The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions

By Margaret P. Munger | Go to book overview


Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (1832–1920) dreamed of becoming a famous scholar as an
author of important works in comparative religion, much to the detriment of his early aca-
demic career. His daydreaming caused his parents to despair and wonder if they should
even bother sending him, their second son, to the university. Fortunately, Wundt did attend
the University of Tubingen to study medicine, where he became enchanted by the study of
physiology, beginning with his uncle Friedrich Arnold's brain anatomy course. Wundt fin-
ished his training at the University of Heidelberg, becoming fascinated by experimental re-
search. Before heading his own program, Wundt worked with a number of famous scien-
tists, including the chemist Robert Bunsen, inventor of the Bunsen burner, and
physiologists Johannes Müller and Emile du Bois-Reymond, and spent 13 years assisting
Hermann von Helmholtz (p. 154). A prolific writer, Wundt eventually earned an excellent
reputation and became a professor of philosophy at the University of Leipzig. When he
first arrived in 1875, his plans of teaching experimental, or physiological, psychology were
thwarted by the lack of adequate space for his equipment. Finally, in 1879, proper space
was arranged—and this date is often given as the year the first laboratory conducting psy-
chological research opened. Wundt's program was so popular that his laboratory was ex-
panded in 1888, 1892, and 1897. During his first years at Leipzig, Wundt attended a
seance and wrote a critique of the performance, entitled “Spiritualism as a Scientific Ques-
tion,” that challenged the event's realism and suggested that magicians, or those who study
how to fool the senses, would be better critics than would scientists. The breadth of
Wundt's writings and his emphasis on the experimental method have not always been ap-
parent, in part because one of his famous American students, E. B. Titchener (p. 324), pro-
vided what was for many years the only English translation of his work and focused only
on those aspects of Wundt's research and philosophy that Titchener found supportive of his
own program. Wundt continued teaching until the age of 85 and writing until his death,
leaving a legacy of 60,000 pages of published material.



§ I. Philosophical Anticipations of Psychology. §
II. Spiritualism and Materialism. § III. Methods
and Aids of Psychological Investigation.

§ I

Psychology, even in our own day, shows more clearly than any other experiential science traces of the conflict of philosophical systems. We may regret this influence in the interest of psychological investigation, because it has been the chief obstacle in the way of an impartial examination of mental life. But in the light of history we see that it was inevitable. Natural science has gradually taken shape from a natural philosophy which paved the way for it, and the effects of which may still be recognised in current scientific theory. That these effects are more fundamental and more permanent in the case of psychology

From Wilhelm Wundt, “Lectures 1 and 30.” In J. E. Creighton and E. B. Titchener (Eds.), Lectures on Human and Animal Psy-
chology (pp. 1–11, 437–454). New York: Macmillan, 1894.


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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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