Wilhelm Wundt
Overview
 
Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (16 August 1832 - 31 August 1920 in Germany) was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 physician, psychologist, physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the founding figures of modern psychology. He is widely regarded as the "father of experimental psychology
Experimental psychology
Experimental psychology is a methodological approach, rather than a subject, and encompasses varied fields within psychology. Experimental psychologists have traditionally conducted research, published articles, and taught classes on neuroscience, developmental psychology, sensation, perception,...

". In 1879, Wundt founded the first formal laboratory for psychological research at the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

.

By creating this laboratory he was able to explore the nature of religious beliefs,
identify mental disorders and abnormal behavior, and find damaged parts of the brain.
Encyclopedia
Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (16 August 1832 - 31 August 1920 in Germany) was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 physician, psychologist, physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the founding figures of modern psychology. He is widely regarded as the "father of experimental psychology
Experimental psychology
Experimental psychology is a methodological approach, rather than a subject, and encompasses varied fields within psychology. Experimental psychologists have traditionally conducted research, published articles, and taught classes on neuroscience, developmental psychology, sensation, perception,...

". In 1879, Wundt founded the first formal laboratory for psychological research at the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

.

By creating this laboratory he was able to explore the nature of religious beliefs,
identify mental disorders and abnormal behavior, and find damaged parts of the brain. In doing so, he was able to establish psychology as a separate science from other topics. He also formed the first journal
Scientific journal
In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research. There are thousands of scientific journals in publication, and many more have been published at various points in the past...

 for psychological research in 1881.

Asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 635 Vundtia
635 Vundtia
- External links :*...

 is named in his honour.

Biography

Wundt was born at Neckarau, Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

 in 1832 (now part of Mannheim
Mannheim
Mannheim is a city in southwestern Germany. With about 315,000 inhabitants, Mannheim is the second-largest city in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg, following the capital city of Stuttgart....

), the fourth child to parents Maximilian Wundt (a Lutheran minister), and his wife Marie Frederike. When about four years of age, Wundt's family moved to Heidelsheim which was known to be a small town. He studied from 1851 to 1856 at the University of Tübingen, University of Heidelberg, and the University of Berlin. After graduating in medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 from Heidelberg
Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

 (1856), Wundt studied briefly with Johannes Peter Müller
Johannes Peter Müller
Johannes Peter Müller , was a German physiologist, comparative anatomist, and ichthyologist not only known for his discoveries but also for his ability to synthesize knowledge.-Early years and education:...

, before joining the University's staff, becoming an assistant to the physicist
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science...

 in 1858. There he wrote Contributions to the Theory of Sense Perception (1858–62). In 1865, he wrote a textbook about human physiology. In 1867 he because a professor in acquainting medical students with the exact physical needs for medical investigation. In 1874, he because a professor of "Inductive Philosophy" in Zurich. In 1875, he moved back to Leipzig.

He married Sophie Mau while at Heidelberg. It was during this period that Wundt offered the first course ever taught in scientific psychology, all the while stressing the use of experimental methods drawn from the natural sciences, emphasizing the physiological relationship of the human brain and the mind. His background in physiology would have a great effect on his approach to the new science of psychology. His lectures on psychology were published as Lectures on the Mind of Humans and Animals in 1863-1864. He was promoted to Assistant Professor of Physiology at Heidelberg in 1864. Weber
Ernst Heinrich Weber
Ernst Heinrich Weber was a German physician who is considered one of the founders of experimental psychology.Weber studied medicine at Wittenberg University...

 (1795–1878) and Fechner
Fechner
Fechner is a surname of:* Christian Fechner , a French film producer and screenwriter* Gustav Fechner , a German experimental psychologist* Harry Fechner , a German football defender...

 (1801–1887), who worked at Leipzig, inspired Wundt's interest in neuropsychology.

Wundt applied himself to writing a work that came to be one of the most important in the history of psychology, Principles of Physiological Psychology in 1874. The Principles utilized a system of psychology that sought to investigate the immediate experiences of consciousness, including feelings, emotions, volitions and ideas, mainly explored through Wundt's system of "internal perception", or the self-examination of conscious experience by objective observation of one's consciousness.

Wundt proclaimed that a human's soul – if indeed they had one – was irrelevant, as humans could only be understood in terms of physically observable phenomena. A search for the spiritual nature of humans, he reasoned, was a waste of time as there was no psyche. Thus psychology became the study of the spirit which denied the spirit. The subject of psychology thereafter became prevalent in universities.

Wundt's work and influence on modern psychology

Parts of Wundt's system were developed and championed by his one-time student, Titchener
Edward B. Titchener
Edward Bradford Titchener, D.Sc., Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D. was a British psychologist who studied under Wilhelm Wundt for several years. Titchener is best known for creating his version of psychology that described the structure of the mind; structuralism...

, who described his system as Structuralism
Structuralism (psychology)
Structuralism in psychology refers to the theory founded by Edward B. Titchener , with the goal to describe the structure of the mind in terms of the most primitive elements of mental experience...

. Several of Wundt's works, including Principles of Physiological Psychology, are considered fundamentally important texts in the field of psychology. Though widely recognized as important in the birth and growth of psychology, his influence in psychology today is a subject of continuing debate among experts. Wundt was also notable in the field of psycholinguistics. For example, the influential Leonard Bloomfield
Leonard Bloomfield
Leonard Bloomfield was an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s. His influential textbook Language, published in 1933, presented a comprehensive description of American structural linguistics...

 based his linguistics textbook, published in 1914, on Wundtian psychology. Wundt hypothesized that the mental sentence, or "inner psychological construction", determines the unfolding sentence, and should therefore be regarded as a unit of speech.

Though Wundt wrote extensively on a variety of subjects including philosophy, physics, physiology, psycholinguistics, and of course psychology, the immensity of his collected writings and the 65 year-long duration of his career makes it difficult to identify a single, coherent mode of thought. Wundt is argued by some writers to have been a devout foundationalist
Foundationalism
Foundationalism is any theory in epistemology that holds that beliefs are justified based on what are called basic beliefs . This position is intended to resolve the infinite regress problem in epistemology...

, working tirelessly to understand the intricacies of the areas of knowledge he studied to form a coherent, atomistic
Atomism
Atomism is a natural philosophy that developed in several ancient traditions. The atomists theorized that the natural world consists of two fundamental parts: indivisible atoms and empty void.According to Aristotle, atoms are indestructible and immutable and there are an infinite variety of shapes...

 understanding of the universe.
In recognition of Wundt's work, the American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States. It is the world's largest association of psychologists with around 154,000 members including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. The APA...

 established the "Wilhelm Wundt-William James
William James
William James was a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher who was trained as a physician. He wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology, psychology of religious experience and mysticism, and on the philosophy of pragmatism...

 Award for Exceptional Contributions to Trans-Atlantic Psychology", which recognizes "a significant record of trans-Atlantic research collaboration."

Several of Wundt's students became eminent psychologists in their own right. They include: the Germans Oswald Külpe
Oswald Külpe
Oswald Külpe was one of the structural psychologists of the late 19th and early 20th century.-Biography:...

 (a professor at the University of Würzburg
University of Würzburg
The University of Würzburg is a university in Würzburg, Germany, founded in 1402. The university is a member of the distinguished Coimbra Group.-Name:...

), Ottmar Dittrich (who continued Wundt's work in psycholinguistics by heading the group on phonetics and psychology of language at the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

); the Americans James McKeen Cattell
James McKeen Cattell
James McKeen Cattell , American psychologist, was the first professor of psychology in the United States at the University of Pennsylvania and long-time editor and publisher of scientific journals and publications, most notably the journal Science...

 (the first professor of psychology in the United States), G. Stanley Hall
G. Stanley Hall
Granville Stanley Hall was a pioneering American psychologist and educator. His interests focused on childhood development and evolutionary theory...

 (the father of the child psychology movement and adolescent developmental theorist, head of Clark University
Clark University
Clark University is a private research university and liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts.Founded in 1887, it is the oldest educational institution founded as an all-graduate university. Clark now also educates undergraduates...

), Charles Hubbard Judd
Charles Hubbard Judd
Charles Hubbard Judd was an American educational psychologist who played an influential role in the formation of the discipline. Part of the larger scientific movement of this period, Judd pushed for the use of scientific methods to the understanding of education and, thus, wanted to limit the use...

 (Director of the School of Education at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

), Hugo Münsterberg
Hugo Münsterberg
Hugo Münsterberg was a German-American psychologist. He was one of the pioneers in applied psychology, extending his research and theories to Industrial/Organizational , legal, medical, clinical, educational and business settings. Münsterberg encountered immense turmoil with the outbreak of the...

, Walter Dill Scott
Walter Dill Scott
Walter Dill Scott was one of the first applied psychologists. He applied psychology to various business practices such as personnel selection and advertising.-Life:...

 (who contributed to the development of industrial psychology and taught at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

), Edward Bradford Titchener
Edward B. Titchener
Edward Bradford Titchener, D.Sc., Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D. was a British psychologist who studied under Wilhelm Wundt for several years. Titchener is best known for creating his version of psychology that described the structure of the mind; structuralism...

 (who founded the first psychology laboratory in the United States at Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

), Lightner Witmer
Lightner Witmer
Lightner Witmer Lightner Witmer is an American psychologist who is credited with the introduction of the term "Clinical Psychology." Witmer also founded the world's first "Psychological Clinic" in the United States at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896.Witmer contributed greatly to numerous...

 (founder of the first psychological clinic
Clinical psychology
Clinical psychology is an integration of science, theory and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development...

 in his country); the Englishman
Englishman
Englishman may refer to:*English people*Grey Partridge*Jason Englishman, Canadian rock music singer and guitarist*Jenny-Bea Englishman, real name of the Canadien singer Esthero*Erald Briscoe, reggae musician who records under the name Englishman...

 Charles Spearman
Charles Spearman
Charles Edward Spearman, FRS was an English psychologist known for work in statistics, as a pioneer of factor analysis, and for Spearman's rank correlation coefficient...

 (who developed the two-factor theory of intelligence and several important statistical analyses - see Factor analysis
Factor analysis
Factor analysis is a statistical method used to describe variability among observed, correlated variables in terms of a potentially lower number of unobserved, uncorrelated variables called factors. In other words, it is possible, for example, that variations in three or four observed variables...

, Spearman's rank correlation coefficient
Spearman's rank correlation coefficient
In statistics, Spearman's rank correlation coefficient or Spearman's rho, named after Charles Spearman and often denoted by the Greek letter \rho or as r_s, is a non-parametric measure of statistical dependence between two variables. It assesses how well the relationship between two variables can...

); the Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n Constantin Rădulescu-Motru
Constantin Radulescu-Motru
Constantin Rădulescu-Motru was a Romanian philosopher, psychologist, sociologist, logician, academic, dramatist, as well as centre-left nationalist politician with a noted anti-fascist discourse...

 (Personalist
Personalism
Personalism is a philosophical school of thought searching to describe the uniqueness of a human person in the world of nature, specifically in relation to animals...

 philosopher and head of the Philosophy department at the University of Bucharest
University of Bucharest
The University of Bucharest , in Romania, is a university founded in 1864 by decree of Prince Alexander John Cuza to convert the former Saint Sava Academy into the current University of Bucharest.-Presentation:...

).

Wundt's laboratory students called their approach Ganzheit Psychologie ("holistic
Holism
Holism is the idea that all the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone...

 psychology") following Wundt's death. Much of Wundt's work was derided mid-century in the United States because of a lack of adequate translations, misrepresentations by certain students, and behaviorism
Behaviorism
Behaviorism , also called the learning perspective , is a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things that organisms do—including acting, thinking, and feeling—can and should be regarded as behaviors, and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behavior...

's polemic with the structuralist
Structuralism (psychology)
Structuralism in psychology refers to the theory founded by Edward B. Titchener , with the goal to describe the structure of the mind in terms of the most primitive elements of mental experience...

 program. Titchener, a two-year resident of Wundt's lab and one of Wundt's most vocal advocates in the United States, is responsible for several English translations and mistranslations of Wundt's works that supported his own views and approach, which he termed "structuralism" and claimed was wholly consistent with Wundt's position.

Titchener's focus on internal structures of mind was rejected by behaviorists following the ideas of B. F. Skinner
B. F. Skinner
Burrhus Frederic Skinner was an American behaviorist, author, inventor, baseball enthusiast, social philosopher and poet...

; the latter dominated psychological studies in the mid-1900s. Part of this rejection included Wundt, whose work was eclipsed during this period. In later decades, his actual positions and techniques have seen reconsideration and reassessment by major psychologists.

An optical illusion
Optical illusion
An optical illusion is characterized by visually perceived images that differ from objective reality. The information gathered by the eye is processed in the brain to give a perception that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source...

 described by him is called the Wundt illusion
Wundt illusion
The Wundt illusion is an optical illusion that was first described by the German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt in the 19th century. The two red vertical lines are both straight, but they may look as if they are bowed inwards to some observers. The distortion is induced by the crooked lines on the...


Publications

To name all of Wundt's publications would exceed the scope of an encyclopœdia article. The American psychologist Edwin Boring (1960) numbered the volume of Wundt's Bibliography at over 490 works, which are on average 110 pages long. Wundt published in 68 years an average of seven works a year, making him probably the most prolific scientist of all time.

  • Die Lehre von der Muskelbewegung (The Patterns of Muscular Movement), 1858
  • Die Geschwindigkeit des Gedankens (The Velocity of Thought) (Die Gartenlaube 1862, Vol 17, p. 263)
  • Lehrbuch der Physiologie des Menschen (Text-book of Human Physiology), 1865
  • Die physikalischen Axiome und ihre Beziehung zum Causalprincip (Physical Axioms and their Bearing upon Causality Principles), 1866
  • Handbuch der medicinischen Physik (Handbook of Medical Physics), 1867
  • Beiträge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung (Contributions on the Theory of Sensory Perception), 1862
  • Vorlesungen über die Menschen -und Tierseele (Lectures about Human and Animal Psychology), 1863/1864
  • Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie (Principles of Physiological Psychology), 1874
  • Untersuchungen zur Mechanik der Nerven und Nervenzentren (Researches upon the Mechanisms of Nerves and Nerve-Centres), 1876
  • Logik (Logic), 1880 to 1883, 3 Volumes and 4

  • Essays, 1885
  • Ethik (Ethics), 1886
  • System der Philosophie (System of Philosophy), 1889
  • Grundriss der Psychologie (Outline of Psychology), 1896
  • Völkerpsychologie (Social Psychology), 10 Volumes, 1900 to 1920
    • 1, 2. Die Sprache (Language), Pt 1, 2. (1900)
    • 3. Die Kunst (Art). (1908)
    • 4, 5, 6. Mythos und Religion (Myth and Religion), Pt 1, 2, 3. (?1910, 1914, ?)
    • 7, 8. Die Gesellschaft (Society), Pt 1, 2. (1917)
    • 9. Das Recht (Right). (1918)
    • 10. Kultur in der Geschichte (Culture in History). (1920)
  • Kleine Schriften (Shorter Writings), 3 Volumes, 1910
  • Einleitung in die Psychologie (Introduction to Psychology), 1911
  • Probleme der Völkerpsychologie (Problems of Social Psychology), 1911
  • Elemente der Völkerpsychologie (The Elements of Social Psychology), 1912
  • Reden und Aufsätze (Addresses and Extracts), 1913
  • Sinnliche und übersinnliche Welt (The Sensory and Supersensory World), 1914
  • Über den wahrhaften Krieg (About the Real War), 1914
  • Die Nationen und ihre Philosophie (The Nation and Its Philosophy), 1915
  • Erlebtes und Erkanntes (Experience and Realization), 1920

External links


Works online

  • Ethics: An Investigation of the Facts and Laws of the Moral Life. Volume 1. (Tr. Edward B. Titchener
    Edward B. Titchener
    Edward Bradford Titchener, D.Sc., Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D. was a British psychologist who studied under Wilhelm Wundt for several years. Titchener is best known for creating his version of psychology that described the structure of the mind; structuralism...

     et al..) Second Edition, 1902. University of Michigan.
  • Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology. (Trs. Edward B. Titchener
    Edward B. Titchener
    Edward Bradford Titchener, D.Sc., Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D. was a British psychologist who studied under Wilhelm Wundt for several years. Titchener is best known for creating his version of psychology that described the structure of the mind; structuralism...

     and James E. Creighton.)
  • Outlines of Psychology. (Tr. Charles Hubbard Judd
    Charles Hubbard Judd
    Charles Hubbard Judd was an American educational psychologist who played an influential role in the formation of the discipline. Part of the larger scientific movement of this period, Judd pushed for the use of scientific methods to the understanding of education and, thus, wanted to limit the use...

    .) Second Edition, 1902. Stanford.
  • Principles of Physiological Psychology. Volume 1. (Tr. Edward B. Titchener
    Edward B. Titchener
    Edward Bradford Titchener, D.Sc., Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D. was a British psychologist who studied under Wilhelm Wundt for several years. Titchener is best known for creating his version of psychology that described the structure of the mind; structuralism...

    .)
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