Hermann Ebbinghaus: On the Road to Progress or Down the Garden Path?
C. Alan Boneau
Many of the chapters in the original volumes of Portraits of pioneers in Psychology were presentations at conventions, most of them organized by the Division of General Psychology of the American Psychological Association. In several of these presentations, the speaker played the role of a deceased pioneer in psychology and, in the language that that person used or might have used, discussed the pioneer's work and its relationship to modern developments. The following chapter on Ebbinghaus continues that tradition. The first and final sections are in the words of the chairperson at such a session [Eds.].
Ladies and Gentlemen: We are gathered here today to honor a major pioneer in psychology, Hermann Ebbinghaus. Professor Ebbinghaus's small but immensely significant monograph, On Memory, was first published in 1885. It was an immediate sensation, and Professor Ebbinghaus was lauded by the great names of his time, including William James and E. B. Titchener among many others. I do not now discuss the contents of the book because we have present today the spirit of Professor Ebbinghaus to present his work and comment on these contributions in the light of later developments. By way of introduction, however, I will provide a brief biographical sketch of Professor Ebbinghaus and then I will turn over the