Cognition, Information Processing, and Psychophysics: Basic Issues

Cognition, Information Processing, and Psychophysics: Basic Issues

Cognition, Information Processing, and Psychophysics: Basic Issues

Cognition, Information Processing, and Psychophysics: Basic Issues

Synopsis

The plan for this volume emerged during the international Leipzig conference commemorating the centenary of the death of Gustav Fechner. The contributors suggested that while many features of modern psychological theory were anticipated by Fechner, many new theoretical approaches owe much more to him than often is realized. As such, they decided to honor Fechner by evaluating his own contribution to the founding of psychology and psychoanalysis, by deepening the foundations of psychological theories of consciousness, perception, and choice, and by using the analysis of time to create a new appreciation of constraints that bind mental processes together.

Thus, this volume spans an extraordinary range of psychological topics, from hermeneutics to the time-quantum basis for mental processes, in a way that would both amaze and delight Fechner. Moreover, the international reach of his pioneering ideas can be seen from the current locations of the contributors. The span from Japan to the United States to Holland to Germany and to Israel provides a global measure of Fechner's scientific legacy.

Excerpt

The plan for this volume emerged during the 1987 Leipzig conference commemorating the centenary of the death of Gustav Fechner. Although Fechner is well-known as the father of psychophysics, the discipline that gave rise to experimental psychology, the international conference held in Leipzig was devoted to a broader appreciation of Fechner as an eminent interdisciplinary worker. His programmatic concept of psychophysics marked the convergence of his knowledge about mental phenomena with his thinking as a physicist, physiologist, mathematician and philosopher. Thus, this book addresses a broad variety of basic issues of psychophysics conceived as "the exact science of mind-body relations."

The basic issues examined in this volume are conveniently organized into two themes. First, we present scholarly studies of the foundations of psychology and attendant epistemological problems, and second, experimental investigations that expose psychological phenomena basic to the understanding of cognitive abilities. As a whole the volume represents an approach to the study of psychology that emphasizes the study of the causes of psychological phenomena. As such this book extends, as Fechner might have hoped, the scientific study of mental phenomena. Indeed, Fechner might be amazed at the extent to which his Psychophysics still excites the vision of scientists around the world.

Successful international cooperation among some fifteen authors and editors at a time of crisis in Eastern Europe, and tumult in the Middle East, required patience and tenacity. The difficulties in editing thoughts from a mixture of languages, differing styles of scholarship, and notational differences in quantitative modeling seemed at times to move the completion of the volume toward an ever receding horizon. Yet, in spite of the authors' extensive scientific commit-

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