HERBART'S DOCTRINE OF APPERCEPTION. The German philosopher, psychologist, and mathematician Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841) viewed psychology as a science that is based on experience, metaphysics, and mathematics. However, Herbart did not consider psychology to be experimental, because he could not conceive of ways to experiment on the mind. Herbart was in agreement with the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) concerning the nature of a unitary mind or soul, but he proposed, also, that the mind could be an entity composed of smaller units. That is, Herbart thought of the mind as an apperceptive mass made up of psychic states. Unconscious ideas existed in a kind of static state that has "forces" or "intensities." According to Herbart, when the "forces" become strong enough, they can overcome the "counter-forces" already present in the apperceptive mass, cross the threshold, and enter into consciousness. The interaction of psychic states, in and out of consciousness, constitutes Her-bart's psychic dynamics theory. In its original sense, the concept of apperception dates back to the German philosopher/mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz (1646-1716), who referred to it as a final or clear phase of perception in which there is recognition, identification, or comprehension of what has been perceived. According to Leibnitz's monad theory (a "monad" is his term for the essential unit or individuality of all substances), the world consists of an infinite number of independently acting monads, which are points of "force" rather than substance, and where all monads have various degrees of clarity and consciousness ranging from the relatively unclear and unconscious to the most conscious and perceptible. Leibnitz called the lower degrees of consciousness (unconscious) the "little perceptions," which, when actualized, become apperceptions. Leibnitz was probably the first person to develop a theory of degrees of consciousness, and it became the cornerstone of Sigmund Freud's conception of the tripartite personality (i.e., id, ego, and superego) and mental apparatus of opposing forces (i.e., cathexis and anticathexis), as well as Alfred Adler's and Carl Jung's approaches to degrees of consciousness and unconsciousness in their personality theories. For Herbart, however, apperception was considered to be the fundamental process of acquiring knowledge wherein the perceived qualities of a new object, event, or idea are assimilated with already existing knowledge. In some form or another, the basic notion of apperception -that learning and understanding depend on recognizing relationships between new ideas and existing knowledge - is axiomatic of nearly all educational theory and practice. The mathematics involved in Herbart's psychic dynamics focused on what could and could not enter consciousness where calculations concerned the amount of one force that was going to oppose another force. It was possible, also, for two forces or ideas to combine and suppress the ideas that are weaker [it was Herbart (1824) who introduced the psycho-dynamic term repression into psychology, where the term was elaborated later, and more fully, by Freud and the psychoanalysts]. Her-bart's contribution to psychology is the notion that it could be quantified and, even though he denied that psychology could be experimental in nature, ironically his advocacy of quantification was crucial to the modern development of experimental psychology itself. See also ADLER'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; FREUD'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; JUNG'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; PERSONALITY THEORIES; WUNDT'S THEORIES/DOCTRINES.
Was this article helpful?
Learn How to Help, Understand amp Cope with your Aspergers Child from a UK Chartered Educational Psychologist. Before beginning any practice relating to Aspergers it is highly recommended that you first obtain the consent and advice of a qualified health,education or social care professional.