3.1.1. From Timothy Dwight to Henry Ware: Being Awakened to the Civic Self
According to the concept of Dwight, the president of Yale University, discipline was often combined into various phrase structures, such as “Christian discipline”, “discipline of church”, “ecclesiastical discipline”, “discipline of person”, and “discipline of child” [47
] (pp. 372–373). In terms of meaning, Dwight’s concept of discipline did not refer to objective and static norms or regulations. The phrases “ecclesiastical discipline” and “Christian discipline” mainly referred to the complete spiritual education process of the educator to the educated, including private remonstrance and admonition in the presence of others, as well as excommunication [47
]. In the process of “discipline of church”, the whole body of the church group cannot be present and cannot be judged based on the whole [47
] (p. 374). It can be seen that discipline referred to a process of spiritual education. From the phrases “discipline of church”, “ecclesiastical discipline”, “Christian discipline”, and so on, the legal source of this kind of educational right was church laws or Protestant ethics. This phrase reflected that the reference for this kind of education was church laws or Protestant ethics.
From “ecclesiastical discipline” to “discipline of people” and “discipline of child”, the discretion of educational power referred to in the concept of discipline has gradually transitioned to secular power. For example, Dwight proposed that children are the onus of “discipline of church”, but the subject to “discipline” children was transferred to parents, teachers, and the government. Parents ought to educate and govern children. Dwight called “Christian discipline” a “system” [47
] (pp. 374–375, 379–380).
On the whole, Dwight’s concept of discipline expressed that the source of the principles of education was Protestant ethics. The specific implementation and discretion of educational jurisprudence were entrusted to secular governments, parents, and teachers. It can be predicted that this source of educational law would not, nor could it, provide for a more specific form of educational implementation, thus, accommodating the possibility of discipline’s educational jurisprudence changing into a mixture of Protestant ethics and secular ethics. On a more microscopic level, in addition to the state constitution, the local (school district or town) people’s customs and moral traditions are the actual source of educational jurisprudence. For example, Massachusetts legislated in the 18th century that local towns or town districts could have certain educational discretion within the scope of the state constitution [48
]. In this sense, the educational goal set by discipline is to cultivate students with a spirit of piety, on the one hand, and to cultivate citizens who conform to the rules of the customs of the people on the other.
Generally, at the beginning of the 19th century, whether there was internal consistency between the cultivation of piety and local civic virtue was controversial. In the controversy surrounding the choice of the Hollis professor of Harvard University from 1803 to 1805, Dwight firmly stood in the Jedidiah Morse camp of the so-called “orthodox Calvinism” school and opposed the liberal theology of Unitarianism represented by Henry Ware, who took the position of Hollis Professor of Harvard College [18
]. In the 1820s, Ware had a fierce argument with Leonard Woods, another orthodox Calvin teacher. This confrontation highlighted that the traditional educators who regarded themselves as orthodox Calvinists had a completely different understanding of the relationship between the education of piety and the education of secular moral norms from the liberal theology and the theory of faculty training represented by Mann after the 1840s.
In Woods’s discussion, all things in the world existed in different time dimensions. People were generally in a limited and terminal time dimension. Education may help people to open a gate and surpass this limited time. In this sense, educational time was a channel. At the same time, the time of education varies depending on whether people “know their sins”, which represents a sudden awakening of the spirit. No amount of moral education is futile before “recognizing sin”, before the starting point of education can be determined, or before entering into a state of humility and piety, and will not open up the essential time for education [50
]. Therefore, there is a time difference between the education of piety and the education of secular ethics.
In contrast, according to Ware, time was regarded as passing and moving. People lived in the flood of time, with birth, growth, education, good or evil, death, and other similar processes. With the development of “autonomous faculty”, humans had self-consciousness, probably produced spiritual and moral changes, and educational time also went by and spread [51
]. In this sense, everyone would necessarily experience educational time. Educational time moves with the development of “self-improvement” of the individuals. Human agency, self-consciousness, and self-initiative ensure that education and its effects are effectively extended in the time dimension. Therefore, the influence of secular ethics and the edification of Calvinism had certain internal consistency.
Dwight was similar to Woods. Dwight’s concept of education was based on the concept of “sin”. “Sin” preceded the “birth” of a child and preceded the moral category in time. “Sin” prescribed the limitation and limit of the meaning of a man or woman’s secular time. Discipline means to promote the awareness of “knowing sin”, and to promote enlightenment and insight into the obligations of a human. Only in this way could education time be generated and one with “sin” could probably become a “holy” individual.
In the past, as a puritanical phenomenon, mental discipline was consistent with the extensive concept of puritanical education. This consistency was mainly reflected in the understanding of human nature. In other words, this view of education holds the concept of sin. Sin was, first of all, the degeneration of spirit, belief, and the essence of human nature. It was a sin shared by the whole of mankind, rather than a responsibility of a certain modern individual or individuals with free will who had violated some moral norms or civil contract laws in morality. Therefore, from Timothy to Ware, we see not only the change in theological concepts and Christian theological concepts but also the appearance of the concept of cultivating individual will. Cultivating individual will is the premise of cultivating general will. General will means the consensus of citizenship based on contracts and law. Therefore, it can be said that the significance of the change in the concept of mental discipline from Timothy to Ware is that the civic consciousness had woken up.
3.1.2. William Torrey Harris’s Concept of Self-Activity
New England’s Unitarianism appeared in an era in which the world’s outlook had changed. In the 19th century, Kant’s two criticisms and Goethe’s Faust had great influence. Thinkers in this century wanted to find a substitute for pure reason, which is the basis of truth [52
]. William Ellery Channing was regarded as a great Unitarian. On September 9, 1836, Ralph Aldo Emerson, F.H. Hedge, Convers Francis, James Freeman Clark, and Amos Bronson Alcott met at George Ripley’s home [52
] (p. 35). Later, Emerson, F.H. Hedge, George Ripley, Putnan, Orestes A. Brownson, Theodore Parker, C.A. Bartol, C.C. Stetson, Margaret Fuller, and Ms. Peabody held a meeting at Emerson’s home in Concord, forming the inauguration ceremony of The Transcendental Club. A.B. Alcott is sometimes called “The Symposium Club” and other times “The Hedge Club” [53
]. George Bancroft and Channing also participated. In The Transcendental Club, Emerson exerted great influence through “Dial”. Emerson said in “Dial” that the transcendentalism we often refer to was idealism. Idealism appeared in 1842 since Immanuel Kant began to use this term to respond to John Locke’s speculative philosophy. Idealism holds that nothing in intelligence exists prior to sensory experience, and there are very important classes of ideas or imperative forms before intelligence, which are not derived from experience, but experience can be acquired through these classes and forms [54
In 1844, Henry Conrad Brokmeyer, a refugee fleeing from Prussian militarism, landed in New York State with 25 cents and the only three English words he knew. He experienced a life of working, wandering, and doing business. Later, he went to Brown University to continue his studies and learned about Emerson’s transcendentalism. In 1854, Brokmeyer came to Warren County, Missouri [32
]. In the 1950s and 1960s, Harris met Brokmeyer, Denton Jacques Snider, Amos Bronson Alcott, etc., who founded the “Hegel Club”, “Kant Club”, “Aristotle Club”, “Shakespeare Society”, and so on in St. Louis, and from the Hegel Club was derived the “Philosophical Society” [32
] (pp. 38, 66). Harris further applied Hegel’s philosophy to the analysis of educational practice problems by serving as the superintendent of St. Louis public schools, and as the education commissioner, promoting the science education movement, developing the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, and actively participating in the education and philosophy salon.
According to Herbert M. Kliebard’s research in 1895, Harris, the leader of Hegelism in the United States, as a former member of the Ten Committee, “painfully separated himself from the position of mental discipline” [4
] (p. 14). In fact, Kliebard’s concept of “mental discipline” was a concept of faculty training based on faculty psychology with a hierarchical system of faculty concepts. Rather than saying that Harris was “separated” from the mental discipline camp, Harris constructed a theory of spiritual growth based on logic along a path opposing faculty psychology. In George Combe’s faculty psychology, the human mind included two types of mental faculties, namely, “feeling faculties” and “intellectual faculties”. Among them, feeling faculties could be divided into the common propensities of human beings and animals and sentiments only belonging to humans. Intellectual faculties could be divided into three kinds. The first was the use of the knowing faculties to perceive the external world and quality. The second was the use of the knowing faculties to perceive the relationships between external things, such as a sense of time, sense of space, and sense of order. The third one was “reflected faculties”, such as the ability to compare and distinguish, and the ability to think about causality [36
] (pp. 52–56).
In Harris’s visual threshold, there were two kinds of formal discipline or mental discipline concepts. One was the mental discipline concept based on the theory of phrenology and faculty psychology introduced from Europe. The concept of mental discipline guided an educational and teaching practice model based on the training of mental faculties. In theory, the concept regarded people’s memory, imagination, and other mental faculties as the most basic “form” of mind [55
] (p. 52). The second was the formal discipline concept based on Kant’s mental philosophy theory. According to Kant’s theory of the form of mind, the form of mind is an a priori concept of time and space [55
With regard to the above two kinds of mental discipline concepts, Harris opposed the first one and theoretically improved the second one. Harris believed that the first educational concept separated man’s mind in theory, ignoring man’s emotion, spirit, and will as a whole. Harris made two attempts to improve the second concept. First, he learned from Hegel’s historical philosophy to bind the relationship between the causal law of mind with time and space consciousness. Time was interpreted as the nesting and continuity of cause and effect. Second, from Hegel’s concept of freedom, the nature of human beings as free spirits and free will could be understood, and the tension between virtue and freedom generated by traditional mental discipline was solved. In modern society, people examined themselves as an objective whole, so a concept of the self was introduced here. Harris no longer followed the traditional concept of mental discipline, so the self no longer only meant the aggregation of various mental faculties but the existence of soul and spirit in the overall sense.
Harris understood the mind as a synonym of the soul, spirit, reason, and intelligence [55
]. Education was no longer the training of various mental faculties, but an education targeting the self in the sense of spirit as a whole. According to Hegel’s philosophical logic, this kind of self-oriented education would not be a shackle or cage for the self, but a manifestation of the spirit of freedom. Harris solved this problem with the concept of self-activity. Self-activity referred to the law of individual spiritual activities and was the manifestation of the ultimate law of the universe, the law of cause and effect, in individuals. Self-activity included three stages. One was to recognize the world through senses, the second was to use reason to observe and understand the world through relational thinking, and the third was to introspect through “self-relation” to see the ultimate truth [55
] (pp. 20, 31–36).
In Harris’ interpretation, self-activity integrated the laws of time and space and was the basic form of human mental activities. Individuals or groups carried out self-examination and introspection activities on the self or selves, constantly identified and broke through the threshold of the original self or selves, and generated a new self or selves and will. From the original self, the movement of generating a more complete self was essentially a self-knowing movement. In the physical time of a limited life, an individual expands from the self in the individual to the self in the family, and then to the self in the social community, and becomes a more self-determined human identifying with the universal self [56
], the “harmony of wills” [57
]. Harris believed that theoretical ambiguity was reflected in two issues of social practice. First, American society had not yet provided enough educational basis for the people and had not yet achieved real freedom. A truly free society did not provide formal freedom for all. He regarded American society at the end of the 19th century as a society that only realized formal freedom, and those who had not yet learned to distinguish between public interests and private interests held the legislative power [56
]. Second, American society had the problem of the decay of morality. Harris proposed that immigrants from various European countries and some Asian countries brought about the national customs of the old world, which had an impact on the new ethical system. The problem caused by this phenomenon is how to distinguish between essential and conventional morality. For this problem, Harris believed that it was necessary to find an organic form to help people learn to self-govern [56
]. Harris’s pedagogy dealt with the transition from the natural ethnic social ethics system to the civil social ethics system. Harris’s pedagogical theory, especially the educational proposition based on the concept of self-activity, aimed to solve the freedom dilemma of American democratic society in reality.
Harris realized that to maintain a modern civil society, a good general will would be needed to represent the public interest. Therefore, the premise of general will would be a modern individual with free will. However, each individual has certain interests within their social life. Thus, the problem is that individuals can become self-governed individuals. Therefore, Harris paid attention to the cultivation of self-activity and opposed the cultivation of human instrumental rationality, which is why he criticized faculty psychology. Harris’ mental discipline aimed to shape a self-governed individual. He focused on making individuals associate with larger communities, such as society and the nation-state. Therefore, people could overcome their selfishness in the process of developing multi-level self-identity. It can be seen that Harris’s idea is democratic, and a kind of unionism. It has some differences from the introspective individual in Babbitt’s concept of mental discipline.
3.1.3. From Eliot, C.W. to Babbitt I.: Self-Disciplined Individuals and Community Consensus
Eliot said in his speech to the University of Virginia in 1909 that 1870 was a watershed in the balance of individualism and collectivism among civilized nations and countries. After 1870, collectivism took the lead. Individualism is manifested in two aspects. One is to attach importance to individual rights, and the other is to attach importance to the freedom and legal rights given to individuals by society. Collectivism attaches importance to social rights, opposes individual freedom, and believes that the interests of the majority should prevail over individual interests. For the conflict between the two, the aim of collectivism is not to eliminate individuals but to restrict individuals to maintain the common good, including the individual good. Every man has his own talent, and education is an individualistic choice. Education should be the training of perception, technology acquisition, memory, and rational sense from beginning to end. In Eliot’s view, the problem faced by the concept of mental discipline with the connotation of the training of faculties is the contradiction between individual interests and the common good of society, and between individualism and collectivism [58
When Eliot became president of the university, he believed that the responsibility of education was to promote democracy, and democracy was the flow of society. Everyone has the opportunity to flow into the upper class. The purpose of civic education is to give people the ability to participate in social mobility. At the beginning of the 20th century, Eliot’s thoughts had changed. He valued government responsibility more. He began to understand democracy to mean that everyone should do their best, not that everyone should be able to become president. He probably believed that human talent must be based on social consensus in order to maximize democratic value. Babbitt’s criticism was aimed at the early beliefs of Eliot and the elective system in Harvard University.
Babbitt’s concept of disciplined imagination expressed his understanding of the goal of elite universities. Elite universities, especially Harvard University, cultivated an educated group with rationality, proficient in rhetoric and eloquence. Babbitt foresaw that in the rapid development of information media technology, the group of people who were proficient in rhetoric cultivated by elite universities would lead American society and even Western civilization into an unpredictable future or even a disaster. As the rich class became the spiritual and cultural leaders of universities, law for man would probably wane [59
Disciplined imagination, as a goal, was used to solve the problem of college students’ spiritual indolence. Babbitt understood President Eliot’s concept of mental discipline as a kind of mental power training. This kind of education only provided a powerful force and tool for college students to expand their desire. Babbitt divided human desire (libido) into knowledge libido, appetite libido, and power libido. Groups with elite college or university education also expanded their knowledge libido with mental power. This kind of university education could not solve the problem of people’s spiritual emptiness. Undergraduates increasingly suffered from a lack of reverence for their ignorance and the infinity of the universe.
In view of the defects of Eliot’s educational theory and practice, Babbitt proposed that a kind of restraint education could be used to make up for them [60
]. For undergraduates, the direct goal of restraint education was to cultivate disciplined imagination. Furthermore, it was necessary to consider the undergraduate orientation and educational aims, knowledge structure, curriculum system, and teaching methods of university education.
First of all, in terms of the undergraduate orientation of university education, Babbitt proposed that American universities should consider achieving a balance between German gymnasiums and graduate education. Gymnasiums provided a receptive education, focusing on the digestion and internalization of cultural heritage, while graduate education was a productive education. Babbitt regained the core of humanistic education and defined the goal of university teaching as “forming the minds and characters” of future citizens of the Republic [59
] (p. 178).
Secondly, in terms of the knowledge structure of university education, Babbitt opined that the proportion of classical knowledge and modern knowledge, humanities, and natural sciences should be considered. Babbitt interpreted that the spiritual core of the classical spirit was impersonal reason. Impersonal reason enabled people to transcend the transitional pursuit of personal interests of the ordinary self when reflecting on the self. Impersonal reason leads individuals to the “real and deep self”, in which individuals become one with the whole world [59
] (p. 175). When people’s thoughts were integrated with the spirit in the classical world, the consciousness formed was the true self. The true self becomes an internal law that can make people self-govern. The ideological state of the ordinary self was to put the expansion of individual reason and desire above others, morality, and ethics [60
] The true self was considered to be a constraint on the ordinary self. The classical spirit was mainly embodied in the Hellenic spirit as well as in the oriental civilization.
The third aspect was the curriculum system. Babbitt criticized President Eliot’s elective system at Harvard University. The elective system gave complete democracy and freedom to undergraduates. However, it also dispelled the qualitative differences between different kinds of disciplines. All the different subjects selected by undergraduates could be converted into equal credits in terms of quantity in order to obtain the same degree. Babbitt’s confusion lay in what kind of groups universities were equipping with the power and possibility to control voters and implement the tyranny of words.
The last aspect concerned teaching methods. Babbitt regarded virtue as highly important, and he also foresaw the possibility of carrying out educational practice in the name of moral education actually destroying the spirit of freedom. Therefore, he believed that Socratic dialectics could prevent this problem. Socratic dialectics use concrete and historical words to eliminate the excessive domination of abstract, synchronic, and structural words on imagination and cultivate “disciplined imagination” [60
] (p. 191). Babbitt agreed with the introduction of moderate historical spirit into literature education.
Babbitt’s goal for elite universities, forming the minds and characters, was decomposed into the discipline of the high-level self to the ordinary self. Babbitt’s concepts of the higher self and the ordinary self were derived from Matthew Arnold’s concepts of the ordinary self and the best self. The best self referred to a higher sense and judgment that transcended class, sect, and personal interests. It was a will that transcended personal will and proceeded from public welfare. Arnold understood that the Greek spirit was the pursuit of the perfection of human nature and the unity of reason and beauty and had a tempered nature [61
]. He agreed with Wilhelm von Humboldt that, in addition to the fact that personal safety and property are actively dominated by the state, people should perfect themselves on their own foundation. Arnold’s understanding of self-government can be extended to the recognition of the British Reform Bill’s liberalism in 1832, namely, local self-government, free trade, unrestricted competition, and Protestantism [61
]. In this respect, Babbitt’s ideas were inherited. The discipline or restraint of the higher self to the ordinal self he proposed was mainly a kind of self-government or self-education. This concept of self-government could be extended to Babbitt’s understanding of federal and state governments. He mentioned the issue of “tax without representation” in the United States [60
] (pp. 60, 207). Babbitt had reservations about the income distribution reform promoted by the federal government at the beginning of the 20th century. He tended to take a neutral position between centralized federal government and localism.
From the 1900s to 1940s, Babbitt and other neo humanists, such as Paul Elmer More, Stuart P. Sherman, and Mark Van Doren, took Nation magazine as their main publication, reinterpreted humanism and the spirit of ancient Greece, and called on university education to become the center of shaping “cultural consensus” [62
] (pp. 36–43). Like More, Sherman, and even Van Doren, Babbitt lamented the decline of Western civilization, and he also regarded the mainstream education trend at the beginning of the 20th century as a factor that accelerated this decline [63
]. Babbitt borrowed Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler’s thinking on the causes of the decline of Western civilization. As a solution to the problem, he also borrowed the concept of Bildung from Spengler in German pedagogy. Bildung was the transcendence and renewal of the concept of enlightenment after the Enlightenment, representing self-enlightenment [66
]. The concept of Bildung in Germany, Arnold’s British self-government concept, and the concept of self-cultivation of Oriental Buddha and Confucianism were combined to form Babbitt’s concept of mental discipline.
Babbitt mainly absorbed the timeless connotation of these educational concepts to resist the trend of emphasizing the continuity of family names, the expansion of self and family consciousness, and the continuous time consciousness that prevailed after the Industrial Revolution. Whether it was self-enlightenment or introspection, they all emphasized the state beyond time, or entering a time–space dimension that would not be quantified and compared but would be stable (Sanskrit: aranya).