, from faculty to students; it
is possible through departmental and interdepartmental
conferences or professional activities of a faculty as a
whole or of representative members of several departments
or colleges or schools within an institution and even between
This kind of recognition and its effect on
the teaching of special fields builds up the prestige
required to elicit the interest and the imitation of students,
who, not having vital experience of the value of consulting
their larger welfare, are not moved by verbal reasons of the
teacher of philosophy.
Then, with the way for such breadth of view and of
action paved by teachers themselves, the opportunity must be
presented to the students to do what the partial program of
non-philosophic classes forbids, and that is to talk, write,
and read about the mode of life they are already living in all
its phases, and thus to come to a recognition of the importance
of intelligently developing each phase.
Besides the opportunity
presented in limited fashion by class meetings, a forum club
in which students from all departments are encouraged to
contribute to the clarification of purposes provides occasion
for those participating to learn not to disparage or to dis­
card important elements in their previous training, but to
treat each element with the objectivity that its importance
for their lives, inclusively understood, demands.
constant reference of their thinking to their own lives as a
whole is necessary if they are ever to realize that all the
arts and sciences— not just one or some— grew out of life
needs and are significant only by reason of their satisfaction
of those needs.
In this fashion only will they appreciate the folly
of denying facts in one field merely because they cannot be
investigated by the method of another field; and the wisdom
of working with the materials at hand instead of living in
hopes and conjectures.
But without the cessation of ignorant propaganda
within special fields for the unique importance of those
respective fields for civilized living, and without teachers*
public exhibition of their articulate conviction of the
necessity of cooperation and mutual recognition for the
common good, the teacher of philosophy will work almost in
vain with students against the abuse of prestige by teachers
of special subjects.
It is his sad task, a scandal made
inevitable by the smallness of his colleagues, to point out
to students the ignorance, the unrealistic attitude, and the
potential disastrousness of unphilosophic specialists and
The philosopher is the Jeremiah, the Cassandra, the
Calamity Jane of education.
But the teacher of philosophy,
besides fulminating against evils,, must induce students to
accept the responsibility of saving themselves, and must
provide opportunity
and inspiration for them to be saved
by their ability to
prevision and experience apprehensiveness
of evils as threats
to their larger welfare. It is his
peculiar job to inspire and provide
occasion for students to
■understand the need of uniting what has been merely
methodologically separated, of distinguishing and order­
ing things which have been confused, and of assigning proper
limits to what has been too enthusiastically generalized.
will do so effectively if besides pleading with his students
to prefer the interests of the whole to those of the parts,
he takes issue with partial viewpoints among fellow teachers,
and brings attention to the superiority of his concern for
the common good either with the cooperation of his colleagues
or in the teeth of their refusal and continued preoccupation
with partial truth.
In sum, the direct general introduction to philosophy
is each student’s self-formulated attitude, outlook, and
program of life, conscious of its purposes and assumptions,
of its criteria of value and reality, of its implication in
and dependence upon the context of physical, social, and
spiritual fact.
Supporting the s t u d e n t s intrinsic interest
in his total welfare and his progressive clarification of
that interest are external aids whose relevance to their job
is a matter of the student’s having achieved a certain
literacy and of the instructor’s possessing or vindicating
for himself and his work sufficient prestige to induce the
student to employ these external aids in bringing to light
what his larger welfare consists in.
These aids are auto­
biography, a notebook of routine decisions and striking
thoughts written while the student is still under their
influence, a diary, thematic writing arising from points of
stress in the autobiography and notebook, use of class
periods for illustrating to students and for their report­
ing on how philosophic problems arose and were philosophically
attacked in suitable biographical and autobiographical
materials, use of class periods for discussing philosophical
problems generated in the minds of students by their
implication in the school set-up, holding philosophical forums
in which students invited from several departments of the
institution discuss the relation of their respective special
fields to the common good, engineering or calling attention
persistently to the necessity of a similar cooperation among
representatives of special subjects in the faculty, and the
easy personal availability of the teacher of philosophy to
students singly or in groups for conference or for mutual
stimulation on philosophical topics.
Most of these valuable features are to be found in a
device advanced by McNutt and critically estimated in this
It exemplifies the truth that philosophic
weapons may be found in reading, tested in speech, and put
to work in writing; found in speech, tested, in writing, put
to reading; found in writing, tested in reading, and
put to work in speech.
Add to this the important conclusion
of this study that the materials of philosophic problems are
to be found only in each self, in the tension which exists
between the actual self and the potential self, a tension
which in one connection is the tension between single
interests in each self and the total welfare of that self,
and in another connection the tension between the private
good and the common good.
It seems to follow that where a
student could be led to employ McNutt’s comprehensive device
for finding and attacking a philosophic problem in accordance
with this idea, the maximum truly philosophic interest could
be generated, for it combines individual with group activity
and teacher aid in admirable fashion.
But each instructor must judge in the presence of all
the factors facing him in a given place, time, and student
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