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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XVII. Later Philosophy

§ 15. The Improvement of Philosophical Teaching

The general spread of the evolutionary theory, popular science, and more accurate historical acquaintance with European thought affected the American colleges only very slowly. An examination of the catalogues of American colleges will bear out the picture of dismal unenlightenment which Stanley Hall drew in 1879 of the state of philosophic teaching. The beginning of a better order of things may be dated from the election of a layman, Charles W. Eliot, as President of Harvard College in 1869 or from the introduction of post-graduate instruction at Johns Hopkins in 1876. As the American colleges began to expand and as training for the educational profession became an important consideration, teachers of philosophy and psychology began to be selected with some regard for professional training and competency rather than exclusively for piety or pastoral experience. Such professional training an increasing number obtained in Germany, where, if they did not always get much fresh wisdom, they did generally learn the meaning of scientific accuracy in experimental psychology and philologic accuracy in the history of philosophy. It was through men of this class that the idealistic philosophy of Kant and Hegel was introduced into the American colleges. In this they were aided by the spread of German idealism in the English and Scottish universities, which found expression in the works of J. F. Ferrier, Hutchison Stirling, F. H. Bradley, T. H. Green, Bosanquet, John and Edward Caird, Mahaffy, and William Wallace.