Front Page Titles (by Subject) Introduction.—Extent of the Subject.—The different Questions which it involves. - Education
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Introduction.—Extent of the Subject.—The different Questions which it involves. - James Mill, Education 
Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica (London: J. Innes, 1825).
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Introduction.—Extent of the Subject.—The different Questions which it involves.
THE end of Education is to render the individual, as much as possible, an instrument of happiness, first to himself, and next to other beings.
The properties, by which he is fitted to become an instrument to this end, are, partly, those of the body, and partly those of the mind.
Happiness depends upon the condition of the body, either immediately, as where the bodily powers are exerted for the attainment of some good; or mediately, through the mind, as where the condition of the body affects the qualities of the mind.
Education, in the sense in which it is usually taken, and in which it shall here be used, denotes the means which may be employed to render the mind, as far as possible, an operative cause of happiness. The mode in which the body may be rendered the most fit for operating as an instrument of happiness is generally considered as a different species of inquiry; belonging to physicians, and others, who study the means of perfecting the bodily powers.
Education, then, in the sense in which we are now using the term, may be defined, the best employment of all the means which can be made use of, by man, for rendering the human mind to the greatest possible degree the cause of human happiness. Every thing, therefore, which operates, from the first germ of existence, to the final extinction of life, in such a manner as to affect those qualities of the mind on which happiness in any degree depends, comes within the scope of the present inquiry. Not to turn every thing to account is here, if any where, bad economy, in the most emphatical sense of the phrase.
The field, it will easily be seen, is exceedingly comprehensive. It is everywhere, among enlightened men, a subject of the deepest complaint, that the business of education is ill performed; and that, in this, which might have been supposed the most interesting of all human concerns, the practical proceedings are far from corresponding with the progress of the human mind. It may be remarked, that, notwithstanding all that has been written on the subject, even the theory of education has not kept pace with philosophy; and it is unhappily true, that the practice remains to a prodigious distance behind the theory. One reason why the theory, or the combination of ideas which the present state of knowledge might afford for improving the business of education, remains so imperfect, probably is, that the writers have taken but a partial view of the subject; in other words, the greater number have mistaken a part of it for the whole. And another reason of not less importance is, that they have generally contented themselves with vague ideas of the object or end to which education is required as the means. One grand purpose of the present inquiry will be to obviate all those mistakes; and, if not to exhibit that comprehensive view, which we think is desirable, but to which our limits are wholly inadequate; at any rate, to conduct the reader into that train of thought which will lead him to observe for himself the boundaries of the subject. If a more accurate conception is formed of the end, a better estimate will be made of what is suitable as the means.
1. It has been remarked, that every thing, from the first germ of existence to the final extinction of life, which operates in such a manner as to affect those qualities of the mind on which happiness in any degree depends, comes within the scope of the present inquiry. Those circumstances may be all arranged, according to the hackneyed division, under two heads: They are either physical or moral; meaning by physical, those of a material nature, which operate more immediately upon the material part of the frame; by moral, those of a mental nature, which operate more immediately upon the mental part of the frame.
2. In order to know in what manner things operate upon the mind, it is necessary to know how the mind is constructed. Quicquid recipitur, recipitur ad modum recipientis. This is the old aphorism, and nowhere more applicable than to the present case. If you attempt to act upon the mind, in ways not adapted to its nature, the least evil you incur is to lose your labor.
3. As happiness is the end, and the means ought to be nicely adapted to the end, it is necessary to inquire, What are the qualities of mind which chiefly conduce to happiness,—both the happiness of the individual himself, and the happiness of his fellow-creatures?
It appears to us, that this distribution includes the whole of the subject. Each of these divisions branches itself out into a great number of inquiries. And, it is manifest, that the complete developement of any one of them would require a greater space than we can allow for the whole. It is, therefore, necessary for us, if we aim at a comprehensive view, to confine ourselves to a skeleton.
The first of these inquiries is the most practical, and, therefore, likely to be the most interesting. Under the Physical Head, it investigates the mode in which the qualities of the mind are affected by the health, the aliment, the air, the labour, &c. to which the individual is subject. Under the Moral Head it includes what may be called, 1. Domestic Education, or the mode in which the mind of the individual is liable to be formed by the conduct of the individuals composing the family in which he is born and bred: 2. Technical or scholastic education, including all those exercises upon which the individual is put, as means to the acquisition of habits,—habits either conducive to intellectual and moral excellence, or even to the practice of the manual arts: 3, Social education, or the mode in which the mind of the individual is acted upon by the nature of the political institutions under which he lives.
The two latter divisions comprehend what is more purely theoretical; and the discussion of them offers fewer attractions to that class of readers, unhappily numerous, to whom intellectual exercises have not by habit been rendered delightful. The inquiries, however, which are included under these divisions, are required as a foundation to those included under the first. The fact is, that good practice can, in no case, have any solid foundation but in sound theory. This proposition is not more important, than it is certain. For, What is theory? The whole of the knowledge, which we possess upon any subject, put into that order and form in which it is most easy to draw from it good practical rules. Let any one examine this definition, article by article, and show us that it fails in a single particular. To recommend the separation of practice from theory is, therefore, simply, to recommend bad practice.