The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions

By Margaret P. Munger | Go to book overview

21
ALFRED BINET AND THEODORE SIMON

Alfred Binet (1857–1911) noticed that his daughters thought about the world differently,
each with a distinct style. Madeleine, whom he called l'observateur, was cautious and
careful, with observations that were detailed and precise. Alice, on the other hand, was his
l'imaginitif—seeing drama and adventure in the simplest things. His parents had also been
quite different: his mother an amateur artist, and his father a stern medical doctor who was
physically and emotionally distant. These family experiences underscored for Binet that
people are individuals and that observers are not readily dispassionate. Never formally
trained in psychology, Binet had some unfortunate public humiliations regarding his re-
search method. In 1880, an enthusiastic Binet published his first paper, but his work on the
sensation of touch was flawed methodologically: he had failed to conduct a thorough lit-
erature review, and his “new” idea was already in print. He then volunteered as a research
assistant at Paris's Salpêtrière Hospital to learn from Jean-Martin Charcot, the leading au-
thority on hypnosis and a proponent of a particular theory regarding hysteria, but not a
careful experimentalist. In 1891, Binet volunteered for the new Laboratory for Physiologi-
cal Psychology at the Sorbonne, Paris, and developed a wide array of projects. The quality
and variety were sufficient to convince the laboratory's director, Henri Beaunis, that a new
journal was warranted, so L'Année Psychologique went to press in 1895. Though he was
unable to offer academic credit or degrees, Binet's work attracted a number of students.
Theodore Simon (1873–1961), a physician with interests in mentally delayed children, ar-
rived in Paris in 1899 to learn from Binet. In addition to his psychological writings, Binet
coauthored lurid plays with the “Prince of Terror,” André de Lorde, which featured tor-
mented and murderous characters.


NEW METHODS FOR THE DIAGNOSIS OF THE INTELLECTUAL
LEVEL OF SUBNORMALS

Before explaining these methods let us recall exactly the conditions of the problem which we are attempting to solve. Our purpose is to be able to measure the intellectual capacity of a child who is brought to us in order to know whether he is normal or retarded. We should therefore, study his condition at the time and that only. We have nothing to do either with his past history or with his future; consequently we shall neglect his etiology, and we shall make no attempt to distinguish between acquired and congenital idiocy; for a stronger reason we shall set aside all consideration of pathological anatomy which might explain his intellectual deficiency. So much for his past. As to that which concerns his future, we shall exercise the same abstinence; we do not attempt to establish or prepare a prognosis and we leave unanswered the question of whether this retardation is curable, or even improvable. We shall limit ourselves to ascertaining the truth in regard to his present mental state.

Furthermore, in the definition of this state, we should

From Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon. “New Methods for the Diagnosis of the Intellectual Level of Subnormals.” L'Annee Psy-
chologique 12 (1905): 191–244. Reprinted in E. Kite (Trans.) The Development of Intelligence in Children (pp. 37–75 Nashville,
TN: Williams Printing Co., 1980)

-270-

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The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Part 1 - What is the Mind? 1
  • 1: Plato 2
  • 2: Hippocrates 4
  • 3: Aristotle 20
  • 4: Saint Augustine of Hippo 35
  • 5: Saint Thomas Aquinas 46
  • Part 2 - Mechanisms of Mind 67
  • 6: RenÉ Descartes 68
  • 7: John Locke 81
  • 8: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 96
  • 9: David Hume 113
  • 10: Immanuel Kant 127
  • Part 3 - Scientific Methods 141
  • 11: Gustav Theodor Fechner 142
  • 12: Hermann Von Helmholtz 154
  • 13: Hermann Ebbinghaus 168
  • 14: Ivan Pavlov 178
  • Part 4 - Emotion and Instinct in Animals and Humans 187
  • 15: Charles Darwin 188
  • 16: Margaret Floy Washburn 203
  • 17: William James 215
  • 18: Francis Galton 232
  • Part 5 - Human Development 249
  • 19: Milicent W. Shinn 250
  • 20: Sigmund Freud 258
  • 21: Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon 270
  • 22: Hugo MÜnsterberg 288
  • Part 6 - What is the Goal of Psychology? 295
  • 23: Wilhelm Wundt 296
  • 24: Max Wertheimer 308
  • 25: E. B. Titchener 324
  • Part 7 - Learning 331
  • 26: John B. Watson 332
  • 27: Edward C. Tolman 341
  • 28: D. O. Hebb 357
  • Part 8 - Cognition 367
  • 29: Jean Piaget 368
  • 30: L. S. Vygotski 387
  • 31: B. F. Skinner 399
  • 32: Noam Chomsky 408
  • 33: Sir Frederic C. Bartlett 430
  • 34: Ulric Neisser 447
  • Part 9 - Considerations of Context 467
  • 35: James J. Gibson 468
  • 36: James L. Mcclelland, David E. Rumelhart, and Geoffrey E. Hinton 478
  • 37: V. S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee 492
  • Bibliography of Readings 511
  • Bibliography of Biographical References 513
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