Psychologist at Large: An Autobiography and Selected Essays

By Edwin G. Boring | Go to book overview

Edward Bradford Titchener: 1867-1927
1927

Titchener had far more influence upon me than any other person in my professional life, the brilliant, erudite, magnetic, charming Titchener, who interested himself in the details of your research and writing and in how your wife cooked the mushrooms, helping in big and little things, but demanding loyalty, deference, and adherence to the advice so freely offered.

In the last twenty years of his life Titchener had few contemporary friends and remained surrounded by younger disciples. Was I one? I used to call myself a "heretic," being more aware of my dissents from Titchener than of my agreements, but in fundamentals I was as a psychologist Titchener-formed in habits of thoroughness, in belief in historical orientation, and in the aspiration to write English well. Only for a short period was this heretic a good introspectionist. Yet Titchener, the erudite egoist, remained always a fascinating subject, and the stories about him and how he ran his laboratory and the lives of those who crossed his orbit can even now hold an audience when told by an erstwhile enthusiastic disciple.

On 3 August 1927, the impossible happened. Titchener died. It was as if the Ten Commandments had suddenly crumbled, and I, recognizing at once the historical magnitude of this catastrophe, went into action. I wrote this paper in time for it to appear ten weeks later in the October number of the American Journal of Psychology, of which Titchener had until near the end been editor. I corresponded with his mother and with C. S. Myers, both in England, with the New York numismatist to find out how good

____________________
Reprinted with permission from the American Journal of Psychology, 1927, vol. 38, 489-506.

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