The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

THE DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY

IN the project for the formation of the Catholepistemiad, 1817, out of which developed the effective plan for the University of Michigan, 1837, provision was made for didaxiim, or professorships, of ethica, or ethical sciences, and ennoeica, or intellectual sciences, the latter embracing "all the Epistemiim, or Sciences relative to the minds of animals, to the human mind, to spiritual existences or to the Deity, and to religion." It was provided, further, that the vice-president of the Catholepistemiad should be the professor of ennoeica. Two men were appointed respectively president and vice-president, the Reverend John Monteith, a Presbyterian, and Father Gabriel Richard, a man of foreign birth and education. To Father Richard was assigned the professorship of ethica and the ennoeica. Thus the professorship of moral and intellectual sciences, as the chair came to be called, uniting the two disciplines, was first occupied by a Roman Catholic. It is not known, however, whether Father Richard conducted any courses, but it is known that he and the Reverend John Monteith drew, together, a salary of $181.25. The founding of this chair was the beginning of the Department of Philosophy. In the so-called "organic act" of March 18, 1837, setting up the constitution of the University of Michigan, provision was explicitly made for professorships of logic, of philosophy of the human mind, of moral philosophy, and of natural theology, including the history of all religions. In the subsequent early history of the University, all these subjects were usually taught by the professor of intellectual and moral philosophy (who, sometimes, also taught other branches of knowledge), with the exception of logic, which was now and then combined with rhetoric rather than with philosophy.

When we look back over the period of nearly one hundred years beginning with the time of the Reverend Edward Thomson, 1843 — the first, so far as we can discover, actually to give instruction in moral and intellectual philosophy — we see that the history of the Department of Philosophy may be divided into two periods — a period which I think may appropriately be called the theological period, and the period of free philosophy which began with Morris, in 1881. In the first period all the professors of intellectual and moral philosophy, without exception, were clergymen, whereas in the second period none has been; in the first period, the occupants of the chair were, therefore, with the possible exception of Page  669Tappan, as we shall note, not trained primarily for their position; it is therefore not unfair to say of them that they were at best amateurs in the field, and that their chief preoccupation was to make use of philosophy as a means for the defense of a point of view already received from the tradition of theology, rather than to transmit and perhaps enrich the tradition of philosophy itself.

Except that it would be unfair to the greatness and subtlety of thought of the medieval philosophers, one might say of these early teachers of philosophy that they represented a kind of Protestant scholasticism, for philosophy was indeed ancilla theologicae. It was not the close contact with religion that distinguished the philosophy of these men — for philosophy has maintained this contact almost throughout its entire history, and a philosophy that does not offer something either to science or to religion is not worth its salt — but the fact that, having independently of the study of philosophy accepted certain theological ideas, these men never did what genuine philosophers must do — freely and candidly examine the presuppositions or set pieces of the game of thought and belief. A Morris or a Wenley was as religious as any of these men, but for them philosophy was not a defense but a clarification. Moreover, such philosophy as these early teachers had was gleaned mostly from the Scottish school — a distinctively eighteenth-century way of thinking — and they knew only at second hand, if at all, the great, original movement of philosophy of their own century — that of German idealism.

Yet in all these respects, early academic philosophy at the University of Michigan was no different from academic philosophy throughout the country. In fact, the change to a more genuine and freer type came earlier here than at the great universities of the East. With all their limitations, these early philosophy teachers undoubtedly served the needs of their time, and anything different would have been impossible.

Something at once of the importance attached to the study of philosophy and its general character in this early period may be seen from its place in the course of study, as announced in the Catalogue of 1843-44. The course of study was divided into three parts: (1) language and literature, (2) mathematics and physics, and (3) intellectual and moral science. Apparently no philosophy was required in the first year. In the first term of the second year, logic was prescribed; in the third year, first term, Abercrombie's Intellectual Powers, and in the second term of that year, Paley's Natural Theology; in the fourth year, first term, Stewart's Intellectual Philosophy and Cousin's Psychology; in the second term, Whately's Logic and Wayland's Moral Science and Political Grammar; in the third term, along with Story's Commentaries on the Constitution and Wayland's Political Economy, Butler's Analogy.

After the reform of the curriculum under President Henry P. Tappan (see Part I: Tappan Administration), Mental Philosophy was prescribed in the third term of the third year, and again in the first and second terms of the fourth year, and Moral Science in the second and third terms of the fourth year. In the classical course Mental Philosophy was prescribed in the fourth year, first and second terms; Logic in the second term, and Moral Science in the second and third terms of that year. In the so-called university course, which marked the beginning of a graduate school, designed for students who had won their bachelor's degrees either in letters or science, provision was made for Systematic Philosophy, History of Philosophy, Logic, and Evidences of Christianity. A brief description of the method employed in teaching Intellectual and Moral Philosophy Page  670was given in the Catalogue of 1854-55 and in ensuing numbers, as follows:

This study is conducted by the use of textbooks, accompanied with lectures. Essays on subjects connected with the course are read by students and criticized by the professor. One is read at each recitation. Reference is made to the standard works of ancient and modern philosophy.

The first professor of moral and intellectual philosophy, as has already been noted, was the Reverend Edward Thomson (M.D. Pennsylvania '29, LL.D. Wesleyan '55), afterward president of Ohio Wesleyan University and a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church. He was appointed in 1843, but resigned in August, 1844. This left the way open for the Reverend Andrew Ten Brook (Madison [Utica, N.Y.] '41), subsequently both librarian and historian of the University, who served until 1851. Ten Brook was followed by the Reverend William Stanton Curtis, who served for only a year and was followed, upon the accession of Tappan to the presidency, by Tappan himself, in 1852.

Of all the men of the early period of the teaching of philosophy at the University of Michigan, Henry Philip Tappan (Union '25, D.D. ibid. '45, LL.D. Columbia '54) was undoubtedly both the best trained and the ablest. Although originally trained for the ministry, he spent many years before he came to Michigan in the study and teaching of philosophy, as professor of intellectual and moral philosophy at the young University of the City of New York, where he had become a professor in 1832. Before coming to Ann Arbor he had already made a name for himself both in this country and abroad through his publications: The Doctrine of the Will, Determined by an Appeal to Consciousness (1840), The Doctrine of the Will Applied to the Moral Agency and Responsibility (1841), and his Elements of Logic (1844; new ed., 1856). Although the two books on the will were in general within the limits of the ideas characteristic of the so-called freewill controversy initiated by Jonathan Edwards' great work, Tappan took the freewill point of view, and in the Doctrine of the Will Determined by an Appeal to Consciousness showed a certain originality in generalizing the notion of contingency from the will to the entire universe, and by developing a conception of "moral certainty" or "probable certainty" as applied to human affairs, to replace the absolute certainty rendered impossible by the doctrine of real contingency. Indeed, it is not extravagant to claim for Tappan that in making contingency consist essentially in the power to attend or not to attend, he anticipated, if he did not inspire, William James's famous formulation of freedom (compare Tappan, Doctrine, p. 65, and James, Psychology, II: 562). In his Elements of Logic, moreover, while following Cousin and Herschel, he showed some novelty in developing the theory of inductive methods, independently of Mill and Whewell. However, it is significant that, although he was acquainted with contemporary European philosophy, Tappan seems to have depended largely upon the translations of French and German works that were appearing in his day.

After the resignation of President Tappan and until the early period ended with Morris' acceptance of a chair in philosophy in 1881, the teaching of philosophy was on a distinctly lower plane. First, the Reverend Lucius Delison Chapin (Amherst '51, A.M. ibid. '54), pastor of the local Presbyterian Church, was appointed. Chapin's qualifications for this office are not easily discoverable. The utter lack of recognition on the part of University authorities, during this period in America, of philosophy as a branch of learning requiring a specific training, is well illustrated by this appointment. One Page  671would demand special training for astronomy or mathematics, but almost any clerical gentleman would serve for philosophy! (Unfortunately, the practice continues among certain of the smaller denominational colleges of America to this day.) While Chapin was on leave in 1867-68 his work was borne by Erastus Otis Haven (Wesleyan '42, A.M. ibid. '45, D.D. hon. Union '54, LL.D. Ohio Wesleyan '63), Tappan's successor in the presidency and at that time also Professor of Logic and Political Economy. On Chapin's resignation in 1868 Haven became Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy.

Haven was, of course, a very able man, but philosophy was not his field. Even the students were aware of what was needed, for in the Chronicle (1: 25), we may read: "We want a man who has made this study his specialty and can infuse life into the dry bones of philosophical discussion." But when President Haven resigned in 1869, the Reverend Benjamin Franklin Cocker (D.D. DePauw '70) was appointed, a man of no university training at all in any subject, who, after an adventurous career in business, had drifted into preaching, in which occupation he had won fame for his eloquence. He occupied the chair of philosophy for fourteen years, that is to say, until 1883. On Cocker's behalf, however, it should be said that he was a man of vigorous personality and of a certain native acuteness of mind, that he exerted a large and beneficent influence on his students, and that he made a heroic effort to compensate for his shortcomings in education by prodigious labor and reading. The extent of his effort is apparent in the books he wrote during his professorial career: Christianity and Greek Philosophy (1870), Lectures on the Truth of the Christian Religion (1873), The Theistic Conception of the World (1875), Evidences of Christianity (1882), and, finally, a Student's Handbook of Philosophy (1881). These books are for the most part of the defensive, apologetic type, and are constructed very largely from secondary sources. Greek philosophy, for example, is viewed as a mere preparation for Protestant Christianity. As for the chaotic Handbook of Philosophy, it must have been a heavy, indigestible meal for the students; yet with Cocker as the one who served it, they seem to have liked it. And, in his other works, there are occasional gleams of insight. Perhaps a summary of his report to the Regents (P.R., 1871-72, pp. 38-39) will throw some light upon his ideas and methods of instruction. Regarding psychology as the fundamental study, "inasmuch as it deals with mental principles and laws which underlie logic and ethics," he had devoted the whole of the first semester to this study alone and had endeavored to do the work thoroughly. The second semester he said he had devoted to the teaching of history of philosophy, applied logic, and ethics, together with the bearing of these studies on the evidences of Christianity. Yet he gave small attention to this last in class, since it was the subject of his Sunday afternoon lectures. He regretted that he had not found a textbook in metaphysics, but hoped to prepare one himself. (As we have seen, this hope was fulfilled.) He wished that he could have two hours a day with his class and that the professor of moral and intellectual philosophy could be relieved of other work. (He was in charge of the instruction in social science as well as of that in philosophy.)

A new spirit came into the teaching of philosophy at the University when, in 1881, George Sylvester Morris (Dart-mouth '61, Ph.D. hon. Michigan '81) was made Professor of Ethics, the History of Philosophy, and Logic, and Cocker became Professor of Psychology, Speculative Page  672Philosophy, and the History of Religion. This spirit was part of a broader quickening of interest in the German idealism of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, and in the impact of the theory of evolution on philosophical thought.

Morris studied for the ministry in America and went abroad to study philosophy. On his return he sought an opening in the field of philosophy; but none offered itself until ten years later. Temporarily a tutor in the family of a wealthy New Yorker, he was invited by his old counselor, Professor Henry Boynton Smith of Union Theological Seminary, to translate into English and bring up to date the monumental History of Philosophy from Thales to the Present Time of Friedrich Ueberweg, a task peculiarly suited to him because of his intimate knowledge of both the German language and the history of philosophy, and which he performed so well that the work soon took its place as the authoritative English classic on the subject.

Called to the University of Michigan in 1870 on the initiative of Henry S. Frieze, Acting President after the resignation of President Haven, as head of the newly reorganized Department of Modern Languages and Literature, Morris immediately became a close friend of Professor Frieze, their common interest in music contributing to the union of two naturally congenial temperaments.

In spite of his influence in the University and his growing reputation as a philosopher both at home and abroad, it was not until eleven years later, again upon the initiative of Frieze, that Morris was appointed to a chair in philosophy at the University. In the meantime he contributed critical book reviews and original articles to the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, the New England Magazine, and to the Victoria Institute or Philosophical Society of Great Britain.

Morris soon found himself professor of philosophy in two outstanding universities, the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan. For President Gilman of Johns Hopkins, seeking a younger man scientifically trained in philosophy, first invited Morris to lecture in Baltimore during the month of January in 1878 and 1879; and then, recognizing his marked success, offered him a three-year appointment, on the condition that he would remain at Johns Hopkins through three months of each year. Thereupon Morris resigned his modern language professorship, but consented to teach until January, 1880, in place of his successor, who was absent on leave. Although he continued to maintain his home in the city, Morris was not on the Michigan faculty in 1880-81, and it was only when he was about to leave Ann Arbor that the local authorities bestirred themselves and offered him a chair on his own conditions, viz., that he be allowed to spend the first semester of each year lecturing at Baltimore and the second semester in Ann Arbor. This arrangement continued for four years, as a year or more elapsed between the death of Cocker in the spring of 1883 and Morris' decision to leave Baltimore after the first semester of 1884-85. In the eight years he taught at Johns Hopkins, Morris contributed to the molding of a remarkable group of young scholars, among whom were John Dewey, Joseph Jastrow, Henry L. Osborn, Benjamin C. Burt, W. H. Howell, Allan Marquand, Richard C. Burton, and Fred M. Taylor. His lectures at Johns Hopkins furnished the occasion for the writing of his first book: British Thought and Thinkers. He finally took leave of Johns Hopkins and his philosophical friends there at the meeting of the Metaphysical Club on January 27, 1885.

In complete charge of the department from the year 1884-85, Morris called to Page  673his aid one of his most brilliant pupils at Johns Hopkins, John Dewey (Vermont '79, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins '84, LL.D. Michigan '04), with whose enthusiastic co-operation he proceeded to change profoundly the orientation, and enlarge the scope, of the instruction in philosophy. While fulfilling his dual role of philosopher at Baltimore and Ann Arbor, Morris introduced on a broad scale the study of German idealism with which he had become imbued during his student years abroad. He is reported to have admitted that he was "saved by Hegel" — by which he meant that, having lost the orthodox Puritan faith of his fathers, during his years of critical study, it was Hegel who furnished him with a new intellectual framework within which he could reincorporate and reaffirm, freed from their theological trappings, the greater number of the older values to which he remained loyal.

The outstanding expression of Morris' thought is to be found in the conception and the working out of the series of philosophical monographs published between 1884 and 1890 by S. C. Griggs and Company of Chicago under the title "German Philosophical Classics for English Readers." This series still stands as the most complete exposition of German idealism in English. As editor, Morris not only conceived the general scope of the series and made the assignments, but also himself contributed two of the most important volumes: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Hegel's Philosophy of the State and of History. The untimely death of Morris brought the series to an end in 1890.

The change in the orientation of philosophy at Michigan during the Morris regime is further indicated by the new courses of study introduced. Already, while he was on part time at Ann Arbor, Morris had offered such new courses as the History of German Philosophy, Science of Knowledge as Developed in Aristotelian and Post-Kantian German Philosophy, Seminar in Kant, and the Philosophy of the State with special reference to Aristotle, Hegel, and Mulford's The Nation. Professor George H. Howison (Marietta '52, LL.D. ibid. '83, LL.D. Michigan '09), later so influential in establishing the idealistic tradition on the Pacific coast, had given in the first semester of 1883, during Morris' absence in Baltimore, a course called Speculative Philosophy. Free after he accepted the permanent headship of the department in 1884 to revamp the curriculum as he desired, with Dewey's co-operation, Morris not only extended the standpoint of German idealism to the Philosophy of the State and of History, to the Philosophy of Religion, to Aesthetics, and to Real Logic, but he also firmly established the seminar in the study of Kant, Hegel, speculative philosophy, and Herbert Spencer. At the same time Dewey devoted himself primarily to psychology in various new courses: Empirical Psychology, Special Topics in Psychology (Physiological, Comparative, and Morbid Psychology), Psychology and Philosophy, Speculative Psychology — courses which found expression in his first book, Psychology, published in 1887 and used as a textbook at Michigan for ten years.

After four years of the most intimate and single-minded co-operation with Morris, Dewey, who had meanwhile become Assistant Professor, was called to the University of Minnesota in 1888 and was replaced at Michigan by Williston Samuel Hough (Ph.M. '84), a thorough idealist in outlook, who, in turn, later replaced Dewey at Minnesota.

But Dewey's career at the University of Michigan was not ended. During the spring vacation of 1889, while camping at his near-by lake cottage with his son, Morris contracted pneumonia and died on March 23. Dewey was immediately Page  674recalled as Professor of Philosophy and head of the Department of Philosophy.

The Dewey regime (1889-94) continued ostensibly the general orientation which Morris had established. Yet some subtle and profound changes began to manifest themselves in Dewey himself, in the courses offered, and in the kind of men with whom he surrounded himself. Dewey, as a pupil and co-worker with Morris, had been written down by the philosophical public as an idealist. But there was already evident in his thinking the dominance of two new influences: functional psychology and the evolutionary theory of Darwin and Spencer. In his Psychology (1887) he had already interpreted concepts as "plans of action" and psychological processes as functional modes of response. Two small books on ethics, both written primarily for his own classes and published by George Wahr in Ann Arbor — Outlines of a Critical Theory of Ethics (1891) and The Study of Ethics: A Syllabus (1897) — were impregnated with the notions of the organic unity of the individual agent and his environment and the evolution of both through the acts of postulating of the agent. In these writings the germs of Dewey's later instrumentalism are evident.

Dewey himself turned over the courses in psychology more and more to his younger colleagues and interested himself in ethical and social problems, as evidenced by his giving such courses as Anthropological Ethics, the Theory and Institutions of Social Organization, Special Studies in the History of Political Philosophy (topic changed each year), Movements of Thought in the Nineteenth Century, and Political Philosophy or Ethics of Human Relations.

Very much interested in the theory of education, John Dewey was one of the prime movers in founding the Michigan Schoolmasters' Club, to which he made some of his earlier contributions on education, and, sympathetically seconded by Mrs. Dewey, he attempted to try out his theories on his own children — with the result that old Ann Arborites still regale one another with tales of how the Dewey methods worked.

Among the men outside of the Department of Philosophy whom Dewey influenced most profoundly were Fred Newton Scott, whom he drew into the department to give a course in aesthetics and with whom he carried on a seminar in aesthetics; Charles Horton Cooley, later Professor of Sociology, who carried out exhaustively Dewey's principle of the organic unity of the individual and society; and James Rowland Angell, afterward professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and later president of Yale University, who developed his theory of functional psychology.

Within his own department of study Dewey's influence was even greater. He grouped about him a number of young men exceptionally able and singularly loyal to himself and his ideas. Two of these were James Hayden Tufts (Amherst '84, LL.D. ibid. '04, B.D. Yale '89, Ph.D. Freiburg '92), Instructor, 1889-91, and George Herbert Mead (A.B. Oberlin '83, A.B. Harvard '88), Instructor and Assistant Professor, 1891-94. When John Dewey went to the University of Chicago as head of its department of philosophy in 1894, Mead accompanied him. Tufts had begun his work at Chicago immediately after receiving the doctor's degree at Freiburg in 1892. These two continued to be Dewey's most ardent collaborators in the development of the doctrine of pragmatism, or, as Dewey has always preferred to christen it, instrumentalism. Since these ideas were already germinating in the minds and teachings of Dewey, Tufts, and Mead while they were in Ann Arbor, it may not be too much to claim that the University of Michigan Page  [unnumbered]

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Harry Burns Hutchins
Page  [unnumbered]Page  675was one of the cradles of the new philosophy which later became more distinctively identified with the University of Chicago.

Another young man, Alfred Henry Lloyd (Harvard '86, Ph.D. ibid. '93), called from Harvard in 1891 just as he returned from two years abroad as the Chapman traveling fellow, became a devoted friend and admirer of Dewey. A pupil of Josiah Royce and William James at Harvard, but falling under the spell of Dewey at the University of Michigan, Lloyd characterized his philosophy as "dynamic idealism," the title of his most typical work, published in 1898. In agreement with Dewey, Lloyd always started from the active, creative, achieving life of the human person; but, unlike Dewey, and more in accord with Royce, he insisted that this active life implied a complete idealistic interpretation of the universe. Lloyd, like Royce, was essentially a metaphysician. An earlier work, Citizenship and Salvation; or, Greek and Jew (1897), a comparative study of the epochs of which Socrates and Jesus were the concrete embodiment, is a speculative interpretation of history somewhat after the manner of Fichte and Hegel. Such a speculative interpretation, expressed in a more comprehensive form in Philosophy of History (1899), was especially congenial to his mind, and he tended to carry it out in his studies of ethics, of the theory of the state, and of religion. Two other works, The Will to Doubt (1907) and Leadership and Progress (1922), set forth the bases of his profound and uncompromising liberalism. Numerous studies along the lines enumerated, which appeared from time to time in various periodicals and reviews, have unfortunately never been published in book form.

Lloyd was not the expounder of a tradition like Morris or the creator of a school like Dewey. His philosophy was peculiarly his own, too subtle and too varied in its different expressions to be crystallized into the principles and program of a group of disciples. But the influence of Lloyd, the thinker, inseparable from Lloyd, the man, on his pupils was quite remarkable.

On the departure of Dewey, accompanied by George H. Mead, for Chicago in 1894, Lloyd was honored with the administration of the Department of Philosophy for two years, 1894-96. During these years he called successively two Harvard doctors of philosophy to take charge of the work in psychology: John Bigham (1894-95) and Edgar Pierce (1895-96). Neither of these men stayed long enough to make any contribution to the philosophical tradition, and both abandoned philosophy as a profession shortly after their departure.

A third man who became associated with the department during Lloyd's interim administration is best known and remembered for the prominence and development he gave to the study of aesthetics, begun by Dewey and Fred Newton Scott: George Rebec ('91, Ph.D. '97), 1894-1909, an unusually enthusiastic and dramatic lecturer and teacher, who stimulated an interest in literature from a new point of view, and, especially in his course, Principles and Problems of Aesthetic History, attracted hundreds of students from the various language departments into philosophy. Rebec has found, since 1909, as director of philosophical studies, dean of the Graduate School, and director of the educational and civic services of the University of Oregon at Portland, an even larger field for his rare talents as an initiator of new interest in philosophy.

During Lloyd's acting directorship the University sought an older man with wider experience to carry out the tradition established by Morris and Dewey. Such a man was finally found in the person Page  676of Robert Mark Wenley (A.M. Glasgow '84, Ph.D. ibid. '95, LL.D. ibid. '01, Sc.D. Edinburgh '91), who was the head of the department from 1896 till his death in March, 1929.

Lloyd was later entrusted with large responsibilities in the administration of the University. Charged with the secretaryship of graduate studies when these were still a department superimposed on the Literary College, he was later honored, when the Graduate School was established, with the deanship for eleven years, from 1915 till his death on May 11, 1926. In 1925, in the interim between the presidency of Marion L. Burton and that of Clarence C. Little, he was Acting President. In the midst of his many and exacting administrative duties he continued to exert, through his classroom instruction, his consultations with advanced students, and his publications, a marked influence on philosophical thought. His sudden death brought to an untimely end a rare personality.

Wenley and Lloyd, during their thirty years of association together, co-operated with rare personal loyalty and singleness of purpose in consolidating and developing the Department of Philosophy, with the result that they saw its enrollment increase proportionately much more rapidly than did the enrollment in the Arts College. During this period the study of psychology, which had been initiated by Dewey, was gradually expanded and developed, under the direction of Walter Bowers Pillsbury (Nebraska '92, LL.D. ibid. '34, Ph.D. Cornell '96), till finally, affiliated more and more with the biological, medical, and social sciences, it was practically a separate department. At the death of Professor Wenley in 1929, this separation was made official.

The appointment of Robert Mark Wenley undoubtedly inaugurated the most significant period in the history of the teaching of philosophy at the University of Michigan; it was not only the longest period of leadership by one man, during which the greatest expansion in the number of the personnel of the department, the variety of special subjects taught, and points of view represented occurred, but also the period during which the department achieved the greatest renown, both within the state and throughout the nation.

Like other distinguished members of the faculty, Wenley came from a foreign country and brought a stimulating contrast of tradition and point of view. Yet the cultural background out of which his life emerged was in all essentials the same as the hitherto dominant American type. For he was brought up in a strictly religious, sober, industrious, and rather conventional, upper-middle-class family of successful Scotch Presbyterian business folk. Moreover, the moral temperature of Glasgow, where he spent his childhood and youth, had many of the characteristics of the large American city "on the make" — optimism, bustle, unreflecting self-confidence, and respect for worldly success earned by productive and beneficent personal talent and effort. When he came to America, therefore, he possessed a basis upon which to carry through the difficult process of adjustment to his new home. Through the smoke of Glasgow's steadily multiplying plants and the ships crowding her harbors, the young Wenley might be said to have already glimpsed something of the American scene which he was afterward to feel so heartily. "When I made my great adventure," he wrote in his unpublished autobiography, "and removed my family and goods and chattels to the United States, I drove from my house to the steamer, two miles off, and so sailed straight into the setting sun, into untried vasty possibilities." Although the formative years of his life were spent in Glasgow, he was born in Edinburgh, Page  677July 19, 1861. Receiving his university education at Glasgow University, he continued his studies in Paris, Rome, and Florence; he recognized a debt to Lord Kelvin, Richard Jebb, and John Nicol, among his Glasgow teachers, and to the Scottish preacher John Service, but the great influence in his intellectual life was Edward Caird, to whose teaching he remained faithful all his life.

Already before he was invited at the early age of thirty-five to head the department at the University of Michigan, Professor Wenley had had a distinguished career as a teacher of philosophy in Scotland. He had occupied various positions at Glasgow and Queen Margaret College and had received many prizes and honors in philosophy and theology — among the latter, an honorary vice-presidency of the Teachers' Guild, a life fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a fellowship of the Royal Society of Literature, and membership in the Aristotelian Society.

Thus, despite his comparative youth, Wenley came to his work at Michigan with a splendid training and many years of experience. In any account of the significance of this work, his importance as a teacher should take first place. His was a subject which, because of its critical and controversial spirit and the high generality of its basic concepts, presents peculiar difficulties to the mind of the immature student. Yet, because he knew life equally well with books, he was able to show the connection of these concepts with even the most familiar and commonplace affairs — like Socrates, bringing philosophy down to earth and within the reach of the average intellect. He vivified exposition with imagination and seasoned it with a keen wit, which, though it often disconcerted the unwary, made them, as he often said, "sit up and take notice." He created a direct personal contact between himself and the students by doing what people who had never heard him lecture would deem impossible — dramatizing philosophy. Thus he made plain to them that their own problems were problems of philosophy and that only through philosophy, in the broad sense, could they be solved. If at the beginning they were puzzled and felt their moorings in tradition shaken, in the end, many left college with the conviction that they owed to him as to no one else, a new and saving perspective upon life. Moreover, his relationship with his students did not end with graduation; for he followed many of them with help and guidance throughout their later careers. The typical courses that he gave for undergraduates were an introductory course in problems and methods — the enrollment in this course reached six hundred at one time — and a course in ethics, varying in content from year to year, in which he illustrated moral principles through a survey of some highly significant period of cultural history.

Though supreme in the difficult business of initiation into philosophy, it was as a teacher of graduate students that he could, and did, most fully use the equipment of his ripe scholarship. The character and method of his more advanced teaching is described by one of his pupils as follows:

In his seminar he did not pursue the easy method of having his students do the work, but himself always did the giving. On the one hand, encouraging mature students by quietly assuming that they could work independently, without constant supervision, on the other hand, consciously guiding and inspiring that independent effort by dint of continual giving without stint, he united successful inspiration with fruitful communication of knowledge. It was always evident that what was given was the result of prodigious effort and meticulous preparation. In his seminars in Kant, Hegel and the philosophy of religion, he ever offered the most solid of solid meat. But even then, Page  678though no longer under the necessity of dramatic presentation to retain the attention of large groups of undergraduates, the solid meat was spiced with the characteristic "Wenleyisms" without which he could not have been what he was. His graduate lectures not only manifested his astounding erudition, but patently bore the impress of his own convictions. Though in no sense attempting to proselyte, he did frankly and vigorously express his own philosophical and religious convictions to his graduate students. Such factors as these undoubtedly account in large measure for the increasing number of students who were attracted to him for their professional training in philosophy, with and for whom he so enjoyed working.

Not only was Professor Wenley influential as a university teacher; he also did very effective work as an extramural lecturer. Already, in Britain, before he came to America, he had distinguished himself by his university extension work and as a public speaker. And from the date (1911) when University Extension became a part of the regular program of the University, Wenley was one of the professors most in demand.

Despite his varied activities as teacher, lecturer, and administrator, Wenley found time and energy for an amazing literary output. The total list of his publications contains over six hundred titles. A large number of these are, to be sure, reviews of books. He was rather too generous in giving himself to this valuable, but ephemeral and unhonored and unremunerated, work. But, counting out the reviews, we find over two hundred encyclopedia articles, some fifty technical articles and as many more on educational and literary subjects, several pamphlets, and ten books. Many of the encyclopedia articles were contributed to Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, for which he drew up the list of names in philosophy and religion, and to Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. Four of his books, including his maiden volume, are in the field of the philosophy of religion. Of these, Socrates and Christ (1889), Contemporary Theology and Theism (1897), and The Preparation for Christianity in the Ancient World (1898) are mainly historical and critical in import, whereas the Baldwin lectures, Modern Thought and the Crisis in Belief (1909), are of a more constructive character. Four more are in the field of the history of philosophy — Aspects of Pessimism (1894), An Outline Introductory to Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" (1897), Kant and His Philosophical Revolution, in the "World's Epoch-Makers Series" (1910), a book highly praised even by German critics for its profound and acute scholarship, and Stoicism and Its Influence (1924), being No. 21 of the series, "Our Debt to Greece and Rome." The volume entitled The Anarchist Ideal, and Other Essays (1913) consists of essays on anarchism in the ancient world, on Plutarch, physiological psychology, heredity, and the university in the United States. Last, there is his contribution to the University of Michigan scholarly publications, The Life and Work of George Sylvester Morris (1917), notable not only as a graceful and sympathetic biography of a former professor in the department but as a penetrating study of the background of thought and culture in the United States in the nineteenth century. He also made an extensive contribution to The Life of Robert Flint, by Donald Macmillan (1914). Mention should be made of the delightful literary essays which he wrote as recreations, such as the essay, "Marian Evans and George Eliot," in the Washington University Studies (Ser. II, Vol. IX [1921], No. 1), Poems of John Davidson, Selected, with an Introduction and Bibliography, in the "Modern Library" (1924), and the two essays on Kipling published in the Inlander, March and April, 1899. Finally, there Page  679should be mentioned the partly autobiographical, partly philosophical, contribution to the second volume of Contemporary American Philosophers, in the "International Library of Psychology, Philosophy and Scientific Method." As expressed in his writings and lectures, Professor Wenley's general philosophical position may be described, I think, as Hegelianism of the Right, interpreted in terms of his Scotch pietism, and modified by a certain skepticism born of his knowledge of science. Profoundly religious, even mystical by training and conviction, a Christian and a church member, he was yet skeptical of the sanctity and literal truth of creeds and dogmas. On the other hand, he knew the history of thought too well to be swept off his feet by fashionable currents of opinion in religion and philosophy. Although he never developed an original system of thought in any of his writings, all of his publications in whatever field are distinguished by broad and accurate learning, knowledge of the human spirit, especially in its relation to its historical and social background, and, particularly in the writings of his later period, by a brilliant, epigrammatic, characteristic style. To his students who followed his advanced courses and knew what lay unwritten in his mind, it will always be a matter of regret that he never found the opportunity to bring to completion a systematic work on the philosophy of religion.

During the headship of Professor Wenley, the work of the department grew to such an extent that, in addition to the collaboration given by Professor Lloyd, it became necessary to appoint new members to the staff. Among those who were appointed, the following became permanent members of the department and are now carrying on in the room of Professors Wenley and Lloyd — two University of Michigan men, Charles Bruce Vibbert ('04) and Roy Wood Sellars ('03, Ph.D. '09), appointed in 1905, and, after George Rebec's resignation, DeWitt Henry Parker (Harvard '06, Ph.D. ibid. '08).

On the death of Wenley and the separation of philosophy from psychology, the old headship system of organization was abandoned in the department in favor of the chairmanship system. DeWitt Parker was appointed Chairman in 1929. In 1935 the department was further reorganized along "democratic" lines through the adoption of a written constitution giving authority to the department as a whole, including instructors, with regard to all matters concerning appointments, promotions in rank and salary, and educational policy. In 1940 the department consisted of six men, excluding teaching fellows, the three new members being Professor Cooper Harold Langford (Clark '21, Ph.D. Harvard '24), who was appointed in 1929, and Assistant Professors Paul Henle (Harvard '29, Ph.D. ibid. '33) and William Frankena (Calvin '30, Ph.D. Harvard '37), both appointed in 1937.

The following books, exclusive of those that may be regarded as primarily of the textbook variety, have been published by present members of the department: Cooper H. Langford, Symbolic Logic (in collaboration with Clarence I. Lewis, 1932); DeWitt H. Parker, The Self and Nature (1917), The Principles of Aesthetics (1920), The Analysis of Art (1926), Human Values (1931), and Experience and Substance (1941); Roy W. Sellars, Critical Realism (1916), The Next Step in Democracy (1916), The Next Step in Religion (1918), Essays in Critical Realism (1921), Evolutionary Naturalism (1922), The Principles and Problems of Philosophy (1926), Religion Coming of Age (1928), and The Philosophy of Physical Realism (1932).

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