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Wilhelm Wundt

Born 16 August 1832(1832-08-16)
Neckarau near Mannheim, Grand Duchy of Baden
Died 31 August 1920 (aged 88) Großbothen near Leipzig, Germany[1]
Residence Germany
Nationality German
Fields Psychology, Physiology
Institutions University of Leipzig
Alma mater University of Heidelberg
Doctoral students Edward B. Titchener, G. Stanley Hall, Oswald Külpe, Hugo Münsterberg, Vladimir Bekhterev, James McKeen Cattell, Lightner Witmer[2]
Known for Psychology, Voluntarism

Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (16 August 1832 - 31 August 1920) was a German medical doctor, psychologist, physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the founding figures of modern psychology. He is widely regarded as the "father of experimental psychology".[3][4][5] In 1879, Wundt founded one of the first formal laboratories for psychological research at the University of Leipzig.

By creating this laboratory he was able to explore the nature of religious beliefs, identify mental disorders and abnormal behavior, and map damaged areas of the human brain. By doing this he was able to establish psychology as a separate science from other topics. He also formed the first journal for psychological research in 1881.

Contents

Biography

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Formative years

Wundt was born at Neckarau, Baden in 1832 (now part of Mannheim), the fourth child to parents Maximilian Wundt (a Lutheran minister), and his wife Marie Frederike. He studied from 1851 to 1856 at the University of Tübingen, University of Heidelberg, and the University of Berlin. After graduating in medicine from Heidelberg (1856), Wundt studied briefly with Johannes Peter Müller, before joining the University's staff, becoming an assistant to the physicist and physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz in 1858. There he wrote Contributions to the Theory of Sense Perception (1858-62).[6]

He married Sophie Mau while at Heidelberg. It was during this period that Wundt offered the first course ever taught in scientific psychology, all the while stressing the use of experimental methods drawn from the natural sciences, emphasizing the physiological relationship of the brain and the mind. His background in physiology would have a great effect on his approach to the new science of psychology. His lectures on psychology were published as Lectures on the Mind of Humans and Animals in 1863. He was promoted to Assistant Professor of Physiology at Heidelberg in 1864.[6] Weber (1795-1878) and Fechner (1801-1887), who worked together at Leipzig, inspired Wundt's interest in physiological psychology.

Wundt applied himself to writing a work that came to be one of the most important in the history of psychology, Principles of Physiological Psychology in 1874. The Principles utilized a system of psychology that sought to investigate the immediate experiences of consciousness, including feelings, emotions, volitions and ideas, mainly explored through Wundt's system of "internal perception", or the self-examination of conscious experience by objective observation of one's consciousness.[6]

Wundt's work and influence on modern psychology

Wilhelm Wundt (seated) with colleagues in his psychological laboratory, the first of its kind

Parts of Wundt's system were developed and championed by his one-time student, Titchener, who described his system "Structuralism" Several of Wundt's works, including Principles of Physiological Psychology are considered fundamentally important texts in the field of psychology. Though widely recognized as important in the birth and growth of psychology, his influence in psychology today is a subject of debate among experts.

Though Wundt wrote extensively on a variety of subjects, including philosophy, physics, physiology, and of course psychology, the immensity of his collected writings and the 65 year-long duration of his career makes it difficult to identify a single, coherent mode of thought.[3] Wundt is argued by some writers to have been a devout foundationalist, working tirelessly to understand the intricacies of the areas of knowledge he studied to form a coherent, atomistic understanding of the universe.[7] In recognition of Wundt's work, the American Psychological Association established the "Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award for Exceptional Contributions to Trans-Atlantic Psychology", which recognizes "a significant record of trans-Atlantic research collaboration." [8]

Several of Wundt's students became eminent psychologists in their own right. They include: the German Oswald Külpe (a professor at the University of Würzburg); the Americans James McKeen Cattell (the first professor of psychology in the United States), G. Stanley Hall (the father of the child psychology movement and adolescent developmental theorist, head of Clark University), Charles Hubbard Judd (Director of the School of Education at the University of Chicago), Hugo Münsterberg (who contributed to the development of industrial psychology and taught at Harvard University), Edward Bradford Titchener (who founded the first psychology laboratory in the United States at Cornell University), Lightner Witmer (founder of the first psychological clinic in his country); the Englishman Charles Spearman (who developed the two-factor theory of intelligence and several important statistical analyses - see Factor analysis, Spearman's rank correlation coefficient); the Romanian Constantin Rădulescu-Motru (Personalist philosopher and head of the Philosophy department at the University of Bucharest).

Wundt's laboratory students called their approach Ganzheit Psychology ("holistic psychology") following Wundt's death. Much of Wundt's work was derided mid-century in the United States because of a lack of adequate translations, misrepresentations by certain students, and behaviorism's polemic with the structuralist program. Titchener, a two-year resident of Wundt's lab and one of Wundt's most vocal advocates in the United States, is responsible for several English translations and mistranslations of Wundt's works that supported his own views and approach, which he termed "structuralism" and claimed was wholly consistent with Wundt's position.

Titchener's focus on internal structures of mind was rejected by behaviorists following the ideas of B. F. Skinner; the latter dominated psychological studies in the mid-1900s. Part of this rejection included Wundt, whose work was eclipsed during this period. In later decades, his actual positions and techniques have seen reconsideration and reassessment by major psychologists.

An optical illusion described by him is called the Wundt illusion.

Publications

To name all of Wundt's publications would exceed the scope of an encyclopœdia article. The American psychologist Edwin Boring (1960) numbered the volume of Wundt's Bibliography at over 490 works, which are on average 110 pages long. Wundt published in 68 years an average of seven works a year, making him probably the most productive scientist of all time.[9][10]

As an addition, Wundt wrote 53.735 pages in total. This means "writing for 100 years without stopping with 500 pages per year."

Wundt's gravestone
  • Die Lehre von der Muskelbewegung (The Patterns of Muscular Movement), 1858
  • Die Geschwindigkeit des Gedankens (The Velocity of Thought) (Die Gartenlaube 1862, Vol 17, p. 263)
  • Lehrbuch der Physiologie des Menschen (Text-book of Human Physiology), 1865
  • Die physikalischen Axiome und ihre Beziehung zum Causalprincip (Physical Axioms and their Bearing upon Causality Principles), 1866
  • Handbuch der medicinischen Physik (Handbook of Medical Physics), 1867
  • Beiträge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung (Contributions on the Theory of Sensory Perception), 1862
  • Vorlesungen über die Menschen- und Thierseele (Lectures about Human and Animal Psychology), 1863/1864
  • Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie (Principles of Physiological Psychology), 1874
  • Untersuchungen zur Mechanik der Nerven und Nervencentren (Researches upon the Mechanisms of Nerves and Nerve-Centres), 1876
  • Logik (Logic), 1880 to 1883, 3 Volumes
  • Essays, 1885
  • Ethik (Ethics), 1886
  • System der Philosophie (System of Philosophy), 1889
  • Grundriß der Psychologie (Outline of Psychology), 1896
  • Völkerpsychologie (Social Psychology), 10 Volumes, 1900 to 1920
    • 1, 2. Die Sprache (Language), Pt 1, 2. (1900)
    • 3. Die Kunst (Art). (1908)
    • 4, 5, 6. Mythus und Religion (Myth and Religion), Pt 1, 2, 3. (?1910, 1914, ?)
    • 7, 8. Die Gesellschaft (Society), Pt 1, 2. (1917)
    • 9. Das Recht (Right). (1918)
    • 10. Kultur im Geschichte (Culture in History). (1920)
  • Kleine Schriften (Shorter Writings), 3 Volumes, 1910
  • Einleitung in die Psychologie (Introduction to Psychology), 1911
  • Probleme der Völkerpsychologie (Problems of Social Psychology), 1911
  • Elemente der Völkerpsychologie (The Elements of Social Psychology), 1912
  • Reden und Aufsätze (Addresses and Extracts), 1913
  • Sinnliche und übersinnliche Welt (The Sensory and Supersensory World), 1914
  • Über den wahrhaften Krieg (About the Real War), 1914
  • Die Nationen und ihre Philosophie (The Nation and Its Philosophy), 1915
  • Erlebtes und Erkanntes (Experience and Realization), 1920

See also

Notes and references

  • Carpenter, Shana K (August 2005). "Some neglected contributions of Wilhelm Wundt to the psychology of memory.". Psychological reports 97 (1): 63–73. doi:10.2466/PR0.97.5.63-73. PMID 16279306. 
  • Steinberg, H (November 2001). "[The psychologist and philosopher Wilhelm Wundt and a dedication by his student Emil Kraepelin]". Der Nervenarzt 72 (11): 884. PMID 11758098. 
  • Ziche, P (1999). "Neuroscience in its context. Neuroscience and psychology in the work of Wilhelm Wundt.". Physis; rivista internazionale di storia della scienza 36 (2): 407–29. PMID 11640242. 
  • Smith, R (November 1982). "Wilhelm Wundt resurrected.". British journal for the history of science 15 (51 Pt 3): 285–91. doi:10.1017/S0007087400019361. PMID 11611088. 
  • Bringmann, W G; Balance W D, Evans R B (July 1975). "Wilhelm Wundt 1832-1920: a brief biographical sketch.". Journal of the history of the behavioral sciences 11 (3): 287–97. doi:10.1002/1520-6696(197507)11:3<287::AID-JHBS2300110309>3.0.CO;2-L. PMID 11609842. 

External links

Works online


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