Herbart, Johann Friedrich

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Herbart, Johann Friedrich

Johann Friedrich Herbart (yō´hän frē´drĬkh hĕr´bärt), 1776–1841, German philosopher and educator. Influenced by Leibniz, Kant, and Fichte, Herbart made many important contributions to psychology. In 1805 he lectured at Göttingen and from 1809 to 1833 held the chair of philosophy at Königsberg. He then returned to Göttingen as professor of philosophy. Psychologie als Wissenschaft (1824–25) was his major psychological work and Allgemeine Metaphysik (1828–29) his most important philosophical study. Herbart held that the concepts of change and becoming harbored a contradiction that destroyed the reality of continuous identity. He maintained that true being consists of a plurality of simple reals, which were modeled after the Leibnizian monads. Change is nothing but alteration in the various relationships among reals. Though he denied the possibility of psychological experiment, Herbart sought to develop the mathematical and empirical, as well as the metaphysical, aspects of psychology. In education he emphasized the importance of relating new concepts to the experience of the learner so that there would be less resistance to apperception of new ideas. He stressed the need for moral education through experience and brought the work of teaching into the area of conscious method. Many of Herbart's educational works, such as his Application of Psychology to the Science of Education (tr. 1892), have been translated into English.

See H. B. Dunkel, Herbart and Herbartianism (1970).

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