Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

facts or proclaimed isolated truths; but in the book we are ncw considering he undertakes a serious philosophical inquiry, with a view to building up such a sound and complete system as will explain and justify his views, and at the same time give them a centre and unity.

This new method was not much to Pestalozzi's taste, nor was it in accordance with the general bent of his mind; it is probable indeed that he would never have adopted it, had he not been persuaded by his friend Fichte, the philo sopher, who, accustomed to generalizations, urged the Swiss philanthropist to formulate the philosophical principle which was at the root of his teaching and plans. Fichte even gave him certain directions for the work, to which Pestalozzi devoted himself for three years with incredible zeal and assiduity.

The Inquiry is the most important book published by Pestalozzi, but it is also the most unsatisfactory. The very qualities which are so essential in a work of this kindmethod and order-are sadly lacking; there are far too many unnecessary and tedious developments, and the whole book is prolix and obscure. The result was that it met with no success, as the author himself tells us in How Gertrude Teaches her Children, published in 1801. The passage is

as follows:

"For three years I took immense pains with my Inquiry, my chief object being to co-ordinate my favourite ideas, and bring my natural sentiments into harmony with my views on civil law and morality. But my work was but another proof of my incapacity.

"And so I reaped no more than I had sown. My book had no more effect than my previous labours, nobody understood me, and there was not a man who did not give me to understand that he considered the whole work a jumble of nonsense. Only to-day even, a man of some distinction, and a friend, said to me: 'Surely, Pestalozzi, you see now that in writing that book you did not really know what you

meant. "

Niederer, however, who was afterwards so intimately as scciated with Pestalozzi, judged differently. Early in 1801 he wrote to the author as follows:

"Your Inquiry strikes me as a rough but solid product of that psychological intuition which is peculiar to you; and so little does it seem to me to be nonsense, that I look upon it as containing a most valuable discovery, what indeed I may call the germ of your whole educational method. Your ideas are so profound and suggestive that I wish you could find enough quiet leisure to arrange them somewhat more clearly; but you must not attempt this till you have put your educational work on a satisfactory basis. The expression of your views will then probably be more general and complete, and more intelligible to men who are still unfamilar with the new point of view you have thrown open to us."

After having carefully studied this book, we have come to very much the same conclusion as Niederer. It certainly contains many suggestive truths, not yet generally recognized, which go far to explain some of the apparent contradictions in the life of the individual and of humanity, which might help to solve the political and social problems that torment our age, and which afford a broad and solid basis for Pestalozzi's method of education. But with all this, the book, if it is to be really useful, must be rewritten; and since the author did not follow Niederer's advice, some capable man is wanted, first to saturate himself with Pestalozzi's ideas, and then to restate them, and make of this nonsense, as it has been called, a new work, clearer and more systematic than the original, and leading to more definite conclusions.

After what we have said, it is evident that we cannot here attempt an analysis of the book. It will be enough to give a general notion of the subjects it treats, and cite a few of the most striking ideas. Pestalozzi's aim may be best stated in his own words:

"The contradictions which apparently exist in human nature affect very few people so keenly as they affect me. Even when I was beginning to grow old, I felt the same need that I had always felt of some sort of free and useful

1 This letter was written just after Pestalozzi had started his institu tion at Burgdorf.

activity, and this in spite of the fact that my activity has always been vain and sterile and productive of little con

tentment.

"But now at last I feel tired and sit down to rest, and yet I am thankful to say that though my heart is suffering and downcast, I am still able to ask myself with all the simpleness of a child: What am I, and what is humanity? What have I done, and what does humanity do?

"I am anxious to know what my life, such as it has been, has made of me; and what life, such as it is, makes of humanity?

"I am anxious to find out the real sources of my activity and of the opinions which have resulted naturally from the circumstances in which I have been placed.

"I am anxious also to find out the real sources of the activity of my race, and of the opinions which result naturally from the circumstances in which men are placed."

After having thus stated the philosophical problem, the author recognizes three different tendencies in himself, three natures, three distinct men as it were: the animai man, the social man, and the moral man.

The animal man is the work of Nature, a slave to the pleasures of sense, careless of the morrow, thinking only of to-day; but kindly, simple, and straightforward in his ways. He predominates in the infancy of the individual as in that of humanity.

The weakness of the animal man, however, leads him to engage in industry, and industry produces property, and property strife. Gradually, too, differences in power and capability produce differences in position, and the less fortunate are compelled to appeal to the powerful for crotection, to the thoughtful for guidance, and to the rich for food, and so the social state begins.

The social man is not merely the work of Nature; he is also, and in a much greater degree, the work of society, for it is society that makes him what he is by limiting his liberty and by subjecting him to rule, custom, and opinion. If childhood may be taken as a fairly correct image of the animal man, adolescence may be taken as that of the social man, for it is upon the youth that teachers and professors, schools and universities, lay hands to fashion him to their liking.

But the animal man is restless under the control of the social man, and so everybody tries to preserve for himself the liberty he denies to others, and pleasures that cannot be shared by all. And thus society, that aimed at putting an end to strife, has only changed its form and made it more general. The employment of force being forbidden, a hundred other ways of attack have been found, and antagonism has become so general that in civilized States every man is on his guard against every other. The kindliness and straightforwardness of the animal man have disappeared, and have been replaced in the social man by illwill and cunning.

Society has need of laws and government, and must therefore allow its rulers that right of force which is denied to the individual. Thus the social state, bringing with it on the one hand a spirit of dominion, and on the other a state of subjection, indefinitely increases men's natural inequalities as well as their pride and ambition, and the smothered strife that goes on throughout society has no longer for cause the simple desire to satisfy legitimate needs, but rather the pursuit of a number of refined artificial pleasures, limitless as the dreams of a diseased imagination.

The social state, then, in spite of its immense advantages for the progress of order, security, industry, science, and art, is powerless to improve the heart of man; nay, even religion itself, in so far as it is only a part of a social system, is like a mould which does but shape the surface The moral man is not, therefore, the work of society.

The animal man is the work of Nature, the social man the work of society, but the moral man must be the work of himself the result, that is, of the development and exercise of the sentiments of pity and justice, love and gratitude, faith and charity, which the Creator has set in the human soul. Each individual must have the desire to be higher, nobler, and better, and must endeavour to make himself so by working upon his own character. The result of such work is the moral man, and society is only really and entirely beneficial when it is composed of men of this sort.

True religion exists for the moral man alone; for man can only find God by the searchings of his own heart, and in so far as he still preserves God's image in himself. When this image is no longer there, he makes a god in his own

image. The religion of the animal man is idolatry, and of the social man deceit; but the religion of the moral man is truth, the principle and stay of all morality, and gives him not only the desire for unceasing self-improvement, but the means of carrying it out.

A man's progress is real, and his activity of value to himself, his family, and society, only when he is self-formed; for then only is all that he possesses really his own, then only has he a distinct individuality, with heart and mind no longer the slaves either of animal instincts or of the prejudices of society.

The foregoing sketch will give but a very imperfect idea of the Inquiry, for we have done little more than point out the general plan of the work, whereas it is in the digressions and developments that we often find the author's most striking ideas. Often, too, when he is led by his feelings and imagination either to satirize the institutions of his time, or paint in glowing colours the moral and intellectual progress to which he aspires, the philosopher is lost in the poet, and we come upon page after page of the most lofty eloquence. The book closes with the following touching reference to himself:

"Thousands of men (the work of Nature alone) yield to the corruption of sensual pleasures and desire nothing further; myriads accept the hard bondage of their needle, their hammer, or their crown, and also desire nothing further.

"I, however, know a man who was not thus contented. The innocence of childhood was his delight, his faith in men was such as is shared by few mortals, his heart was fashioned for friendship, his nature was love itself, constancy his chief joy.

"But as he was not made by the world, the world had no place for him, and finding him thus, without even asking whether the fault was his or another's, crushed him with its iron hammer as the mason crushes a useless stone.

"But though crushed, he still cared more for humanity than for himself, and set to work on a task from which, amid cruel sorrows, he learned things that few mortals know. Then he looked for justice from those whom in his retirement he still loved, but he was disappointed, for he

« ForrigeFortsæt »