The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions

By Margaret P. Munger | Go to book overview

and earth formed themselves, into which life developed during geological history in ever more complete forms, adjusting itself to the quieter physical conditions of our planet?

Which metaphysics has concepts armed with effects, like those that magnets and current electricity exert upon one another—concerning whose reduction to well-determined elementary effects contemporary physics is still struggling—without yet having arrived at a clear conclusion? Even light, too, already seems to be nothing more than a form of motion of those two agents, and the spacefilling aether, as a magnetizable and electrifiable medium, contains completely new characteristic properties.

And into which scheme of scholastic concepts should we classify this supply of effect-producing energy, whose constancy is expressed in the law of the conservation of force, which, like a substance, is indestructible and unincreasable, and which is active as a motive power in each motion of inorganic and organic matter, a Proteus clothing himself in ever-new forms, operating through infinite space, and yet not without remainder divisible by space, the operative in each effect, the mover in each motion, and yet neither spirit nor matter?—Has the Poet intuited it?

In the tides of Life, in Action's storm,

A fluctuant wave,

A shuttle free,

Birth and the Grave,

An eternal sea,

A weaving, flowing

Life, all-glowing,

Thus at Time's humming loom 'tis my hand prepares

The garment of Life which the Deity wears!

We: bits of dust on the surface of our planet, itself hardly worth calling a grain of sand in the universe's infinite space; we: the most recent race among the living on earth, according to geological chronology barely out of the cradle, still in the learning stage, barely halfeducated, declared of age only out of mutual respect, and yet already, through the more powerful force of the causal law, grown beyond all our fellow creatures and vanquishing them in the struggle for existence; we truly have reason enough to be proud that “the inconceivably sublime work” has been given to us to learn to understand slowly through constant work. And we need not feel in the least ashamed if this does not at once succeed in the first assault of a flight of Icarus.


Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850–1909), like all well-educated individuals, had certainly read
Immanuel Kant's (p. 127) philosophical works and his statements concerning the impossi-
bility of studying cognitive phenomena experimentally, but wisely chose to ignore that
stricture. The son of a wealthy textile and paper merchant, Ebbinghaus studied at a variety
of schools and received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Bonn in 1873. He
stumbled upon Gustav T. Fechner's (p. 142) Elements of Psychophysics while touring En-
gland and France and began the first experimental study of memory in 1878. For stimuli,
he drew on his earlier interest in philology and heroically studied his own memory. Lec-
turing at the University of Berlin, he conducted additional memory experiments from 1883
to 1884, publishing the combined work in 1885. Ebbinghaus was broadly interested in
psychology, with published work that includes topics ranging from color vision to intelli-
gence testing of children, which used a word-completion technique he developed. In
1890, Ebbinghaus, Carl Stumpf, Hermann von Helmholtz (p. 154), and other experimen-
talists established Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane (Journal of
the Psychology and Physiology of the Sense Organs), the second experimental psychology


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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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