Johann Friedrich Herbart

German philosopher, psychologist, and founder of pedagogy as an academic discipline

Johann Friedrich Herbart (4 May 1776 – 14 August 1841) was a German philosopher, psychologist and founder of pedagogy as an academic discipline.

Johann Friedrich Herbart.


  • The intention with which the educator is to approach his work, this practical reflection, provisionally detailed down to the measures which our present state of knowledge suggests we should choose, is to my mind the first half of pedagogics. But there must be a second in which the possibility of education is theoretically explained and presented with its limitations in the light of changing circumstances.
    • Herbart (1982b, p. 22), as cited in: Norbert Hilgenheger, "Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841)." Kwartalnik Pedagogiczny 3-4 (1999): 5-26.
  • It is of course a familiar precept that the teacher must try to arouse the interest of his pupils in all that he teaches. However, this precept is generally meant and understood to denote the idea that learning is the end and interest the means to attain it. I wish to reverse that relationship. Learning must serve the purpose of creating interest. Learning is transient, but interest must be lifelong.
    • Herbart (1982c, p. 97), as cited in: Norbert Hilgenheger, "Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841)." Kwartalnik Pedagogiczny 3-4 (1999): 5-26.

Quotes about Johann Friedrich Herbart

  • Leibniz foreshadowed the entire doctrine of the unconscious, but Herbart actually began it. Wundt was to appeal first to unconscious inference in order to explain perception, and then to apperception. Fechner was to take from Herbart the notion of the measurement of the magnitude...
    • Edwin Boring (1929) A History of Experimental Psychology; 2nd ed. 1950 p. 246 (p. 257 in 1950 edition)
  • Johann Herbart’s work on education and particularly mathematical psychology influenced me. I think mathematics is the pure instance of construct functioning—the model of human behaviour.
    • Attributed to George A. Kelly in Hinkle (1970, p. 91), as cited in: Fay Fransella and Robert A. Neimeyer. "George Alexander Kelly: The man and his theory." International handbook of personal construct psychology (2003): 21-31.
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