Education: A First Book

By Edward L. Thorndike | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE MATERIAL FOR EDUCATION: THE ORIGINAL NATURE OF MAN

The different original natures of men represent variations around one central tendency or 'type,'--the ordinary or average original nature of man as a species. Thus, though men vary notably in inborn ability to reason, their variations are around a central tendency, the average capacity of mankind to reason, which is clearly distinct from the average capacity of earthworms or caterpillars. Though, to the situation 'being alone in the dark,' different responses would be made by different infants, even though all had been treated alike, yet their responses would center about an average distressed behavior, whereas deep-sea fish would respond to being alone in the dark with stolid equanimity. The original equipment of the central or average or typical human being consists, over and above his strictly physical, chemical and physiological nature, in tendencies to respond to certain situations by certain sensations, feelings and acts. These tendencies may be called the original mental make-up of man as a species.

Man as a species.

When the situation is simple, the response uni-

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