Sunday, July 16, 2017
Week 7 - Essay 6 - Subjective vs. Objective
Henry writes: "no education avails for the intelligence that doesn’t stir in it some subjective passion, and... almost anything that does so act is largely educative" - Agree? Is our present education system geared to stirring or rewarding subjective passion?
Good question Dr. Phil.
Breaking this down into more understandable terms that I, the simple man, can understand, James is saying (correct me if I am wrong): All education, taking the opportunity to manifest as useful or helpful, stirs in the intellect some passion that is not necessarily rational or fact based. On the other hand, anything that acts in such a manner is, for the most part, educational regardless of its size and purview.
Taking the second question first: No. Our current education system is not, with some exceptions, geared to stirring or rewarding subjective passions. Theater, arts and music may be the exception. To the contrary, it rewards objective passions. Tests and quizzes, at least at the undergraduate level, test instructional learning objectives rather than subjective ones. The classroom is geared to completing a unit of instruction that can be measured quantitatively for the purpose of practical application in a specific field. Theater arts and music often test subjectively by asking for new ideas and encouraging creativity.
I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing in either direction. Creativity in theater, arts and music doesn’t have to be logic and fact based. Creative thinking in science must be logic and fact based, at least in its final rendering.
James, while speaking of London, gives an example of the very thing he speaks of in A Small Boy and Others, when he states that “It is not to be denied that the heart tends to grow hard in her company; but she is a capital antidote to the morbid, and to live with her successfully is an education of the temper, a consecration of one’s private philosophy.” “She may take away reparations, but she forms character. She teaches her victims not to ‘mind’, and the great danger for them is perhaps that they shall learn the lesson too well.”
 Henry James, A Small Boy and Others ( Independently published, 2017), 25.
 Henry James, English Hours (London: Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2011), 15.