WILHELM MAXIMILIAN WUNDT (16 August 1832 – 31 August 1920) was a German physician, physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the founding figures of modern psychology . Wundt, who noted psychology as a science apart from philosophy and biology , was the first person ever to call himself a psychologist . He is widely regarded as the "father of experimental psychology ." In 1879, Wundt founded the first formal laboratory for psychological research at the University of Leipzig . This marked psychology as an independent field of study. By creating this laboratory he was able to establish psychology as a separate science from other topics. He also formed the first academic journal for psychological research, Philosophische Studien (from 1881 to 1902), set up to publish the Institute's research.
A survey published in _American Psychologist _ in 1991 ranked Wundt's reputation in first place regarding "all-time eminence" based on ratings provided by 29 American historians of psychology. William James and Sigmund Freud were ranked a distant second and third.
* 1 Biography
* 2 Overview of Wundt\'s work
* 3 Central themes in Wundt\'s work
* 6 Methodology and strategies
* 6.1 Principles of mental causality
* 8 Complete works and legacy
* 8.1 Publications, libraries and letters * 8.2 Biographies * 8.3 Political attitude * 8.4 Wundt Societies
* 9 Reception of Wundt\'s work
* 9.1 Reception by his contemporaries * 9.2 Research on reception of his work * 9.3 Misunderstandings of basic terms and principles * 9.4 Scientific controversies and criticisms
* 10 Wundt\'s excellence
* 11 Selected works
* 11.1 Books and articles * 11.2 Wundt\'s works in English
* 12 See also * 13 References
* 14 Sources
* 14.1 Biographies * 14.2 Contemporary sources * 14.3 Recent sources
* 15 External links
* 15.1 Works online * 15.2 Earlier translations online
Wundt was born at
Wundt studied from 1851 to 1856 at the
University of Tübingen , at
University of Heidelberg , and at the
University of Berlin . After
graduating as doctor of medicine from Heidelberg (1856), doctoral
Karl Ewald Hasse Wundt studied briefly with Johannes Peter
Müller , before joining the Heidelberg University's staff, becoming
an assistant to the physicist and physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz
in 1858 with responsibility for teaching the laboratory course in
physiology. There he wrote _Contributions to the Theory of Sense
Perception_ (1858–1862). In 1864 he became Associate Professor for
In 1867, near Heidelberg, Wundt met Sophie Mau (1844–1912). She was the eldest daughter of the Kiel theology professor Heinrich August Mau and his wife Louise, née von Rumohr, and a sister of the archaeologist August Mau . They married on 14 August 1872 in Kiel. The couple had three children: Eleanor (*1876–1957), who became an assistant to her father in many ways, Louise, called Lilli, (*1880–1884) and Max Wundt (*1879–1963), who became a philosopher.
In 1874, Wundt was promoted to professor of "Inductive Philosophy" in
Zurich, and in 1875, Wundt was made professor of philosophy at the
University of Leipzig where
Ernst Heinrich Weber
The University of Leipzig assigned Wundt a lab in 1876 to store equipment he had brought from Zurich. Located in the Konvikt building, many of Wundt's demonstrations took place in this laboratory due to the inconvenience of transporting his equipment between the lab and his classroom. Wundt arranged for the construction of suitable instruments and collected many pieces of equipment such as tachistoscopes, chronoscopes , pendulums, electrical devices, timers, and sensory mapping devices, and was known to assign an instrument to various graduate students with the task of developing uses for future research in experimentation. Between 1885 and 1909 there were 15 assistants. Wilhelm Wundt(seated) with colleagues in his psychological laboratory, the first of its kind
In 1879 Wundt began conducting experiments that were not part of his
course work, and he claimed that these independent experiments
solidified his lab's legitimacy as a formal laboratory of psychology,
though the University did not officially recognize the building as
part of the campus until 1883. The laboratory grew and encompassing a
total of eleven rooms, the Psychological Institute, as it became
known, eventually moved to a new building that Wundt had designed
specifically for psychological research. The list of Wundt's lectures
during the winter terms of 1875-1879 shows a wide-ranging programme, 6
days a week, on average 2 hours daily, e.g. in the winter term of
Honorary doctorates from the Universities of
Wundt was responsible for an extraordinary number of doctoral
dissertations between 1875 and 1919: 184 PhD students included 70
foreigners (of which 23 were from Russia, Poland and other
east-European countries, 18 were American). Several of Wundt's
students became eminent psychologists in their own right. They
include: the Germans
Oswald Külpe (a professor at the University of
Würzburg), Ernst Meumann (a professor in
The Americans listed include
James McKeen Cattell (the first
professor of psychology in the United States), Granville Stanley Hall
(the father of the child psychology movement and adolescent
developmental theorist, head of
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 Wundt's program.
OVERVIEW OF WUNDT\'S WORK
Wundt was initially a physician and a well-known neurophysiologist before turning to sensory physiology and psychophysics. He was convinced that, for example, the process of spatial perception could not solely be explained on a physiological level, but also involved psychological principles. Wundt founded experimental psychology as a discipline and became a pioneer of cultural psychology . He created a broad research programme in empirical psychology and developed a system of philosophy and ethics from the basic concepts of his psychology – bringing together several disciplines in one person.
Wundt's epistemological position – against John Locke and English empiricism (sensualism ) – was made clear in his book _Beiträge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung_ (Contributions on the Theory of Sensory Perception) published in 1862, by his use of a quotation from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz on the title page:
"Nihil est in intellectu quod non fuerit in sensu, nisi intellectu ipse." (Leibniz, Nouveaux essais, 1765, Livre II, Des Idées, Chapitre 1, § 6). – Nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses, except the intellect itself.
Principles that are not present in sensory impressions can be recognised in human perception and consciousness: logical inferences , categories of thought, the principle of causality , the principle of purpose (teleology ), the principle of emergence and other epistemological principles.
Wundt's most important books are:
* _Lehrbuch der Physiologie des Menschen_ (Textbook of Human Physiology) (1864/1865, 4th ed. 1878); * _Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie_ (Principles of Physiological Psychology), (1874; 6th ed. 1908-1911, 3 Vols.); * _System der Philosophie_ (System of Philosophy), (1889; 4th ed. 1919, 2 Vols.); * _Logik. Eine Untersuchung der Prinzipien der Erkenntnis und der Methoden wissenschaftlicher Forschung_ (Logic. An investigation into the principles of knowledge and the methods of scientific research), (1880-1883; 4th ed. 1919-1921, 3 Vols.); * _Ethik_ (Ethics), (1886; 3rd ed. 1903, 2 Vols.); * _Völkerpsychologie. Eine Untersuchung der Entwicklungsgesetze von Sprache, Mythos und Sitte_ (Cultural Psychology. An investigation into developmental laws of language, myth, and conduct), (1900-1920, 10 Vols.); * _Grundriss der Psychologie_ (Outline of Psychology), (1896; 14th ed. 1920).
These 22 volumes cover an immense variety of topics. On examination of the complete works, however, a close relationship between Wundt's theoretical psychology , epistemology and methodology can be seen. English translations are only available for the best-known works: _Principles of physiological Psychology_ (only the single-volume 1st ed. of 1874) and _Ethics_ (also only 1st ed. of 1886). Wundt's work remains largely inaccessible without advanced knowledge of German. Its reception, therefore, is still greatly hampered by misunderstandings, stereotypes and superficial judgements.
CENTRAL THEMES IN WUNDT\'S WORK
THE DELINEATION OF CATEGORIES
Wundt considered that reference to the subject (Subjektbezug), value assessment (Wertbestimmung), the existence of purpose (Zwecksetzung), and volitional acts (Willenstätigkeit) to be specific and fundamental categories for psychology. He frequently used the formulation "the human as a motivated and thinking subject" in order to characterise features held in common with the humanities and the categorical difference to the natural sciences .
Influenced by Leibniz, Wundt introduced the term psychophysical parallelism as follows: "… wherever there are regular relationships between mental and physical phenomena the two are neither identical nor convertible into one another because they are per se incomparable; but they are associated with one another in the way that certain mental processes regularly correspond to certain physical processes or, figuratively expressed, run 'parallel to one another'." Although the inner experience is based on the functions of the brain there are no physical causes for mental changes.
Leibniz wrote: "Souls act according to the laws of final causes, through aspirations, ends and means. Bodies act according to the laws of efficient causes, i.e. the laws of motion. And these two realms, that of efficient causes and that of final causes, harmonize with one another." (Monadology, Paragraph 79).
Wundt follows Leibniz and differentiates between a _physical_ causality (natural causality of neurophysiology ) and a _mental_ (_psychic_) causality of the consciousness process. Both causalities, however, are not opposites in a dualistic metaphysical sense, but depend on the standpoint Causal explanations in psychology must be content to seek the effects of the antecedent causes without being able to derive exact predictions. Using the example of volitional acts, Wundt describes possible inversion in considering cause and effect, ends and means , and explains how causal and teleological explanations can complement one another to establish a co-ordinated consideration.
Wundt's position differed from contemporary authors who also favoured parallelism. Instead of being content with the postulate of parallelism, he developed his principles of _mental causality_ in contrast to the natural causality of neurophysiology, and a corresponding methodology. There are two fundamentally different approaches of the postulated psychophysical unit, not just two points-of-view in the sense of Gustav Theodor Fechner's identity hypothesis. Psychological and physiological statements exist in two categorically different reference systems ; the important categories are to be emphasised in order to prevent category mistakes as discussed by Nicolai Hartmann . In this regard, Wundt created the first genuine epistemology and methodology of empirical psychology (the term philosophy of science did not yet exist).
Apperception is Wundt's central theoretical concept. Leibniz described apperception as the process in which the elementary sensory impressions pass into (self-)consciousness , whereby individual aspirations (striving, volitional acts) play an essential role. Wundt developed psychological concepts, used experimental psychological methods and put forward neuropsychological modelling in the frontal cortex of the brain system – in line with today's thinking. Apperception exhibits a range of theoretical assumptions on the integrative process of consciousness. The selective control of attention is an elementary example of such active cognitive, emotional and motivational integration.
DEVELOPMENT THEORY OF THE MIND
The fundamental task is to work out a comprehensive development
theory of the mind – from animal psychology to the highest cultural
achievements in language, religion and ethics. Unlike other thinkers
of his time, Wundt had no difficulty connecting the development
concepts of the humanities (in the spirit of
Friedrich Hegel and
Johann Gottfried Herder with the biological theory of evolution as
Wundt determined that "psychology is an empirical science co-ordinating natural science and humanities, and that the considerations of both complement one another in the sense that only together can they create for us a potential empirical knowledge." He claimed that his views were free of metaphysics and were based on certain epistemological presuppositions , including the differentiation of subject and object in the perception, and the principle of causality. With his term _critical realism_, Wundt distinguishes himself from other philosophical positions.
DEFINITION OF PSYCHOLOGY
Wundt set himself the task of redefining the broad field of
psychology between philosophy and physiology, between the humanities
and the natural sciences. In place of the metaphysical definition as a
science of the soul came the definition, based on scientific theory,
of empirical psychology as a psychology of consciousness with its own
categories and epistemological principles.
For Wundt it would be just as much a misunderstanding to define psychology as a behavioural science in the sense of the later concept of strict behaviourism . Numerous behavioural and psychological variables had already been observed or measured at the Leipzig laboratory. Wundt stressed that physiological effects, for example the physiological changes accompanying feelings , were only tools of psychology, as were the physical measurements of stimulus intensity in psychophysics . Further developing these methodological approaches one-sidedly would ultimately, however, lead to a behavioural physiology, i.e. a scientific reductionism , and not to a general psychology and cultural psychology.
* as a science of the direct experience it contrasts with the natural sciences that refer to the indirect content of experience and abstract from the subject; * as a science "of generally valid forms of direct human experience it is the foundation of the humanities"; * among all the empirical sciences it was "the one whose results most benefit the examination of the general problems of epistemology and ethics – the two fundamental areas of philosophy."
Wundt's concepts were developed during almost 60 years of research and teaching that led him from neurophysiology to psychology and philosophy. The interrelationships between physiology, philosophy, logic, epistemology and ethics are therefore essential for an understanding of Wundt's psychology. The core of Wundt's areas of interest and guiding ideas can already be seen in his _Vorlesungen über die Menschen- und Tierseele_ (Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology) of 1863: _individual psychology_ (now known as general psychology, i.e. areas such as perception, attention, apperception, volition, will, feelings and emotions); _cultural psychology_ (Wundt's Völkerpsychologie) as development theory of the human mind); _animal psychology_; and _neuropsychology_. The initial conceptual outlines of the 30-year-old Wundt (1862, 1863) led to a long research programme, to the founding of the first Institute and to the treatment of psychology as a discipline, as well as to a range of fundamental textbooks and numerous other publications.
During the Heidelberg years from 1853 to 1873, Wundt published
numerous essays on physiology, particularly on experimental
neurophysiology, a textbook on human physiology (1865, 4th ed. 1878)
and a manual of medical physics (1867). He wrote about 70 reviews of
current publications in the fields of neurophysiology and neurology,
physiology, anatomy and histology. A second area of work was sensory
physiology, including spatial perception, visual perception and
optical illusions. An optical illusion described by him is called the
As a result of his medical training and his work as an assistant to Hermann von Helmholtz, Wundt knew the benchmarks of experimental research, as well as the speculative nature of psychology in the mid-19th century. Wundt's aspiration for scientific research and the necessary methodological critique were clear when he wrote of the language of ordinary people, who merely invoked their personal experiences of life, criticised naive introspection, or quoted the influence of uncritical amateur ("folk") psychology on psychological interpretation.
His _Beiträge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung_ (1862) shows Wundt's transition from a physiologist to an experimental psychologist. "Why does not psychology follow the example of the natural sciences? It is an understanding that, from every side of the history of the natural sciences, informs us that the progress of every science is closely connected with the progress made regarding experimental methods." With this statement, however, he will in no way treat psychology as a pure natural science, though psychologists should learn from the progress of methods in the natural sciences: "There are two sciences that must come to the aid of general psychology in this regard: the development history of the mind and comparative psychology."
The _Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie_ on general
psychology is Wundt's best-known textbook. He wanted to connect two
sciences with one another. "
"With sufficient certainty the approach can indeed be seen as well-founded – that nothing takes place in our consciousness that does not have its physical basis in certain physiological processes.". Wundt believed that physiological psychology had the following task: "firstly, to investigate those life processes that are centrally located, between external and internal experience, which make it necessary to use both observation methods simultaneously, external and internal, and, secondly, to illuminate and, where possible, determine a total view of human existence from the points of view gained from this investigation." "The attribute ‘physiological’ is not saying that it … … wants to reduce the psychology to physiology – which I consider impossible – but that it works with physiological, i.e. experimental, tools and, indeed, more so than is usual in other psychology, takes into account the relationship between mental and physical processes." "If one wants to treat the peculiarities of the method as the most important factor then our science – as experimental psychology – differs from the usual science of the soul purely based on self-observation." After long chapters on the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, the _Grundzüge_ (1874) has five sections: the mental elements, mental structure, interactions of the mental structure, mental developments, the principles and laws of mental causality. Through his insistence that mental processes were analysed in their elements, Wundt did not want to create a pure element psychology because the elements should simultaneously be related to one another. He describes the sensory impression with the simple sensory feelings, perceptions and volitional acts connected with them, and he explains dependencies and feedbacks.
Apperception theory Wundt rejected the widespread association theory , according to which mental connections (learning ) are mainly formed through the frequency and intensity of particular processes. His term _apperception psychology_ means that he considered the _creative_ conscious activity to be more important than elementary association. Apperception is an emergent activity that is both arbitrary and selective as well as imaginative and comparative. In this process, feelings and ideas are images apperceptively connected with typical tones of feeling, selected in a variety of ways, analysed, associated and combined, as well as linked with motor and autonomic functions – not simply _processed_ but also _creatively synthesised_ (see below on the Principle of creative synthesis). In the integrative process of conscious activity, Wundt sees an elementary activity of the subject, i.e. an act of volition, to deliberately move content into the conscious. Insofar that this emergent activity is typical of all mental processes, it is possible to describe his point-of-view as voluntaristic.
Wundt describes apperceptive processes as psychologically highly differentiated and, in many regards, bases this on methods and results from his experimental research. One example is the wide-ranging series of experiments on the mental chronometry of complex reaction times . In research on feelings, certain effects are provoked while pulse and breathing are recorded using a kymograph . The observed differences were intended to contribute towards supporting Wundt's theory of emotions with its three dimensions: pleasant – unpleasant, tense – relaxed, excited – depressed.
Wilhelm Wundt's _Völkerpsychologie. Eine Untersuchung der
Entwicklungsgesetze von Sprache, Mythus und Sitte_ (1900-1920, 10
Vols.) which also contains the evolution of
Stimulated by the ideas of previous thinkers, such as
Wilhelm von Humboldt (with his ideas about
comparative linguistics ), the psychologist
Moritz Lazarus (1851) and
Heymann Steinthal founded the _Zeitschrift für
Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft_ (Journal for Cultural
The ten volumes consist of: Language (Vols. 1 and 2), Art (Vol. 3),
Wundt recognized about 20 _fundamental dynamic motives in cultural development_. Motives frequently quoted in cultural development are: division of labour, ensoulment, salvation, happiness, production and imitation, child-raising, artistic drive, welfare, arts and magic, adornment, guilt, punishment, atonement, self-education, play, and revenge. Other values and motives emerge in the areas of freedom and justice, war and peace, legal structures, state structures and forms of government; also regarding the development of a world view of culture, religion, state, traffic, and a worldwide political and social society. In religious considerations, many of the values and motives (i.e. belief in soul, immortality, belief in gods and demons, ritualistic acts, witchcraft, animism and totemism) are combined with the motives of art, imagination, dance and ecstasy, as well as with forms of family and power.
Wundt saw examples of human self-education in walking upright, physical facilities and "an interaction in part forced upon people by external conditions and in part the result of voluntary culture". He described the random appearance and later conscious control of fire as a similar interaction between two motives. In the interaction of human activity and the conditions of nature he saw a creative principle of culture right from the start; tools as cultural products of a second nature. An interactive system of cause and effect, a system of purposes and thus values (and reflexively from standards of one's own activities) is formed according to the principles of one's own thinking.
In the _Elemente der Völkerpsychologie_ (The Elements of Cultural
Psychology, 1912) Wundt sketched out four main levels of cultural
development: primitive man, the totemistic age, the age of heroes and
gods, and the development of humanity. The delineations were unclear
and the depiction was greatly simplified. Only this book was
translated into English _Elements of folk-psychology_ ), thus
providing but a much abridged insight into Wundt's differentiated
cultural psychology. (The Folk
In retrospect, ‘Völkerpsychologie’ was an unfortunate choice of
title because it is often misinterpreted as ethnology . Wundt also
considered calling it (Social)
Wundt contributed to the state of neuropsychology as it existed at the time in three ways: through his criticism of the theory of localisation (then widespread in neurology ), through his demand for research hypotheses founded on both neurological and psychological thinking, and through his neuropsychological concept of an apperception centre in the frontal cortex . Wundt considered attention and the control of attention an excellent example of the desirable combination of experimental psychological and neurophysiological research. Wundt called for experimentation to localise the higher central nervous functions to be based on clear, psychologically-based research hypotheses because the questions could not be rendered precisely enough on the anatomical and physiological levels alone. _ (Wundt, Grundzüge_, 1903, 5th ed. Vol. 1, p. 324.)
Wundt based his central theory of apperception on neuropsychological modelling (from the 3rd edition of the _Grundzüge_ onwards). According to this, the hypothetical apperception centre in the frontal cerebral cortex that he described could interconnect sensory, motor, autonomic, cognitive, emotional and motivational process components Wundt thus provided the guiding principle of a primarily psychologically-oriented research programme on the highest integrative processes. He is therefore a forerunner of current research on cognitive and emotional executive functions in the prefrontal cerebral cortex, and on hypothetical _multimodal convergence zones_ in the network of cortical and limbic functions. This concept of an interdisciplinary neuroscience is now taken for granted, but Wundt's contribution towards this development has almost been forgotten. Sherrington repeatedly quotes Wundt's research on the physiology of the reflexes in his textbook, but not Wundt's neuropsychological concepts
METHODOLOGY AND STRATEGIES
"Given its position between the natural sciences and the humanities, psychology really does have a great wealth of methodological tools. While, on the one hand, there are the experimental methods, on the other hand, objective works and products in cultural development (_Objektivationen des menschlichen Geistes_) also offer up abundant material for comparative psychological analysis".
Experimental psychology in
The principles of his cultural psychological methodology were only worked out later. These involved the analytical and comparative observation of objective existing materials, i.e. historical writings, language, works, art, reports and observations of human behaviour in earlier cultures and, more rarely, direct ethnological source material. Wundt differentiated between two objectives of comparative methodology: individual comparison collected all the important features of the overall picture of an observation material, while generic comparison formed a picture of variations to obtain a typology. Rules of generic comparison and critical interpretation are essentially explained in his Logik
"We therefore generally describe the epitome of the methods as interpretation that is intended to provide us with an understanding of mental processes and intellectual creation." Wundt clearly referred to the tradition of humanistic hermeneutics , but argued that the interpretation process basically also followed psychological principles. Interpretation only became the characteristic process of the humanities through criticism. It is a process that is set against interpretation to dismantle the interaction produced through psychological analysis. It examines external or internal contradictions, it should evaluate the reality of intellectual products, and is also a criticism of values and a criticism of opinions. The typical misconceptions of the intellectualistic, individualistic and unhistorical interpretation of intellectual processes all have "their source in the habitually coarse psychology based on subjective assessment."
PRINCIPLES OF MENTAL CAUSALITY
What is meant by these principles is _the simple prerequisites of the linking of psychological facts that cannot be further extrapolated_. The system of principles has several repeatedly reworked versions, with corresponding laws of development for cultural psychology (Wundt, 1874, 1894, 1897, 1902–1903, 1920, 1921). Wundt mainly differentiated between four principles and explained them with examples that originate from the physiology of perception, the psychology of meaning, from apperception research, emotion and motivation theory, and from cultural psychology and ethics.
(1) _The Principle of creative synthesis or creative results_ (the emergence principle). "Every perception can be broken down into elemental impressions. But it is never just the sum of these impressions, but from the linkage of them that a new one is created with individual features that were not contained in the impressions themselves. We thus put together the mental picture of a spatial form from a multitude of impressions of light. This principle proves itself in all mental causality linkages and accompanies mental development from its first to its consummate stage." Wundt formulated this creative synthesis, which today would also be described as the principle of emergence in system theory , as an essential epistemological principle of empirical psychology – long before the phrase _the whole is more than the sum of its parts_ or supra-summation was used in gestalt psychology .
(2) _The Principle of relational analysis_ (context principle). This principle says that "every individual mental content receives its meaning through the relationships in which it stands to other mental content."
(3) _The Principle of mental contrasts or reinforcement of opposites or development in dichotomies._ Typical contrast effects are to be seen in sensory perceptions, in the course of emotions and in volitional processes. There is a general tendency to order the subjective world according to opposites. Thus many individual, historical, economic and social processes exhibit highly contrasting developments.
(4) _The Principle of the heterogony of purpose (ends)._ The consequences of an action extend beyond the original intended purpose and give rise to new motives with new effects. The intended purpose always induces side-effects and knock-on effects that themselves become purposes, i.e. an ever-growing organisation through self-creation.
In addition to these four principles, Wundt explained the term of intellectual community and other categories and principles that have an important relational and insightful function.
Wundt demands co-ordinated analysis of causal and teleological aspects; he called for a methodologically versatile psychology and did not demand that any decision be made between experimental-statistical methods and interpretative methods (qualitative methods ). Whenever appropriate, he referred to findings from interpretation and experimental research within a multimethod approach. Thus, for example, the chapters on the development of language or on enlargement of fantasy activity in cultural psychology also contain experimental, statistical and psychophysiological findings. He was very familiar with these methods and used them in extended research projects. This was without precedent and has, since then, rarely been achieved by another individual researcher.
WUNDT\'S PHILOSOPHICAL ORIENTATION
In the introduction to his _Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie_ in 1874, Wundt described Immanuel Kant and Johann Friedrich Herbart as the philosophers who had the most influence on the formation of his own views. Those who follow up these references will find that Wundt critically analysed both these thinkers’ ideas. He distanced himself from Herbart's science of the soul and, in particular, from his "mechanism of mental representations" and pseudo-mathematical speculations. While Wundt praised Kant's critical work and his rejection of a "rational" psychology deduced from metaphysics, he argued against Kant's epistemology in his publication _Was soll uns Kant nicht sein?_ (What Kant should we reject?) 1892 with regard to the forms of perception and presuppositions, as well as Kant's category theory and his position in the dispute on causal and teleological explanations.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz had a far greater and more constructive influence on Wundt's psychology, philosophy, epistemology and ethics. This can be gleaned from Wundt's Leibniz publication (1917) and from his central terms and principles, but has since received almost no attention. Wundt gave up his plans for a biography of Leibniz, but praised Leibniz's thinking on the two-hundredth anniversary of his death in 1916. He did, however, disagree with Leibniz's monadology as well as theories on the mathematisation of the world by removing the domain of the mind from this view. Leibniz developed a new concept of the soul through his discussion on substance and actuality , on dynamic spiritual change, and on the correspondence between body and soul (parallelism ). Wundt _secularised_ such guiding principles and reformulated important philosophical positions of Leibniz away from belief in God as the creator and belief in an immortal soul. Wundt gained important ideas and exploited them in an original way in his principles and methodology of empirical psychology: the principle of actuality, psychophysical parallelism, combination of causal and teleological analysis, apperception theory, the psychology of _striving_, i.e. volition and voluntary tendency, principles of epistemology and the perspectivism of thought. Wundt's differentiation between the "natural causality" of neurophysiology and the "mental causality" of psychology (the intellect), is a direct rendering from Leibniz's epistemology.
Wundt devised the term psychophysical parallelism and meant thereby two fundamentally different ways of considering the postulated psychophysical unit, not just two views in the sense of Fechner's theory of identity. Wundt derived the co-ordinated consideration of natural causality and mental causality from Leibniz's differentiation between causality and teleology (principle of sufficient reason ). The psychological and physiological statements exist in two categorically different reference systems ; the main categories are to be emphasised in order to prevent category mistakes . With his epistemology of mental causality, he differed from contemporary authors who also advocated the position of parallelism. Wundt had developed the first genuine epistemology and methodology of empirical psychology.
Wundt shaped the term apperception, introduced by Leibniz, into an experimental psychologically based apperception psychology that included neuropsychological modelling. When Leibniz differentiates between two fundamental functions, perception and striving, this approach can be recognised in Wundt's motivation theory. The central theme of "unity in the manifold" (unitas in multitudine) also originates from Leibniz, who has influenced the current understanding of perspectivism and viewpoint dependency. Wundt characterised this style of thought in a way that also applied for him: "…the principle of the equality of viewpoints that supplement one another" plays a significant role in his thinking – viewpoints that "supplement one another, while also being able to appear as opposites that only resolve themselves when considered more deeply."
Unlike the great majority of contemporary and current authors in psychology, Wundt laid out the philosophical and methodological positions of his work clearly. Wundt was against the founding empirical psychology on a (metaphysical or structural) principle of soul as in Christian belief in an immortal soul or in a philosophy that argues "substance"-ontologically . Wundt's position was decisively rejected by several Christianity-oriented psychologists and philosophers as a _psychology without soul_, although he did not use this formulation from Friedrich Lange (1866), who was his predecessor in Zürich from 1870 to 1872. Wundt's guiding principle was the development theory of the mind. Wundt's ethics also led to polemical critiques due to his renunciation of an ultimate transcendental basis of ethics (God, the Absolute). Wundt's evolutionism was also criticised for its claim that ethical norms had been culturally changed in the course of human intellectual development.
Wundt's autobiography and his inaugural lectures in Zurich and
Wundt distanced himself from the metaphysical term soul and from
theories about its structure and properties, as posited by Herbart,
Lotze and Fechner. Wundt followed Kant and warned against a primarily
metaphysically founded, philosophically deduced psychology: "where one
notices the author's metaphysical point-of-view in the treatment of
every problem then an unconditional empirical science is no longer
involved – but a metaphysical theory intended to serve as an
exemplification of experience." He is, however, convinced that every
single science contains general prerequisites of a philosophical
nature. "All psychological investigation extrapolates from
SYSTEM OF PHILOSOPHY
Wundt claims that philosophy as a general science has the task of "uniting to become a consistent system through the general knowledge acquired via the individual sciences." Human rationality strives for a uniform, i.e. non-contradictory, explanatory principle for being and consciousness, for an ultimate reasoning for ethics, and for a philosophical world basis. " Metaphysics is the same attempt to gain a binding world view, as a component of individual knowledge, on the basis of the entire scientific awareness of an age or particularly prominent content." Wundt was convinced that empirical psychology also contributed fundamental knowledge on the understanding of humans – for anthropology and ethics – beyond its narrow scientific field. Starting from the active and creative-synthetic apperception processes of consciousness, Wundt considered that the unifying function was to be found in volitional processes and the conscious setting of objectives and subsequent activities. "There is simply nothing more to a man that he can entirely call his own – except for his will." One can detect a "voluntaristic tendency" in Wundt's theory of motivation, in contrast to the currently widespread cognitivism (intellectualism ). Wundt extrapolated this empirically founded volitional]] psychology to a metaphysical voluntarism . He demands, however, that the empirical-psychological and derived metaphysical voluntarism are kept apart from one another and firmly maintained that his empirical psychology was created independently of the various teachings of metaphysics.
Wundt interpreted intellectual-cultural progress and biological
evolution as a general process of development whereby, however, he did
not want to follow the abstract ideas of entelechy , vitalism ,
animism , and by no means Schopenhauer\'s volitional metaphysics. He
believed that the source of dynamic development was to be found in the
most elementary expressions of life, in reflexive and instinctive
behaviour, and constructed a continuum of attentive and apperceptive
processes, volitional or selective acts, up to social activities and
ethical decisions. At the end of this rational idea he recognised a
practical ideal: the idea of humanity as the highest yardstick of our
actions and that the overall course of human history can be understood
with regard to the ideal of humanity.
Parallel to Wundt's work on cultural psychology he wrote his
much-read _Ethik_ (1886, 3rd ed. in 2 Vols., 1903), whose introduction
stressed how important development considerations are in order to
grasp religion , customs and morality . Wundt considered the questions
of ethics to be closely linked with the empirical psychology of
motivated acts "
On the one hand,
LOGIC, EPISTEMOLOGY AND THE SCIENTIFIC THEORY OF PSYCHOLOGY
Wundt divided up his three-volume _Logik_ into General logic and
COMPLETE WORKS AND LEGACY
PUBLICATIONS, LIBRARIES AND LETTERS
The list of works at the
Max Planck Institute for the History of
Apart from his library and his correspondence, Wundt's
extraordinarily extensive written inheritance also includes many
extracts, manuscripts, lecture notes and other materials Wundt's
written inheritance in
One-third of Wundt's own library was left to his children Eleonore
and Max Wundt; most of the works were sold during the times of need
after the First World War to
Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. The
University's stock consists of 6,762 volumes in western languages
(including bound periodicals) as well as 9,098 special print runs and
brochures from the original Wundt Library. The list in the Max
Planck Institute for the History of
The last Wundt biography which tried to represent both Wundt's psychology and his philosophy was by Eisler (1902). One can also get an idea of Wundt's thoughts from his autobiography _Erlebtes und Erkanntes_ (1920). Later biographies by Nef (1923) and Petersen (1925) up to Arnold in 1980 restrict themselves primarily to the psychology _or_ the philosophy. Eleonore Wundt's (1928) knowledgeable but short biography of her father exceeds many others’ efforts.
At the start of the First World War Wundt, like
Edmund Husserl and
Max Planck , signed the patriotic call to arms as did about 4,000
professors and lecturers in Germany, and during the following years he
wrote several political speeches and essays that were also
characterised by the feeling of a superiority of German science and
culture. Wundt was a Liberal during his early Heidelberg time,
affiliated with a Workers’ Education Union (Arbeiterbildungsverein),
and as a politician in the
* 1925 to 1968: _
RECEPTION OF WUNDT\'S WORK
RECEPTION BY HIS CONTEMPORARIES
The philosopher Rudolf Eisler considered Wundt's approach as follows: "A major advantage of Wundt's philosophy is that it neither consciously nor unconsciously takes metaphysics back to its beginnings, but strictly distinguishes between empirical-scientific and epistemological-metaphysical approaches, and considers each point-of-view in isolation in its relative legitimacy before finally producing a uniform world view. Wundt always differentiates between the physical-physiological and the purely psychological, and then again from the philosophical point-of-view. As a result, apparent ‘contradictions’ are created for those who do not observe more precisely and who constantly forget that the differences in results are only due to the approach and not the laws of reality …" Traugott Oesterreich (1923/1951) wrote an unusually detailed description of Wundt's work in his Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie (Foundations of the History of Philosophy). This knowledgeable representation examines Wundt's main topics, views and scientific activities and exceeds the generally much briefer Wundt reception within the field of psychology, in which many of the important prerequisites and references are ignored right from the start.
The internal consistency of Wundt's work from 1862 to 1920, between the main works and within the reworked editions, has repeatedly been discussed and been subject to differing assessments in parts. One could not say that the scientific conception of psychology underwent a fundamental revision of principal ideas and central postulates, though there was gradual development and a change in emphasis. One could consider Wundt's gradual concurrence with Kant's position, that conscious processes are not measurable on the basis of self-observation and cannot be mathematically formulated, to be a major divergence. Wundt, however, never claimed that psychology could be advanced through experiment and measurement alone, but had already stressed in 1862 that the development history of the mind and comparative psychology should provide some assistance.
Wundt attempted to redefine and restructure the fields of psychology
and philosophy. "
Experimental psychology in the narrower sense and
child psychology form individual psychology, while cultural and animal
psychology are both parts of a general and comparative psychology" ).
None of his
While the _Principles of physiological Psychology_ met with worldwide resonance, Wundt's cultural psychology (ethno-psychology) appeared to have had a less widespread impact. But there are indications that George Herbert Mead and Franz Boas , among others, were influenced by it. In his Totem and Taboo , Sigmund Freud frequently quoted Wundt's cultural psychology. In its time, Wundt's Ethik received more reviews than almost any of his other main works. Most of the objections were ranged against his renouncing any ultimate transcendental ethical basis (God, the Absolute), as well as against his ideas regarding evolution, i.e. that ethical standards changed culturally in the course of human intellectual development. As Wundt did not describe any concrete ethical conflicts on the basis of examples and did not describe any social ethics in particular, his teachings with the general idea of humanism appear rather too abstract.
The _XXII International Congress for
RESEARCH ON RECEPTION OF HIS WORK
* Possibly the most important reason for Wundt's relatively low influence might lie in his highly ambitious epistemologically founded conception of psychology, in his theory of science and in the level of difficulty involved in his wide-ranging methodology. * Most psychologies in the subsequent generation appear to have a considerably simpler, less demanding, philosophical point-of-view instead of co-ordinated causal and teleological considerations embedded in multiple reference systems that consequently also demanded a multi-method approach. Thus instead of perspectivism and a change in perspective an apparently straightforward approach is preferred, i.e. research oriented upon either the natural sciences or the humanities. * Wundt's assistants and colleagues, many of whom were also personally close, did not take on the role of students and certainly not the role of interpreters. Oswald Külpe, Ernst Meumann, Hugo Münsterberg or Felix Krueger did not want to, or could not, adequately reference Wundt's comprehensive scientific conception of psychology in their books, for example they almost entirely ignored Wundt's categories and epistemological principles, his strategies in comparison and interpretation, the discussions regarding Kant's in-depth criticism of methodology, and Wundt's neuropsychology. Nobody in this circle developed a creative continuation of Wundt's concepts. Krueger's inner distance to a scientific concept and the entire work of his predecessor cannot be overlooked. * Through his definition of "soul" as an actual process, Wundt gave up the metaphysical idea of a "substantial carrier"; his psychology without a soul was heavily criticised by several contemporary and later psychologists and philosophers. * Wundt exposed himself to criticism with his theoretical and experimental psychologically differentiated apperception psychology as opposed to elemental association psychology, and with his comprehensive research programme on a development theory of the human intellect, now seen as an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary project.
MISUNDERSTANDINGS OF BASIC TERMS AND PRINCIPLES
Wundt's terminology also created difficulties because he had – from today's point-of-view – given some of his most important ideas unfortunate names so that there were constant misunderstandings. Examples include:
* _physiological psychology_ – specifically not a scientific physiological psychology, because by writing the adjective with a small letter Wundt wanted to avoid this misunderstanding that still exists today; for him it was the use of physiological aids in experimental general psychology that mattered. * _Self-observation_ – not naive introspection, but with training and experimental control of conditions. * _Experiment_ – this was meant with reference to Francis Bacon – general, i.e. far beyond the scientific rules of the empirical sciences, so not necessarily a statistically evaluated laboratory experiment. For Wundt psychological experimentation primarily served as a check of trained self-observation. * _Element_ – not in the sense of the smallest structure, but as a smallest unit of the intended level under consideration, so that, for example, even the central nervous system could be an "element". * _Völkerpsychologie_ – cultural psychology – not ethnology. * _Apperception_ – not just an increase in attention, but a central and multimodal synthesis. * _Voluntaristic tendency, voluntarism_ – not an absolute metaphysical postulate, but a primary empirically-psychologically based accentuation of motivated action against the intellectualism and cognitivism of other psychologists.
A representation of Wundt's psychology as ‘natural science’, ‘element psychology’ or ‘dualistic’ conceptions is evidence of enduring misunderstandings. It is therefore necessary to remember Wundt's expressly stated desire for uniformity and lack of contradiction, for the mutual supplementation of psychological perspectives. Wundt's more demanding, sometimes more complicated and relativizing, then again very precise style can also be difficult – even for today's German readers; a high level of linguistic competence is required. There are only English translations for very few of Wundt's work. In particular, the Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie expanded into three volumes and the ten volumes of Völkerpsychologie, all the books on philosophy and important essays on the theory of science remain untranslated.
Such shortcomings may explain many of the fundamental deficits and lasting misunderstandings in the Anglo-American reception of Wundt's work. Massive misconceptions about Wundt's work have been demonstrated by William James, Granville Stanley Hall, Edward Boring and Edward Titchener as well as among many later authors. 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. As Wundt's three-volume Logik und Wissenschaftslehre, i.e. his theory of science, also remains untranslated the close interrelationships between Wundt's empirical psychology and his epistemology and methodology, philosophy and ethics are also regularly missing, even if later collections describe individual facets of them. Blumenthal's assessment that "American textbook accounts of Wundt now present highly inaccurate and mythological caricatures of the man and his work" still appears to be true of most publications about Wundt. A highly contradictory picture emerges from any systematic research on his reception. On the one hand, the pioneer of experimental psychology and founder of modern psychology as a discipline is praised, on the other hand, his work is insufficiently tapped and appears to have had little influence. Misunderstandings and stereotypical evaluations continue into the present, even in some representations of the history of psychology and in textbooks. Wundt's entire work is investigated in a more focused manner in more recent assessments regarding the reception of Wundt, and his theory of science and his philosophy is included (Araujo, 2016; Danziger, 1983, 1990, 2001; Fahrenberg, 2011, 2015, 2016; Jüttemann, 2006; Kim, 2016; van Rappard, 1980).
SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSIES AND CRITICISMS
Like other important psychologists and philosophers, Wundt was subject to ideological criticism, for example by authors of a more Christianity-based psychology, by authors with materialistic and positivistic scientific opinions, or from the point-of-view of Marxist-Leninist philosophy and social theory, as in Leipzig, German Democratic Republic , up to 1990. Wundt was involved in a number of scientific controversies or was responsible for triggering them:
* the Wundt-Zeller controversy about the measurability of awareness processes, * the Wundt-Meumann controversy about the necessary scope of the scientific principles of applied psychology, * the Wundt-Bühler controversy about the methodology of the psychology of thought, * the controversy about the psychology of elemental (passive-mechanic) association and integrative (self-active) apperception, * the controversy about empirio-criticism , positivism and critical realism, and * the controversy about psychologism .
There are many forms of criticism of Wundt's psychology, of his apperception psychology, of his motivation theory, of his version of psychophysical parallelism with its concept of "mental causality", his refutation of psychoanalytic speculation about the unconscious, or of his critical realism. A recurring criticism is that Wundt largely ignored the areas of psychology that he found less interesting, such as differential psychology, child psychology and educational psychology. In his cultural psychology there is no empirical social psychology because there were still no methods for investigating it at the time. Among his postgraduate students, assistants and other colleagues, however, were several important pioneers: differential rpsychology, "mental measurement" and intelligence testing (James McKeen Cattell, Charles Spearman), social psychology of group pocesses and the psychology of work (Walther Moede), applied psychology (Ernst Meumann, Hugo Münsterberg), psychopathology, psychopharmacology and clinical diagnosis (Emil Kraepelin).
Wundt developed the first comprehensive and uniform theory of the
science of psychology. The special epistemological and methodological
status of psychology is postulated in this wide-ranging
conceptualisation, characterised by his neurophysiological,
psychological and philosophical work. The human as a thinking and
motivated subject is not to be captured in the terms of the natural
The conceptual relationships within the complete works created over decades and continuously reworked have hardly been systematically investigated. The most important theoretical basis is the empirical-psychological theory of apperception, based on Leibniz's philosophical position, that Wundt, on the one hand, based on experimental psychology and his neuropsychological modelling and, on the other hand, extrapolated into a development theory for culture. The fundamental reconstruction of Wundt's main ideas is a task that cannot be achieved by any one person today due to the complexity of the complete works. He tried to connect the fundamental controversies of the research directions epistemologically and methodologically by means of a co-ordinated concept – in a confident handling of the categorically basically different ways of considering the interrelations. Here, during the founding phase of university psychology, he already argued for a highly demanding meta-science meta-scientific reflection – and this potential to stimulate interdisciplinarity und perspectivism (complementary approaches) has by no means been exhausted.
BOOKS AND ARTICLES
* Lehre von der Muskelbewegung (The Patterns of Muscular Movement),
(Vieweg, Braunschweig 1858).
* Die Geschwindigkeit des Gedankens (The Velocity of Thought), (Die
Gartenlaube 1862, Vol 17, p. 263).
* Beiträge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung (Contributions on the
Theory of Sensory Perception), (Winter,
WUNDT\'S WORKS IN ENGLISH
References given by Alan Kim
* 1974 The Language of Gestures. Ed. Blumenthal, A.L. Berlin: De Gruyter * 1973 An Introduction to Psychology. New York: Arno Press * 1969? Outlines of Psychology. 1897. Tr. Judd, C.H. St. Clair Shores, MI: Scholarly Press * 1916 Elements of folk-psychology. Tr. Schaub, E.L. London: Allen * 1901 The Principles of Morality and the Departments of the Moral Life. Trans. Washburn, M.F. London: Swan Sonnenschein; New York: Macmillan * 1896 (2nd ed.) Lectures on human and animal psychology. Creighton, J.G., Titchener, E.B., trans. London: Allen. Translation of Wundt, 1863 * 1893 (3rd ed.) Principles of physiological psychology. Titchener, E.B., trans. London: Allen. Translation of Wundt, 1874.
* Psychologism dispute
* ^ See Wundt's gravestone (image).
* ^ Neil Carlson, Donald C. Heth:
* Alfred Arnold:
Eduard von Hartmann : Die moderne Psychologie. Eine kritische
Geschichte der deutschen Psychologie in der zweiten Hälfte des
neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Haacke,
* Saulo de F. Araujo: Why did Wundt abandon his early theory of the
unconscious? Towards a new interpretation of Wundts psychological
project. History of Psychology, 2012, Volume 15, S. 33–49.
* Saulo de F. Araujo: Wundt and the Philosophical Foundations of
Psychology. A Reappraisal. Springer, New York 2016, ISBN
* Arthur L. Blumenthal: Leipzig, Wilhelm Wundt, and psychology's
gilded age. In: G.A. Kimble, M. Wertheimer, M. (Eds.). Portraits of
pioneers in psychology. Vol. III. American Psychological Association,
Washington, D.C. 1998.
* Wolfgang G. Bringmann, Eckart Scheerer (Eds.): Wundt centennial
issue. Psychological Research, 1980, Volume 42, pp. 1–189.
* Wolfgang G. Bringmann, N. J. Bringmann, W. D. Balance: Wilhelm
Maximilian Wundt 1832 – 1874: The formative years. In: W.G.
Bringmann, R. D. Tweney (Eds.). Wundt studies. A centennial
Collection. Hogrefe, Toronto 1980, pp. 12–32.
* Wolfgang G. Bringmann, Ryan D. Tweney (Eds.): Wundt studies.
Hogrefe, Toronto 1980, ISBN 0-88937-001-X .
* Wolfgang G. Bringmann, N. J. Bringmann, G. A. Ungerer: The
establishment of Wundt's laboratory: An archival and documentary
study. In: Wolfgang Bringmann, Ryan D. Tweney (Eds.): Wundt Studies.
Hogrefe, Toronto 1980, ISBN 0-88937-001-X , pp. 123–157.
Kurt Danziger : The positivist repudiation of Wundt. Journal of
the History of the Behavioral Science, 1979, Volume 15,205-230.
* Kurt Danziger: On the threshold of the New Psychology: Situating
Wundt and James. In: W.G. Bringmann, E. D. Tweney (Eds.). Wundt
Studies. A Centennial Collection. Hogrefe, Toronto, 1980, pp.
* Kurt Danziger: Constructing the subject. Historical origins of
psychological research. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1990.
* Kurt Danziger: Wundt and the temptations of psychology. In: R.W.
Rieber, David K. Robinson (Eds.).
* Literature by and about
* Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie.
* Grundriss der Psychologie.
* Wilhelm Wundt: Erlebtes und Erkanntes
* Works by
EARLIER TRANSLATIONS ONLINE
Caution: Earlier translations of Wundt's publications are of a highly questionable reliability.
* _Principles of Physiological Psychology_ * _Outlines of Psychology_ * _Ethics: An Investigation of the Facts and Laws of the Moral Life_. Volume 1. (Tr. Edward B. Titchener _et al._.) Second Edition, 1902. University of Michigan. * _Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology_. (Trs. Edward B. Titchener and James E. Creighton.) Second Edition, 1896. Harvard.Fourth Edition, 1907. Stanford; UCLA; University of Illinois. * _Outlines of Psychology_. (Tr. Charles Hubbard Judd .) Second Edition, 1902. Stanford. * _Principles of Physiological Psychology_. Volume 1. (Tr. Edward B. Titchener .)First Edition, 1904. Harvard; Lane; University of Michigan; HTML. Second Edition, 1910. UCLA.
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